The no platforming of radical feminists: A talk by Julie Bindel

This is an edited transcript of a talk given by journalist, Julie Bindel, on June 6, 2015 at the jbQuaker Meeting House in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The event was recorded by UK Indymedia and was organized by the RadFem Collective.

I’m hopeful that we will be able to reach some kind of consensus, if not about issues and theories and the way that we approach, politically, these different issues, but at least in the way that we treat each other and in the way that we speak about each other and move forward and knock on the head what appears to be a phobia about having differences of opinion.

What seems to have happened, certainly in the past decade, maybe a little bit longer, is that identity politics (which to me, is like the old 1980’s identity politics, but without the politics) has taken over on issues that are of grave importance to deal with. Whatever your position on the sex industry and whether its harmful or whether its labour, on gender and whether its a social construction or whether its innate, on religious fundamentalism and whether it’s the woman’s right to wear a full-face veil or whether its oppressive to woman — all of these issues that seem to have created an absolute hellish cesspit of vitriol… It’s almost irrelevant what your position is. What we need to get out of this discussion is that we move forward constructively, that those of us who identify as being on the progressive left recognize that [it is far more important to get this Conservative Government] out of office than it is to argue over who is “whorephobic.”

I want to start with a little bit of the history of how this no platforming of radical feminism began by using a bit of my story and bringing in stories of other woman who have been similarly targeted.

But I just want to make two things clear before I do that.

1) This isn’t about me at all. I’ve become a kind of whipping girl. I represent, as far as those on the other side of my debate are concerned, all that is wrong with anything to do with feminism that names men and men’s violence as the problem. So this isn’t about me, I just happen to have been the target of most of it.

2) This isn’t about the transgender issue. It really isn’t. It’s about whether or not you take a neoliberal approach to certain feminist issues or whether you take a radical approach to certain feminist issues. That is my view, though this is something that is absolutely up for grabs in terms of this debate and discussion.

But from my point of view — how I see it with my eyes, having been involved in this movement for thirty five years — is that it is the perfect arena for a backlash against radical feminism. It means that white straight men can stand up in any political or social context or on social media and scream “whorephobe” and “transphobe” at those of us who prioritize ending violence against women and children but still be seen as progressives.

Those men have got free reign to do that and unfortunately (because this is the nature of women’s oppression — we’re the only oppressed group that’s required or expected to love our oppressor) they are aided and abetted by a number of women. That’s either because those women are also threatened by, or hate, radical feminism (radical feminists) or because they are maybe new to the movement or young or both and are bullied and battered down if they don’t say, “Yes you’re right, Bindel, etc. is whorephobic, transphobic, islamophobic, biphobic, etc.”

That, to me, is what this is about.

Bearing in mind that we have a chronic situation all over the world with violence against women and children, the oppression and discrimination of women and children, by men — by the male ruling class — I wonder if we can come up with some answers as to why radical feminists are now the enemy and the oppressors and why pretty much anyone else who takes a neoliberal view or an individualistic view is now the oppressed? That oppression now doesn’t have to be rooted in anything material or structural, it can literally just be the politics of the personal.

“I’m polyamorous, you’re oppressing me,” is something I’ve heard on several occasions… So those with much privilege, who are Oxbridge educated, who are white, have now located themselves as “the oppressed” because there is some weird, queer, Judith Bulterized notion that everything is a floating signifier and nothing really matters except the personal experience.

When feminists said ,”the personal is political,” we definitely didn’t mean that.

In 2004 I wrote an article that was seen as offensive, and bits of it were offensive. I used language and humour which was inappropriate. And yes, I would write it differently now, for sure. I was angry. I was very new to journalism (in fact I wasn’t actually a journalist at the time, which doesn’t take away any responsibility), but it was stupid and it was also unlucky, in a way, because it was pretty much the first time that The Guardian started putting up things from The Guardian Weekend Magazine online and so those that said far worse things than me before (I mean, good for them) didn’t really get any airing.

Because I am who I am — by then I was already quite well known as a feminist for having radical views — it was a great opportunity for the pile-on.

So the pile-on began and it has never ended — it never will end. So that’s just something that I accept. But what happened after that was kind of a beginning of a response to feminist politics, with me as a conduit. So everywhere I went to speak about sexual violence there was a crowd outside screaming and shouting “she’s a transphobe.” And very, very quickly it started to be combined with the pro-sex work lobby.

Almost immediately transwomen (never transmen) would turn up screaming “transphobe,” but also “whorephobe.”

There were two issues there — one is that some transwomen said that because they had been involved in survival sex work, I was being doubly oppressive to them by saying prostitution is an abusive, oppressive industry. But there were also pro-sex workers’ rights activists who saw an opportunity to give me a good kick in the gut and turned up in order to shout alongside them.

And these two issues became completely indivisible. So if I was put up for an award (which I never asked to be) they would bully and email the sponsors, trying to get the venue to shut it down. This was as early as 2006.

I would turn up at conferences outside of the UK and this very small lobby of transpeople who, as far as I’m concerned, do not represent transpeople at all, would organize the picket and would organize the screaming and shouting and banging on the windows. And this was when my colleagues and I were trying to discuss how to reduce sexual violence towards women and children, not because I was speaking about this issue.

I have spoken about transgenderism when I have been invited, and there’s always been transgender people with me on the panel and it’s often been at the invitation of transpeople, but others will try and get that debate shut down and the transpeople who wish to have that discussion and debate with me are screamed at and called “transphobe” themselves.

The number of transwomen that I have as friends outnumber the lobby — the actual physical lobby — of those who are creating this shit-storm, which is quite interesting. Some of those friends are friends on social media and some are friends that I know in person. I’m not doing that “some transwomen are my friends” thing, it’s just that I get lots of emails from transwomen saying “God, this is shit, this is shit, but if we say anything then there is a pile-on on us.” And bearing in mind that the trans community is so small and so vilified, it’s not surprising.

So that’s how it panned out. And then I was in a bit of a lonely place. There was me, Janis Raymond, Sheila Jeffreys, and maybe one other prominent radical feminist who were vilified and who had their employers written to and who had grant-givers written to, to say “withdraw that grant, because this person is contravening your equal opportunities policy.” That happened to me all the time — every single grant or editor I’ve had… It still does happen.

But then some younger women — interestingly mainly heterosexual — just said, “Fuck this with this gender nonsense — what’s all this ‘female brain’ and ‘male brain?’ We’re not having this. Of course we’ll stand in front of any transperson who’s been vilified and bullied and attacked, because that’s oppression, cruelty, and bullying. But we don’t have to buy into this ‘brain sex’ thing. We don’t have to abandon socialist and radical feminist theory and principals — which is that gender is a social construction and is how patriarchy works.”

It wasn’t a matter of being personally vitriolic towards individual trans people, it was just saying, “Of course, be as you wish.” We were talking earlier with Miranda [Yardley] and another transwoman friend about misgendering and I said, “I will refer to you as ‘she’ and ‘woman’ because I reject the term for me. It’s all made up, it’s all nonsense. I don’t know what it feel like to be a woman, I really don’t. I know what it feels like to be treated as a women… But I was born a baby, just like everyone else. So of course I’ll use the pronoun, ‘she’ — it’s basic manners. And it doesn’t exist anyway.”

So these young women started to say, “We’ve had enough of this being told that there’s such as thing as ‘brain sex’ and that gender is the same as sex and that we have to abandon everything that we believe in and we have to abandon everything from Simone de Beauvoir and everything since where we have tried to suggest that an end to patriarchy can only come when you say everybody can live free from gender constraints and gender rules that benefit men and oppress women but that also harm men.” (Men are quite unhappy under patriarchy often, as we’ve heard from pro-feminist men.)

