Fictions and Facts About the Transsexual Empire

In the absence of contrasting views, the very highest form of propaganda warfare can be fought: the propaganda for a definition of reality within which only certain limited viewpoints are possible. C. Wright Mills

No one – women, men, children or transgendered persons – should be subjected to any form of exploitation or targeted for discrimination. Transsexual and transgendered persons are entitled to the same human and civil rights as others. Recognizing these rights, however, does not mean that we must accept that hormones and surgery transform men into women and women into men; or that persons who self-identify as members of the opposite sex, are what they subjectively claim to be.

Critics of transgenderism contend that hormones, surgery, and self-identification do not transform men into women and women into men. Any dissent from the view that men can become women and women men is said to come from a transphobic cast of mind that is hateful and discriminatory – not from a different viewpoint at odds with the ideology that those men who identify as trans women are actually women; and those women who identify as trans men are actually men.

With the advent of the transgender movement, there have been many websites, blogs and tweets devoted to the issue of transgenderism. It has become common, on many of these sites set up by transactivists, not only to criticize opposing viewpoints but also to distort the words and work of anyone who dissents from transgenderist orthodoxies.

Unfortunately, transgender activists often resort to scurrilous and defamatory claims about their critics – in my case, claims about my major work on transsexualism and transgenderism, The Transsexual Empire. Transgender activists have used these defamatory claims as well to target my work on prostitution, trafficking and the global sex industry. Some of these claims have also turned into twitter threads of fiction about my personal life. For many years, I ignored these defamatory claims about my work, but can no longer do so because they have taken on a virtual life of their own which, in the absence of any response, allows these claims to stand.

The following fictions have been broadcast multiple times over so many transgender channels that it is almost impossible to cite the originals. I highlight the major fictions about my work that have gone viral in twitterdom and the blogosphere and then respond with the facts.

1) Fiction:

Transsexuals should be eradicated.

Raymond believes that “transsexuals ought to be eradicated on moral grounds.”

(Synnøve Økland Jahnsen, falsely quoting The Transsexual Empire in Klassekampen, August 31, 2013)

Fact:

This quotation is false, intellectually irresponsible, and appears to be a deliberate misquoting of my actual words written in the appendix of my book, The Transsexual Empire. It seems that Jahnsen plucked this erroneous quote from some secondary source on the Internet. As an academic, Jahnsen should have known better and verified the actual quote from my book.

Jahnsen’s quote distorted my words criticizing the system of transsexualism into an attack on trans persons. What I actually wrote in my book is the following: “the issue of transsexualism has profound political and moral ramifications; transsexualism itself is a deeply moral question rather than a medical-technical answer. I contend that the problem of transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.” What this means is that I want to eliminate the medical and social systems that support transsexualism and the reasons why in a gender-defined society, persons find it necessary to change their bodies. Nowhere do I say, as Jahnsen attributes to me, “transsexuals should be eradicated on moral grounds.” Jahnsen’s quote, and the words of those who echo this falsehood, has overtones of ethnic cleansing and make it sound like I want to eliminate transgendered persons from the face of the earth.

In the same letter, Jahnsen also objects to my views on prostitution. Given the way in which she has misconstrued my words about transsexualism, she would possibly accuse me of wanting to eradicate women in prostitution because I want to eradicate prostitution!

This erroneous quote was picked up by someone signing as El Feministo who wrote a letter to the Vancouver Rape Relief and Crisis Center protesting my invited 2013 lecture at the Center’s commemoration of the victims of the Montreal Massacre. This letter reiterated Jahnsen’s muddled quote, that “transgendered people should be morally mandated ‘out of existence’” and cited a pirated online copy of The Transsexual Empire as its source. Obviously the letter writer did not take the time to read the book and had never done due diligence in checking the specific quote on p. 178 that was erroneously cited and that has gone viral on trans activist Internet sites.  (http://rabble.ca/print/babble/feminism/janice-raymond-vancouver-public-library-montreal-massacre-memorial)

2) Fiction:

This [Raymond’s] paper eliminated federal and state aid for indigent and imprisoned transsexuals” ( http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-trans-community-hates-dr-janice-g.html).

