Iain Lee, Tabloid Media, and What Racism Means

If you follow me on social media or on this blog,  you’ll know I’m a fan of talk radio. I found a new talk show network forming in the UK called TalkRadio, so I gave their shows a listen. One of the shows in particular caught my ear. Iain Lee hosts a show on the network that I’ve come to really enjoy listening to. I even sent him an email telling him (and have told his producer in tweets) on how much I like the show. Lee seems  to be a very honest host that really puts his heart and vulnerability into his show/art.

The last few days Lee has been under attack by British media for supposedly being racist. Lee was on a game show (for charity) and this happened:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdX1DLZzYyg]

Lee defended himself quite well on Monday’s show (May 2, 2016), saying that he thought the girls where in a corner-shop and it was nothing more than that.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxQvndPbLEk?t=931]

On Tuesday night’s show, a caller phoned in to engage with Lee concerning what is referred to as casual racism. I found his treatment of this caller to be rude, and dismissive. He wouldn’t let the caller get his point across, and even used the dictionary argument.  Going on a radio show as a caller always puts the the caller at a disadvantage. The radio presenter always has control over the call and the conversation, and I felt Lee was harsh and refused to listen to what the caller was saying.

Casual racism isn’t always something the person engaging in it even knows they’re doing. Everyone has implicit biases, and sometimes those biases cause us to engage in behavior that we’re not even aware of. He posted after the show on Twitter that the earlier caller had made the observation that black people can’t be racist:

Actual tweets at Storify

FireShot Capture 46 - Editing 'Iain Lee Show _ - https___editor.storify.com_57294eca936b6de4593cf642

The natural response when being called out on pretty much anything in life is a reflexive denial. White people (cisgender heterosexual males) especially don’t like being called racist. Even overt racists don’t think or say they’re racist. But I wasn’t even SAYING Lee is a racist. I was critical of his treatment of someone that was trying to explain casual racism to him.  By criticizing him for his rude treatment of a caller, supporters of Lee have accused me of cyber-bullying.

FireShot Capture 47 - Editing 'Iain Lee Show _ - https___editor.storify.com_57294eca936b6de4593cf642

Even though as soon as Lee asked me to stop tweeting him, I did, I’m a bully. I do understand how difficult it is for white people to hear something they said or did might be racist. I learned this the hard way. I wrote a blog post  in which I typed out the “N” word fully. Soon after I was taken to task by people of colour. I had to listen, because as a white person myself, I’m not the arbiter of what is, or is not,  racist.

For many white people being called racist is something akin to being called a child abuser or a rapist in terms of the public shame. Casual racism isn’t using the N word or lynching someone, it’s a hell of a lot more subtle than that. My issue wasn’t with Lee’s game show performance, but his dismissal and rude treatment of someone that called him on his privilege or the possibility that he MIGHT have been casually racist. As a friend of mine said of Lee’s reaction, it’s as if someone stepped on your foot and the following conversation ensued:

Me: “Excuse me, I believe you just stepped on my foot.”
Me: “But you’re still standing on my foot.”

Regardless, I wish nothing but the best for Lee. Lee stated that he has blocked me because he’s struggling with depression. I hope he feels better soon.



Sassy On Tech: Fitbit Blaze, Garmin VivoSmart HR, and the Dying Charge HR

Recently my Fitbit Charge-HR fell apart. It started with the side button disappearing/falling off. The charging cover proceeded to fall off, making it unusable. I was irritated that the Fitbit fell apart just after a year of use. So I decided to Give the Garmin Vivosmart-HR a shot. I based the purchase on seeing this review:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJE-P7IdU0o]
It seemed to mirror the Charge-HR in terms of features. I did like the screen. It’s flawless in the sun or bright light. But I’m a night shift worker and my bedroom is blacked out, so I need to be able to see the screen in a very dark room. The Vivosmart HR fails under darkened room conditions.