So that started to really whip up the frenzy. Because there were now quite a few feminists who dared to say, “No, gender isn’t innate,” “No, the sex industry isn’t great,” there was a hell of a kerfuffle. And although left and liberal publications always published much more pro-trans, pro-sex work articles than they did the opposite, the second a feminist got her article in somewhere like New Statesman, there was a huge outcry, as though it’s not allowed to be said. There is no debate allowed. There is no dissent allowed.

And then I started hearing from a number of students — female and a couple of men — who said, “You have just been no platformed from our University, you may not know this… But here’s a copy of the minutes where it was decided. The majority of us didn’t want you to be no platformed, but it was carried through by the gender officer or the trans officer or the queer officer or whatever, and therefore you are banned again and I’d like you to know on what lines.” And it was that they couldn’t have me speaking because, [according to] these people who are banning me, I’m whorephobic, transphobic, biphobic and islamophobic. And the articles they chose to highlight this was me saying, about transgender, “this doesn’t stand up as a medical diagnosis from the fifties because gender is a social construction.” Whorephobia was, “the sex trade really harms women and girls.” Islamophobia was, along with many of my Muslim born sisters and colleagues, saying that the veil is a symbol of women’s oppression, like the nuns habit, etc. And the biphobia accusation was about me saying, “I don’t quite get why bisexual people are saying to lesbians that we are oppressing them.” It was just, you know, debatable stuff, some might even say controversial stuff, but definitely not hate speech and definitely not violent speech.

So these women who emailed me would say, “We don’t know what to do because we can’t speak out. The last student who spoke out in favour of you, just to say, ‘I’d like to hear her speak,’ was sacked from her position as an officer in the feminist society.”

Another one, I was told, who innocently sent around an article I’d written about rape and the low conviction rate was screamed at by the male “safe space officer” that she was a transphobe and a whorephobe — simply because she sent something around that was written by me.

So I have become toxic. It’s not that my “transphobia” or “whorephobia,” in their view, is toxic — I am toxic.

Then when I would go to universities (invited by staff rather than the NUS because, of course, the NUS no platform me and make sure that other student bodies lose their funding from them if they invite me), I would go onto campus… For example, last time I was at Essex University I was invited to debate a pornographer and the usual petition (I must say that has really benefited from this row — this online petition thing, I mean they are so busy with it all) went around: “Ban Julie Bindel from campus, her presence on campus for Muslim students, queer students, bi students, polyamorous students, sex working students and trans students will be an act of violence.” (This is all online, all for you to see. I don’t even need to exaggerate, which is breaking my heart because that is what I love doing more than anything.)

So they were saying that I was a physical danger and I realized, at that point, that what’s going on with student politics is that this neoliberalism that we are living under has given them the opportunity to think that they are doing great activist work and are achieving a huge amount by stopping actual violence on campus without stopping violence on campus — because it’s too big a job, because then you would have to stop all the men from raping the women — but just by banning me. Because I am violence.

So I went onto Essex University campus and I meet the pornographer on the train and we politely say hello. This is a man who has produced porn for years, has given awards to porn sites such as, which completely pornifies women coming from the Congo on boats, that have to be fucked by anyone because they’ve got no choice, because they’ve got no papers. There is another one which is a parody of the John Worboys taxi rapist… And this man’s given awards to these porn sites and I’m there getting ready to debate him and we are walking through campus and I see this rag-bag group of students who’d obviously got up a bit late to meet me at the actual campus gates, shouting and screaming “transphobe,” “violent,” “phobic” this, “phobic” that, at me. And I thought, well, we are living in Orwellian times as well as McCarthyite times. Because in what way is this pornographer, walking through this campus, with no dissent and no concern at all from these so-called feminists and pro-feminist students, and I’m being screamed at.

And there you have it. That is the climate in which we are living.

So whatever your view is on the sex industry, on gender, on anything — there’s only one side being screamed down, and that’s the feminist side. I don’t mean the fun feminists — the pole-dancing-is-the-new-way-to-liberation feminists — I mean the feminists like me: miserable, hard-faced, going on about men being abusers all the time…

Now we have an absolute phobia about debate. There seems to be a view that there is a right not to be offended. The fact that we can be offended (which I am at least a hundred times a day) is now being seen as violence, so that we experience it as internalized violence and we are triggered and we are traumatized. In fact, I am my own trigger warning — I found an article with the trigger warning, “Julie Bindel.”

So what do we do?

I think that the tide is starting to turn because younger or newer feminists are realizing that they now have no opportunity to learn from the rest of us and we, in turn, are not able to learn from newer and younger feminists. Because we are not allowed to be in each others spaces, each others campuses, even each others living rooms and say, “What do you think about that? Why do you think that sex work can be liberating?”

And they are not able to say to me, “What evidence do you have that the legalization of the sex industry has failed?” And we’re not able to talk about gender any more, which was the basis of socialism and feminism when we looked at how capitalism wielded families and wielded patriarchy. So it’s really harmful to the left as well as feminism, in general.

And the left now has this weird Orwellian view where everything is topsy turvy: The sex trade is empowering to women (in what way does capitalism not come into this?). That obviously there’s a male brain and a female brain… (In what way are you pro-equality if you think that we are different but equal? When people said that about black people and white people there was an outcry, and rightly so.) That the full-face veil is not in any way a symbol of oppression to women, when there are women in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, elsewhere who are saying, “Stop marching with these crazy fundamentalists who are fascists and support us.”

So the left has become, in a way, the new right and that’s why I talk about neoliberalism. We have no consistency within the left anymore because we have been battered down to take the view that anyone who says, “Me, me, me — I’m a Muslim woman and I have the right to do this. Me, me me — I’m a sex worker. Me, me, me — I’m a trans woman who knows I was born in the wrong body.”

We have no right, now, to challenge that orthodoxy. And this is what the left is built on. So unless we actually start to chip away at that — to challenge it and to be brave enough to stand up and disagree with it, then this will effect a damn sight more than me and a few others that are the targets, radical feminism in general, and the left in total. Because the right wing — I see this all online — they are laughing at us. (I mean they are writing some actually quite good and funny stuff about this whole nonsense, you know, “The Stepford Students,” etc.) They are absolutely laughing all the way to the election because we have been disabled by fear and by bullying and by this monolithic, crazy, view that what is actually oppressive is the new liberation.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Lisa

    I read this swinging between anger and wanting to cry. THANK YOU Julie – just for keeping going really. I’m in my 30s and a radical feminist – despite often being told that battle is over and my views are out of date…I am often too incredulous to respond. Online I’m finding radfem is almost akin to TERF now! But you’ve inspired me to shout louder and keep saying what I know to be true.

  • Hecuba

    Given real Radical Feminists believe ‘gender’ is mens’ social construction of what was once termed sex roles wherein men claim ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ are innate to males and females but is hierarchical because ‘masculinity cannot exist without femininity which is always subordinate and inferior to ‘masculinity – meaning males. So therefore this is why real Radical Feminists do not believe biological males can magically morph into females!

    This is why we real Radical Feminists refuse to refer to biological males who pretend they are females as ‘she.’ It isn’t ‘basic manners’ Bindel it is a refusal to accept male lies they are really females in a male body. But you know this already Bindel yet you continue to try and ‘have it both ways’ by pandering to the men and pretending you are a real Radical Feminist.

    If issue is about ‘basic manners’ then I demand men refer to me as ‘a wolf’ because I identify as a wolf despite the fact my physical body is a female human.

    Issue is all about mens’ lie they can magically morph into females and this is mens’ latest method of maintaining and justifying their pseudo male sex right to silence us real Radical Feminists. Men have always been very creative in justifying their male pseudo sex right to control and silence us women and mens’ lie they can magically morph into females is just another male tool being used by men and their female minions to silence us real Radical Feminists. In other words male oppression over women continues under a new male guise – the myth biological males are real women and we real biologically born females don’t exist!

