Jane Doe, Trans Women, and the Myth of the Perfect Victim

To write about trans women is to come to grips with a painful fact: Very few of us are “perfect victims.”

I was reminded of this in the midst of the activism surrounding Jane Doe—a 16-year-old trans girl who was transferred from child protective services to solitary confinement in a Connecticut state prison. Those most detached from her situation piously observe that she is in solitary confinement because she allegedly brutalized Department of Children and Families (DCF) staff when she was under their care.

On the Feministing Facebook page, one woman lengthily excerpted the litany of accusations against Doe from a New Haven Register article—breaking a woman’s jaw and temporarily blinding her in one eye—as if this were an adequate response to an article I wrote defending Doe’s right to human dignity.

This, of course, left out the parts of the Register report that detailed Doe’s abuse at length, including accusations that she had been raped and otherwise sexually exploited while under DCF care, but we’ll return to that later.

Jane Doe’s situation reminds me of the circumstances surrounding Essay Anne Vanderbilt, better known as Dr. V, who committed suicide after a Grantland writer dug relentlessly into her past and sought to prove that she had lied about having a PhD—outing her publicly as a trans woman in the process, against her clearly expressed wishes to the journalist in question.

Always, there would be a tide of commenters to break against any article that I or others had written in defense of these women’s right to draw breath.

This familiar pattern traces its well-worn grooves during most public mentions of trans women’s distress.

There are women I could mention here who have been so pilloried, but who I must refrain from naming because, ironically, they survived. I would not wish to reopen old wounds for that sisterhood of silent survivors trying to get on with the very lives nearly stolen from them.

There are those who are not so silent, however, like CeCe McDonald; recently released from prison after serving a sentence for killing a would-be hate criminal in self-defense, she is now an advocate for transgender justice. But to this day she is still pilloried as an imperfect victim for the fact that she took a life. For failing to meekly accept the oblivion her swastika-tattooed assailant was thrusting upon her, many seem to suggest that she deserved either death, or a considerably longer prison term among men.

Now, as if in an echo chamber of those commenters, on Feministing’s own page I find myself reading missives from cisgender women who call Jane Doe’s solitary confinement without charge or trial “justice” for unproven and context-less crimes against DCF staff.

The unspoken implication was always that the real or perceived imperfections of these trans women meant that they should be left like so much carrion on the field, to be picked apart by whosoever should chance by—unto death, if need be. And it seems death is just what the doctor ordered; time and again one encounters a startling lack of consideration for the consequences these women suffered. CeCe McDonald nearly died, Dr. V did die, and Jane Doe’s solitary confinement is a waking death for any sentient being.

But this is just fine, so far as some are concerned. A woman’s life is the pound of flesh demanded by her perceived sins.

As feminists, we should notice a pattern here.

Women are so often expected to be perfect victims. If we are raped, we must be upper middle class, or honors students, or devoutly religious, preferably white, caught unawarein the midst of innocent activities by a perfectly rapacious and evil attacker. All other circumstances are unforgivably complicated, and we throw our hands up as if to say that the rape is an acceptable consequence of the victim’s imperfection. She drank, she was out late, she went somewhere strange, she was partying, she was a sex worker, she did not out herself as trans, she liked revealing clothes—whatever excuse or perceived imperfection we can grab a fistful of, all in the hopes of confirming our shared just-world hypothesis, that collective pseudo-ideological disease of uncounted millions.

We do this with other maladies suffered by women, of course, including suicide or incarceration. We want to believe that they somehow deserve it, even as we are too cowardly to openly say, “She deserves to die for what she did.” That uncouth bluntness is instead masked by equivocal dissembling about her faults and failings: Dr. V lied about her degree to help sell a golf putter that actually did what it claimed, therefore she deserves to die; Jane Doe was accused of hitting DCF staff and being violent, therefore we can eschew a trial and send her to solitary even while she’s still a minor (and she probably deserves to die too).


