Bending principles for the sake of gender critical trans allies risks splitting the movement and undermining the message.
In the Bible, the world ends when the first four of seven seals open and four horsemen ride out with the creepy monikers of Pestilence, Famine. War and Death. Something similar is happening in the gender critical community right now with an internal rift that could bring an end to our credibility and effectiveness. Our horsemen don’t sound nearly as bad as those biblical dudes, but like those four horsemen of the Bible, these four have come to represent familiar reminders of popular cultural role models that most of us in the western world understand and even feel comforted by. And, they have the potential to be just as apocalyptic.
These four share some characteristics that make them ‘good trans’ and allies to some important gender critical activists. For example, all are prominent individuals who claim ‘trans’ as their identities, but all are, to some extent, gender-critical themselves – that is, they acknowledge that they have not actually changed sex. They oppose trans-ing children. They’re concerned about women’s and girls’ rights. That’s great, but as gender-critical women, we cannot be in the business of sorting “trans” people into “good trans” and “bad trans” or aligning ourselves in a serious way with allies who themselves are walking, talking contradictions to what we claim to be analysing under a critical lens. We have to remember that these individuals are merely thinking and feeling that they need to medicalize themselves and more dangerously for all of us, that they believe that there are also “trans” children under 18 who may actually be better off being given puberty blockers and medicalised in order to find peace with themselves.
Let that one sink in.
The minute we do this, we have implicitly bought the legal fiction that is “tran”’ at all. And when you scratch the surface, it becomes clear that these particular folks are viewed as ‘good’ for reasons that corrode our credibility out of existence. They fulfil stereotypical ideas of what men and women should really be, so that we end up buying that they’re the real thing: ‘true’ ‘trans’—presumably as opposed to those AGP fetishists, non-passing fakes, predators, narcissists and confused teenagers who aren’t the real thing. Which means we’re right back to a basic belief in gender stereotypes as a valid system for understanding what it means to be male or female. This is the gender-critical apocalypse. Whatever struggles these people have or are experiencing, they of course have the right to how they have dealt – and still do – deal with it. But the propping up and even a kind of religiosity and adoration that has arisen needs to stop now. The tweet praises, the artwork dedicated to them – it needs to stop.
Having personal experience living as a gender non-conforming lesbian for over fifty years myself, and as someone who was on the psychological tract over 30 years ago to undergo what I thought would be a ‘sex change’, I know it’s risky but feel the time is right to call this critical moment out for what it is. We’ve all been groomed and we need to recognize that. So to make my point really clear, I’ve chosen to compare these individuals to the prominent familiar dolls found in our very gendered pop culture:
Barbie = Woman: Blaire White
With his porn-actress exterior, hyper-feminized mannerisms and silicone breasts coupled with a simple diary-approach to facing the camera, this effeminate gay man became a marketing genius by choosing the perfect timing to jump into YouTube culture. He has garnered millions of monetized views and likes to occasionally remind us that “it costs A LOT of money to look like this.” He’s been grooming women and men of all sexual orientations since 2015 to buy into his model of performing a socially acceptable form of femininity. Much of his early focus was on ripping into feminism and spouting politically conservative views while focusing on hair flipping and lip puckering.
While he was building his fan base, a whole slew of truly heinous men-in-bad-drag-behaving-badly erupted in public, and that piqued his interest. Specifically, Blaire viewed men like J Yaniv as inferior to himself, both because they were morally repellant and because they (unlike himself) failed to achieve a visually passing, heteronormative appearance.
By doing this, Blaire gathered a large new audience of gender-critical women, such as those on the Gender Critical Radical Feminists Facebook page, where members frequently post Blaire’s videos with comments like, “I wish more men would listen to her.”
But beyond admitting he’s still technically male, what makes Blaire White an ally? He embodies the twin fictions that acceptable femininity = stereotyped, hyper-sexualized and silicone-pumped Barbie-woman, and the idea that gender-dysphoric people can and should seek happiness through medical and surgical (at least above the waist) transformation. We should not be saying yes to this. As Blaire is famous for saying, “Not today honey.”
Ken = Man: Scott Newgent
A mother of three young children, ‘Kelly’, aka Scott apparently never received the memo that the rest of us did regarding the life-threatening nature of the surgical procedure for getting a fake dick attached to our bodies. Her first operation went wildly bad and now she wants to warn the world that it’s not safe for kids to be subjected to the dangerous surgeries and bad surgeons that are out there.