    Once again the male Emperors have no clothes but we real Radical Feminists are not permitted by the men in charge to state this biological fact. Or to put another way the sky is pink if men say it is.

    • derrington

      I see your point but think Julie is probably taking a pragmatic approach to manners in that if she says he to a person that identifies as she, Julie will be removed from being able to report at all in any UK publication. Such is the witch hunt going on over here that to even question the Emperor’s latest trick or say one word out of line is a career decision, if not a life one. We live in very ‘interesting’ times as the Chinese proverb goes, the terf war continues unabated, but really it is sucking away time and energy in fighting male violence against women, although I can see that it undermines just exactly who women actually are, so maybe it isnt such a side issue. Time will tell.

      • northernTNT

        It’s not just “over there” Lierre Keith and Cathy Brennan, the most outspoken on this side of the ocean, have been entirely non-platformed.

  • lizor

    What a fantastic talk. I am so grateful to Julie Bindel for continuing to report publicly on her experience of the past decade or so and to offer her astute analysis of what’s happened.

    I read the Guardian article linked within this one and I wanted to comment on it. Comments are closed over there, so I’ll offer my thought here.

    In the closing paragraph Bindel writes “All I intended to do was to ask the questions, “Are we right to support sex change surgery, and is it right to apply a surgical solution to what I believe is a psychological problem?” ”

    I would contend that it it not actually a psychological “problem”. It’s a psychological configuration that is only problematized by a toxic culture. So I would, with deepest respect, amend [my version of] the question to read “Are we right to support sex change surgery, and is it right to apply a surgical solution to what I believe is a socio-cultural problem?”

    Thanks again for your courage, Julie Bindel. You, Meghan and others continue to inspire and encourage the rest of us.

    • Non-PC RadFem

      “Are we right to support sex change surgery, and is it right to apply a surgical solution to what I believe is a socio-cultural problem?”

      Fancy notion.

      But hey, in the UK, it’s the NHS tax-payer the ones who are footing the bill for sex change surgery/treatments at their National free-at-point-of-delivery Healthcare System [NHS].

      On the other hand; their maternity wards are operating in a factory conveyor-belt type fashion, treating women like cattle, often refusing their requests to pain-relief, because, and this is the midwives mantra; “the NHS’ budget is not a bottomless pit, so women in agony should just stop being so selfish and just get on with it.”
      Births, episiotomies, stitchings and even emergency C-sections are often carried out without sufficient – if any at all anesthetics of any kind.

      But that’s ok, because this is only about real women real physical and mental suffering, and it’s not men’s ‘fee-fees’ being hurt.

      Then, there are women [especially, childless ones] who request to be voluntarily sterilized by the NHS. But they are getting systematically turned down on the basis that: ‘they don’t know their own brain, on the assumption that some day they will change their minds and will want children.’

      So, unless there’s a medical reason to sterilize a woman, they’re being pointed in the direction of getting the procedure done privately, at their own cost [And btw, the majority of public opinion agrees with that] :/

      So much for ‘choice,’ ‘agency,’ and ‘knowing your own brain/body’ better than anyone else, uh?!

      £10m NHS bill as sex change operations soar

      Transexual demands £10,000 NHS sex change op is reversed complaining ‘it’s exhausting being a woman’

      ‘I know I never want children, so why can’t I be sterilised in my 20s?’ Holly Brockwell has made up her mind but is fighting GPs who refuse to grant her the NHS procedure

      Women denied epidurals in NHS cutbacks

      As the NHS considers withholding epidurals and caesareans to save money, mother of two TRACEY BLAKE says it’s cruel and barbaric to deny women pain relief

      ^Just to give you a few footnotes illustrating what I was talking about.

      • Yeah, money. Cost is such a huge part of this. Also the irreversibility of removing sex organs. (I am glad to see many trans women don’t go this far.)

        But from what I’ve read, *something* is necessary, because this is not just about gender stereotypes. Transitioning appears to be the most effective solution currently available for severe gender dysphoria, and given there are people who are so messed up they can’t work or form relationships, they need to do something. Also, autogynephilia is related to other philias, including the one where people feel compelled to injure themselves to become disabled, and that’s something that requires serious intervention.

        Anne Lawrence (Men trapped in men’s bodies) mentioned testosterone blockers. Apparently there are men who take them in prep for transitioning, then as their T levels drop, they lose their transness, then stop taking the blockers because they change their mind about transitioning, then the transness comes back. I think she mentions lower doses of blockers can reduce transness to a dull roar without the oscillations.

        I would like to see way more research on this.

        Also, male sexuality can get really weird.

        • Erika

          How about intense psychological counseling, access to a psychiatrist and support groups, and even possibly inpatient therapy for the most mentally ill? If we must throw drugs at every problem, why not benzos and / or anti-psychotics and / or drugs for OCD symptom relief? A person should be helped to understand that their delusions do not equate with reality and yes, they can seem really real, but they are only dysmorphias. Thoughts can be controlled and mastered with proper help via therapeutic techniques and possibly medications. Feeding the delusion is the exact wrong way to go. It only validates nonsense.

          • I am not an expert. I was only repeating what I’d read in the research, that testosterone blockers seemed to help in some cases (something I find fascinating), and they are much less drastic than surgery. Whether they are less or more drastic/effective than benzos, antipsychotics and/or drugs for OCD relief, I cannot say. Therapy will only work if it targets the actual problem, not just what people want it to be. Given that are are at least two separate etiologies for trans women, and a lot of trans people in denial, that is not going to be easy. Lawrence thinks autogynephilia should be considered a type of sexual orientation rather than a philia for a variety of well-thought-out reasons. Again, I am not an expert and can only keep an open mind here.

            Don’t forget that there is a long history of throwing useless to harmful medications and therapies at problems that society does not want to deal with fairly, including sexual orientation and autism – neither of which are “curable” through either drugs or operant conditioning (I’m autistic, hence the example). Trans people know this, and are not going to trust the system easily. So research, more research, and a lot of transparency.

            Quite frankly, the thought of throwing antipsychotics at this problem scares the hell out of me. That’s what people want done to me, to make my differences go away. Those drugs may actually help in some situations (though I gather lithium is the only drug that actually has a good track record) but in many situations it would only be abuse. Is there some sort of evidence that antipsychotics would actually target the problem? Or is suggesting them just a reflex? I think testosterone-blockers actually have some logic to them.

          • Erika

            Are you “classically” autistic or do you have Asperger’s Syndrome? I suspect that latter, as you are well spoken. Autism is a spectrum, and I am intimately familiar with Asperger’s because my younger brother was diagnosed with it and I am equally intimately familiar with “classical” autism because my young son has it. He is nonverbal. There is a recent study showing that different regions of the brain are affected by Asperger’s vs “classical” autism. There is a push to separate these 2 with increasing evidence that they are 2 different “animals.” I am not aware of medications routinely used for autism, as there is no real cure. However, some medications may be used off-label or to treat symptoms such as violent outbursts, crying jags, and obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. There are even drugs approved in the USA for “social anxiety” !!! Lithium is normally prescribed for Bipolar Disorder (formerly called Manic Depression.) It is not a classic anti-psychotic drug. No, the anti-psychotic suggestion was not just a reflex, (see abstract below.) It could help some transsexuals. Of course, every drug has risks and possible side effects. That is why I believe that talk and behavior modification therapies may be the way to go.

            [Transsexualism or delusions of sex change? Avoiding misdiagnosis]. – ResearchGate. Available from:

            [Transsexualism or delusions of sex change? Avoiding misdiagnosis].