I could write a jeremiad about “so-called morality” being a “bourgeois hypocrisy” or somesuch nonsense, but that would be building a good deal of vacuous scaffolding on the backs of women whose struggles obviate the easy bromides of radical purity. Morality matters, yes, and we should all have the courage to say so in our cynical age. The true moral crime revealed by the experiences of these trans women, however, is that immoral choices were forced upon them—that our society only permits such choices as the price of survival for some.

It is not hypocritical to believe in morality, but it is hypocritical to condemn these women as if their individual actions are somehow completely divorced from the terrifying logic of our gender order.

Poverty, dehumanization, the immediate threat of death, and scarcity can distort our better angels, warping them into grotesque demons of raw necessity.

This is not an excuse, but it is something to think about when your arguments suggest that a troubled woman’s traumas are “just desserts” of some sort. Jane Doe, for example, has lived a life of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of powerful adults—as a trans girl of color without a home she was at the very nadir of vulnerability. It will take a good deal more sympathetic investigation to understand why she lashed out against DCF staff—assuming that even happened, of course. The department had an interest in trumping up charges against Doe to justify its decision to get rid of her. Trans girls do occasion constitutional crises of institutional gender, and it is often easier to simply chuck them.

For her part, Doe claims some of the charges are fabrications, while others are examples of a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-fueled lashing-out against disrespectful or boundary-violating adults. For some of the commenters I’ve seen, the fact that she’s trans is indictment enough (evidenced by their misgendering of Jane Doe).

The question that must be asked, in plain language, is: Do imperfect people deserve death for their imperfection?

But so often, in so many of these cases, the public brays for the blood of the flawed woman, whether or not she actually committed any vice. Once again, women’s bodies are the currency accepted at all outlets.


The point of all this is to argue against those who implicitly suggest I and others should avoid writing in defense of people like Jane Doe because they do not come to us as perfect victims, unsplattered by the blood of their traumas and abuses.

The word “oppression” is overused these days, or at least it is often poorly defined, and its widely varying degrees are collapsed into an irksome singularity that favors Tumblr’s brevity while doing little for empirical understanding. But if the word oppression means anything, part of that meaning surely is the fact that deep moral compromise becomes a way of life. To be a trans woman, even in this relatively enlightened time, entails hard choices. Dr. V’s invented doctorate was part of a whole invented history that was meant to hide her trans-ness from investors and golfers alike. Jane Doe’s story needs a fuller telling, meanwhile, but I would hardly be surprised if her violence was an unequal-but-opposite reaction to the institutional violence she had long been subjected to by the DCF.

Each case challenges us with some moral complications—gray areas that seem to obviate a black-and-white understanding of the situation. But moral complexity is often mistakenly seen as an impediment to moral clarity. Moral clarity is what prevents us from throwing our hands up at difficult situations and leaving them to the four winds of whatever nameless fate one chooses to believe in”: Karma, God’s will, “everything happens for a reason,” “just desserts.” Moral clarity would tell you that Jane Doe’s solitary confinement is a crime. It would remind you that morality and justice belong to us all, not only to those with the luxury of perfection. It would remind you that no one deserves to die for their mistakes.

The rest can be sorted out, but we must resist the impulse to gin up cyber mob justice that condemns women like McDonald, Dr. V, Doe, or nameless others to death, while also remembering and affirming their humanity. This is what moral clarity is for.

We glory in fictional men whose moral compromises make them complex and interesting characters, blurring the line between “hero” and “anti-hero” into morally bankrupt irrelevance. We get the vapors over dark, brooding, gritty men. But when confronted with real, flesh-and-blood women who have had to make hard choices and whose moral scorecard includes more than a few red marks, suddenly, as if to guiltily make up for all those reruns of Mad Men or House of Cards, we barrage them with eye-for-an-eye invective.

In the cases of Dr. V, and now Jane Doe, this interacts violently with latent transmisogyny in our culture. In our pantheon of stereotypes, trans women are the trickster goddesses: inveterate deceivers forever lurking in the shadows of cisgender life, waiting to be slain once we are exposed to the light. Life imitates art, as they say.

