Trans Activists Really Need To Lighten Up

October 2, 2013

By Brendan O’Neill, Editor of Spiked:

spiked

Trans activists really need to lighten up

Transsexuals’ histrionic response to every slight only confirms how flimsy their identity is.

Why are transsexual activists so sensitive to criticism? This is a serious question, not an insult. There must be some reason why the trans community, as it calls itself, is worse at taking criticism or tolerating insulting commentary than, say, the Christian community or the butch lesbian community, both of which also get flak on the internet and elsewhere but don’t tend to respond to it in the way trans types do.

Over the past fortnight we’ve had loads of histrionics from trans activists. Feminist Julie Bindel was hounded off a panel discussion at a British university because she once criticised trans people. Roseanne Barr, maker of the best sitcom of the Eighties, currently stands accused of ‘transphobia’ basically because she tweeted favourably about someone who criticised the trans identity. This follows the trans community’s successful removal of Julie Burchill’s trans-slamming article from the website of the Observer earlier this year. When I wrote a piece arguing that Bradley Manning is not a woman, despite his claims to the contrary, I was bombarded with suggestions that I should kill myself. This from trans activists who (ludicrously) held Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn responsible for the suicide of a trans schoolteacher and said the media must be careful never to criticise this community lest its members feel tempted to kill themselves.

Of course, ours is an age of super-sensitivity, when feeling offended, and more importantly loudly and proudly declaring your feelings of offence, has become the lifeblood of public discourse. But there are different degrees of offence-taking. Some groups seem more capable of riding out criticism than others. Yes, Christian outfits play the victim card and bleat to officialdom about feeling offended by an ad or an article, but mostly they just ignore web-based Christian-bashing, which is voluminous. Islamists are more sensitive, hollering for beheadings whenever someone mocks Muhammad or says the Koran is cobblers.

And the trans lobby is even more sensitive than that, reacting with censorious anger not only to insults but also to people’s allegedly incorrect use of language, to being called ‘a transsexual’, for example, rather than ‘a member of the trans community’. They even picket the offices of newspapers that have the temerity to piss them off. Why the extraordinary touchiness?

I think it reflects the fundamental flimsiness of the trans identity, the fragility of this so-called community. Transsexuals’ hopping-mad reaction to any perceived slight doesn’t confirm that they are a well-organised, increasingly cocky gang holding the world to ransom, as some have claimed. Rather it reveals the opposite – that this is a ‘community’ so sadly uncertain of its own claims, so instinctively aware of the largely phoney nature of its arguments, that it must protect itself from any form of public ridicule or questioning lest its facade be knocked down.

The rule of modern-day identity politics and offence-taking seems to be this: the less rooted and real one’s identity is, the more obsessed one becomes with erecting a forcefield around it in order to keep at bay awkward query-raisers.

Transsexualism depicts itself as a cultural or personal identity on a par with being black or female. Trans activists ask, ‘Would you be as insulting to black people as you are to trans people?’. But this is disingenuous, because transsexualism is based, not on culture or history or nature, but on individual self-loathing. The starting point of transsexualism is contempt for one’s own body. As the male-to-female character in the popular indie film Transamerica says with a shudder when asked by a doctor how he/she feels about his penis, ‘It disgusts me’.

This is the essence of transsexualism – not community pride or a history-derived sense of belonging, but self-doubt, even self-disgust, a feeling of extreme alienation from one’s own body. To elevate such sad feelings into an identity, so that a personal crisis of the mind and body gets transformed into a celebratory sexual orientation, is effectively to valorise alienation and glamorise psychological disorder.

The real problem here is not the trans lobby, which is small, but the inability of society more broadly to make judgements about people’s behaviour, and its corresponding relativistic acceptance of every way of life as a ‘new identity!’. The transformation of bodily alienation into a sexual identity – transsexualism – reflects society’s refusal to say, simply, ‘Look. You are confused. Let’s talk about this and find a way to alleviate your alienation from yourself.’ Instead we effectively say, ‘Congratulations, you are a transsexual! Go and have your body drastically modified by a doctor.’

A hospital in Holland even gives out puberty-stopping drugs to 11- to 16-year-olds who believe they have the wrong gender – which sums up brilliantly how incapable we are of telling people to get a grip or think hard about their alienation, and how willing we are to doll up even teenage confusion as the expression of a natural orientation or inspiring identity.

