It’s Bad enough to Have Burchill spewing Her Crap, But Here we have Riki Wilchins Proving herself to be an Anachronism in the Advocate

Op-ed: Where Have All the Butches Gone?

In defense of resilient butches or effeminate fairies.

From The Advocate:

BY Riki Wilchins
January 14 2013

When I was doing more public speaking, I used to do a little experiment. I’d be asked to address gay groups on the problem of gender. As they all looked at me expectantly, I would invite them to discuss their problem with gender.

This inevitably drew a lot of blank looks, especially with all-male groups.

So I would ask them, “How many of you are gay?”

They would all proudly raise their hands, proudly. Then I’d ask, “How many of you are bottoms?”

Everyone’s hand went down, fast. Really fast. So fast, in fact, that all the oxygen was suddenly sucked out of the room and we all had problems breathing.

Then they’d all look at the one self-identified fairy who still had his hand up and laugh. Apparently gay male communities are composed entirely of tops and tough guys. No wonder dating is so difficult!

And then I’d ask them, what was so humiliating, even here in the 21st century, to admit that just once — you were young, drunk, didn’t know what you were doing — just that once you were … a catcher instead of a pitcher?

And it was the gender thing. Being a bottom meant taking the “woman’s role” in bed. No one wanted to admit to that publicly. No one wanted to be recognized as being any way visibly womanly, of being gender-nonconforming. That was stretching gay pride too far.

Where have all the butches gone?

Blah, blah, blah, blither, blither….  Then comes the following sentence.

But that turned out to be largely an artifact of surgery and history. The first tiny waves of trannies who came out as such — from the early, early Christine Jorgenson to the later but still early Jan Morris. And it is simply (and unfortunately) much more practical to do MTF “bottom surgery” than FTM.

Gee Riki I guess you’ve been so buried in Judith Butler’s jargon babble you missed the memo.

“Trannie” has become like the “N-word”, something that doesn’t get tossed into casual conversations and which merits at the very least quote marks to show you are either quoting some one or are using in perhaps an ironic context.

The other accepted usage which you might argue in this case is historical context.

Maybe Riki needs to do some catch up but her relevance has  seriously slipped since the days of Read My Lips.

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Transphobia Is a Goddamn Embarrassment to Us All

From Jezebel:

Lindy West
Jan 14, 2013

In case you missed it, for almost a week now there’s been a jolly olde shitstorme a-brewing between a couple of British feminists and a whole lot of angry trans activists and allies. It started off innocuously enough—it could have begun and ended with a whimper if certain parties hadn’t been such unyielding, bigoted babies (but more on that in a minute). Last Tuesday, journalist Suzanne Moore published an essay about “the power of female anger.” In it, in the service of a mediocre metaphor, she referred rather clumsily (but plausibly with no ill intent) to trans women:

We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape—that of a Brazilian transsexual.

Now, I think it’s fair to acknowledge that for a lot of non trans people, this reference might not immediately jump out. Moore’s meaning is clear—the modern “ideal woman” is a tall, thin, bronzed, busty impossibility—and, I suppose, the stereotype of a “Brazilian transsexual” conveys that image tidily (though, obviously, ugh). But to anyone even rudimentarily versed in the current social justice dialogue, the statement has some very clear problems:

1) Stop trafficking in shitty stereotypes to make your point. It’s selfish and dehumanizing and gratuitous. Stop. Trans women in Brazil are actual individual human beings—a staggering number of whom are murdered every year just for existing:

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It’s Not the Size of Your Suffering; It’s What You Do With It

From Huffington Post:


News flash: Suffering is not a competition, regardless of what Julie Burchill and her ilk would have you think. Suffering is not really something you can quantify and compare and, even if it were, what would be the point?

Burchill, Suzanne Moore, and Julie Bindel recently have gotten into an(other) argument with transgender women, who they feel are bullying what Burchill terms “natural-born women”. Burchill also seems to have an issue with people who have PhDs, and she refers to them as “[e]ducated beyond all common sense and honesty”, perhaps due to some inferiority complex, and/or an inability to recognise the importance of education.