“It was only after the NCHCT [National Center for Health Care Technology] published Raymond’s bigotry in 1980 that the US government reversed course in 1981 and took up Raymond’s views and rhetoric. Raymond’s hate became the government’s stance. Raymond – a Catholic ethicist, not a clinician – was the architect of the anti-trans stance the US government adopted in the 1980s” (http://theterfs.com/terfs-trans-healthcare/).

Janice Raymond desired to ‘morally mandate transexuality out of existence’ and her ideas…were taken up by Republicans anxious to slash expenditures by defunding medical programmes; many indigent trans women who turned to sex work to fund their hormones and surgery have ended up murdered as a result.” (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2011/aug/06/anders-behring-breivik-melanie-phillips)

Fact:

With the advent of the Internet, the fiction that I wrote a paper for the National Center for Health Care Technology (NCHCT) that “eliminated” federal and state aid for transsexuals went viral. This fiction credited me with decisions about funding for transsexual surgery that were never made by the federal government and with a mythical influence on Medicare policy.

In 1981, the U.S. government did not “reverse course” by withdrawing federal funds available for transsexual treatment and surgery. Historically federal and state aid has not funded transsexual treatment for anyone so it could not be “eliminated” by any paper I or anyone else wrote. Medicare still does not subsidize transsexual treatment and surgery in the United States. And it is only recently that states have been called upon to use taxpayer monies for prisoners who request the treatment and surgery. In 2013, the Departmental Appeals Board of the Department of Health and Human Services received a complaint from “an aggrieved party” to overturn its National Coverage Determination denying Medicare coverage for transsexual surgery. As of April 2014, Medicare did not cover the surgery.

In 1980, I was asked to write a paper on the social and ethical aspects of transsexual surgery. I was not then, nor am I now, a Catholic. The U.S. NCHCT commissioned this paper, among other reasons, to determine “whether specific procedures are ‘reasonable and necessary’ and thus appropriate for reimbursement by Medicare.” My paper was never published by the NCHCT but was treated as a consultative paper among many that were solicited from other experts and groups at the same time.

Whenever such papers are commissioned, there are multiple individuals and organizations also requested to submit reviews. Others asked in 1980 to present opinions were the-then National Institute of Mental Health of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration who performed a literature review and provided an opinion of the efficacy of sex change surgery. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons were also asked to provide reviews.

The NCHCT took these submissions and published a report on “Transsexual Surgery” in its 1981 Assessment Report Series. My findings were quoted neutrally in one sentence of the 15 page final report. “Some have held that it would be preferable to modify society’s sex role expectations of men and women than to modify either the body or the mind of individuals to fit these expectations. (Raymond 1980).” This was the only part of my paper that made it into the published report. The conclusion of the report was that transsexual surgery is “controversial” and “must be considered experimental.” To give my submission credit for these conclusions is fatuous in the context of reading a report that was obviously informed by multiple sources.

I did not then or now believe that federal or state funds should subsidize transsexual surgery for anyone because, in my view, it is unnecessary surgery and medical mutilation. I would argue the same about healthy limb amputations now justified in some of the clinical literature for those designated as suffering from a Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). BIID subjects have threatened suicide or taken matters into their own hands if deprived of the surgery, as have transgendered persons who desperately pursue hormones and surgery.

In conclusion, my 1980 paper on the social and ethical aspects of transsexual surgery did not feature influentially in the NCHCT’s report concluding that transsexual surgery was controversial and experimental. Nor did the NCHCT report “eliminate” federal and state funding for transsexual surgery because funding was not approved for this purpose long before my paper was written.

3) Fiction:

Janice Raymond, radical feminist author of The Transsexual Empire, collaborated with Senator Jesse Helms during the 1980s in order to deny coverage for sexual reassignment surgery under Medicare” (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Transphobia)

Fact:

This fallacious quote is a primary example of how an initial fiction is let loose in the transgender blogosphere and in twitterdom, with other transgender advocates quoting each other. In the process, the original fabrication is embellished into an additional layer that lacks any verification or credible documentation.