That was annoying, but what had me return the device was the sleep tracking feature. I’ve been spoiled with the Fitbit’s automatic sleep tracking. As a night shift worker, it makes me very aware of how much sleep I’m getting and when I’m getting it. If I took a nap before work, the Fitbit caught it automatically. With the Garmin device, you have to set times for it to record your sleep patterns. I took a nap before work (outside the set sleep times) and the device totally missed recording it.

Read the rest over on Sassy on Tech

James O’Brien on Jeremy Corbyn: “I Believe in Faeries”

Listening to the podcast of the Thursday edition of LBC’s James O’Brien’s radio show, I was surprised that he’d admit that he might be wrong about The Labour Party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Previously he’d said that Corbyn supporters were akin to people who “believed in faeries.”  He’s repeatedly said that Corbynites were not pragmatic, that Corbyn isn’t electable, and the end of the Labour Party was near if he wasn’t put down.

Then came the Oldham West and Royton by-election on Thursday (December 3rd, 2015):


Now O’Brien is starting to ask if all the media is wrong about Corbyn.

I don’t think that the British public has had a change of heart since the national election in May. Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership mandate because people are looking for an opposition party.  Corbyn voted against the Iraq War and he’s anti-austerity,

In the USA many people support Bernie Sanders, for the same reason that many people in the UK support Corbyn. Blair/Brown’s “New Labour”  party of the 00’s moved the Party to more centrist right corporatist party in the same way that “New Democrats” transformed the Democratic Party in the 90’s  in the USA.

It’s hard to tell if this revolution in politics will be sustained or win elections in the coming years, but as per normal the revolution will NOT be televised.


No My Bits Aren’t Your Business or Your Trans Advocacy

Recently I read the en(Gender) post,”Guest Author: Zoe Dolan, When Political Correctness Hits Below The Belt.” Helen Boyd states in an introduction to the piece:

Here’s a controversial piece from Zoe Dolan, lawyer, author, and friend, in a smart piece about why, when it cones to dating – amongst other things – talking about genital surgery is important.”

If this piece was a post strictly concerning intimacy and talking to a potential partner in frank terms about sex with a trans person, then I’d agree it was a “smart piece.” Unfortunately it does not stay within the boundaries of negotiating intimate relationships. The post opens up with:

The conversation goes like this:

Him: Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?

Me: Yes, I have a vagina. Yes, I have a clitoris, and also labia majora and labia minora. Yes, I feel sensation and I can have orgasms — both vaginal and clitoral. And yes, I self-lubricate; but who ever said no to a little coconut oil?

Him: Wow. That’s amazing. Thank you for being so open. I’ve been curious but afraid to ask.

First off, what’s the context of this hypothetical concersation? Dolan doesn’t give lay out a scenario in which the questions are asked. Is this man a potential lover that you’re on a date with? Is this question being asked by a co-worker that is “just curious?” The context matters.

Dolan continues, saying:

I’ve written before, and I maintain: my view is that there’s no shame in the human body. We all have one.

Nevertheless, a politically correct script of deflection dominates public discourse when it comes to sex change surgery. This condescension shames people into believing that questions arising out of natural curiosity are somehow overly intrusive, and that inquiring about the medical aspects of being transgender is wrong.

First of all, there’s an assertion underlying here that trans bodies are surgically created bodies. Dolan repeatedly conflates M2F transsexuality and transgenderism. Trans bodies can be surgically created, synthetically created through hormone therapy, or by winning the genetic lottery. Dolan is correct that there should be no shame in talking about the human body, but context matters because respecting a person’s body matters. Context matters because a right to personal privacy matters.

Recently I met this anonymous fella at a music show:


He told me that he thought trans women were women and he respected them. He then asked me if I’d had “the surgery.” I’d literally known this guy for minutes. He also informed me that I needed to smile more. I’m in a long term monogamous, committed relationship. I’d given him no signs that I was interested in him in any way. In this context, this man was being disrespectful.

I don’t and haven’t ever publicly stated the state of my genitals, because I don’t believe that’s something I personally feel the need to share or that should be up for public consumption. If you ask me about the state of my genitals when I’ve not expressed an interest in you, you’ve crossed a boundary and are being disrespectful. Some similar violations of privacy and personal boundaries/space without consent are:

  • Women that are visibly pregnant being “belly touched.”
  • White people touching an African American’s hair
  • People with physical disabilities being “helped” without being asked

Dolan states:

While the privacy that others may choose deserves respect, there is fallacy in the proposition that everyone should know better than to pursue understanding of a subject to which they have yet to be exposed.