The main concern here is that in a recent article in the Observer, Burchill suggests that transgender women don’t have the right to talk about being women or to complain or to compare themselves to other women, and in particular, to cisgender women, a term which means women whose birth sex aligns to the gender they feel themselves to be (and note to Burchill: “cis” comes from Latin and means “on this side”, rather than having anything to do with cysts, so this is a case where a little more education would be helpful and certainly not “beyond all common sense”).

In her piece, Burchill goes on to say: “We know that everything we have we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net.” “We” refers to her and her friends, and also seems meant to encompass other cisgender women. In other words, she implies that transgender women don’t work for what they have and that they all must rely on family money.

While that is, of course, patently ridiculous, what is at the heart of this argument is the definition of a woman. And I’m not sure about why this is worth arguing about to the extent that some people believe it is.

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The crass hypocrisy of Julie Burchill

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To Julie Burchill, Suzanne Moore and all feminists: The absence of trans people in the media is as important as the absence of women in the media

From The Independent UK:

This week has seen feminists such as Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill fail to support trans people – but we should be supporting them

Louise McCudden
Monday 14 January 2013

The recent, controversial comments about transgender people by the usually fabulous Suzanne Moore, are just the tip of this particular iceberg.

Given the prominence of feminists like Moore and, then later, Julie Bindel, and finally, Julie Burchill – feminists who, whether intentionally or otherwise, come out with statements about trans people that are deeply discomforting to many of their own supporters, the time has come for feminists to actively speak up about the shameful and sometimes deliberate failure to engage with, listen to, and support trans people within our own communities.

Suzanne Moore may or may not have intended any offense with her original comments, and it’s easy to see how when someone is on the end of a twitter-storm, they might lose their cool a bit. But even to the most generous mind, Julie Burchill’s defence of her friend in the Guardian can’t be explained as anything other than deliberate bigotry.  She deliberately called trans people “dicks in chicks’ clothing”, she deliberately decided to trivialise the protests from trans people against those who deny they even exist, she deliberately dismissed the right to define yourself as you are instead of having it dictated by others as “semantics.”

People cannot help their ignorance, but Julie Burchill isn’t ignorant. She’s an educated person. She has thought actively about sex, gender and sexuality for years; it’s not that she’s never met a trans person or thought about what it must be like to go through something so lonely and terrifying as gender reassignment surgery. Those people, the ones who are ignorant or naïve or ill-informed, perhaps we should have some sympathy with. But that’s not Burchill. She has the luxury of awareness and education. She still seems to choose to be transphobic.

Enough is enough. Trans women have been excluded from female spaces, portrayed as predatory, called traitors and perpetuators of patriarchy, accused of having male privilege, had their surgery compared with gay cure therapy, and, of course, constantly been on the receiving end of that boring old chesnut hurled, at some point, at pretty much anyone who ever speaks out about anything, ever: accusations of “distracting” from the “real” issues.

Yet surely we ought to be natural allies. Not only does transphobia shine bright lights on sexist assumptions about us all and help so often to show them up as inaccurate nonsense, but trans people live through a reality of gender-based oppression that most cis women can barely imagine. We should be on their side. Far from its victims being part of the problem, the culture that facilitates transphobia is so very often the same culture that perpetuates sexism.

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Daily Telegraph republishes Julie Birchill’s transphobic column removed by the Observer

From Pink News:

14 January 2013

The journalist and free-schools campaigner Toby Young has republished a column by Julie Birchill that was removed earlier today from the Guardian/ Observer website after accusations of transphobia.

The editor of the Observer, John Mulholland withdrew the column and apologised for the upset that it caused.

In a brief introduction to Birchill’s column, Toby Young wrote on his Daily Telegraph blog: “Julie Burchill has given me permission to reprint the article the Observer has seen fit to unpublish.”

Burchill was roundly condemned on Twitter during Sunday for describing members of the transgender community as “a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs” and “dicks in chicks’ clothing” in a column in the newspaper yesterday.

Today John Mulholland, released a statement, saying: ”We have decided to withdraw from publication the Julie Burchill comment piece ‘Transsexuals should cut it out’. The piece was an attempt to explore contentious issues within what had become a highly-charged debate. The Observer is a paper which prides itself on ventilating difficult debates and airing challenging views.