            Małgorzata Urban

            Klinika Zaburzeń Afektywnych i Psychotycznych UM w Łodzi.
            Psychiatria polska (Impact Factor: 0.75). 43(6):719-28.
            Source: PubMed

            ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper was to present basic data about gender identity disorders and psychotic transsexual desires. From time to time in scientific literature there are descriptions of a diagnosis of psychotic disorders in persons previously diagnosed and treated as transsexuals, in whom the transsexual thinking disappears after using antipsychotic agents. Coexistence of transsexualism and schizophrenia causes a lot of doubt– it is observed in sceintists’ opinions but also in the diagnostic criteria of DSM-IV and ICD-10, Moreover, delusions of sex change are probably more frequent than it is thought. It causes, that in some cases the differential diagnosis of psychosis and gender identity disorders may be very difficult, Transsexuals treatment is on one hand connected with expected effects but on the other hand with many serious, often irreversible health consequences (e.g. cardiovascular disease, risk of neoplasma development, infertility, consequences of surgical sex reassignment). That is why the differential diagnosis of transsexualism and schizophrenia should be made carefully and thoughtfully.”

          • I have really mixed feelings about answering this. I would not be surprised to find myself in the classic autism group if I were ever to actually be evaluated objectively (big “if”). I sincerely doubt you’re as intimately familiar with autism as I am, and I’m not sure you’re asking me which “type” I am, since how is this relevant? Is this supposed to be a friendly question? To make conversation? Or is it a way of marginalizing me because I’m supposedly not as disabled as others are? I get told I don’t look or seem disabled ALL THE BLEEPING TIME and I’m really tired of it. It doesn’t just annoy me, it cuts me off from badly needed resources.

            The abstract is interesting. Like I keep saying, we need more research.

          • Erika

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. However, I will never stop looking for ways to help my nonverbal son. (Any suggestions?) Everyone agrees that more research on treatments for transsexuals must be done.

          • I think they’re recommending non-verbal ways of communicating these days, like writing (or symbols) and sign language. I know for me reading/writing is many orders of magnitude easier than listening/talking.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            @ Anemone:

            You tried to latch on me and I ignored you for a reason…

            I can’t care less if you are “intimately familiar with autism” or not, this is not a contest, you know?

            Do you wanna know what psychology professionals say about us? They say 99.9% of the global population suffers – at the very least – from some form of neurosis. That means we all have our issues, which in turn means: nobody is perfect.

            But this is not an invitation to measure-up who is less perfect than others, therefore the less perfect one wins the ‘imperfect’ Olympics trophy and gets to be the one who talks over everyone else.


            Bottom line; quit stalking. This ain’t facebook :/

          • Erika

            Yes, my son is communicating with a device that verbalizes pictures, a “Go Talk.” That does seem to help the situation a bit. 🙂

          • @ Non-PC RadFem

            I don’t know why you think I tried to latch onto you. I’m just trying to have a conversation.

            I also don’t know why you’re bring up autism when that was in a reply to Erika, not you.

            I don’t know why you’re talking about 99% here. It’s not like 99% are so disabled they’re not able to work/participate in society. Some trans (hopefully not very many) are really that disabled by their dysphoria.

            I won’t reply to you any more if you like.

        • andeväsen

          “Transitioning appears to be the most effective solution currently available for severe gender dysphoria”

          How sure are we about this? What level evidence is this based on?

          • My source is Anne Lawrence, Men trapped in men’s bodies, available for free online. It may also be discussed in The man who would be queen (I can’t remember), also available online for free. I think this is based on general clinical experience, which is usually where these assessments originally come from, for all sorts of psychiatric problems. You try stuff, you see what works, then you go in and do number crunching when there’s enough data. There is really nowhere near enough research on this subject, and that bothers me a lot. In the meantime, if clinicians are saying this is the best treatment available right now, I think people ought to listen. Question, sure, but don’t just dismiss out of hand.

          • Erika

            The lack of hard data bothers me as well. I wish this issue wasn’t so contentious. 🙁

          • Non-PC RadFem

            (sorry, I couldn’t find a reply button to your post, so I’ll leave this here instead…)

            “Yes, my son is communicating with a device that verbalizes pictures, a “Go Talk.” That does seem to help the situation a bit. :-)”

            I’m glad to hear you found a way to communicate with your son.
            It sounds similar to sign language for deaf people [< I always wanted to learn that, btw. I find their way of communication fascinating and awe inspiring].

        • northernTNT

          Gender dysphoria has become irrelevant, you are about a decade late on the topic. Absolutely ANY person can “self-identify” however they please. UK, Canada, USA, most people can simply auto-diagnose, tell the government they have feminine feelz and get their female paperwork and birth certificates. Gender dysphoria may be in the DSM but it is no longer socially relevant. Transing no longer is related to gender dysphoria.
          As for those few who actually officially get that diagnosis, SRS does NOT help them. Studies simply do not demonstrate that. By insinuating such things, you are simply paroting the trans* narrative.

  • Maria

    I’m sure Julie is sincere in her views, but what strikes me is that she is fundamentally a fundamentalist, that is she needs to see the world in black and white. That is, for example, she believes, because of her ideology, that there is no such thing as male and female brains. Now unfortunately for Julie the jury is still out on that, but it eventually when the science does reach a consensus the likelihood emerging seems to be that the truth is a many faceted shade of grey. The mush in our skulls has (metaphorical) pink bits and blue bits and green bits too undoubtably – we’ll all be some mix of male brain and female brain across a rainbow spectrum, as opposed to Julie, who has an article of faith that we’re all the same (boring) grey.

    The same seems to be true of much of what Julie argues for, Pornography varies from the horrific to the erotic (the age old discussion of erotica vs pornography and where the line is drawn), sex work from the abusive to the empowering, and so forth.

    To handle complexity of this nature you need an open mind that can handle multiple truths in parallel and appreciate that humanity is a rich set of diversity. I think with the increasing complexity of the world over the last couple of decades, and the access to information that has gone with it, accepting and working with complexity has become the norm for the younger generations.. largely those people under 35 whom came to their teenage years in the internet age. Accommodating complexity like this leads to a ‘liberal’ frame of mind, which when combined with feminism produced the third and emerging fourth waves and rejects the rigidity of the old second wave radicals as patently simplistic, and because of that, false.

    For many older people like Julie, and that group of people who need to have the world in binary black and white, truth and lie, good and bad, such liberal acceptance of complexity is both threatening and incomprehensible. They react by constantly trying to reduce to the binary of an ageing radicalism. To the newer liberals this attitude is understandably a form of violence as it can only succeed by denying what liberals see as a basic human right – to express your complexity in whatever way you wish and not be forced into the binary.

    Acceptance of diversity is undoubtably the future, and this trend is only going to accelerate. Rigid ideology such as communism, organised religion, and second wave radical feminism, only can thrive in limited information and experiential environments, or with individuals who choose such. That’s not the way the world is developing and in a month where Caitlyn Jenner can gain a million twitter followers in 24 hours, Julie is on the wrong side of history.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I’m not sure I really understand your comment, as it is the dogma of those on the other side of the no platforming efforts who refuse to allow for a diversity of thought?

      Also, if you would prefer to be on the side of history that thinks Caitlyn Jenner’s millions of twitter followers is some big triumph for humanity, you’re looking at a world that values celebrity culture and that values extravagance and capitalism (and, therefore, poverty) above all else.

      • Maria

        Caitlyn Jenner’s millions of twitter followers is indeed a triumph for humanity. Because it demonstrates that as a society the vast majority of people now accepts that liberal feminist, and humanist, point of view that we are not pegs to be cast into a set of rigid gender buckets defined by the radical feminists and second wavers, but individuals who can express our gender and sexuality in the myriad of shades of pink, blue and green that nature has bestowed on us.

        No platforming Bindel and the radfems is absolutely consistent with this, because Bindel simply wishes to deny the spectrum of shades of individuality and force us into the grey of her conformity, simply so she and her ilk can be happy in the narrow minded ideology of her binary world view. What she desires is a form of violence, as it has always been from the Puritans and other social Conservatives of her ilk.