I have never met or collaborated with Jesse Helms. The source quoted in Rational Wiki is a piece on “Janice G. Raymond,” which has appeared on the Internet since 1998, and the quoted source makes no mention of any link between Janice Raymond and Jesse Helms, a former U.S. conservative Republican senator. The 1998 piece does not even mention Jesse Helms. There are no references in either the Rational Wiki entry or the 1998 piece that document this claimed collaboration with Jesse Helms. The 1998 piece is also full of other inaccuracies.

On other sites, transgender activists have claimed that Jesse Helms used my paper to stymy Medicare payments for transsexual surgery, which then influenced private insurers to do the same. I know of no sources documenting that Jesse Helms has ever used my work for his own purposes.

4) Fiction:

Janice Raymond’s work is transphobic.

“Her statements on transsexuality and transsexuals have been criticized by many in the LGBT and feminist communities as extremely transphobic and as constituting hate-speech(Wikipedia Entries on “Janice Raymond” and “The Transsexual Empire).

Fact:

If one writes about transsexualism or transgenderism in a critical way, that person will most likely be dismissed as transphobic by trans activists. Any dissent from the premise that transsexual surgery and/or transgender identity transforms men into women, or women into men, invites these kinds of attacks. Transgender advocates define conscientious objection to transgenderism as equal to transphobia.

I have been exiled to public enemy status in the company of author Sheila Jeffreys, journalist Julie Bindel, lesbian feminist singer Alix Dobkin, deceased writer Mary Daly, and at one point, U.S. congressman Barney Frank, among other outliers on planet transgender. However, I retain the dubious title of “the trans community’s Public Enemy Number One” for my early book on The Transsexual Empire. This sort of labeling excuses those who use it from engaging with the substance of the arguments and ideas that are at the heart of any policy dispute.

A major problem with these kinds of accusations is that they have become so strident and lurid that no open discussion and debate can take place without dissenters being cast as transphobic or being virulently attacked. Instead of addressing substance, personal attacks are aimed especially at feminists who raise issues of unnecessary surgery, medical mutilation, channeling children who exhibit non-normative sex role behavior into hospital-based gender identity clinics with the potential goal of surgery, and reinforcement of a gender-defined society.

The transgender community is also at odds with itself. Disagreements exist over who is a true transgendered person – individuals who are preoperative, postoperative or those who simply self-identify as the opposite sex without going through any hormones or surgery. Transgendered individuals who have left the fold and been critical of the move to channel gender-dissatisfied persons into treatment and surgery have been publicly criticized.

Heath Russell, a woman who began the hormonal process of transgendering to maleness, and then de-transitioned, writes: “While the trans community likes to say that we are special and unique snowflakes, they don’t take into account that we have different experiences, if you stray from the trans narrative, you are condemned.  I have had people tell me that I was never ‘really’ a trans person because I de-transitioned.  If I were to use my [breast] binder and go back on hormones, I would be told, ‘You go, bro!’” (http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/07/the-left-hand-of-darkness/.

Walt Heyer, a male engineer for the U.S. Apollo space mission, underwent surgery in his attempt to become a woman. He then transitioned back to his male state and wrote several very critical books about the transgendering process. In an amazon.com review of Heyer’s book entitled Gender, Lies and Suicide: a Whistleblower Speaks Out, a reviewer states that Heyer was a “misdiagnosis” to begin with and writes as a “self quoting narcissist [whose book] is about making some more cash as best as I can tell” (http://www.amazon.com/Gender-Lies-Suicide-Walt-Heyer-ebook/dp/B00EGG2E9Y.

The 2014 decision of the High Court in Sydney, Australia, which recognizes that a person may register as neither male nor female and permits the recording of a person’s sex as “non-specific” will likely be much debated within the transgender community. Especially because transgendering persons have spent years affirming their identities as men or women, and castigating those who disagree, it will be revealing to see whether most transgenders accept this as their identity. I suspect that the fallout will be that most transgendered individuals who now identify as either men or women will accept “non-specific” as a sex category but not as an identity for themselves.