“On this occasion we got it wrong and in light of the hurt and offence caused I apologise and have made the decision to withdraw the piece. The Observer Readers’ Editor will report on these issues at greater length.”

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UK trans media storm: Observer withdraws Burchill article and Moore apologizes

From Gay Star News:

‘We got it wrong’ says Observer editor and Suzanne Moore apologizes, no apology from Julie Burchill

By Anna Leach
15 January 2013

The editor of UK’s Observer newspaper has withdrawn an article riddled with trans slurs, apologized and said ‘we got it wrong’.

‘On this occasion we got it wrong and in light of the hurt and offense caused I apologize and have make the decision to withdraw the piece,’ said John Mulholland in a statement released yesterday.

Mulholland made the statement following calls from former equalities minister Lynne Featherstone for him and Julie Burchill, the journalist who wrote the offending article, to be sacked.

Chair of Trans Media Watch Jennie Kermode described Burchill’s article as ‘hate speech’ that has ‘no place in a national newspaper’.

Burchill wrote the piece in ‘defense’ of her friend fellow columnist Suzanne Moore who was the subject of criticism from the trans community for a reference to ‘Brazilian transexual’.

Moore herself returned to Twitter yesterday to apologize ‘to those I misrepresented’.

‘I did not set out to offend and the murder of all women trans or not is clearly something I DO care about,’ Moore said, adding that there had been ‘much bridge building’ between her and ‘several trans people who I deeply respect’ and she is meeting with more trans people.

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Minister (Lynne Featherstone) calls for sacking of Observer columnist Burchill – and paper’s editor

From The Guardian UK:

Article attacking transgender people sparks anger as readers flock to complain

Posted by
Monday 14 January 2013

A government minister has called for Observer columnist Julie Burchill to be fired because of her column on Sunday in which she attacked transgender people.

Lynne Featherstone, the international development minister who was once equalities minister, took to Twitter to denounce Burchill – a freelance writer – for her “absolutely disgusting… rant against the transgender community”. She described it as “a bigoted vomit” and called for The Observer to sack her.

Featherstone, a Lib-Dem MP, then suggested in another tweet that the paper’s editor, John Mulholland, should be sacked too for publishing the column.

The online version of Burchill’s column attracted more than 2,000 comments, with the majority opposing the writer, and the Twittersphere was deluged from yesterday morning onwards with people arguing for and against Burchill.

The heated debate prompted The Observer’s readers’ editor, Stephen Pritchard, to step in and announce that he will hold an inquiry into the matter. He wrote:

“As you might imagine, I have received many emails protesting about this piece this morning. Thank you to those who have written. I will be looking at this issue and will be replying to all in due course.”

And Guardian News & Media also issued a statement. A spokeswoman said: “We acknowledge the strong reaction to Julie Burchill’s piece published in The Observer. As indicated by Observer editor John Mulholland on Twitter, we are taking such reactions extremely seriously and we have asked our independent readers’ editor to urgently investigate the matter.”

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Online Robin Hood Aaron Swartz pushed to suicide by prosecutors?

The 3 Percent Cut to Social Security: aka the Chained CPI

From Huffington Post:


According to inside Washington gossip, Congress and the president are going to do exactly what voters elected them to do; they are going to cut Social Security by 3 percent. You don’t remember anyone running on that platform? Yeah, well, they probably forgot to mention it.

Of course some people may have heard Vice President Joe Biden when he told an audience in Virginia that there would be no cuts to Social Security if President Obama got reelected. Biden said: “I guarantee you, flat guarantee you, there will be no changes in Social Security. I flat guarantee you.”

But that’s the way things work in Washington. You can’t expect the politicians who run for office to share their policy agenda with voters. After all, we might not like it. That’s why they say things like they will fight for the middle class and make the rich pay their fair share. These ideas have lots of appeal among voters. Cutting Social Security doesn’t.

While the politics of cutting Social Security are bad, it also doesn’t make much sense as policy. In Washington, the gang who couldn’t see an $8 trillion housing bubble until its collapse sank the economy, has now decided that deficit reduction has to be the preeminent goal.