It is this fundamental hollowness of the so-called transsexual identity, the fact that it is in essence self-loathing dressed up as a positive way of life, which explains the sensitivity to criticism of trans activists. Communities or groups based on more meaningful, substantial, historical things than simply individual alienation potentially have the moral and intellectual resources needed to withstand ridicule – trans activists do not. They have a powerful instinct to guard their ‘identity’ from mockery or critique because they recognise that, at heart, there isn’t much to it.

The rise of touchy transsexualism reflects, not the emergence of a new community demanding liberty and respect in the way that gays did in the 1960s, but rather that modern society is so relativistic that it is willing to treat even individuals’ personal crises as the expressions of a gloriously interesting identity and that ‘communities’ now think nothing of shutting down any criticism or mocking of their way of life. Touchy transsexualism is the bastard offspring of the twin modern evils of relativism and a po-faced, ban-happy allergy to ridicule.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked.

Read more here: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/trans_activists_really_need_to_lighten_up/14089#.Ukui6RwyyIz

36 Responses to “Trans Activists Really Need To Lighten Up”


  1. “I think it reflects the fundamental flimsiness of the trans identity, the fragility of this so-called community.”

    Spot on. People identifying as trans know that their ‘identity’ is based on nothing more than everyone playing along. I think it’s why so many make youtube videos about it. If someone ‘identifies’ as the opposite gender just sitting in their house not inserting themselves into forbidden space, does ‘trans’ mean anything at all? To them, no. Everyone must agree, recognize, and ‘respect’ the new identity.

    It is not truly an ‘internal identity’ is it? When, by the very nature of the concept, it must be validated by the public.

    • anon Says:

      Not to mention that in any other context demanding that every single person you meet needs to reinforce your personal identity would been seen as socially unacceptable at best. but more likely as completely mental.

      It’s made even worse when one has a personal identity with constantly shifting parameters that is often not even immediately recognizable.

      • mieprowan Says:

        Anon: you just described a borderline personality disorder diagnosis, except you left out the stalking.

      • anon Says:

        Yet we’re guilted to let trans* get away with it because they’ve attached themselves to gay rights.

        It’s like having a friend or associate who is convinced they’re a really good writer, to the point they’ve built up “author” as their personal identity. Everyone grins awkwardly and tells them their writing is good in order to spare their feelings. But as soon as someone decides to tell the truth, constructive or otherwise, the “author” has a meltdown.

  2. No Says:

    Gloria Steinem seems to be of the opinion that you and your kind can shut the fuck up: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2013/10/02/op-ed-working-together-over-time

    • Motherhood Says:

      But we have no intention of doing that. Enjoy the last hours of the cartoon. People can’t be duped for long sir.

      • Jane Says:

        From the comments:

        I don’t believe in too late, but this is far too little. Ms. Steinem, I take you at your word when you contextualize statements you wrote and published in the 70s, but you fail to mention the legacy of continued violence that stream of thought has left for trans people like myself who were not even alive at the time. I would have liked to see you acknowledge two consequences of your rhetoric specifically.

        It will never be enough, and they will never forgive, so why bother? They want to enjoy everything the second wave achieved while smearing the women who did all the work. They’re vampires. How ludicrous to claim feminists have any influence on the men who abuse and murder trans women. Also, don’t grandstand about racism when you middle-class males who dominate trans activism only use trans women of color as props.

        L O Fucking L:

        This all seems like a waist of efforts when the likes of Bug Brennan and her sewer rats are able to legally spew there evil hatred across the Internet like loucast across America’s Midwest. How can we make any serious gains in educating people without educating web hosting ceo’s of WordPress and Tumblr who blatantly allow and promote this kind of extreme hatred and cyber terrorism.

        Free speech hurts!

        I’m amazed that liberal feminists have been willing to stake so much on these mentally ill males. They’re shooting us all in the foot to do some nice lady status signaling, and they think it’s only conservative women who suffer false consciousness? They make us all look stupid with this self-destructive behavior. Between this and sex-poz enthusiastic-consent-is-mandatory bullshit, libfems are killing the women’s movement.

