Quickies

Skepchick Quickies, 11.3

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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31 Comments

    1. Transgender agenda =/= homosexual agenda. Keep your liberal conspiracies separate!

      What has disappointed me enormously about most things I’ve read regarding Bobby Montoya is how the majority of articles about it have all insisted on calling “him” a “boy”. It’s just like… why do I have to end up facepalming so hard *every* time some kind of story breaks dealing with these issues? Is it so hard for the media to just put five minutes into researching the subject and the appropriate terms? Why does a little blog like this one do a better job than the paid reporters?

      And is it just me or have there been a whole lot more stories about issues of trans rights and inclusivity over the course of the last year or two?

      Happy trans awareness month!

      /NaNoWriMo, of course.

          1. Yeah, I knew he was being sarcastic. I just wasn’t sure whether the gay/trans confusion was part of the sarcasm or not. It’s a pretty common misunderstanding, after all, and even really awesome, smart, LGBT-friendly people make it sometimes. But no worries at all, it’s cleared up now, and I’m a pretty big fan of Mr. Misconception anyway. :)

        1. :) Maybe us transkeptuals can do something for TDOR?

          Anyway, yeah, maybe it’s just more of us speaking up. But maybe it’s a cultural zeitgeist thing? Like that feminism and the gay rights movements have sort of finally paved the way for that discussion, and for us to bring our own discrimination to the table? Or maybe it has something to do with how the internet led to a pretty huge increase in the number of transitioners over the last 15 years, by allowing almost everyone in the developed world to have access to the necessary information and resources, and trans rights has been picking up a lot of speed as a result? Or maybe it’s all in my head, and I’m just noticing it more?

          But yeah… it seems like there’s some kind of trans-related news story almost every other week lately. Bobby Montoya, Chaz Bono, Australian passport options, the article about trans men discussing workplace sexism, Andrej Pejic, Storm the Canadian child who’s parents chose not to assign them a gender…

    1. In countries with an actual public health system (i.e. every developed country on the planet except one), it amounts to the same thing.

      (Caveat: In many countries, you can only obtain a public-health-provided pregnancy termination if there’s a medical reason for it. Having said that, the principle of medical privacy invariably means that the government can’t pry into what the reason was, and in particular, if it was a physiological or psychological reason.)

  1. The Girl Scout thing seems far from resolved. In the comments, one said…

    “…after investigation, the boy in question here has been denied because he is not actually living as a girl, or presenting as a girl. He is called a boy/son/etc by his family. It appears that he just likes girly things (he lives in an all female household) and wanted to be a GS like his sister. As he doesn’t seem to be transgender he was turned down.”

    I also found this article:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/10/girl-scouts-of-colorado-welcomes-boy-as-long-as-he-believes-hes-a-girl.html

    Girl Scouts are still drawing a line in the sand and excluding based on gender – it’s just based on gender identification and not anatomy. My fiance is an Eagle Scout, and claims there were girls involved with the Boy Scouts, but they had some other name (Cadet?). I haven’t cared enough to research it further.

    I do know Girl Scouts at it’s highest organization has been decoupling from the Christian background – stating that “god” in the promise is a placeholder for whatever beliefs each girl holds, etc. Most of their statements have been weak or noncommittal (which might be OK depending on your perspective), whereas Boy Scouts of America actually stated “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. … In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.”

    Unfortunately, the experience of the kids is almost completely based on the troop leaders. If you have a good leader, you’ll have a good experience.

      1. Granted, the reporting has not been great, but it appears that Bobby’s mother refers to her child as “he” or her “son.”

        If that’s true, it only makes sense that the GSA and the reporters would follow suit. That’s the crux of the story, that Bobby isn’t being presented as a transgender child. Maybe she is, maybe he isn’t. I don’t think that decision has been broadcast (nor should it be forced by the Girl Scouts as a term of acceptance – once you claim you ARE a GIRL, then you can join).

        1. Sure… I see what you’re saying. But I’m not sure whether it matters all that much how the parents refer to Bobby. I have plenty of trans friends who have one or more parent refuse to refer to them by their preferred pronouns and/or name.