They don’t care that we are still down more than 9 million jobs from our growth trend; deficit reduction must take priority. These whiz kids apparently also don’t care that the cuts that have already been made are slowing growth and costing us jobs.

If we actually did have to reduce the deficit it’s hard to see why Social Security would be at the top of the list. After all, the vast majority of seniors are not doing especially well right now. Our defined benefit pension system is disappearing and 401(k)s have not come close to filling the gap. Retirees and near retirees have lost a large portion of whatever wealth they had managed to accumulate when the collapse of the housing bubble destroyed much of their home equity.

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Is the Tea Party Over?

From Alternet:

The answer all depends on what you mean by “Tea Party.”

By Adele M. Stan
January 12, 2013

There’s a new parlor game in your nation’s capital, played by reporters and pundits who begin with a single question: Is the Tea Party dead? Endlessly entertaining to ponder, it’s a question whose answer depends on your definition of the Tea Party movement.

Are you talking about the 900 grassroots Tea Party groups in 2010 whose numbers have now dwindled to 600? Or the popularity of the movement among most Americans?

Or do you measure the “Tea Party” as a marketing plan by the right wing in its 50-year quest to bend the Republican Party to its will and bring the nation to its knees?

Miss Uncongeniality

The new year kicked off with a poll that brought a smile to progressive faces: Rasmussen Reports, the Republican-tilting polling firm, found membership in the Tea Party movement among likely voters to have plummeted to a mere 8 percent. That’s a steep drop from 2010 when, just after the passage of the healthcare reform law, Rasmussen reported 24 percent of respondents calling themselves Tea Party members.

Even worse for those who don the tricorn hat is Rasmussen’s finding that half of the likely electorate now views the Tea Party unfavorably, while only 30 percent express a favorable opinion of the movement. So, game over, right?

Not quite. The day after Rasmussen released its numbers, Roll Call, a sort of trade publication for political types, ran a story with the title, “Tea Party Re-Flexes Its Muscle,” about the coming battles in Washington over the debt ceiling and spending, and fearsome threats by Tea Party groups to Republicans who dare to compromise with the president.

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Ex-IRS Director on Dark-Money Groups: “Investigate Them and Prosecute Them”

From Mother Jones:

The IRS needs to crack down on political nonprofits, experts say—or risk looking weak and useless.

Mon Jan. 14, 2013

Big dark-money groups like the Karl Rove-advised Crossroads GPS promised the IRS they would have “limited” involvement in politics—in order to protect their nonprofit tax-exempt status—yet went on to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the 2010 and 2012 federal elections. Now several tax policy experts, including a former high-ranking IRS official who ran the division overseeing nonprofits, say the IRS must bring the hammer down on these shadowy nonprofits or risk looking weak and useless.

“The government’s going to have to investigate them and prosecute them,” says Marcus Owens, who ran the IRS’s tax-exempt division for a decade and is now a lawyer in private practice. “In order to maintain the integrity of the process, they’re going to be forced to take action.”

In their initial applications seeking tax-exempt status under a particular provision of the tax code, section 501(c)(4), dozens of political nonprofits told the IRS their political spending would be limited or, in some cases, nonexistent. (Otherwise, they wouldn’t qualify for this advantageous tax status, which allows them to take foreign donations and hide the identities of their funders.) But ProPublica reported that many of those groups have spent big on politics. In 2008, for instance, the Iowa-based American Future Fund assured the IRS on its tax-exempt application that it would spend “no” money to influence elections; the same day the group mailed its application, it released a web ad hailing then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and went on to spend $8 million on politicking in the 2010 elections. Americans for Responsible Leadership, an Arizona-based nonprofit, was more bold: It told the taxman it would engage in zero political work. It then spent $5.2 million backing Mitt Romney.

The most high-profile nonprofit to tell the IRS one thing and seemingly do another is Crossroads GPS, the powerful group cofounded by Karl Rove. In a 41-page application, dated September 3, 2010, Crossroads told the IRS it would spend only a “limited” amount of money on influencing elections. Crossroads is different from the two groups mentioned above in a crucial way: The IRS has yet to approve its tax-exempt application, which means its 2010 application is confidential. Yet ProPublica obtained it and exposed the gap between what Crossroads said in September 2010 and what it went on to do.