      • GallusMag Says:

        LOLOLOL the sewer rat dude is none other than Reed Barrow, the guy who trash-picks used tampons and shoves them up his ass to feel more womanly! Hahahaha

        https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/reed-barrow-stop-making-rape-and-death-threats-against-lesbians-feminists-and-gays/

    • ibleedpurple Says:

      Gloria Steinem is wrong and her name cannot make her statements any “righter”.

  3. wildwomyn Says:

    A breath of fresh air! I think we’ll be seeing much more of this type of discourse from people who live in reality and not in psychosis-induced fantasy.

  4. Versa Says:

    “I think it reflects the fundamental flimsiness of the trans identity, the fragility of this so-called community. … this is a ‘community’ so sadly uncertain of its own claims, so instinctively aware of the largely phoney nature of its arguments, that it must protect itself from any form of public ridicule or questioning lest its facade be knocked down.”

    Amen, brother!

    I think that’s the trans community’s issue in a nutshell. They want desperately to believe that they are women (in the case of M2Ts) or men (F2Ts), even though, deep down, they know they’re not and will never be. They suppress that painful truth in their own minds, and react with fury whenever faced with a reminder of it.

    As Shakespeare might say, “The laydee doth protest too much, methinks.”

    • red Says:

      Steinem and the other lib fems get caught on the ‘gender’ red herring. Hello it’s not about gender it’s about tampons up their asses. Someone plant that link at Women Under Seige. Oh sorry, we’re not from some third world country get in line.

  5. Guls Says:

    Brendan O’Neill’s a sensationalist attention seeker, though, with bad form for misogyny, such as this gobshite:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/brendan-oneill/rape-not-just-sex-without-consent_b_1836154.html

    I wrote a piece on his cynical, and slyly anti-feminist, reaction to the Savile scandal awhile back:

    http://musicbugsandgender.wordpress.com/?s=brendan+o%27neill

    Okay, even self-serving bigots can get it right once in a while but he’s a man whose opinions and motives I’d take with a pinch of salt. Friend to women? Not likely….

  6. Em Says:

    Substitute “narcissist/narcissism” for “transsexual/trans” and the piece still reads nearly perfectly.

  7. I SURVIVED BEING "TRANSGENDER" Says:

    Reblogged this on I'M NOT "TRANSGENDER" ANY MORE and commented:
    Yep. And “transgender narcissistic rage” is an aspect of this, too. They are instantly ready to go for the jugular. The other very important critique brought forward in this article is that of the criminally insane medical interventions being perpetrated against children who don’t conform to “gender” stereotypes.

  8. I SURVIVED BEING "TRANSGENDER" Says:

    The more times I read this little article, the more I like it. Awesome.

  9. Bruce Lilly Says:

    These guys love to criticize the shit out of people. Just look at the major lgbt[insert letters] platforms. But when someone dares to do the same suddenly its hate and twanzphobia. But there are so many fucking things which needs to be discussed. The t is toxic for the lgb movement.

  10. femmeforever Says:

    LOLOLOL the sewer rat dude is none other than Reed Barrow….

    Whut????? Ewwww. I quit the internets over this data.

    Perhaps my octogenarian aunt is correct in her computer phobia which I was trying to cure her of until this.

    • Kay Says:

      Sometimes, in this age of instant gratification, it is better to reflect upon things for a second. My first instinct is to learn the whole story, but . . . nope, I’ll pass on this one!

  11. Mori Says:

    Oddly enough, I suspect the same article could have been written about the very early days of the gay rights movement – in which widespread social support for gays was shaky at best, resulting in, you guessed it: a mess of insecurity and often over-reaction, with hostile, confrontational attitudes as people tried to extract themselves from the cultural inertia they were drowning in.

    Unfortunately for the “trans is delusion” crowd, transsexualism is a biological phenomenon. It doesn’t mesh well with the neo-objectivist “A is A and everything is one thing or the other” philosophy that appeals to a lot of heavy-handed heterosexual geeks and culture warriors. That human existence is a much more nuanced and subjective set of layers requires accepting a plurality that denies easy categorization, manipulation, and control of the population in general. (And simplifying people into a few “kinds” is best for both the conservative authoritarian and the neo-liberal Self Made Genius types.)