After all, I myself had no idea what sex change surgeons were capable of these days until I asked and found out. So how can I hold regular people to a higher standard and expect them to know what I, as a transgender person, once did not?

Indignation exacerbates at least four problems created by muzzling discussion of sex change surgery. First, silencing talk about the procedure undermines its medical necessity for many of us who identify as transsexual. In the United States, we are now required, like anyone else, to carry medical insurance; yet, although more and more insurers are developing policies that cover transgender genital surgery, many have historically excluded coverage for an operation they deemed “cosmetic.” Tell that to a transgender person wincing every time they have to go to the bathroom, weeping at their body in the shower or the mirror or trying to explain their sex to a potential intimate partner. 

There’s no muzzling of discussions of sex change surgeries. If one is interested, they only need a web browser to educate themselves. I hate being so repetitive, but again it’s context of the inquiry that is disrespectful. Trans people should not be asked to educate cis-gender (not transgender) people, with their own bodies as the curriculum of that education.

Sorry, I’m not your trans101 sex education doll.

Millionaire Was Misgendered, I Was Triggered (From Martine Rothblatt to Me)

This morning I decided to watch a Ted Talk that featured Martine Rothblatt. Martine’s life story is incredible. The Washington Post said of her:

Let’s be clear: Martine Rothblatt is just plain more of a lawyer than anybody else in this town.

The 60-year-old grandmother and CEO of United Therapeutics, the Silver Spring-based biotech she founded to help save her younger daughter’s life, banked $38 million last year. It made her the nation’s highest-paid female executive. It also made her the nation’s highest-paid transgendered person, as she had sex reassignment surgery in 1994.

She is an amazing person, living an amazing life, doing amazing things. Yet someone that is interviewing her, who is in obvious awe of her and her accomplishments, misgenders her. No amount of wealth, prestige, or accomplishment stops this from happening.

I’m well past being triggered by being misgendered, but there was a time in my life that it would literally send me into a depression. Even though I’ve learned through Schema Therapy to deal with those triggers, it still has impact. At times it still feels like the person I see isn’t the person that everyone else does. At times being visibly trans still weighs on me.

As I said before, I don’t regret transitioning, but I understand it. Even when you’re a person of extreme wealth and privilege, being visibly or openly trans is a challenge. For once, that fact is oddly comforting.

WTF Comedy, Twitter Mobs, and the End to the Everlasting Podium

If you listened lately to people who have well established media outlets to speak from, pitchforks and torches are out of style. They would have you believe that the @ and # of Twitter are the new implements of mob justice.

Concerning the Twitter outrage over newly designated Daily Show Host, Trevor Noah, comedian Jim Norton said:

“[Noah] also neglected to take into account that Western culture as a whole has become an increasingly reactionary mob of self-centered narcissists who all have their own personal lines drawn in the sand. A comedian is fine unless he crosses their particular line, which, of course, in the mind of a self-centered narcissist, is the only line that matters.”


“I read the tweets he was ‘under fire’ for, and some were funny, some weren’t. The thread that connected them all for me is the embarrassment I feel for anyone claiming to be offended by them. They weren’t vicious or written to be harmful. And everyone reading them knows that. But knowing his tweets weren’t intended to be harmful isn’t important when people who list ‘victim’ as their occupation smell blood in the water. Because their outrage is a lie and their motives are transparent. They are simply using his tweets to get their dopamine drip.”

Comedians make a living off of outrage, mockery, and controversy. Oddly, It’s considered an outrage for comedians to be held to to account for their jokes or their words.

