Skip to content

And Now, A Shameless Plug From the Secondary Blogger

Greetings, ducks! I hope you don’t mind me mentioning that the Guardian’s Comment Is Free asked me to react to a piece by Bea Campbell defending Julie Bindel! Whom, some of you probably have no doubt deduced, I do not like! (But to be fair, she started it.)

Yes, it’s true: no-name blogger C.L. Minou gets to take on two of the the best-known British feminists! How did it go? To the lists!

I don’t much care for Julie Bindel, unlike Beatrix Campbell, who defended her on this site yesterday. That does not mean I don’t admire her. As a feminist whose radicalism would probably surprise her, I appreciate Ms Bindel’s advocacy and the genuine good that has come for her work against violence directed at women. Yet in her long, lonely crusade against transsexuals she contradicts three of her own four feminist principles…

And there are already 149 lovely comments (that would be a solid year’s writing at The Second Awakening) of which a few don’t make me want to go raid the liquor cabinet and then curl up in a ball under my desk, clutching a copy of bell hooks and muttering “Renee Richards was right, Renee Richards was right…”

Thank you for your attention! I now return you to the vastly more interesting discourse of Sady.

13 Comments

  1. Samantha b. wrote:

    So fabulously done! Thank you.

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  2. eloriane wrote:

    Oh wow, the comments are worse than I feared. But there seem to be a few voices of sanity. I loved your piece, C.L., and I wanted to let you know that your writing in general is incredibly meaningful to me. You are always an incredibly welcome voice of sanity. I’m sorry it attracts such terrible comments.

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  3. smadin wrote:

    It’s a great piece, C.L., so I hate to disagree with you. But! I reject your contention that your discourse is less interesting (much less “vastly”) than Sady’s! You are both, I contend, among the very best writers working in this here blagoweb.

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink
  4. Amy wrote:

    I dipped into the comments, and then decided I couldn’t continue (for my sanity).

    Just one comment I’d like to make about Beatrix Campbell’s: “Again, so what? This solidarity does not extend to women who feel unsettled by the presence of people who used to be men in women-only spaces and services.”

    Ummm. No. Of course not, because that “unsettled” feeling? The trans woman is not causing it. Your bigotry is. This entire argument smacks of segregated bathrooms before civil rights. On the one hand you have a group of people who are demonstrating and speaking out against a woman for her (completely changeable) poor opinions and poor decisions in voicing said opinions (loudly and ad nauseum). On the other hand, you and your friend are “offended” by what another group of people are. This is not – what did you call it? “Airing the complications and troubles of transgender politics.” This is you pretending you aren’t as bad as Julie Bindel by speaking language that sounds slightly more respectful. I mean, you didn’t put “woman” in “quotes.” No, you just repeat the phrase “used to be men” over and over and over again. My favorite was, “Transgender people who used to live as men and now live as women.” Why not just say trans women? I mean, that’s kind of the definition (vs trans men). Could it be because you really really really want the words “men” and “women-only” to pop out without taking any responsibility for also looking like a bigot?

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink
  5. C.L. Minou wrote:

    @Amy: I like the cut of your jib :)

    And hey, Ms. Bindel replied in the comments! And I replied to the reply!

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  6. charley wrote:

    oh my, that was amazing! some of those comments are painful, but I enjoyed your response to bindel’s comment. thank you for writing this, I couldn’t agree more. also, um, first time posting! hello, tiger beatdown!

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Permalink
  7. Amy wrote:

    How terribly confusing it is, when you have to apply dogma to human lives.

    I love this. A lot.

    I just wrote a long diatribe about why, as a neuroscientist, I think gender is more than just a social construct. Then I deleted it for being waaay too tl;dr.

    I wondered if I could ask your opinion about a thought I’m still formulating. If you have time!

    I find the words “transphobia” and “homophobia” to be somewhat limiting. I know these exist. As big problems. Sometimes, though, I think we use these phrases for plain old-fashioned bigotry too. I wish we didn’t. It’s not the same thing.

    I actually went to a psychologist to treat my arachnophobia. It was bad. She drew a circle with 8 lines protruding out of it (could have been a sun), and I cried. I got better to the extent that I can see a spider without hyperventilating. I still can’t even look at pictures of a tarantula. That’s a phobia. People with agoraphobia can’t leave the house. That’s a phobia. It’s irrational. So why do we afford these bigots with the moniker of fear?