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Would you like a side of the flu with your order?

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Why the Housing Recovery is Nearly Homeowner-Less

From Truth Out:

By Darwin Bond Graham
Monday, 14 January 2013

The financial crisis of 2008 was terrible for homeowners saddled with heavy mortgage payments, especially the millions of low-income, first-time buyers who were tempted to buy in with deceptive loans during the height of the housing bubble. About 4 million foreclosures have been completed since the financial crisis of 2008, according to CoreLogic, a data provider to the real estate industry. Since 2006, when subprime loans first began to default in large numbers, there have been 9.4 million foreclosures initiated, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (US Fed). To a select group of hedge fund and investment bankers the financial crisis that pivoted on these foreclosures was the opportunity of a lifetime. They made billions from the crash by wagering against the stability of the US housing market.

Now some of the same elite investors are tacking backward and betting on a recovery of the housing market. It’s a strange recovery though, propelled not so much by families seeking their own piece of the American dream, but instead by the US Fed’s monetary policies. Low-interest rates fostered by the Fed are causing big-money investors to purchase foreclosed single-family homes in blocks of hundreds, even thousands. Expected gains in home prices are also leading hedge funds and investment bank traders to gamble on housing derivatives.

Like the so-called jobless recovery, characterized by rising business earnings in the midst of high unemployment, the nascent housing recovery is not propelled by a rise in homeownership rates, employment and incomes. Instead, foreclosure rates remain high, as does do unemployment figures, and there’s a big backlog of bank-owned properties that has yet to hit the market. Meanwhile, many former home owners have been relegated to the status of renters. If home prices are truly embarked on a sustained rise, the big gains in any new equity created will likely accrue to a smaller number of owners, many of them corporate investor-landlords, and to a few elite financial speculators positioned to make complex derivatives bets on housing bonds. That’s how it’s playing out so far.

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Welcome to Blockadia!

From Yes Magazine:

The corporate push to construct tar-sands pipelines is transforming the environmental movement across North America by increasing the involvement of local residents and normalizing the use of direct action.

posted Jan 11, 2013
We are members of Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance, groups that are working to stop tar sands mining from beginning in Utah. As tar sands mining is scheduled to begin in Utah in 2013, we deeply valued the chance to visit the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas several months ago to gain insight from other grassroots organizers. Finding solidarity across such a distance inspired this piece.On January 10, Oklahomans marched on a section of the Keystone XL pipeline in Stroud, Okla., to launch a direct action campaign against the project. Just three days earlier, more than 100 activists stormed into the Houston headquarters of TransCanada, the corporation contracted to build Keystone. Meanwhile, a new tree-sit went up to block the path of the pipeline’s construction in Diboll, Texas. These actions represent the spirit of Blockadia—a vast but interwoven web of campaigns standing up against the fossil fuel industry and demanding an end to the development of tar sands pipelines.Blockadia is a place where the future of the environmental movement is being negotiated. In this vast region of proposed tar sands pipelines—particularly the Keystone XL, which reaches from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico; and the Northern Gateway, which extends from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia—communities are engaged in struggles that draw strength from one another. From ahunger strike in Houston to the third annual signing of the Save the Fraser Declaration in Vancouver, these communities have been ramping up their efforts in recent weeks.Complemented by the recent firestorm of actions for indigenous rights by the Idle No More movement across Canada and the world, Blockadia is bringing a renewed emphasis on social justice to the environmental movement.

The efforts of communities throughout Blockadia share three main characteristics that make the struggle against tar sands pipelines different than any environmental campaign in U.S. history: the normalization of direct action; the involvement of rural and indigenous groups along with more typical “activists;” and the ability of tar sands extraction to motivate even those who tolerated conventional oil pipelines.

Through these qualities, Blockadia’s campaigns are building a unified front larger than anything the environmental movement has ever seen, making the struggle potentially winnable despite the steep odds against it.

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