There is a big difference between criticism and transphobia. Transgender advocates aggressively attack any critical voice as transphobic and try to censor us from speaking. Anyone who has been a known critic of transgenderism and transsexualism has been no-platformed from selected events. Transgender advocates have pressured event organizers to disinvite critics, even when they are not speaking on the subject of transgender. Transgender advocates know that censoring criticism allows the accusation of transphobia to prevail, and they appear willing to distort the words of those they disagree with. Critics are not allowed to speak for themselves, even when they have been misquoted and their actual positions misrepresented.

Dissenters from transgender orthodoxies have been hounded with a fanaticism that characterizes religious and political fundamentalists of all stripes. Accusations and attacks against those who dissent from transgender ideology have become so vitriolic that even impartial journalists not aligned with any position, who have chosen to write about the debate over transsexualism and transgenderism, are also attacked as transphobic when they raise critical points or questions about the subject. Easily-made accusations of transphobia aimed at critics of transgenderism are seldom challenged. Those who accuse and attack are not held responsible for the truth of their claims and for substantiating these claims with verifiable sources.

What is especially alarming is that such unsubstantiated claims are not only the work of anonymous Internet trolls but also of more public individuals who capture a wide net of attention online. Just as alarming is that some progressive groups and media have censored any criticism of transgenderism or transsexualism. In 2013, the governmental Norwegian Ombuds Office excluded me from a panel to which the Office had invited me on the subjects of prostitution and the Norwegian law penalizing the purchasing of sexual activities. On the day I arrived in Oslo, the Ombuds Office Director informed me that the Office was disinviting me after a letter appeared in the Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladat, representing my writings as “transphobic.” The Ombuds director took as truth what was actually a misrepresentation of my views without ever asking me if this letter was a valid account of my work. Likewise, the progressive e-journal, Truthout, has made a decision at some in camera level not to publish my work on any subject because I am allegedly transphobic.

5) Fiction:

Radical feminist critics of transgenderism and transsexualism are guilty of hate speech and bigotry.

Fact:

It is many transgender activists who are guilty of hate speech. Transgender advocates have penned hate and bigoted messages in the blogosphere and on twitter, sites inhabited by many transgender advocates. The examples that follow illustrate only a few of the hundreds of abusive messages about me and about other feminist critics of transgender ideology.

1) “Hate, Hate, Hate, Hate, Hate, Hate, Hate Janice Raymond.” This is the headline of a twitter account called “Fake Janice Raymond” (https://twitter.com/fakeJanice). Until recently, this twitter parody account facilitated and encouraged hate messages to be sent in about me. It misrepresented and distorted my views on transsexualism, and some of these messages contained threats to my person as well as being defamatory in nature.

>2) ShoutOut is a Men’s Rights radio show in Bristol in the United Kingdom. It sponsors ‘Listeners’ Awards’ for which its radio audience can vote for Bigot of the Year. This year, these MRAs [men’s rights advocates] have nominated Dr. Janice Raymond, one of the world’s most foremost feminist scholars, as ‘Bigot of the Year.’ ” http://genderidentitywatch.com/2014/01/12/shoutoutbristol-uk/

One responder to the ShoutOut show retorted, “Dr. Raymond has done more for Women than any of the Men and Women who work for ShoutOut…yet she is a ‘bigot’ because she understands that Men are not Women. Dr. Raymond has been the focus of concerted efforts by MRAs to silence her political speech for years.”  http://genderidentitywatch.com/2014/01/12/shoutoutbristol-uk/

3) Self-designated trans-jacktivist Paris Lees, a “spokesman” for the UK Gender Trust started an online campaign called “Julie Bindel’s Genitals” on Facebook. Never mind that Lees had drawn a diagram of something that resembles the female reproductive organs, not the female genitals, reflecting his ignorance of the female body he claims to have. Lees’ main problem with Bindel appears to be her feminist analysis of transsexualism and the fact that Bindel is unrepentant about her views. (http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/tag/psychology-2/)