        Second generation radical feminists are now on the wrong side of history. Sure many may scream their defiance as they sink into irrelevance, but Caitlyn Jenner’s millions compared to the few dizen recognisable names protesting demonstrate that they’ve lost.

        • Meghan Murphy

          But Caitlyn Jenner isn’t a feminist. She is a rich, white, republican. How is celebrating wealthy republicans who have done nothing for women or any marginalized population, for that matter, a ‘triumph’ for humanity?

          • Maria

            And why can’t a rich white republican woman be a feminist? Are you saying you only get your feminist card if you ‘do’ something for women? Who decides? You?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Tell me one thing Jenner has done for the feminist movement or for marginalized women. Tell me about her feminist ideology. Tell me about her politics. Tell me how those politics have helped women.

          • Maria

            I’m sure the vast majority of Republicans believe that their political stance leads to the greater good of all humanity,women and men. It’s arrogance in the extreme to demonise Caitlyn for not caring about people just because she doesn’t agree with your politics. Are you saying you can’t be a Conservative and a Feminist? because if so who gave you gatekeeper rights?

          • Meghan Murphy

            No one gave me ‘gatekeeper’ rights. But feminism is a real thing, not just a word. As is socialism. I don’t ally with those who support free market capitalism or with those who work in opposition to the labour movement/unions.

          • andeväsen

            “I’m sure the vast majority of Republicans believe that their political stance leads to the greater good of all humanity,women and men.”

            Do you hold that that is the definition of feminism? What argument led you to this conclusion and what steps did you take to test its validity? What is your definition of anti-feminism?

            In addition, how are you “sure”? Have you performed a poll? How vast exactly was the majority and how was your question framed?

            The process by which you have drawn your conclusions appears the opposite of rigorous. If this is not the case you will clarify your positions.

          • S.Law

            The vast majority of conservatives and people with neoliberal economic views believe that trickle-down economics work. A vast number of other people … and the IMF … say that it doesn’t.

            A vast majority … claims generally don’t cite real stats or the results of peer reviewed studies … they cite Twitter … or anecdotal evidence or … their own opinions. Sounds like a sweeping generalization. Weren’t we instructed in social studies not to make such generalizations?


            Claims that conservatives are compassionate really don’t deserve anything but laughter (and I would say that claims that libertarians including the left variety (what passes for progressive in some circles) are compassionate are also laughable) given all the cutting they do to programs that benefit women and the improverished (e.g. public education, public healthcare, child care (yes, I know women are free not to have children, I don’t, I am thinking on a more global scale), subsidies (food, income), etc.).

            I don’t see why the minority should dictate to an already oppressed (or underdog) majority. Their views should be considered but they shouldn’t be able to co-opt an entire category (woman) and start dictating to that category that terms like sisterhood, vagina, menstrual cycle, etc.) are exclusionary. It is like certain groups want to thought police a group that already has its internal thought police (other women) and external thought police (men, advertisers, educators, politicians, medical professionals, etc.).

            Personally, I am not that interested in the views of women who are fixated on the male gaze to the extent they feel the need to pose nude or semi-clothed. So the views of Caitlyn Jenner are of no interest to me. Neither would the views of a Playboy model be of interest to me.

            No one is fully accepted for who they are in this life. It is childish to think that one should be accepted by everyone, for all one’s quirks and foibles. I’m not that fond of smokers and don’t think they are victims of big tobacco. Especially when they claim universal victim status and suggest that second hand smoke has no negative health consequences for asthmatics (and others with respiratory illnesses). I can’t even get my stupid family members to understand that my asthma needs to be treated with pharmaceuticals (oh, big pharma) not wishful thinking or alt medicine. If an illness that can kill you (my doctor said this to me, to remind me of the seriousness of severe asthma, and I am a compliant take my medication asthmatic and don’t expose myself to triggers) can be ignored why shouldn’t the complaints of a particularly toxic subset of the trans communmity. No one gets to dictate how others see them … in the real world. The law can protect us from people who would harm us, or spread hate … but when you expand expressions of hate to include medical terminology (e.g. vagina) you need a reality check.

          • lizor

            I’m sorry, but are you familiar at all with current Republican party policies? Can you explain which policies tabled and supported by that party assist in women in any way?

          • Maria

            So you can’t be a republican and a feminist? Why do you get to decide?

          • Meghan Murphy

            What exactly do you think feminism is? Would you say, “So you can’t be a Republican and a socialist?”

          • Non-PC RadFem

            Oh, Meghan, just shoosh.

            How dare you imply I can’t be a bloodthirsty warmonger and a pacifist at the same time? And yes, admittedly, I never heard about the concept of ‘cognitive dissonance,’ but that’s no excuse for you to dazzle my brain with your elaborate terminology. You better stop oppressing me, don’t be such a bigot, and above all: cease and desist immediately from ‘erasing’ me out of existence /sarc

          • Laur

            So you can’t be a Marxist and the CEO of McDonalds? Why do you get to decide?

            Seriously, is feminism to have no meaning? Besides which, Jenner has never even stated he is a feminist. I doubt he has had given more than 60 seconds of brain-time to the topic–if that.

            We might as well be arguing about whether Jenner is a socialist or not. He has never proclaimed to be one, and everything he has done goes against a socialist line of thought, but why do we get to decide what’s socialist?

            I can’t think of a better way to destroy a political movement than to rob it of even the slightest bit of meaning.

          • andeväsen

            “Who decides?”

            You decide, Maria, you. Tell us how you have come to decide that this rich white American Republican is or is not a feminist.

            Making decisions, reflecting on the decisions you make – does it seem like too much of a burden?

        • Erika

          Fads in celebrity culture do not define truth or science. What is right (accurate) is not always popular. What is popular is not always right. Why do you conflate the 2?

        • Laur

          “No platforming Bindel and the radfems is absolutely consistent with this, because Bindel simply wishes to deny the spectrum of shades of individuality and force us into the grey of her conformity…”

          Is the only way men can express their individuality through sexual violence? Bindel wishes to deny men opportunity to sexual harass, pimp, and rape women. But hey,in a world without sexual harassment, pimping, and rape, men would all be the same boring “grey” conformists.

        • northernTNT

          hahaha Jenner is a religious Conservative anti-woman mongrel, NOT an icon of feminism and Humanism! it is truly funny that you would think that.

    • What you call “rigid ideology” is actually an analysis of power dynamics. This way looking at the world allows us to strip away the self-serving hyperbole and look at who has power. It is the opposite of ideology in that we don’t have to convince ourselves that black is white. We see things more clearly – for example, that Jenner shows all the hallmarks of patriarchy and entitlement.

    • dandelion

      And so speaks the rigid ideology of neoliberalism — which beats the devil at his own trick: convincing the world it doesn’t exist. All of life, reduced to individual consumer choice, and the structures shaping those choices invisible and therefore unassailable. What patriarchy? What capitalism? What hegemony? What fucking history, for god’s sake? Meanwhile corporations grow ever stronger, now possibly via TPP, on the verge of subordinating nation-states, while patriarchy controls the lives of millions of trafficked women, women’s assets worldwide are in decline, and even in the US, in many areas of the country, female longevity, after years of increase, is now decreasing. No individual’s subjective and therefore transitory experience of empowerment can combat the iron fists of these power structures, ever. And honestly, I can’t figure out if imagining so arises out of delusion, a sufficient level of comfort, sheer blindness, or cowardice. Regardless, the pot’s on the stove, the frogs are inside, and the water’s getting hotter by the minute. Sooner or later, some of these frogs are going to realize that what looks like dancing to their own music is something else altogether.