    • michelle Says:

      Except that you conveniently overlook the fact that the whacktivists tend to want to claim twanz is biological in origin (and therefore must be covered under both law and insurance) yet the significant majority want nothing to do with surgery. That brings it back full circle to it being about the delusions of playing dress-up and getting hormones to satisfy their mid-life autogynephillic fantasies…neither law nor insurance should molly-coddle the delusional ‘transgender’ masses that those claiming transsexuality seem to have hitched their wagons to. If you want to claim you aren’t like them, then start speaking out against the penis-packers who claim that their speshshulness only extends so far…

      To quote from In Living Color…homey don’t play that.

    • Teal Deer Says:

      The struggle for gay and lesbian rights doesn’t equate with the trans rights movement. Gays and lesbians love and have sex outside of the “one man plus one woman” format, and no one else in society is obligated to participate in their relationships. The trans, however, are mentally ill people who demand that everyone play along, indulge their delusion, and try to believe it as well.
      Can you imagine how horrific our society would become if, instead of treating mental illness, everyone had to behave as though the delusions of the mentally ill were reality? True reality would cease to mean anything.

  12. Logan Says:

    I just realized yesterday how insecure a lot of trans people are. I simply suggested to one that maybe males and females aren’t extremely different in nature and they somehow turned it into a debate with me on that being trans is biological and got really upset over it. Wow.

    So far, though, I see nothing wrong with people wanting to change their sex characteristics if they approach it in the right way. (I’d be interested to hear if someone disagrees). I think I might want to present as the other gender in the future, but not because I hate my body. I would because I think that presenting as the other gender might make it easier to express myself.

  13. shediogenes Says:

    what is the right way? what is the other gender? did you want it be easier to express your submissive side, to feel sexy being seen as sex object? perhaps you would feel more comfortable expressing your ideas about how women should behave. maybe you could set an example for all us women, hmm? that is what is happening, Logan. there is no right way to express a set of gendered roles based on sex that have been used to oppress women. btw, if you want to want to wear a dress or silk panties, or skip thru the park in pigtails, by all means, but this is not the essence of being a woman. Trans ppl are trying to define both sexes by narrow sets of behaviors and reinforce the limited and oppressive roles that subordinate women as second class, submissive sex objects and airheads. there is no right way to do that. get the picture. this blog is filled with the evidence of harm done to women by trans activities. read

    • Logan Says:

      There’s always going to be gender roles, though, and everyone’s always going to have assumptions about how someone will behave depending on their gender. Humans just love to categorize. I think it’s unfair, too, but eliminating that would be way too difficult and a lot of people seem to be quite happy abiding by their gender roles.

      Of course people of the same sex are going to act in different ways, but there are small brain differences between men and women and as long as there’s those there’s going to be stereotypes.

      • LC Says:

        What small brain differences would those be, and how would we know whether those are based on biology or social cues? If gender roles have not always been constant(which they haven’t), the latter would be far more likely.

        Actually, in the so-called modern, western world, it seems to me that gender roles are more pronounced than necessary, even as differences in job opportunities are shrinking. In some more group-based societies that I’ve lived in, men and women have fewer differences between them in appropriate interests or patterns of behavior or aptitude… it’s only that certain jobs are designated as “male” or “female”. Not because one is incapable of doing the other(sometimes they do, and there’s no particular stigma about it that I noticed), but because it’s cultural. And everyone knows it’s cultural.

        To me, that’s the biggest difference between those places and Western culture: Men here are trying to codify gender roles and behavior into biological fact, rather than a matter of cultural convention… and that’s terrifying. Why would you want to go along with them?

    • Logan Says:

      I just got yelled at by a transgender person and a feminist within the same 3 days. LOL. I must be doing something right.

      • GallusMag Says:

        A woman was kind enough to engage with your comment and you consider that “yelling”? What a fragile male ego. Also, quite rude. I can see why folks would not bother engaging with you. Best of luck to you in your trolling activities: elsewhere. Ta!

      • Guls Says:

        If pissing off many and varied people is the benchmark of your sense of self-worth, Logan; then two in three days isn’t really that impressive, y’know😉

        shediogenes didn’t ‘yell’ – she asked you a few questions and proffered a little advice, both of which you ignored.

      • born free & female Says:

        “I just got yelled at by a feminist […] I must be doing something right.”

        let me fix the typos for you:

        “A feminist asked me some questions I couldn’t answer. I pretended she attacked me so I could announce I was the better person.”


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