But make no mistake. The fate of these trans women is a sentence that is laid down by our society to many cisgender women as well: Women are expected to be perfect upon our pedestals. The trick is that trans women and women of color are forever regarded as inherently imperfect.

Their stories deserve telling. Patriarchy flaws us, demands imperfection as the price of survival, and then condemns us to oblivion our purported immorality. We are not absolved of responsibility for our actions, to the extent our actions may actually be transgressions, but neither should we be condemned to death for them. We all deserve a chance to thrive.

If human dignity means something, then it is surely that.

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  • lady_black

    Being that this is your one and only comment, you won’t be missed. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    • A. T.

      Ack. I didn’t realize you’d said it first. Great minds and all that? :)

  • marti386

    “There is ample evidence of the violence this individual dished out to staff members”

    Actually, there ISN’T. There is a CLAIM that Jane Doe blinded a woman and broke the jaw of another. NOW they’re claiming it was the same person, and she got her sight back. But no name has ever been given, nor has this person (or persons) come forward or pressed charges. Why is that, I wonder?

    Could it possible be because Jane Doe has claimed that she has been molested repeatedly under their care? Could it be because they want to make her vanish?

    Is it honest to hold someone in solitary confinement against a judge’s orders in an adult prison without ANY charges being filed? Where IS all this “ample evidence” you claim exists? Because so far DCF hasn’t come forward with any.

    I think YOU’RE the one who needs the reality check.

    • A. T.

      Even if she did, the procedure is you charge someone with a crime, you try them for a crime and then you find them guilty or innocent. It is not lock them up in solitary until they go mad without a trial or, say, charges.

  • Gearlose

    Great Opinion! Well Done! I couldn’t have said it better.

  • Gearlose

    Nice job completely missing the entire thought of the opinion. Oh and since when did we start holding teen in solitary confinement in adult prisons without charge on an alleged assault crime?

  • marti386

    Womenfirst is an example of a TERF sockpuppet. That is to say, she’s a trans-exclusionary radical feminist who’s created this account solely to harass trans people.

    This is an example of how TERFs roll. They create tons of bogus accounts in a desperate attempt to make it look like there is more of them than there is. The fact is, there aren’t many of them at all.

    For instance, I used to have many run-ins on the forums with a TERF who went by the name of Rose Verbena. Later, she popped up as Mary Smith. Recently, I’ve been dealing with a nut called Anna Kroy. Anna is just the latest incarnation of a TERF who went by Audrey Kiwidinok.

    This happens all the time. TERFs have to try to conflate their numbers, since they don’t want anyone to know they’re a dying breed. That’s why, at the trans-inclusive London Dyke March, 6 of them showed up to protest.

    Only 6.

    So while they are loud and annoying, their aren’t many of them.

    • Shan

      Wow. I’ve never even heard of TERFs before. What a weird concept.

      • marti386

        Yeah, basically they’re radical feminists who think that trans women must be kept out of women’s spaces because we’re all “rapists” and “murderers”. Even though it’s US that tend to get raped and murdered the most.


        So if you run into any on the street, the best thing to do is cross the road.

        • Shan

          So, basically TERFs are of the opinion that one has to be born with a vagina to be a “real woman”? I wonder what they think of “real women” who were born with vaginas but who identify as male? Or neither? Or both?

          Or maybe I shouldn’t wonder. They don’t sound like they’re worth listening to.

        • Mindy McIndy

          People like that make my blood boil. Three of my dearest friends are trans, and all they want is to be seen as they women they clearly are, be able to use the bathroom and women’s facilities in peace, and get the same opportunities that any cisgender women enjoy. They aren’t some rapist bogeymen that are lurking in the shadows, pretending to be women so they can take advantage of a situation so they can assault and hurt cisgender women. It is absolute nonsense and insanity. Meeting my trans friends gave me a crash course in trans rights, and has made me 100% on their side, even more so than I was before. Folks like the TERFs you describe are just awful. I live in Ohio, and the Michigan Women’s Festival has banned trans women from attending because it is a “women only safe space”, including my one post-op friend. My friends are women too, but they are discluded because of what was on their original birth certificate. BULLSHIT.