    • marv

      Neoliberalism purports to be a ‘philosophy of exposure’, championing a balanced presentation of all opposing views. A sound education is thought to require an understanding and evaluation of various ideologies to establish well-informed opinions. In practice liberalism allows a bland range of options. Feminist revolutionary positions are rejected outright from mainstream public debate and grade school curriculum. As a result numerous children and adults are functionally illiterate of the damage done to girls and women by porn and ‘sex work’ and to the impoverished by hierarchical market economics. Many are suffering mental illness which could be prevented through an education of solid feminist values that would enable them to live liberating lives.

      Liberal doctrinaire schooling is not a form of education in the true meaning of the term. It is intellectual and bodily suppression. As the ruling philosophy of exposure it exposes naked women to ogling men and the Majority World to deprivation.

      Maria, please read Robert Jensen’s recent article:

    • Are you talking about complexity or relativism?

      I agree with you that feminists are going to have to look at innate sex differences at some point, but most feminists do not train in science, so they are not really equipped to go there yet. Neither are most misogynists, and feminists are largely going up against misogynists (and misogynists misquoting science) rather than (nonmisogynist) scientists* themselves, so they aren’t going to be prioritizing the cutting edge of science right now.

      I disagree that the “complexity theory” solution to prostitution/pornography is going to look anything like the current liberal model. Part of complexity is recognizing that something may be much more harmful to some people than others because of what they bring to the situation (genetics, epigenetics, environmental influences), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as harmful overall. Unless you can demonstrate that removing it from the equation harms people/society (not including people who profit from it), the solution is still to get rid of it completely. You don’t average outcomes in complexity, you look at bottom lines.

      Check out the first chapter of my book (free online) if you want to know more about where I am coming from with complexity.

      *Diane Halpern and Shelley Taylor seem to be ok, but I’d stay away from Simon Baron Cohen.

      • northernTNT

        YET ?????????? There is nothing new in this. The real quality science has LONG known ther is no such thing as male or female brains (not at the birth level anyway, only at the consequence of patriarchy level) please stop pretending there is are two-sides to this science.

    • Priscila

      “we’ll all be some mix of male brain and female brain across a rainbow spectrum, as opposed to Julie, who has an article of faith that we’re all the same (boring) grey.”

      Well, the human brain is indeed kind of grey…

      Now seriously: it doesn’t matter. The brain is just as “biological” as any other body part. *Even if* there are inborn sex-based differences on human brains (which I really, seriously doubt), it’s still nonsense to talk of a “female brain in a male body” as your brain is obviously part of your body.

    • Jo

      Wrong side of history? God you’re a disgusting person who makes Julie seem like a hippy love child flower. You FAKE.

      That’s right, go where the wind blows. Support a Republican who just killed someone, belittles women and was abusive to his SIX kids. Yeah, Caitlyn F*CKING Jenner.

      • Pretty obviously wrong side of history Jo. Those one million twitter followers can’t be argued with, neither can the accolade of thousands of people from the President of The United States downwards. Her transform is commented on as in inspiring story of courage and bravery on cable, in the press and around the civilised world. Jo, you’ll probably have to go to Utah or ISIS to find other conservatives who agree with you.

        Or you could just get over it and accept that the civilised world is rejecting the dogmatic conformity and conservatism that you and Bindel represent

        • Meghan Murphy

          If Twitter followers decide what the right side of history is and who represents ‘courage’ and ‘bravery’, I guess Justin Bieber is a revolutionary.

          • Maria

            Don’t be silly, it just proves that a very large number of people are sympathetic, and so comfortable with the individualistic liberal viewpoint that accepts Caitlyn as a (gorgeous) woman, and rejects the dreary radfem puritan criticism of her.

            By contrast Bindel has 100 times fewer followers Caitlyn, built up over years I guess. The inference seems to be something of a no-brainer to me

          • Meghan Murphy


            Oh man. This IS a joke, right?

            A large number of people are also racist. A large number of people are anti-abortion. A large number of people watch porn. Such a large number of people voted for Harper that we have a Conservative government in Canada.

            What does THAT tell you? The rest of us anti-racist, pro-reproductive rights, pro-equality folks are “on the wrong side of history”?


          • I think the inference is some people spend too much time on the internet. While others go off and do heavy thinking and only show up when they have something to say.

            And yes, I spend way too much time on the internet.

          • Erika

            The “inference” is that Bruce Jenner is an attention whore.

          • lizor


            He IS a revolutionary! So was Mussolini. Imagine the twitter following Benito would have if he were around today! So there, Meghan.

            See: It’s not about weighing evidence and drawing rigorously-considered conclusions from that evidence – it’s about Likes. For example: Big Macs are revolutionary (because “Billions sold”)! On the other hand, evidence about the environmental impact of the production of Big Macs; scientific evidence on the health effects of eating them; and observations of the economic impact of MacDonald’s labour practices are conservative and conformist. You following me here?

          • Meghan Murphy


        • Priscila

          Hahahahahahah but of course they can be argued with. And they will. Sorry.

        • Erika

          “Those one million twitter followers can’t be argued with…” In Nazi Germany, there were way more than a million people who upheld Hitler’s vision. So, Maria, were they on the “right side of history?”

          Transgender is a fad right now. It may never disappear completely, but it will certainly wane.

          Masses of individuals, including prominent ones, have been wrong about many things throughout the course of history. I could give literally thousands of examples. The fallacy of your argument is very easy to ID. If you lived in earlier times you would insist the world is flat because many people believed so. You would insist that our Earth was the center of the universe not based on science, but based on popular support. However, that popular support did not change the actual facts.

          One million Twitter followers does not confer validity, unless the Earth is indeed flat because one million people once thought so.

        • Erika

          “…One million twitter followers can’t be argued with…” Far more than a million people supported Hitler. Were they right simply because they jumped on a bandwagon? More than a million people once thought the Earth was flat. Also, more than a million people thought the Earth was the center of the universe, with all other “heavenly bodies” revolving around it. There are countless examples of masses of people being on the “wrong side of history.” One million twitter followers can indeed be argued with. Your fallacy of logic is rather obvious. I am literally embarrassed for you. Please, go back to school.

        • S.Law

          And I’ll bet mob violence can’t be argued with either. ‘Cause the crowd is always wise. Hardly.

          And I have to say it, it is much more likely that you are on the wrong side of history. Given that biological determinism was thoroughly explored/critiqued in the last century and found to be wanting. You seem to be on the side of a history which was last occupied by Malthus (social Darwinism and scientifically rationalized racism), amongst others. Biological determinism cuts both ways – it critiques the claims of trans activists and their supporters and more essentialist feminists.

        • northernTNT

          The past has seen many psychological nastiness trends that have now faded into history and are now abhorred… electroshock therapy, alien abductions, multiple personalities, lobotomies, hypnotism. Trans* will simply eventually join these past fads of psychiatric nonsense. Already Mental Health scientists are distancing themselves from the DSM which is just a big political patriarchal mishmash.

    • river

      “…she believes, because of her ideology, that there is no such thing as male and female brains.”

      Believing there are Female brains and male brains IS a black and white example.

    • Henri

      Maria, neoliberal arguments are the convoluted version of so-called ‘social justice’ – in reality it is nothing more than hybrid individualism that does little to combat structural oppression. You mention the human brain could be a mix of male, female, or whatever…mush. Is this not saying the female or male brain doesn’t exist too? Sorry, I’m confused.

      It’s a waste of time to consider who is “drawing the line” in the porn or prostitution – we already know that men and capitalism control sex industry ‘standards.’ Also, using a ‘spectrum’ to describe the sex industry downplays the massive violence, inequality, and discrimination that is embedded.

      I always hear liberals argue anti-binary this and that..but “cis and trans” is so widely used in liberal circles. I’m now at the point when I read or hear ‘cis’ I stop reading or listening…because It’s the same uncritical argument that is usually individually and male-centred. “Handing complexity” should involve critical thinking. Today’s liberal “multiple truths” are nothing more than objective realities based on popular opinion.

