Tag Archives: feminism

Private Parts

Last month I wrote a blog ‘about’ a certain person’s genitals: I understand it upset some readers. The offensive references have since been removed.

It appears few people read beyond the headline. The point I was making – achieved in an even more spectacular fashion than I’d anticipated – was how offensive it’s usually considered simply to draw attention to another person’s genitals. I didn’t actually say anything about the configuration, size, state, attractiveness or not of this particular person’s genitals. I merely used the word ‘genitals’ in combination with someone’s name. The result was outcry and opprobrium from some quarters. Had I been a person of significance, it might have been classed as a storm brewing…

Why, therefore, do certain people feel so uninhibited when discussing (in detail) the genitals of those who happen to be transsexual? What business is it of theirs? What subjective experience do they have of another person’s genitals? What gives them the right?

My point was made by doing no more than referring to somebody’s genitals without actually saying another word about them. Yet it sparked staggering vitriol from some silly people.

Luckily, I can laugh at such nonsense, but what did get to me is that someone I respect, Johann Hari, branded my blog ‘disgusting’ and has now blocked me from following him on Twitter. I really admire Johann. Just listen to him take on Richard Littlejohn – or maybe try this podcast which asks: Why is it wrong to protect gay kids? It has some interesting parallels with what I have to say.

And this is definitely worth a read. Extract below:

“Claire’s is a typical story. The transphobic parts of the media – step forward, the Daily Mail – says that all transsexuals are miserable, and surgery only leaves them “even more unhappy, but now with mutilated genitalia to make it even worse.” In fact, the vast majority of Britain’s 5000 transsexuals have found that surgery has made their lives bearable for the first time. Only 2% of transsexuals decide to reverse their surgery, an almost unparalleled success rate; over 90% describe themselves as “much happier” ten years after the transition.”

I think we’d agree on quite a lot if we were to sit down and have a cup of tea. But then even my incredibly trans-friendly/aware/on-the-ball editor at DIVA, Jane Czyzelska, was also slightly confused why I’d written something which seemed so personal. Jane and Johann’s reactions led to the blog you’re currently reading.

Trans people are the subject of abuse and bullying from childhood onwards, and for me this was both violent and sustained. This can lead to depression, despair and low self-esteem. The oldest and most despicable tool of the transphobe (just as with the homophobe) is to claim that, because of this, trans people are innately miserable and incapable of knowing their own minds – despite decades of evidence to the contrary.

It’s been an interesting experience to be tarred with this brush, to be misgendered and abused by some people with very curious ideas lurking somewhere behind pseudonyms. All I can say to them is this: mind your own business, and genitals. Or don’t expect people not to mind yours.

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Julie Bindel’s-Coming-For-Tea Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ah the smell of warm cake…. Could there be anything nicer? How about talking to Julie Bindel on twitter?

You all know I’m a trans activist, but I thought I’d blog about my other great passion, the lovely things I like to cook. This new direction was meant to appeal to food-lovers and be totally unconnected to trans stuff. After all, gender doesn’t define me completely.

But life is rarely so discrete. Something I’ve learned – and which I believe to be a particularly feminine viewpoint – is that everything is connected. Not in a weird New Age way, but in the sense that events, feelings and ideas tend to overlap; and that this is a good thing. So it is that my inaugural cooking blog comes to mention Julie Bindel.

Bindel recently wrote a feature in response to Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, which she felt unfairly portrayed the traveller community. I haven’t watched it, so can’t really comment, but I have seen criticisms of the series and feel that Julie’s idea to interview a broader range of Gypsy women was very noble.

However, it really infuriated me that Bindel would work so hard to get to know this marginalised community when she has made no such equal effort with trans people.

Trans people, I might add, who have provided fodder for her career in the past 7 years. Sure, she’s met various intelligent trans people who’ve tried to engage with her but, as lovely as she apparently seems to be in person, poison can flow when she has a pen in hand. Bindel repeatedly revisits trans issues and, though she hasn’t done so for a while, her previous articles are all online and easily accessible.

Which is fine, because she can write about whatever she wants, right? Hmm, but if she’d written something racist – and were truly sorry for it – I would have imagined she’d ask for it to be taken down. Or make a very grand, unreserved apology. Or have her name removed from it. I wouldn’t expect this:

“Think about a world inhabited just by transsexuals. It would look like the set of Grease.”

To be to be defended on grounds of censorship and free speech any more than something which read:

“Think of a world inhabited just by blacks. It would look like the set of Coffy.

So, she’s fair game. Anyone who makes money through attacking one of the most hurt, harassed, and humiliated groups in society should be challenged frequently – so long as her pernicious output remains public.

That said, Julie has been very polite and kind to me on Twitter. So I’ve invited her – and a few trans women, with varied gender expressions – over to mine for high tea. And seeing as the lemon drizzle cake I made last night was such a success, I’ve promised to do another.

I expect the meeting, like the cake, will be all sweetness. Let’s just hope there’s no sour aftertaste.


How to make Julie Bindel’s-Coming-To-Tea Lemon Drizzle Cake:

Seriously folks, this is SO frigging easy – even my cat could make it, drunk.

  1. Take 285g of unsalted butter – just over half a normal sized bar (what is ‘normal’?) and soften it with fork in a large mixing bowl. Microwave it for a few seconds if necessary.
  2. Open your Twitter and start tweeting about the feminist everyone loves to hate, Julie B.
  3. Mix in 285g of granulated sugar to the butter (I just guess the weight, personally.) Begin online rant about Bindel.
  4. Right, now crack an egg in and stir it really well. Do this with 3 more eggs.
  5. Receive friendly message from Bindel stating that she’s open to discussion and really ‘not what you think’ she is.
  6. Stir in grated rind of a lemon (or lime – I used tangerine skin) and sift in 285g of flour. Again, I guessed this amount. It worked for me.
  7. Pour mixture into loaf tin lined with greaseproof paper. Admonish Bindel for her ‘set of Grease’ comments in the paper.
  8. Pop in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees. My oven’s a bit shit so it only goes to 200. I therefore created a small gap by jamming a wooden spoon in.
  9. Ok, now you’re waiting to get a rise. Out of the cake of course! Leave it for 45-50 mins, while you check your social networking sites.
  10. Invite Bindel round for high tea. Add half a cup of sugar with the juice of 1-2 lemons. (Mine was a lemon-tangerine compromise. Sometimes it’s good to compromise and also to remember things are seldom straightforward, and frequently incorporate various elements.)
  11. When your cake is ready, a skewer stabbed inside should come out clean. Whilst it’s still warm, prick holes over the top and pour the sugar-juice over it. Allow everything to cool.
  12. Now you’re ready for Bindel. And she’s gonna love this moist, tangy, rich sponge. But will she love you? And will she see the yummy yellow thing as further evidence that trans women are caricatures of traditional femininity?

To be continued…


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