          • jn

            I know I will be called all sorts of names for saying this and I truly mean no harm…just trying to learn more. And after reading everything above…I have finally just got to say this. First, if u guys were more open to meaningful dialoque and less likely to prohibit or harass others with differing opinions it would be easier for you to sway people to understand. But so far…even a post op trans…when their dna is tested…their entire physical self…they are what they were born as no matter what changes they make to themselves. No matter what hormones they inject or swallow they are what they were born as. I think most people’s concerns boil down to a small population with gender confusion causing gender confusion throughout our society. Such as the bathroom issue. Like a confused kid for example decides this week he wants to be a girl and gets to go to the girls bathroom and locker room but next week he changes his mind. There are lots of examples that concern the unknowing general public. But that doesn’t make us TERFS or mean…or whatever else you want to call us. I truly have tried to reserve my personal opinions in these matters until I learn more. But I have not been able to learn more bc in these types of sites yall jump on someone that might differ in opinion on certain points. So how can anyone learn anything. Well thk yall and I do hope to understand and learn more one day.

          • Mindy McIndy

            Look at it this way: it’s a birth defect. They were born with the brain of a female, but a body of a male. And they are doing their damnedest to correct it. They need understanding and respect. These aren’t people hopping between genders so they can get a look at ladies in the changing room, they ARE ladies, but in a different form than you. They have been beaten, raped and murdered throughout history because of who they are. A dear friend of mine was gang raped just walking home because she is transgender. They put up with mindless harrassment on a daily basis, are ostracized from their families and society, are made the butt of jokes by people in the media, and given a lot of shit that they don’t deserve just because they dare to live the life they were meant to live. This isn’t a sickness, this isn’t a perversion, this is who they are. I understand being confused, as I used to be confused by the concept too, but there is no need for outright cruelty and bullshit accusations.

    • David Pearlman

      I’m not sure if TERFs are as miniscule as you think they are. I haven’t been keeping up, so this could be outdated, but the last I checked the Michigan Women’s Music Festival excluded trans women.

      I’m also not sure if radical is an accurate way to describe trans exclusion. Often times mainstream feminism can get caught up in trans exclusion. For instance, there have been cases in which trans girls have been excluded from VAWA domestic violence shelters because they are not recognized as girls.

      Trans people blur the lines. When it becomes popular to exclude half of the population, those who blur the lines are going to end up on the excluded side some times when you don’t like it.

      • marti386

        “I’m not sure if TERFs are as miniscule as you think they are. I haven’t been keeping up, so this could be outdated, but the last I checked the Michigan Women’s Music Festival excluded trans women.”

        No, I think they are pretty miniscule, but that doesn’t stop them from being loud and annoying. Yes, MitchFest continues to fight trans-woman, but that’s mainly because of MitchFest owner Lisa Vogel, and not so much because of the actual attendees of MitchFest. Yes, a lot of them continue to be transphobes, but a growing number of attendees are fighting this. It’s only Lisa’s stubbornness that keeps it from being trans-inclusive.

        But even Lisa knows she’s loosing. Lately, she’s been issuing statements to the effect of “trans women are asked to stay out, but we’re not going to throw them out if they come in.”

  • Kate

    This is seriously superb.

  • David Pearlman

    I wonder, have you ever written anything expressing concern for cis boys in the same position as Jane? While she has one more intersection that she has to deal with, the fundamental source of her troubles is a “justice” system that vastly disadvantages boys. It would be better to address this institution as a whole, rather than save your concern for just one individual who happens to live on an intersection that you’re concerned with.

    • A. T.

      I have, though I’m not the author.

      • David Pearlman

        I’d be interested to read what you have to say if you’ve got a link.

        • A. T.

          In comments, on tumblr and such as I’m not a professional writer. They tend to be on the topic of how we wait until kids that clearly show signs of being troubled do something violent, act surprised and then lock them up and pretend they’re monsters. And people don’t like to deal with these troubled kiddos anyway, the stigma around boys and violence not helping in this regard. ._. (I won’t even go into criminalization, racial disparities and all of that.)