In an interview on WTF podcast Marc Maron said:

“That context of really following through with an earnest critique, or well founded intellectual critique, and following through with a reasonable discussion around the possibilities of the implications of what you’re saying is just fucking gone. So if you’re going to, you know, present it to the animals on Twitter, if you’re going to say “here’s some meat”, and expect anything different than a frenzy. And it’s a shame because the sort of time it takes to process and have a reasonable conversation about aesthetics or socio-political meaning, it’s very limited. It’s insulated. It’s not going to happen on Twitter, really. Twitter is all frenetic. And in those moments you don’t realize these are just idiots sitting at home. This is not some sort of structured debate on anything. And you’re dealing with a media platform that feeds on controversy.”

It’s not the comedians who say fat shaming, sexist, homophobic or transphobic jokes that are the problem. The problem, in their mind, is the common, stupid “animals” of Twitter who criticize. Never mind that it’s “just a joke” has been the justification bullies have used for centuries.

Additionally there’s an underlying suggestion that there are no boundaries to comedy. That just isn’t true. In the 1970’s it was acceptable to make ethnic or racial jokes:

Today it’s unheard of for someone to make jokes about someone outside of their own race or ethnic heritage. Ask Michael Richards what doing that in today’s comedic landscape will do to your standup career. Comedic boundaries change over time. The world isn’t humourless because of a lack of Polack jokes.

Zoe Tur, who’s recently taken the brunt of her own Twitter controversy, pointed Jamie Fox (via Twitter) to Damon Linker’s post, “The shameful shaming of Twitter’s digital mobs” at The Week:

Twitter is an ideal medium for mobs because it is so democratic. Countless thousands mulling about an agora of infinite expanse, each person given the same 140 characters with which to pronounce, denounce, show off, and shine in a glaring public spotlight. To begin with there are only one’s own followers. But there’s always the chance that a well-timed, sufficiently clever and cutting tweet will get retweeted by a follower with more and better-known followers, launching the comment into a wider circle of readers who might retweet it again, and again, and again.

According to Andy Warhol, everyone will get to enjoy 15 minutes of fame. On Twitter, everyone gets 15 seconds to ride a viral wave. It’s that promise of attention and approval that provokes so many to pounce the moment they see an easy target for humor, mockery, and abuse. It’s standard-issue one-upsmanship raised to the millionth power. If you run in left-wing circles, you’ll jump on something that offends the left. The same holds for the right, and for dozens of other political-ideological-cultural factions. It’s the world’s largest high school cafeteria, with every member of every clique vying to become the most popular kid in the group.

after Foxx made transphobic jokes at the expense of Bruce Jenner. Of course when Tur was criticised for her critical social commentary, Tur said of those who dared question her as:

“condemning any diversity of thought” and characterized their criticism as a “form of violence toward women.”

Tur, Maron, and Norton share one in common. They all have a well established media platforms to broadcast from. The democracy of Twitter is a threat to that podium. The only valid commentary seems to be one that has a lens that’s pointed out away from themselves.

Their outrage at the “outrage machine” would be comical if they weren’t trying to stifle criticism and debate. It shows an arrogance and lack of respect for their audience. After all, we’re “just idiots sitting at home.”

As ugly as Twitter can be at times, it’s still one of the best places for debate and critical analysis. Twitter’s 140 character limitation is only limiting discussion if your reading comprehension only goes one tweet deep.

If it’s true that Twitter can’t take a joke, social commentators like Tur, Maron, and Norton can’t take criticism pointed at them. Regardless of the cries from those of who swim in oceans of privilege and media access, Twitter and other social media commenters will continue to hold social commentators accountable for their commentary. We aren’t going to be silent and we aren’t going away.

Public Trials, Free Speech, and the Right to Name Your Rapist

Recently I was involved in a discussion with Twitter user @schnookiekins concerning people who publicly name people they say raped them. He supports Michael Nugent’s statement that:

“allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers.”

as if it’s an either/or situation. I don’t know of a requirement that compels victims of rape, by the state, to report their perpetrators to the police. Many people have written about why victims don’t report rape, so I’ll leave that there (*smirk* though I do wonder why men don’t report domestic violence? *smirk*).