      • vagabondi

        This is a good point. If everything’s so nonbinary now, why don’t we say, cis and trans and people who aren’t either?

    • vagabondi

      Ooh, what a fun new twist on ageism! It’s all sciency and stuff.

    • Erika

      Maria, I am a scientist with direct experience studying human brains in live people and in cadavers. There is no evidence for the existence of discretely male and female brains. You herald your ability to understand complexity, a talent that you credit to being younger and growing up in the internet age. You contrast this with radfems, who you say “see the world in black and white.” So how deliciously ironic is it, that you then propose this black and white idea of male and female brains? Additionally, your comment has a very condescending tone. Clearly, you believe that your generation is smarter than Ms Bindel’s, and by extension, you are smarter than she is. Every generation assumes that they are universally smarter than their ancestors, and people are adept at cherry picking examples to buttress their claims, yet it is undeniable that modern humans have saddled themselves with problems of their own making, problems that would be unimaginable to their (assumed inferior) ancestors. So, there must be more to the story. In reality, we have progressed our knowledge as a species in some areas, while losing knowledge in other areas. We can not understand how ancient people accomplished many feats without modern tools and technologies. Clearly they knew things that are lost to us. Your baseless contention that having grown up in the internet age automatically conferred superior intelligence about complexity upon you and your peers actually only shows another simple and timeless truth— that it is easier for humans to see the mistakes and biases of others than it is for those same humans to see their own mistakes and biases. You cite not a single, peer reviewed, academic study in support of the idea that there are discretely male and female brains, nor do you define precisely what those definable differences are and what their ramifications would likely be. What are your qualifications as a professional doctor or scientist to even weigh in on brain science? Was it that queer theory 101 class that you took freshman year? This isn’t about opinion or ideology. Science relies on hypothesis testing via experimentation, direct observation, and collecting and properly interpreting data. Scientists use actual, quantifiable data and precise definitions. Well designed and statistically relevant experiments must give results that are consistent and repeatable, regardless of who is doing the experiment, and what their personal ideology is (because ideology doesn’t matter in science.) Also, the world was complex and diverse long before the internet. In many ways, it was MORE complex and diverse. So, you cite not one shred of actual scientific evidence to support your views of discretely separate male and female brains, but you close with your best evidence that you are indeed on the “right side of history”— the simple fact that Bruce Jenner gained a million Twitter followers in 24 hrs!!! Seriously?!?!?! That just floored me!!! Yep, no real need for brain science or real scientists, just look at who is winning the popularity contest on Twitter!!! Wow! Science is not about fads or popularity contests. The uninformed opinions of laypeople are not worth anything in actual science. Please, go back to school. You need it. Also, consider the fact that the “old” professor who grew up before the internet is smarter than you on the subject matter being taught. That is why he or she is the teacher and you are the student.

    • S.Law

      The real fundamentalists are people who are biologically deterministic. When post-modernism was all the rage (antecedents of much of the identity politics of today and choice feminism of today) biological determinism was a great sin. As it should be. A biologically deterministic world view has a very deterministic view of gender. Those with such a view use whatever literature they can to bolster their arguments (e.g. Lionel Tiger in Anthropology). But funnily enough biological determinism isn’t very scientific because it cherry picks the science it uses to support its arguments. Like asserting that genetics wholly determine one’s sexual preference (about 40% for men, 0% for women) or one’s thought processes and mental abilities (female brain discussion, very similar to the women have female parts so they can’t vote, wear pants, do science, do sports (without inflicting permanent damage to their lady parts, etc.). Biological determinists are on the wrong side of history and modern science.

      • Like asserting that genetics wholly determine one’s sexual preference (about 40% for men, 0% for women) . . .

        This. This is the kind of stuff I’d like to see more of. Biological determinism won’t be defeated by no-platforming it (if I can use that term here – I’m not trying to upset anyone). The way to defeat bad science is through good science: What are the facts we are sure of? What do researchers currently debate? What are we sure is not true? What is there consensus on with respect to brain structure differences? Does anyone agree on what if anything those differences might mean? What about well-established sex differences in rates of violence and their probable link to testosterone? Etc.

        Any good summaries online?

        • Erika

          Great questions! Unfortunately, the divisive politics get in the way. Some people simply do not want to believe science when it does not support their views. Another issues is that it takes several studies to confirm the science and some are better designed than others. Also, lack of a large enough sample size. Transsexuals are a very small minority. We can not look at just a few hundred and overgeneralize. Then there are cross-cultural studies needed. What we do know for sure is that there is no way to change one’s DNA. We do know that there are no pink and blue brains. There is only a human brain with no real functional differences between men and women as a class (accept those associated with sexual reproduction), but there is always variation among individuals. We know what each area of the brain is in charge of. We know where the speech center is, where higher “executive functions” happen, where the right and left sides of the body are controlled, where vision and speech are interpreted, where primitive fight or flight responses sit, where growth hormones are released, etc and so on. These things are the same in males and females. We can change the outside. We do know that males are much more violent than females, probably due to testosterone. When testosterone is given to athletes for sports doping purposes, some of the athletes develop “‘roid rage” and become violent when they weren’t before. We do not know that “sex reassignment surgery” does not necessarily lead to long-term happiness and some transsexuals have transitioned back to their biological sex. We do know that many transsexuals have other psych issues. We do know that the causes of people identifying as transsexuals are widely varying and complex. I think what we are really debating is what does it mean to be a given sex? For me, DNA is crucial. Socialization explains a lot as well. We do know that transactivists have petitioned groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center to list as hate groups any collection of people who believe that DNA determines biological sex. I am sympathetic to the plight of transpeople, but I can not be a science-denier. The hard right has people denying the settled science of climate change and trying to tar and feather the researcher who came up with the “hockey stick model of climate change” and the hard left is doing the same to people who think DNA matters. It is a form of science denial. I do think that transpeople should be treated humanely and with dignity. I do not think that someone is a bigot for thinking that only the wrapper changes, not the actual sex. In biology, literal human sex change is not possible. When the sperm and egg meet, sex is established and is immutable, like our genetic ancestry. It is what it is.

          • I can’t help but think there are language differences. I know girls learn language earlier than boys, and given that kids tend to play in same-sex groups, I think it leads to cultural differences between female and male dominated spaces. I’ve read that cognitive differences in language tasks between the sexes are small in adults, or even disappearing, but the language/communication differences between female-dominated and male-dominated spaces are so big I can’t help but wonder if the tests have too low a ceiling or are testing the wrong things or something. This doesn’t have anything to do with trans people per se, unless it’s contributing to the lack of communication :), but I do wonder.

          • S.Law

            I think same sex groups were strictly reinforced until recently so it is not reasonable to suggest that girls naturally gravitate to other girls. There were girls and boys entrances in my elementary school (not in junior high or high school). Kids are still malleable all through the K-12 years. Dress codes for school pictures (girls in dresses). In elementary school girls had to wear a short sleeved leotard for phys ed while boys could wear t-shirts and shorts. I hated the leotard. I didn’t mind girl’s bathing suits (seemed appropriate for the activity of swimming) but the leotard just made me feel exposed. I didn’t have any problem with girly things (playing psychodrama with my brunette barbie ripoff and my brother’s GI Joe) as a young child but when the stakes got higher in adolescence I became less and less willing to conform. To be frank I associated with girls because they seemed less unpleasant than boys.

            I know there are mean girls (and I had a persistent female bully through elementary and early junior high but she wasn’t that popular so had no following, so our interactions were one on one) but I suffered under an abusive male parent (emotional and psychological) and a mini-dad brother so I became pretty cynical pretty early with the idea that males are benign or friendly.