          I suggest looking up http://www.childtrauma.org or reading Dr. Dave Ziegler, two of my favorite sources.

          • David Pearlman

            Yup, that about sums up my view too. The Fundamental Attribution Bias is strongly at play here. It’s such a sad example too. Because of all the vulnerable people who are not responsible for their circumstances, and deserve our compassion, children should be at the top of the list, not the bottom.

            That’s an interesting link. I’ll have to look into it more when I get a chance. Thanks.

          • A. T.

            It’s SO much easier to intervene when they’re young. You do not want to wait til a boy or girl is 16+. I’m not giving up on Jane Doe and other kids, but it’s so much harder when they reach this level of damage (also, she should not have to suffer this long in the first place!). ._. It’s why the best programs target parents of young kiddos and/or elementary school kids.

            I agree entirely re: kiddos. I know violent or sexually acting out kids scare people, but these are babies. They are not responsible for what was done to them. They aren’t monsters. They can be worked with and helped.

            Anytime! I actually like talking about this stuff. >.> Both Dr. Ziegler and Dr. Perry have books. Dr. Ziegler’s focus on the practical of working with ‘impossible’ (read violent, sexual, attachment disorder, etc) kiddos. Dr. Perry does more research on the brain, trauma, etc.

    • Shan

      The article isn’t really about the “justice” system, it’s about some of the struggles transgender women like the author face in society. That you’re suggesting she should advocate better for cis boys is…I’m not sure I can even think of the words to go with what it means that you actually came in here and SAID that.

      • David Pearlman

        But the article is about the “justice” system! The author just doesn’t
        realize it. All of the harsh treatments that she described – solitary, abuse, rape – are routinely suffered by cis boys in Jane’s circumstances. The author only speaks out when it’s someone like her who’s suffering, and then speaks out in a way that leaves the suffering of cis boys invisible.

        I find your shock at the idea of advocating for cis boys telling, and very on topic. In your head, they’re not perfect victims. You do not see male vulnerability.

        • Shan

          “I find your shock at the idea of advocating for cis boys telling, and very on topic.”

          That wasn’t what shocked me. It was the fact that YOU – a cis male – came here and criticized a trans woman author for not advocating for cis boys. Maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked after all.

          You seem like a nice guy, so I’ll leave it there.

          • David Pearlman

            I’m sure that Cross can handle a little constructive criticism. She put herself out there. Civil society is a place for debate. She didn’t post her article in a “safe space.” She posted in a public site open to public comment. I commend her for being open to debate and I rebuke you for attempting to shut debate down.

            Is my point any less valid because of my gender orientation, biological parts, or sexual preference? My point is that Jane Doe’s situation is rooted in the fact that she is sharing a common experience with cis boys who lack effective advocates. This would be best addressed by advocating for the entire mistreated group, rather than singling out one person for special concern.

            Why do you assume that I’m a cis male? A correct assumption, by the way,
            but still an unfounded one. Is it that you expect only cis males to
            advocate for cis males? Please respond to my point instead of making another add hominem.

          • Shan

            ” I rebuke you for attempting to shut debate down.”

            Where did you get THAT from?

            “Is my point any less valid because of my gender orientation, biological parts, or sexual preference?”

            No, MY point was that you missed HER point. She used Jane Doe’s situation as an example of what SHE wanted to talk about: some of the difficulties trans women face in our society. You seem to want to talk about something else. Your point about that something else may be perfectly valid but, IMO, you’ve criticized her for not having the conversation YOU want to have, and even said that she doesn’t even know what her own article is “really” about. Which, frankly, we’ve seen guys do over and over again in these forums and it gets very tiresome.

            “Why do you assume that I’m a cis male? A correct assumption, by the way, but still an unfounded one. Is it that you expect only cis males to advocate for cis males?”

            Perfectly founded. I read your posting history because I wanted to make sure you weren’t one of the MRAs who like to troll around here.