4) At a 2013 conference in Portland, Oregon, five trans activists approached the table of an environmental organization called Deep Green Resistance (DGR) and began shouting and then grabbing and defacing DGR’s table materials. The books DGR was selling and the literature DGR was distributing made no mention of issues connected to transgender. Post-conference, Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen in a Counterpunch article wrote that trans activists subsequently threatened DGR members with arson, rape, and murder. “They have photo-shopped pictures of us simulating bestiality. They have called for mass beheading of DGR members.” Yet the same trans activists accuse DGR members of intolerance and hate (http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/21/55123/)

In contrast to transgender advocates, feminist critics of transgender don’t send hate screeds, threats and death wishes to transgender authors, hack transgender websites or attach badly-drawn diagrams of the genital organs to specific transgender advocates. One transgender activist created an image of a pesticide can bearing a photo of Sheila Jeffreys with the message that the pesticide “kills rad fems instantly.”

If one looks at the core of these messages, radical feminist critics including myself appear to be guilty of bigotry and hate speech because we assert that men are not women and that surgery and hormones do not a woman make. Much of the online excrement about feminists is powered by misogyny, the misogyny of men who if they did not represent themselves as trans women would have no credence. The misogyny that comes from men who identify as women, such as Julia Serrano, and Joelle Ruby Ryan, reveals typical male dominant and abusive behavior, which no amount of surgery and hormones can change. This behavior comes not from the fact they are still biologically male but rather from learning the worst patterns of male bullying and aiming it at those with whom they disagree. As one person who identifies as a “an assimilated trans woman and feminist” has written of the transgender activists who demand access to all-women events and meetings, “trans activists…not only don’t have the best interests of women in mind, but moreover frequently behave in misogynistic ways” (http://snowflakeespecial.tumblr.com/post/54689372575/open-letter-to-beaver-hall-gallery-im-a-trans-woman).

The speed with which transgenderism and transsexualism have been approved in language and in legislation illustrates several things. The transgender movement has largely succeeded because it merged with mainstream gay and lesbian groups, groups having political contacts, clout and resources and a long history of fighting for their rights. This merger was signaled in the acronym of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), which is constantly expanding to include Q and I, etc. There was never much debate within the lesbian and gay communities prior to this happening. It is unfortunate that, at this point within these communities, there is much silence and silencing of debate about the wisdom of supporting transgender ideology, treatment and surgery.

Within the public at large, transgenderism is not well understood and less so, its critics. If asked the definition of transgender, many people would not know how to respond or understand its scope. Few know what surgical reassignment entails and what is happening to children who are being “treated” in gender identity clinics for alleged gender dysphoria and encouraged to start hormone treatments at or before puberty. Combined with a society that has become flooded with the fantasies of popular entertainment and virtual reality, the fiction of turning males into females and females into males becomes fact.

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Many individuals, including feminists, have faced gender dissatisfaction. However, feminists have raised questions and given answers to gender dissatisfaction that go far beyond the transsexual and transgender context – questions of bodily mutilation and integrity, medical research priorities, the role of gender identity clinics for children, reinforcement of sex-role stereotypes and challenging gender.

On August 12, 2013, 37 radical feminists from 5 countries signed a statement entitled, “Forbidden Discourse: the Silencing of Feminist Criticism of ‘Gender.’ ”

“The system of male supremacy comes down hard on non-conforming men and women, as movingly described online by members of the trans community. While switching gender identity may alleviate some problems on an individual level, it is not a political solution. Furthermore, a strong case can be made that it undermines a solution for all, even for the transitioning person, by embracing and reinforcing the cultural, economic and political tracking of ‘gender’ rather than challenging it. Transitioning is a deeply personal issue associated with a lot of pain for many people but it is not a feminist strategy or even individual feminist stance. Transitioning, by itself, does not aid in the fight for equal power between the sexes…We look forward to freedom from gender. The ‘freedom for gender movement,’ whatever the intentions of its supporters, is reinforcing the culture and institutions of gender that are oppressing women. We reject the notion that this analysis is transphobic.” (http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/authenticity-of-the-forbidden-discourse-the-silencing-of-feminist-critique-of-gender-statement-has-been-confirmed)