            In elementary school the males hogged the soccer balls and field. I think they staked out the sporting equipment area at recess. The older boys or or certain clique always got the soccer balls and played on the field. One time I just stepped onto the soccer field and they all stopped playing and came over to intimidate me. So I, my brother and random other kids (girls and younger boys) (sometimes my brother and I were allies) would get the baseball equipment and wander to the baseball diamond furthest away from the school (the older boys took the closest one) and spend most of our time walking to and from the diamond with little time to actually play. Funny that my tomboy friend never challenged the boys on their own turf. She just stood by as I stepped onto that soccer field.

            I think the programming starts at birth. Sometimes I think of gender as a cult (except they don’t recruit you they kidnap and indoctrinate you), or a militia (with a lot of rules associated with how one behaves and accompanying penalties for not complying). My brother was absolutely able to get away with things (like having his girlfriends sleep over while he was in high school, helped that my mother in particular was willfully blind to his activities) that I and my sister could not.

            When a daughter breaks the rules as my sister did (she became pregnant in her late teens prior to graduating from high school) families (like mine) seem to time travel back to the fifties (or may 1800s). My father even said he would disown my sister (didn’t ultimately, but he did bluster quite a lot). My mother even tried to fix me up with guys in my late teens. Though why she thought I would like them given my upbringing and my own evident lack of interest (with exception of elementary school when I was quite keen on a rather goofy but nice boy). The programming is relentless – I am just highly resistant to such programming or really ADD (truly, borderline at least according to an educational assessment in my early 20s), that is, unable to pay attention unless I am utterly fascinated by a subject. Actually, I can make my focus. But I have been known to cause myself physical pain to ensure I attend during what seem to me to be exceptionally boring academic departmental seminars (I am literally falling asleep, when not sleep deprived). Not fair to the presenters but note I am likely repeatedly jamming a pencil into my palm to at least appear awake and attentive.

          • northernTNT

            That is a SOCIAL consequence. Nature vs nurture.

        • northernTNT

          There is not so much mystery as people imply. It’s kinda like climate science… there are a bunch of bad scientists selling lady brain… but they have no scientific credibility. All the good science is clear and has been for a long time:
          -excellent sexual dimorphism in primary sex characteristics
          -partial sexual dimorphism on secondary sex characteristics
          -no sexual dimorphism on brain. There IS sexual dimorphism on various molecules, on various processes, but all the details point to different directions under different circumstances… for example the stress of living as a female in a female-hating-oppressing patriarchy. But the overall brain CAN NOT be male or female.
          Just like with “young earthers” and anti-evolutionists… we are suffering from a retreat in rational thinking because of dumbing down of society.
          No brain sex, the science is profoundly well known.

    • northernTNT

      wow, way to misrepresent! Our brains are not “grey”, they are a huge muddle of sexist feminine stereotypes and macho stereotypes, pretty much indistinguishably distrubuted between the brains of males and females. All good scientists know that there will NEVER MORE be any such thing as brain sex. That is a thing of the past and religion. You need to get up on the science. Please learn:

  • Erika

    Good stuff. I agree. Nothing can be civilly debated anymore and that is a problem in itself. The no-platforming is just censorship. Next thing you know, the “good liberals” will be burning books just like the Hitler Youths did. That is of no benefit to anyone. What are these people so afraid of? If their views are solid they can withstand a challenge. If their views are slanted, why don’t they want to know it? A fool despises correction, but a wise person is thankful for it.

  • Miep

    This is really, really smart and apposite.

  • Jo


  • Disillisioned

    I really hate how feminism has been adopted and basterised by post modernism. My usual feminist safe spaceTM is over run with shallow liberal silliness and the occasional mentions of TERFs and what not. It’s the one place where I should be able to vent my frustrations about this kind of thing; instead it’s just another source of it.

    It gives me so much respect for the women who continue to do this publicly like Julie Bindel etc, and the people who run this site. I’d admire your strength to keep going when it feels like the whole world is against you. It feels like women are being forced out of feminism, and the “feminism” that takes it’s place is nothing but a farce.

    Thank you so much for continuing to speak out.

    • Sophie Jameson

      I’m with you, Disillusioned. Very grateful for the courage shown by Julie Bindel, and keen to campaign against this bullying no-platforming and the damage done to feminism by this fact-free identity politics.

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  • Maggie

    Neoliberalism is soooo white anyways. White, white white. An exclusively white non inclusive, exclusionary phenomena, yikes! No way they’re gonna get it! Does a fish know it’s wet?

  • Non-PC RadFem

    Oh dear, oh dear… can-opened, worms everywhere…

    There is no comparison between transgender people and Rachel Dolezal – The Spokane NAACP president outed as white chose to pass as black. Transgender people are just being themselves when they transition

    • It was interesting timing. There was a tumbler post going around comparing trans women to people transitioning to black, and somewhere else I think I read a comment about “it’s not as if this happens with race as well”.

      Yup, it happens with sex, it happens with race, it happens with disability. Not always for the same reasons (heck, there are multiple etiologies for trans gender) but it’s a thing.

      I do wish people wouldn’t confuse sex and gender, though. When you’re born, they announce your sex, not your gender. I only skimmed that article, but I did spot that bit.

      • Erika

        Trans-racialism. Why the heck not? If people can decide their sex, why can’t they decide their race as well? If biological sex is no longer based on all that sciencey stuff like XX or XY chromosomes, and obvious anatomy, than how can we justify basing race on sciencey stuff like DNA evidence of ancestry? Either these things are a choice, or reality does not bend to our will. For consistency’s sake, one can not accept trans-sexuality without accepting trans-racialism. Who are we to erase Ms Dolezal’s reality?

        • marv
        • Non-PC RadFem

          @ Erika:

          “Trans-racialism. Why the heck not? If people can decide their sex, why can’t they decide their race as well?”

          Beats me, Erika. What’s good for the goose… comes to mind.

          “Either these things are a choice, or reality does not bend to our will.”

          Exactly! We either accept them both, or we reject them both. You can’t pick and choose this identity is valid, but that one ain’t, because; reasons.’

          I’m on the reject camp, but hey! That’s because I’m a “puritan,” “conservative,” “old-fashioned,” “non-hip,” “bigoted,” filthy “TERF scum.”


          • Erika

            I must be all those scary things as well. I do not care how people present socially and think all people should be treated with dignity and respect. However, I think DNA determines our biological sex and our ancestry because… it does.

        • k.f. morton

          Exactly. And, of course, there are “trans-species” as well, as well as people who believe they can only be their “true selves” by amputating their limbs…where do we draw the line at what’s healthy and normal and whats just plain bizarre? Ultimately, in accepting the transgender rhetoric around gender identity, we are indeed compelled to accept all these other unhealthy disorders and simply shrug, “why the heck not?”

    • MaryMacha

      This is probably the best article I have read on this in many regards.

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  • UK law does not actually seem to be on the side of these “activists”; most (particularly the gang leaders) do not seem to hold characteristics which meet the legal definition of “protected” status under the equality act of 2010, which defines “protected characteristics” and does not lend credibility to the notion that any “self defining” prick seeking to access equality protections which they are not entitled to receive should be able to do that, since that’s a ludicrous idea.

    It follows that student unions who exclude students who are LGB+ or female for being “exclusionary” may be committing an unlawful offence under the 2010 Act for direct and indirect discrimination and victimisation. The Equality Act does also have exclusions with protected characteristics as well; for example, when a mental health condition causes someone to behave aggressively or violently, that conduct is not anyone’s “right” to carry on with, so as far as I understand things it has no protection in law, even if it arises from having a protected characteristic. For the time being at least, the conduct of these “activists” may only have superficial/paper tiger protection at university policy level but not any credible under UK equality or human rights law which means the policy itself could well be unlawful too.

    The UK Human Rights and Equality Commission have a free advisory service which provides preliminary advice for those who feel they have been denied access to their rights as a consequence of oppressive student union policy and the vocal minority of trolls imposing it

  • Meghan Murphy

    I’m unsure as to whether this comment is critical or celebratory?