            “Please respond to my point instead of making another add hominem.”

            Ad hominem? What did I say that made you feel personally attacked?

          • David Pearlman

            I know what Cross’s point is. But my point is that her point misses THE point.

            Cross says (correctly) that people judge victims’ worth when deciding how much compassion to show a person who is in a tough situation. Another way to look at it is what side of the Fundamental Attribution Bias a person falls on. Do you blame the behavior on the circumstances, or do you blame the circumstances on the behavior? Or do you fail to consider the situation at all?

            What Cross evidently fails to realize is that she is doing the very thing that she decries. She sympathizes with Jane because she identifies with Jane. But she leaves an entire parallel population in the dark. Are cis boys not worthy of her concern? Are they not perfect enough victims for her?

            Cross explains in some detail the terrible situation that Jane finds herself in. What she fails to acknowledge is that this is an all too common situation for cis boys. Cross implies that Jane is singled out for abuse and neglect because she is trans, and I’m sure that it only makes her situation worse. But the fact is that Jane’s situation has more in common with that of her cis male peers than it does with Cross’ relative privilege.

            There was a sudden surge of concern and advocacy from the LGBTQ community when one of their own got caught up in a system that’s been tearing children’s lives apart for a long time. From my perspective (egalitarian), this displays the very mindset that Cross is decrying when it’s applied to people like her. Disadvantaged cis boys are considered acceptable victims, when they’re considered at all.

            I have been concerned with the encroaching police state for some time. I advocate in what small ways that I can when I have an opportunity. It’s obvious just from a cursory statistical observation that the police state vastly disadvantages men and boys. So this sudden surge of concern seems very suspect to me. It is rooted in ignorance about the true nature of the problem and the gender dynamics of its victims. It is ultimately self serving.

            It shows in Cross’ description of suicide and incarceration as “maladies faced by women” when statistically they impact men far, far more. It shows when you spend more time parsing out what identity I represent than trying to figure out what my point is. It shows in Gearlose’s comment bellow, which garnered more upvotes than any other comment on this article.

            “since when did we start holding teen in solitary confinement in adult prisons without charge on an alleged assault crime?”

            That’s actually been going on for quite some time. Why did it take a trans victim for you to notice?

          • A. T.

            I think your points are valid. I’m just not sure if the author should be expected to write about all things either. If the article had been about boys in solitary and their mistreatment, I wouldn’t expect Ms. Cross to write about the mistreatment of trans teenagers. A brief mention, if anything at all.

          • David Pearlman

            Perhaps I’ve been unfair in singling out Cross for criticism, when my criticism is broader and meant for feminism and even dominant culture as a whole. It’s a peculiar aspect of invisible victims, that individuals may not even realize that they are disregarding invisible people, precisely because they’re so invisible. But that doesn’t excuse Cross entirely, because she’s not just an individual. She has a platform and she’s presenting herself as a spokeswoman for her community. Thus she should be held to a higher standard.

            Cross shouldn’t be expected to write about everyone. But she should at least be expected to be accurate in the depiction of the gender dynamics that she does discuss. Describing Jane’s circumstances (and her imperfect victimhood) as if they are unique to trans girls is demonstrably wrong. Calling suicide and incarceration “maladies suffered by women” is demonstrably wrong. Cross is reading the comments (she upped Shan’s post). So when no one answers Gearlose’s rhetorical question by pointing out that this sort of treatment has been commonplace for years, that no one includes Cross.

            It could have been anyone. I happened to read Cross’ article. She’s hardly unique in ignoring marginalized cis boys. But she does more than that. She actively misrepresents the situation in a way that perpetuates the invisibility of Jane’s peers. This is likely out of ignorance. I do not suspect Cross of sinister intentions. But ignorance should be addressed, which is what I am doing.

          • Shan

            “But my point is that her point misses THE point.”

            Just because she’s not talking about what YOU want to talk about it doesn’t mean she’s missing THE point. She has her own point to make just as you have yours. In all seriousness, maybe you should write and submit your own article somewhere. It’s obviously important to you.