In fact, she believes that only ‘trans’ people can save women and children from… well…’trans’ people. So on July 3, 2020, sporting her cowboy hat and good ole ‘boy’ white knight attitude, she launched a GoFundMe campaign to gather other medically transitioned adults and head from the U.S. to the U.K. on a multi-city tour. The plan was to ‘educate’ the public about the evils of the organisation Mermaids, which promotes (among other things) the medical and surgical transition of minors. The campaign raised almost $10,000 before failing to secure major sponsorship. On top of not securing any sponsorship, the fantastic news we received recently that Mermaids has had to change their tune as the UK has moved against self-I.D., Scott is now found waving her cowboy hat no more.
What’s interesting is that now that she’s dropped her campaign, where will all that money go?
It’s always a clue when people who do fundraisers decide not to mention anything about the raised funds when they’ve fallen short.
While some gender critical women have been quick to embrace Scott as a ‘good’ ‘trans’ ally, she remains a problematic figure. While she opposes ‘trans-ing’ minors, she still believes that transition can be appropriate for those 18 and up. Because she, like a lot of “trans” people still believes that gender identity is real, so for some people (like her) getting medical assistance to gaslight people that you are the opposite sex can make you feel better if you suffer from (in her case) internalized misogyny to the nth degree. In a recent interview with a youtuber, Scott even admits that when she’s leaving her house sometimes, she feels like she’s “a liar”.
Also, in her case, like Blaire White above, gender is a matter of conventional stereotypes. Gender-critical women seem to view Scott as ‘true trans’ because of her conventionally handsome appearance, smidgen of beard stubble, and a ‘masculine-enough’ body, and then – there’s that dick. We shouldn’t and can’t be going along with that. We should instead be celebrating those rare women unafraid to demonstrate the range of expression and presentation of what it can mean to be a woman. The very authentic tension that only non-conforming lesbian women carry creates a confidence that needs no medical intervention to prove anything, and to medicalize this is to surrender to the danger of gender once again.
The Barbie Wannabe: Fionne Orlander
Poor guy. He’s simply a gay man who is so effeminate that nothing would make him happier than to be a princess. His presence on Twitter is a mixed bag – he admits he’s a man, but insists on identifying as ‘trans’. He sells himself as a ‘good’ ‘trans’ person who can be trusted and who sometimes stands up for women against troll transactivists, in contrast with the ‘bad’ ‘trans’ people who want to hurt women and children by invading their spaces.
He’s obtained a bevy of gender critical women followers who pour positive ‘feels’ on him. They also circle the wagons of cyber-motherly affection any time he gets cruel troll treatment.
In a particularly unpleasant instance where an online meanie opined that Fionne’s face ‘looked like a brick’, Fionne was hit hard by the criticism and chose to react by creating a crowdfunder to raise £25,500 so that he could obtain the surgical procedure known as Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS).
In his own words, “The massively expensive target price will cover my jaw, chin, brow, nose & hairline to be softened & in one fowl(sic) swoop I feel like 80% of my dysphoria would be dealt with.”
This crowdfunder was launched on July 4, 2020, one day after Scott launched her anti-Mermaids effort — which, however misguided – was at least arguably aimed at a more laudable goal of saving children from genital mutilation, rather than helping a male insecure about his face, redo himself into the western, white, male-gazed ideal of a ‘real’ female face. Fionne only wants what Blaire already achieved, and so why shouldn’t his fans all help foot the bill for that ‘cause’?
The results of the crowdfunders’ efforts came fast and almost competitively furiously on Twitter. The concern for Fionne’s desired beauty was more intense than for Scott’s effort. From some revered GC thinkers of note, we watched as permission was turned over as so:
By the time the weekend was over, the two fundraisers had exposed the split in the GC community between fans of Fionne and the much smaller following that Scott has. The conflict did real damage, destroying previously strong bonds between women, both online and in real life. Those who would argue (as I do) that these urges to donate financially to either beggar wrecks our credibility.
GI Joe meets Care Bear: Susan “Buck” Angel
Maybe more than any other prominent ’trans’ person who believes she was literally trapped in the wrong body, Buck Angel has attained the status of almost a religious icon for some in the gender-critical community. The obvious reason is her occasionally tweeting of statements as a ‘gender critical ‘trans’. Similar to Scott attempting to play the role of a ‘rescuer’ of women and children, Buck has recently been choosing to go a similar route in her social media presence, and it’s helped keep her popularity afloat.