Shookienis writes:

(The %2 @schnookiekins is speaking of is the 2% to 8% rate of rape claims being false claims)

This is a very well worn argument that I’ve used in the past myself. It’s something I uttered when Sophia Banks took to Twitter to accuse Laurelai Bailey of rape. At the time I thought it was wrong for someone to accuse another person online, but my thoughts have evolved.

In reality, there’s no such thing as a “trial in the media” or a “trial on Twitter”. That line of reasoning is wrapped up in a logical fallacy (Black/White fallacy).

A trial is a legal proceeding that judges a person’s guilt or innocence. A public accusation on Twitter isn’t a legal proceeding, it’s a public statement. Being that it’s not a legal statement (but can be used later in legal proceedings), unless it’s illegal speech (libelous speech), the accusation can be (both ethically and legally) made. If it is illegal speech (defamation cases are civil, not criminal law), the accused does have legal recourse. But the burden of proof for a civil case is MUCH LOWER than a criminal case.

If it isn’t illegal speech, the victim has a free speech right to publicly accuse their accuser in any public forum they which they deem appropriate.

As a bystander, I don’t have to have an opinion concerning the the validity of the claim to support it being made. I can also support the accused in following through on a libel claim.

Am I missing something?

Am I wrong here?

Trans Women Who Want To Destroy Gender

I have to admit, self identified trans women who want to have a “world without gender” really do confuse me. Below is one such transwoman:PicsArt_1421276786852

If there is no gender, how can one identify themselves as trans anything? And if you do and you see sex as an unmovable binary, it would seem to me that you’d have to say that you’re a male trans woman. If you say that, aren’t you implying that gender and sex are different and that “woman” is your gender identity? Even if you claim there’s a difference because you spell it differently (“transwoman@, not “trans woman”), how is that not appropriation?

When people say they want to “destroy gender”, the same question that Cristan asked keeps popping into my head:


What does abolishing gender look like? Does it look like this?


Again, how does that work? Realistically, how does one sit in a chair made of plastic, speaking into a microphone made from metal and plastic, serve up images on a plastic and metal computer, and look out of glasses made of plastic, while demonising it? How does one say abolish gender, while calling themselves a transwoman? What am I missing?

I Get Trans Regret

This morning I read an excellent post over at Crossdreamer’s Tumblr blog about transition regret (also a great post by Brynn Tannehill) . I’ll say up front that I don’t regret transition, but I do understand it. From the post:

“Some of the male to female regretters have clearly been caught up in some very restrictive ideas of what it means to be a woman.”


“I should add that this does not mean that all regretters detransition because they believe in sexist stereotypes.

Given the complexity of sex and gender, the fact that all transsexuals have been raised as the gender they were assigned at birth, the social pressure to conform and the bigotry of others, I am surprised that there are not more stories of regret. But the fact remains that no more than 1 to 4 percent regret transitioning.”

I’ve always tried to live authentically, as opposed to trying to emulate one side of the gender binary. I don’t have cis-privilege. Cisgender means not transgender, and cis-privilege or “passing privilege”

“speaks to how perceived gender/sex alignment means not having to think or address topics that those without cisgender privilege have to deal with, often on a daily basis.”

I’ve always identified as a trans woman. I don’t think of myself as non-binary necessarily, unless your idea of what a woman is very stereotypical, much like the regetters in the post. But my authenticity has come at a cost. I was never passed over for a job before transition, but now I’m on about my 30th at work. The quality of my work hasn’t changed, I’ve never received a bad review, and I have excellent references. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to hazard a guess as to why I suddenly am not worthy of a job I have good references for and  a solid work history.

I know plenty of truly wonderful trans women that are in the same position as I. They struggle at work. They struggle to find companionship. They just fucking struggle. Truth be told, as much as people talk about cherishing diversity, the people that succeed and are held up as successful live within the binary.