          And from what I’ve seen, Bobby does present in a very feminine way. And the issue of presentation is really trick and complicated anyway. Where is the line between “presenting as female” and “presenting as male”? When a cis girl wears a t-shirt and jeans, we don’t say she’s not presenting as female, so why should we require a trans girl to always wear skirts in order for her presentation to be considered female? There’s a nasty history of trans women being held to much stricter standards of femininity in order to be considered “legitimately female” than the standards of gender we apply to cis women. And I’m not even sure we should be applying such standards to anyone at all, to any degree. Gender should be an issue of how we feel and how we self-identify, not how well we fit into the social conventions we’ve built around it. You know?

          Maybe Bobby is just a slightly tomboy-ish girl with parents who haven’t quite caught on yet?

          Of course, it could also be the case that Bobby isn’t transgender, and is simply a cis boy who happens to be interested in “feminine” things. I’m not disagreeing with that, and it’s a valid point. But if they’re saying they regard themselves as a girl, and want to be a girl scout, well… I don’t know, it certainly seems like there’s a pretty good chance she is indeed a transgender girl, whether her mother calls her that or not, or how conventionally femme she dresses.

          I also heard some talk lately that apparently many children who present with cross-sex behaviour / identification at an early, pre-pubescent age may often “grow out of it” and not end up growing up to transition. And it certainly seems to be the case that more often than not trans people don’t come to fully understand their feelings until adolescence, or even later in life. Personally, it wasn’t until I was 14 that I finally understood what I was feeling, and able to put a name to it, and realized I was trans (and it took many, many more years before I finally stopped fighting it and actually transitioned). During early childhood, my interests weren’t noticeably “girly” in any way. Granted, I never had any sisters, and therefore had very few opportunities to explore that kind of play ordress, but I still came across as just a slightly effeminate “artistic” boy, not noticeably gender variant in any way.

          I’m not sure whether or not there’s any truth to that idea that early childhood cross-sex behaviour is often not an actual indication of GID. I’ll have to do more reading and stuff. But if it is true, it might reveal some interesting complexities to how gender identity develops.

          1. The gender-binary seems to be enforced much stronger on—and sometimes by—transgender people.

            Gender expression can be as decoupled from gender identity as gender identity from physical sex. By enforcing a gender expression that matches the stereotype of the gender identity, you’re pretty much making the same mistake as when you try to force the gender identity to match anatomy.

          2. Yeah, totally. That’s pretty much what I’m saying: what makes Bobby’s presentation “female” or not? And is such a presentation necessary to have a legitimate claim to female gender identity? I’d say no. Gender expression has almost nothing to do with gender identity, and the two can occur in any combination…just like sexual orientation and genetic sex; all four variables are independent of one another.

          3. You know, it’s interesting, there are some languages for which there is no he/she(in the Phillipines, the language Tagalog, e.g., is one), everyone and everything is an “it.” German is odd in that you can have inanimate objects that are referred to as a he or a she, or would it be more appropriate to use the terms masculine and feminine. So, having a person called a he or a she, well, according one’s native language it may not be as important as we make it out to be. I suppose being sensitive, we should ask the person who in question what they prefer.

    1. Another Eagle Scout chiming in…

      Starting at about 14, you can leave a traditional troop (Boy Scout unit) and join an Explorer Post, which can be co-ed. In practice, however, I’ve found the Posts to be a heck of a lot rarer, and many boys who join one tend to stay with a troop for the more traditional advancement opportunities; the post I was in did Texas History Reenactment, and we were entirely from a single troop.

  2. Why does there have to be ‘Boy Scouts’ and ‘Girl Scouts’? Why can’t there just be ‘Scouts’? But oh no, that would require boys and girls *working and playing together!* And if we did that, how would we foist gender roles onto them?

  3. I disliked Girl Scouts because we were not allowed to shoot guns or arrows, start a fire, or carry pocketknives. I really wanted to learn some survival skills, and instead I learned how to make a beaded bracelet.
    When my daughter expressed and interest in them, I steered her to the Great Smoky Mountains Jr Ranger program.
    That being said, I admire the council’s decision. It seems that the GSA is doing everything it can to distance itself from the BSA politically and socially, which is true to the spirit of its founder, who was repeatedly criticized for encouraging girls to be independent of men *gasp*. I still wish they would focus a bit more on outdoor/practical skills.

    1. They can, the thing that people don’t seem to get is that the GSA does not control the workings of individual troops. That is done by the leaders and scouts themselves. If the troop want to make bracelets, that’s what they’ll do. If the troop wants to do wilderness survival training, that’s what they’ll do. Do you ever think of suggesting that your troop try something new? It’s possible to do completely new activities, it just takes some pushing from members or leaders.