But 25 years ago as myself a member of the very large lesbian community in the San Francisco Bay Area, I watched as ‘Susan’ became ‘Buck’ who I would say was a handsome gender non-conforming lesbian. As she appeared to distance herself both politically and socially from that community, she instead chose to become one of the first medical experiments of what we now know as a very specific agenda instigated by big pharma funding. Although Buck never got ‘bottom surgery’ she altered her exterior with body building and cross hormones. She was often making appearances on stage and seen flexing her new façade with her Tom of Finland look she attained. She not only successfully inserted herself into the gay male porn world which had a large home in the famous gay Castro District, but her PR campaign of exposure effectively resulted in a certain percentage of younger gender non-conforming lesbians seeing this look as a cool fad. This fad became enough of a social contagion that was timed with the more public access to obtaining testosterone.
Some background: By 1986, gone was the more traditional slower (2 year) process for ‘transitioning’, and an explosion of and decimation of lesbian culture along the west coast began. So rampant was the push for big pharma to secure new victims that I myself was approached in the early 90’s while standing outside a dyke pop-up bar with other gender non-conformers and we were offered testosterone in pill form in small blue cannisters. I knew this was war coming at my community, and I mistakenly thought that lesbians were the only target. Now we all see what even Buck did not see then. None of us knew they would come for the kids.
But in 2020 Buck is viewed as an elder and styles herself as the wise ‘Tranpa’. With her musculature, trucker’s hat, tattoos and leathers, she has managed the delicate balance of emanating physical threat — spit and fire — as well as putting on a cute and even cuddly persona so that she can avoid scaring her main followers too much.
But the GC women who love Buck’s act are forgetting some crucial points. When this former lesbian opted to transform her body and pretend to be something else – some hybrid of sexuality via medicalization of her precious body – this was far from solving the problem we now face. She was (and remains) a big part of helping normalize the idea of FtM (female-to-male) medical and surgical transition.
Second, Buck’s newfound ‘gender critical’ Save The Children posture seems more connected with a love of publicity than anything else. This is someone who sought out the spotlight 25 years ago, and she’s never stopped wanting to bathe in that glow. To sustain popularity, one has to stay in tune with shifting public currents and find the right moments and messages for being talked about and looked at.
Finally, Buck’s gender-critical cheering section overlooks the fact that Buck was a porn performer who takes positions that are, or should be, repellent to us. As they’re busy honoring her with tributes like this…
…Buck’s hard at work helping defend Pornhub against criticism by Rose Kalemba, a young woman whose rape at age 14 was filmed and showed up for sale on Pornhub where it was screened for men all over the world. The BBC did a story on this and Ms. Kalemba’s life has been put at risk as a result of her attempts to shut Pornhub down once and for all because she’s learned of other girls younger than herself that this has happened to.
A Pornhub performer named Valentina Nappi tweeted against Ms. Kalemba. ‘Tranpa’ chose to insert herself in this twitter fight with potentially harmful financial and political implications to herself, and she rushed to the cyber-side of Ms. Nappi to join in against Ms. Kalemba with this (now deleted) tweet:
Gender-critical women, when you give props to Buck Angel or view her as an ally, remember the moment she sided with the country’s wealthiest, most powerful porn site against an exploited, 14-year old rape victim.
It needs to stop
It is time to stop idolizing people who represent the opposite of what we stand for. This is a fight for the survival of the gender critical movement. There is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ‘trans’, and there certainly is no such thing as a ‘true trans’ individual. Put slightly differently, we must mean what we say.
- We say that gender identity is a fiction and sex is real – so we cannot behave as if that’s true for everyone except these beloved four horsemen and other ‘trans’ figures like them who seem to be “true trans.” That makes us liars and hypocrites.
- We say that gender itself is false, wrong and oppressive. So we cannot behave as if ‘passing’ with stereotypically gendered looks is life affirming in a way we can align with. That makes us liars and hypocrites.
- We say that ‘trans-ing’ children and teenagers Is child abuse. So we can’t champion people who continue promoting the message that medical or surgical transition made them happier and saved their lives. That makes us liars and hypocrites.
- We oppose ‘transgenderism’ yet these people still claim to have a ‘transgender’ identity. No one should be claiming a ‘trans’ identity. No one. And if anyone does while also claiming to be ‘gender critical’, they are lying. If we are championing them, that makes us liars and hypocrites.
Bottom line: these identities are fictions. Gender-criticals cannot be so desperate for allies that we prop up icons who represent everything we oppose, from exterior looks at the extremes of gender ideology to cheerleading for Pornhub. We cannot ignore it any longer. We are in a fight for our credibility and our humanity. It’s that simple. We talk a lot about ‘grooming’ in feminism, but we’ve been grooming ourselves to accept ‘trans’ allies who say what we want to hear, and it needs to stop. It’s time to think critically, put the four horsemen out to pasture and live up to what we know is true.