  • Deanna Joy Hallmark

    I am transgender a trans advocate and a feminist and while I appreciate the author’s candor, I think her sense of moral indignation and public outcry more than a bit overwrought and self-aggrandizing because it allows her to “pillory”, as she put it, those people who I believe were acting in good faith in the public interest while she is not taking responsibility for her own feelings that have brought on this provocative diatribe against the powers that be. While I am not saying that what these public servants did or didn’t do was or wasn’t justifiable, what I am saying is that even these public servants deserve the same rights to due process that they “allegedly” denied their charges which is guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of rights to everyone, not just to “victims” of misguided conduct by well meaning public servants charged with protecting the public interest-at -large. All she has done is act as both judge and jury and taint what should have been an open conversation between opposing points of view which is the very meaning of justice of law, instead of justice of the mob.

    • Jessica Evans


  • Jessica Evans

    A nation of Eichmanns

  • A. T.

    Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

  • Shan

    “Not every work of analysis that discusses women must also devote equal time to men.”

    And all too frequently, no matter what the subject, there are men piling in who DEMAND that the discussion focus on THEIR issue/s instead. Witness the #yesallwomen phenomenon last month and the almost immediate #notallmen reaction.

    • David Pearlman

      I ask that you try to look at the other perspective. Have you ever wondered why men would want you to discuss their issues? Have you ever wondered why men get so defensive about hash tags like that?

      To be clear, I have similar criticisms for the MRM that I do for feminism. I often like to see the two movements at each others’ throats, because they make valid criticisms of each other. However they also engage in a lot of partisan hackery, and that needs to be called out.

      In the case of Rodgers, who frequented a couple of PUA websites, this was twisted into blaming the MRM, who had nothing to do with Rodgers. Through misrepresentation, sloppy reporting, and confirmation bias, all those who advocate for men were blamed for the actions of one man.

      It’s called borgification; blaming all members of a class for the actions of a few. If you pay attention, you’ll see that it’s all over feminism. In such a context, is it any wonder to see people defensively responding #notallmen?

      • Shan

        “I ask that you try to look at the other perspective.”

        This request is insulting to everyone here because it assumes that we can’t or don’t or haven’t. It also assumes that this is an appropriate place to suggest that we (including the author) should do it. It’s not. Because it’s STILL an article about trans women, whether you like it or not and no matter how many times you insist it should be about something else.

        “Have you ever wondered why men would want you to discuss their issues?”

        Even if we weren’t already painfully aware of and thinking about men’s issues day in and day out because we HAVE to in order to just survive sometimes, we couldn’t help but wonder because, no matter where we are (especially online) just as you’ve done here repeatedly, men come into a discussion that’s specifically about WOMEN’S issues (including trans women) and demand THEIRS be discussed instead.

        “Have you ever wondered why men get so defensive about hash tags like that?”

        Plenty have, and have some good explanations for why. And some very valid points.


        Further reading. This article (by a man) is “Not All Men: How Not to Derail Discussions of Women’s Issues”


        From the article:

        “Why is it not helpful to say “not all men are like that”? For lots of reasons. For one, women know this. They already know not every man is a rapist, or a murderer, or violent. They don’t need you to tell them.

        “Second, it’s defensive. When people are defensive, they aren’t
        listening to the other person; they’re busy thinking of ways to defend themselves.

        “Third, the people saying it aren’t furthering the conversation, they’re sidetracking it. The discussion isn’t about the men who aren’t a problem. (Though, I’ll note, it can be. I’ll get back to that.) Instead of being defensive and distracting from the topic at hand, try staying quiet for a while and actually listening to what the thousands upon thousands of women discussing this are saying.”

        I realize all is in NO WAY about the original article and I recognize that I’m contributing to YOUR persistent derailing of it by attempting (over and over) to explain to you why what you are doing here IS derailing, and trying to point out to you that you don’t even realize that’s what you’re doing.

        So my apologies to Katherine Cross.