      1. I apologize, I should have clarified that my experience with Girl Scouts was highly dependent on my local council and troops. GSA wasn’t popular here, so most of the troops were small, underfunded, and run by whichever mom felt particularly masochistic that year. I realize many different areas of the country have vastly different priorities and programs, but my area is (apparently) notorious for its laziness, poor organization, and strongly conservative ideals. It wasn’t an issue of what the troop wanted, it was whatever the troop leader/local council was motivated and willing to do (plus what parents had the money for, which was not much of anything). We *wanted* to go camping, we *got* to make bracelets. You could complain all you wanted, it didn’t matter, they figured you’d leave and make room for another girl who wanted to do what they wanted. If it sounds like I gave up, it’s because I did. I didn’t and still don’t have the time to fight the perfect storm of the “good ol’ gals” running the council, and the poor, overworked families. I have other things to do with my life. Which is why I was so approving and astonished that that particular council said what it did. It was very encouraging to see that there are girls (however they were born) who will get to join a good organization.
        I wish I had a better experience in Girl Scouts, because I really wanted to be involved. My experience was more along the lines of *product may vary by location.

    2. I was in Girl Scouts. We did a LOT of camping. Lots. It involved some “survival skills” though not a ton, but I think that was mostly due to resources. As someone else said, it really has to do with the scout leaders and the troop, not GSA in general.

  4. A bit more on the Boy Scouts, since they’re a bit of a hot button issue for me…

    IIRC, in the 70s, BSA was in a pretty rough place. Numbers were way down, and the National Council was not really solvent. Then the Mormons stepped in and saved them. It’s at that point that BSA started taking a turn right, getting more onto the idea that “morally straight” meant “sexually straight”, and thumping religion a lot more.

    Generally, I found my experience in Scouts to be a positive one, and I’ll admit I’m somewhat torn on making it co-ed. I’m aware of the arguments against single-gender education, including the reinforcement of gender stereotypes, and I’ll freely admit that I saw a fair amount of that… even with moms along, boys would catcall women if not stopped, and macho posturing was a big part of it. But I also think there’s an argument for young men having male role-models, and while co-ed scouting wouldn’t stop that, it would change it. Better? Worse? I can’t say, but the reluctance remains.

    1. ” But I also think there’s an argument for young men having male role-models, and while co-ed scouting wouldn’t stop that, it would change it. Better? Worse? I can’t say, but the reluctance remains.”

      Isn’t it just as important for them to have female role models? And to interact with young girls, and not just boys? And for girls to have male role models? Etc? Just because you add women to the mix, it doesn’t suddenly mean the male role models no longer exist or that it’s somehow “worse”. Think about it. WHY do you think it might be worse? Do you really have an answer, or is it just a reluctance to end tradition?

      At the same time, I get that at this point, the separation has mostly become tradition, and to change that would take a lot of work. I’m not sure it’ll happen any time soon. I don’t think it’s really a bad thing, either, because Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts aren’t school-related.

      Also, they aren’t related. They are two different organizations.

      1. Just a thought… but maybe gender segregated discussions or environments can actually be *more* effective in teaching boys to be respectful of women and so forth? Just thinking that maybe in co-ed environments, they might think such statements have less weight and are just to for the benefit of appearances or keeping the girls happy, not a real, valuable lesson about how to be a good man.

      2. Of course adding girls* is not going to remove male role models… but there’s a lot of places in life where boys have female role models available to them. Most organizations are co-ed. And learning from women is an important part of growing into being a man. But so is learning from men, and I do not see an inherent problem with setting apart a place for young men to learn to be men from men… and in the absence of girls.

        The problem with single-sex environments is that they tend to foster sexism… people tend to fall back on stereotypes when the other is absent, building esprit de corps by identifying the other gender as “other” and therefore slightly dehumanizing them. This is a problem I know the Boy Scouts have, and one that I think has extended, in many cases, to other “others” BSA has identified (homosexuality and atheism). And I realize the inherent contradiction in arguing that BSA should give up some of its “others” while maintaining its big one…

        I guess, to sum it up, I see value in boys learning to be men while surrounded by other boys, and girls learning to be women while surrounded by other girls. I’m not arguing for complete separation of the sexes by any means… most things can and should be co-ed, and I think co-ed leadership in Scouting is fantastic and important. Just that some of learning to be men or women should take place with others learning to be the same.

        *and I specify girls, because most troops had a degree of involvement of women… most often mothers who are taking part.

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