Is Trans Over?

Sex and gender are two different things.  Gender is about social roles, the indoctrination Simone de Beauvoir wrote about in “The Second Sex.”  Sex is about what’s between the legs or an activity cheerfully performed that enjoys wide popularity.

For what it is worth there has never been a gender binary as masculinity and femininity have always been shades of gray and not black or white.

From The Advocate:

The beginning of the end of the gender binary may have arrived.

By Riki Wilchins
June 13 2017

I was talking last year with a woman who ran a large public company, and she was discussing her son, who she explained was nonbinary and used them/they as pronouns. I asked how long they had been transgender, and she replied, “Oh, they’s totally straight and male with a girlfriend — they just hates male/female categories and says that gender binaries are so over.”

My first response was, “Oh, my God — we’ve gone too far!” But upon reflection, I realized a profound shift was taking place, and a fundamental question was being posed.

As writer-activist Dana Beyer points out, “the ‘trans’ in transsexual was about moving from one thing to another.” One was going from male to female, or vice versa.

This concept was more or less unconsciously grafted onto transgender. It’s an overused description that “transgender” is a broad “umbrella” term for all those people who are gender-nonconforming — transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag people, stone butches, etc. And a political movement grew up to represent these people and their political interests.

Alas, this is not and never was true.

While we’re no longer supposed to use the term “transsexual,” what we have and have always had is a transsexual movement, about one’s right to change sexes.

On one hand, think of most of the main issues that animate this movement: the right to use the correct bathroom, to serve openly in the military, to get name-change corrections, to not lose one’s job when transitioning (or when outed!).

These are all important and necessary things, but what they have in common is that they are all related to changing from one sex to another (or, if you prefer, to having one’s correct gender recognized).

On the other hand, you cannot find any transgender or LGBT organization of any size that ever mentions stone butches, drag people, or cross-dressers. For political purposes, they don’t exist. So, not much room under that umbrella.

This is particularly unfortunate for cross-dressers, who pretty much founded what grew into the modern transgender movement and created many of its earliest institutions, and then had to stand by and see themselves left behind by it.

Now the transgender movement is being challenged by those who identify as nonbinary and genderqueer. But are these people transgender?

Transgender has also been about some sort of biological anchor, a difference between one’s perceived or presented gender expression and one’s inner gender identity, a dissonance or, to use the old psychiatric term,  “dysphoria.”

But with genderqueer and nonbinary people, it is the identifying act of saying one is nonbinary or gender-nonconforming which is central to identity. Can one be transgender if one is not “really” transgender? Is the simple act of identification enough?

And even if we do include such people within the transgender movement, as Beyer has asked, how would you operationalize that politically? What bathrooms do nonbinary people want the right to use? How do they want to be integrated into the military? What category (or categories) do they seek to have government-issued ID?

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Naomi Klein Is Sick of Benevolent Billionaires

From The New York Times:

By Ana Marie Cox
June 14, 2017

Your book “No Is Not Enough” frames Donald Trump’s impunity as a type of branding. How does that help explain him? He’s a culmination of many dangerous trends in the culture, especially the triumph of the idea that a successful corporation is first and foremost selling an idea of itself and a sense of belonging and identity to its customers. In the late ’80s, you saw brands start to sell the idea, the sense of belonging, first. That primacy of the brand does a lot to explain Trump, and how he has developed this intimate relationship with his base, why they expect so little of him and why he gets away with what he gets away with, because the rules of branding are really simple: Be true to your brand. The problem with Donald Trump is that he went and designed a brand that is entirely amoral.

Is he actually true to his brand? His brand is wealth and power, which is why he’s driven so mad by things like “President Bannon” and people disputing his wealth. Because if that’s the case — if he’s not as rich and powerful as he claims he is — that really does damage his brand. It is a tremendous weakness of Trump’s that he believes his own P.R. And it’s a central part of his brand that he is the guy who gets the deal, and it has been ever since his real first brand extension, “The Art of the Deal” — a book not written by him.

One criticism I had of your dissection of his brand was that you talk about him as if he’s a triumph of capitalism, even though he’s not — he inherited his wealth. I would argue that that’s the kind of capitalism we have now. I think there has always been a huge gap between what theories of capitalism say it is and how capitalism operates out in the world.

You argue that Democrats have to share the blame for Trump’s rise, partially in promoting the idea that the solution to vast inequality is to have nicer rich people, or philanthro-capitalism. Well, Trump’s pitch to voters was: “I’m rich. Sure, I have absolutely no experience in government, but the fact of my wealth is all the evidence you need that you can trust me to fix everything.” It’s an absurd pitch, but I don’t know how far away it is from why Americans have trusted Bill Gates to remake the American school system or Africa’s agriculture system. I don’t think there could’ve been a pitch as crass as Trump’s “I can fix America because I’m rich” without that groundwork laid by Davos and the Clinton Global Initiative.

There’s a quote in your book that the Trump phenomenon is an uncouth, vulgar echo of the dangerous idea that billionaires can solve our problems. I wonder if, also in Trump, we see a more uncouth and vulgar echo of another idea that the Democrats brought us: benevolent nepotism. Look at the structure of the Gates Foundation and this idea that, rather than trying to solve these huge global problems through institutions with some kind of democracy and transparency baked into them, we’re just going to outsource it to benevolent billionaires. Look at how the Gates Foundation allocates its money, and how it’s structured: it’s Bill Gates, his father and his wife and Warren Buffett — that has been interrogated a whole lot less than this current outsourcing of the world to Jared and Ivanka.

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