    • David Pearlman

      Look at the subtext of the conversation. Why is it important to classify trans issues as “women’s issues?” Why bother pointing out that something is a malady faced by women, rather than just a malady? Feminism is concerned with women. When men (or their advocates) demand that their issues be considered as well, they are told to form their own movement. When they do, they are blamed for mass murder.

  • http://leftytgirl.wordpress.com/ Savannah

    The reporter broke the journalistic code in his dealings with her. He made an agreement to work with her on her terms, which is that her personal life would not be any part of the story. He accepted those terms, and then grossly and exceedingly violated them. It was entirely unethical.

    And even if he had never entered into any such agreement, if he chose to reveal her false credentials that would be one thing, but there is absolutely NO justification whatsoever for publicly outing her gender history. How is that even relevant to the fucking golf club??

  • David Pearlman

    I apologize. I started out asking if you had written about boys in prison. When you didn’t answer, I assumed the worst, which wasn’t fair. In my conversation with Shan, I used you as a proxy to discuss my critiques of feminism in general, which also wasn’t fair. So I do apologize.

    The specific case of describing *your* sudden surge of concern as self serving was a mistake. In the previous paragraph, I had said that the surge was on the part of the LGBTQ community as a whole, and I meant that it was self serving in a broader sense, not meaning to single you out. Rereading it, I can see how it can easily be interpreted as singling you out, and I apologize for that specifically. I too should be more clear.

    However, I do not concede your point that you are not perpetuating falsehoods in this article. You are concerned with and advocate for male prisoners. But they are invisible in your article. I’m not sure if maybe you didn’t think about the fact that they are largely invisible to your audience? As evidenced by gearlose’s comment, and the fact that it got so many upvotes and no challenges.

    I do believe that trans people receive more than their share of shit. I sympathize, and when I can I advocate. But everything that she faces, that you described, are things that cis boys routinely face, as I’m sure you personally know. I don’t doubt that being trans (or rather how society treats trans people) makes her life even harder. But when you describe those specific things as trans oppression, without mentioning the victims that are invisible to your audience, it does perpetuate the falsehood that male victims do not exist.

    “since when did we start holding teen in solitary confinement in adult prisons without charge on an alleged assault crime?”

    Since all the time, as you well know. Yet you yourself upvoted that comment. There are now 14 people who have reinforced their belief that this sort of oppression doesn’t happen to boys.

    • Shan

      “You are concerned with and advocate for male prisoners. But they are invisible in your article.”

      Because that’s not what this article is about. You keep demanding that she change the subject to address the one YOU want to address and accusing her of basically lying by omission when she won’t.

      “There are now 14 people who have reinforced their belief that this sort of oppression doesn’t happen to boys.”

      Please read this:


      • David Pearlman

        You’re dropping links and copy/pasting the generic responses, but they don’t apply to me. You’ve been trying to pigeon hole me from your first response, but I don’t fit. I’m not being defensive (that shoe’s on your foot). I’m reading everything carefully. I’m here because I find trans issues compelling. I am participating in the discussion bellow. You’ve checked my history and you know that I don’t have a history of posting in feminist spaces on off topic points. So stop seeing me as a representation of a stereotype. I’m trying really hard not to see you that way. But your behavior is not making it easy. Not the least is posting generic “feminism101” links.

        I’m not addressing the point that Cross is trying to make. I am criticizing a false point that Cross did not intend to make, but nonetheless it is there and everyone who reads this article without it being challenged comes away with a falsehood.

        There’s a reason that I chose this article to speak up on. It’s because this isn’t a “men too.” It’s a “men primarily.” Let’s turn it around. Suppose you came across an article about a trans man struggling to get an abortion in a hostile state. When reading it, each layer of injustice is described as if cis women do not face similar issues. Barriers to reproductive healthcare is described as a “malady faced by men.” In the comments someone asks rhetorically, “since when do people face obstacles to abortion?” The author of the article upvotes the comment.

        How would you respond?

        • Shan

          ” You’ve checked my history and you know that I don’t have a history of posting in feminist spaces on off topic points.”

          That doesn’t mean you’re not doing it here.

          I’m done now.