I don’t regret transition, but I understand why some do. Cis people can make transgender people’s lives pretty awful. Kelsie at the Huffington Post nails it:

“There is a de-facto hierarchy under the umbrella, whereby those who identify with a binary gender have become the primary focus of our outreach and advocacy and therefore fare better than those who not. I am not going to dissect the past 20 years or so of activism or discuss the reasons why. It does not matter why this has happened, the numbers gathered by NCTE shows that this just simply cannot continue to be left unchecked. While the data on trans binary individuals shows unacceptable incidence of harassment, assault, attempted suicide, joblessness, homelessness and murder, the data for non-binary transgender respondents in the NCTE study shows HIGHER rates when compared to those with a binary trans identity. Often staggeringly so.”

Because I didn’t win the biology wheel of cis-fortune, I’m living a hard life. It’s an authentic life that I cherish.  I’ve come to know and value myself in a way few people do, but I’m always aware of the cost of being me.

Suicide, Leelah Alcorn, and Living Openly Trans*

I’ve kept quiet much for the last few months because I’ve been mourning a loss, the equal I can only compare losing my father at age 11. I’m not going to share the particulars of this loss because it doesn’t really matter in the context of this post, and secondly because it’s extremely personal. But emotionally I’ve been hampered a bit in just getting by day to day. I’m just trying to work out a plan for my future and try to do all the things people do when they’re mourning a huge loss. Trying to move on when you don’t really want to.

The holidays haven’t made it any easier. My circle of friends in Madison, Wisconsin is small. This is the first Christmas without my partner. I’ve just been putting my head down, going to work, and trying to make it through.

And then I read the suicide note of a trans teen, Leelah Acorn. Her parents tried Jesusing the the trans out of her to the point she killed herself. Some cis-gender (not trans*) people (especially those people that can’t bring themselves to call trans women, women but feel the need to call them “penised individuals“) have suggested that it’s irresponsible to post Leelah’s suicide note.

This is thorny territory for me personally. When I read it, it did trigger me. I’ve been pretty much staying away from social media the last few days because of her suicide. In her suicide note she said:

“I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.

That part of her note pierced through me like a knife. I understand her pain, because I feel like I am the embodiment of the comments of her future. I’m a visibly trans woman that struggles every day. As I said to a friend after this story broke:

“I’m not clinically depressed or having suicidal ideation. I’m currently mourning a loss and been having dysphoria related issues lately. Basically I’m the person she said she didn’t want to live to be. That was a huge punch to the gut.”


“I’m not saying it for hugs or attention (but thanks for the love), but that it’s just hard. Especially what she said about it not getting better. If you don’t have cis-privilege, life is fucking hard being openly trans.”

But I don’t think it’s irresponsible to publish her note. I think it’s wise and compassionate to warn people with “trigger warnings”. But for someone that routinely fights for the right to exclude trans women from “female only” spaces without one shred of evidence that trans women are a threat (regardless of their genital status), I find Ditum’s words to be both disingenuous and oppressive.

Irresponsible? That would be the Philadelphia Gay News publishing a story about an underage child’s genitals. Irresponsible would be the Statesman asking a TERF who openly mocks trans women to write a piece on a trans child’s suicide.

The answer to transphobia that leads to suicide isn’t more transphobia. The answer to transphobia isn’t silence. Not talking about it isn’t going to make it go away. Trans reparative therapy isn’t going to suddenly go away on its own. It needs to be talked about and people need to know how awful and destructive it is.

She says:

“Trans lives matter. We know that transgender people are at particular risk of suicidal thoughts. So why are people endorsing and sharing material that, if it has any effect at all, is likely to be the catalyst for a trans youth to attempt suicide?”

Ditum’s pity feels a lot like the pity trans people get from Focus on the Family. She knows that trans people are at particularly at risk for suicidal thoughts, but never seems to ask why. I’m suffering every day as a visibly trans person, and it’s not because I’m mentally ill or because I’m diagnosed with any sort of depression. It’s because being visibly trans in this world IS A HARD LIFE. It’s because there are people that other us, disrespect us, and objectify us on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis.

The answer isn’t silence, it’s education. The answer isn’t fear mongering, mis-gendering, or “gender nerd snark“, it’s treating trans people with respect and human dignity. It boils down to just letting trans people live their lives authentically without being attacked for who they are. Ditum and folks like her aren’t part of the answer, they’re part of the problem.

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