    Once again, I’m not saying I don’t believe in real transphobia. I know it happens. I just don’t think Julie Bindel is afraid, and I don’t like giving her that title. I’d like to be able to distinguish between people who are actually afraid (and treatable) and people who are bigots. Maybe that’s the thing: call them bigots.

    I don’t know. So I wondered what your thoughts are on the subject. Am I being too literal? Do you think these words are damaging when applied to people who aren’t phobic? Are you happy with our collective language for addressing this problem?

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
  8. Gretchen wrote:

    Brilliant. Transphobia is antifeminist by any stretch of the imagination, but apparently lots of people need to be reminded of this on a regular basis.

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
  9. C.L. Minou wrote:

    @Amy:

    You ask a lot! I’ll see if I can shorthand it.

    No, I’m not super happy about the ways the words are structured–homobigot and transbigot are probably better terms, and maybe they should be pushed. (Of course, you still have a few issues of ambiguity–are you bigoted against trans people, or a tras person who’s a bigot? But we have the same issue with the current terms.)

    The only reason that I personally use the term transphobia is because homophobia has, for better or worse, become the standard word for bigotry against gay people. And in queer spaces, it makes it just a bit easier to connect with people who haven’t perhaps considered the idea of systemic prejudice against trans folks by offering a quick linguistic parallel that is familiar.

    For general audiences, I’ll probably still use the words, although as it turns out, I didn’t use transphobic very often in the piece. (At least not when I turned it in. Please note I neither wrote the headline nor had final edit!) But perhaps in more progressive circles, the time has come to move past both terms–especially since, as you say, it can have triggers for people with real phobias.

    But I do think there’s some element of fear in the reactions of, say, Julie Bindel to trans people: maybe not a fear of the trans people themselves, but what they represent. Or to paraphrase a Civil War quote that has always stuck with me, “if trans women are women, then our theory of women is wrong.” And I think that’s not a small part of what’s going on, and I’ll probably develop that as a post, maybe even here, although I’m trying to keep this place from turning into Transgender Beatdown, and hey did I also mention that the thing I did about the Secret Lives of Married Men is in the 13th Carnival of Feminists? Or that an early overindulgence in Faulkner leaves me prone to long, complex, and quite often run-on sentences?

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Permalink
  10. orestes wrote:

    I have read that Julie Bindel article you quoted before in open-mouthed horror. I think my jaw dropped around the time she used the phrase “a man in a dress” and just kept on hanging there for the duration of the article. The section about butch/femme lesbians and how they are allowed to subvert gender roles but must not go TOO FAR and get surgery and LIVE A LIE because they’re too COWARDLY to admit being GAY blows my mind. what about gay trans people? plenty of people transition to the gender they happen to be attracted to. damnit, a piece will not fit in julie bindel’s theory of gender! fit piece, fit!

    I believe also, that somewhere in the comments section of one of her articles someone seriously says that the South Park episode “Mr Garrison’s Fancy New Vagina” is one of the most accurate depictions of transexuals around.

    As for Stonewall/NUS not wanting Bindel to speak at their functions; the NUS, simply being a group representing the interests of students has had similar arguments in the past over whether to allow the BNP to stand for election on campus which resulted in them being banned. whether people agreed or not tended to hinge on whether they believed some things were so poisonous and odious that we should not give them the space to be aired or whether we should allow anyone to speak or it would constitute censorship. Stonewall endorsing JB seems a little more like this;

    “Hey, Nick Griffin? Rock Against Racism here. You should totally come and speak at our next concert! You’ll be on right after the black and white minstrel show, it’ll be a SCREAM.”

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink
  11. Just Some Trans Guy wrote:

    What a powerful opening! I liked the entire piece very much, but the beginning numbered points were just awesome. Congrats on getting it published.

    Amy,
    I’ve heard complaints about the terms “homophobia” and “transphobia” being ableist. Personally, I’ve tried to switch them out for heterosexist and cissexist (high-falutin’ language) and anti-gay and anti-trans bigotry. Those terms seem to work pretty well for what I want to say, thus far.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  12. I wish to proffer my high five for an excellent article and subsequent comment. You rock.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Permalink
  13. charley wrote:

    I already commented, but I think this is worth noting (and really neat!): one of the first google results currently for “transphobia” is your article!

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 12:11 am | Permalink