sfp 6 74 for web

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  • Tylikcat

    Dynamorph gender essentialists – go!

    It’s particularly interesting that Theresa is happy to defend trans women – this is a mono versus bi gendered argument, or something. (I only day the layer, because I’m not sure Kiele would agree about the use of bi gendered.)

    Kiele, you’re welcome at my table, but I realize that even if this were meaningful, this probably wouldn’t be helpful.

    • Tylikcat

      …and this is why I shouldn’t post from my phone. “I only say the latter…”

    • Mechwarrior

      Speaking as a transwoman, Theresa comes strongly across as a cis woman who will accept traswomen, but only if they’re passing enough for her standards.

      Anyone who’s not feminine enough for her gets thrown under the bus.

      • Tylikcat

        FWIW, I apply two pretty different standards of evaluating such things – which I’m mostly mentioning because this is really calling my own attention my own divergent reactions.

        On the one hand, she’s already gone pretty far beyond trusting her with anything like life or safety decisions for me or anyone else. (…hm, and that probably means that were I an event administrator – and I’ve spent a lot of time being an event administrator, or an instructor, or other local person in charge – I would be really concerned about letting her back into a group where she’s already been verbally abusive to another member and maybe tried to prevent them from coming in. Though it’s also true that my days of being low key faciliatator might bedone, and I’m much more “Fuck it, you need to leave now,” bitch.) Because yeah, I can’t say she comes off as trustworthy.

        On the other, as long as she isn’t in a position to actually do anything other than whine (and there are a lot of things one can do to make sure Kiele knows I have their back) I’m likely to apply the least harsh interpretation I can to what they are actually saying – especially when that is already pretty fucked up.

        There are two reasons for this:

        1) Most people are pretty inarticulate, especially when they are upset. (I work with undergraduates.) Give them some time and space, and they’ll probably manage to tell you what they mean, but they’re more than likely going to to screw it up along the way.

        2) Give them some time and space and they *will* tell you what they mean. This is also known as enough rope to hang themselves with. I like it to be absolutely clear whenever possible. It’s so much more devastating that way.

        (Which doesn’t mean that I’ll give them the giant telling off at the end. Every once in a while circumstances conspire and I really get to cut loose, but mostly, even when I fantasize about it, I know I’ll feel guilty in the morning. Often gentle understated explanations are bad enough.)

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Calling it: Theresa might not be trying, but she is being an asshole.

    As a cisperson myself my perspective is evidently extremely narrow, but one has to remember everybody stays their entire lives into one’s mind. Nobody knows what the experience of “being a man” or “being a woman” is for someone else, let alone everybody else. Gender is not a binary and neither a spectrum on the individual level, as we just have to guess what we want to be regarded as by others based on the ever elusive and highly disputable social codes, and land somewhere where, certainly, no human has landed before.

    So technicalities don’t matter. In the absence of rules, do not fucking impose your own on others. A woman is someone who says they are. And that’s it.

    (And that’s too bad because there really is something to be debated regarding the intersection of transgender issues and bigender issues.)

    Okay, last remark: Brad is *lucky*. This one is easy. Kiele can choose out of its own volition. Imagine its shapeshifting was random.

    • Debbie Jackson

      The shapeshifting *is* random, however .. at least to an extent. The small clue we have from this update is that Kiele’s shape is tied to their emotions; and in a discussion group centred around emotionally charged issues, those will be going haywire.

      • ∫Clémens×ds

        You’re right, my mistake. I somehow missed this clue or forgot during my comment.

  • Red Admiral

    “It just means I need to figure out twice as much” Ouch. Given the different cultural expectations placed on men and woman and the fact they aren’t entirely in control of this process I can understand why they’re upset. Having a problem like this is bad enough, knowing that you may be the only person suffering it wouldn’t help.

    It is worrying how some one who is claiming to offer support can turn on someone who needs their help this much.

  • Bauke

    Wait, so she defends trans women, but not someone who switches gender (and apparently has little control over it)…

    I have to admit I don’t really fully understand safe spaces (Probably because I’m a white cis man) but Kiele seems to be genuinely wanting to be there because they are dealing with being a female dynomorph.

    Feel free to enlighten me as to why Kiele wouldn’t/shouldn’t be welcome. (genuinely interested)

    • Burke

      Hetero-ish white guy here, so everything that follows comes with the caveat that it’s a combination of what other people have explained to me, observation from the outside, and a little bit if guesswork. Also, some of this might be triggering for survivors of sexual assault, and might be stated with less than ideal delicacy, so: trigger warning.

      When someone is deeply, grievously wronged by a member of another group, sometimes the traits of anyone from that group serve to remind them of the trauma. No, remind is too mild a word. Imagine if you got shot at some point in your life, and thereafter every time you saw a tube pointing vaguely in your direction, you started experiencing getting shot again. Intellectually, you know it’s a toy gun or a rolled-up-paper telescope or whatever, but your lizard hindbrain is still pumping fight-or-flight-grade rocket fuel into your brain chemistry.

      You see this sometimes in survivors of violence who don’t want to be touched by or even in proximity to people who remind them of the attacker, a group which may include family and/or their spouse–people they should be able to trust, and from whom they should feel only love and support. However the survivor may feel about an individual person, a part of them is lining up traits that fit the “danger” pattern and sounding an alarm.

      So, place yourself in that mindset for a moment. You’ve had some trauma, reminders of the trauma are very common and very painful, so it’s an effort to hold yourself together and get through normal interactions in public. Finally, you get to a place that’s supposed to be safe, where you can relax, let down your guard in an atmosphere of support… and there, directly across from you, in the absolute last place you would ever expect it, is the exact thing your lizard hindbrain is telling you is an imminent threat. Surprise Konami-code on your brain’s panic buttons ensues, and it’s Super Effective because you weren’t expecting it.

      I’m not saying Kiele shouldn’t be welcome, s/he very clearly has his/her own very substantial set of challenges to face, but I can understand why, to Teresa, she wouldn’t be. And while I admit, Teresa comes off very badly here, I think that in the context of someone trying to hold their stuff together and be civil during a moderate freak-out, her insensitive questions and remarks can be understood.

      (I should add, I’m more on Kiele’s side in this argument; she/he was a woman going into the meeting, was a woman at the part of the meeting we saw [I think? I might be misremembering], and possibly only became a man [involuntarily] later when confronted, as a response to being confronted. Teresa’s stance on transgender as she’s presenting it is very hypocritical, and she’s coming off badly. I can see where Teresa may be coming from, but my initial gut instinct is with Kiele. I’ll admit, that may be some kind of bias on my part.)

      Like I said, this is all from an outsider’s point of view, so if someone else has an insider’s perspective on this, they’re probably closer to the truth. Still, hope it helps.

    • Eric Meyer

      White cis male as well, but I think I might have a little insight into the ‘safe spaces’ idea.

      I’ve had a couple… breakdowns, in my life. I’m an outlier socially, who’s mostly learned how to interact with folks by rote trial and error, rather than the instinctual ability most humans have to understand others’ emotions and react accordingly. This caused me a ton of stress before I started figuring it out, during my developmental period (teenagerhood and early 20s). Couple that with panic and anxiety attacks, and it occasionally gets to the point where I just cannot be around other people, and even just being out and about causes me to twist up so much I cause strain injuries to myself. But I’ve got a place (a physical place, in this case, rather than an emotional place based around a group, but it’s easy enough to use them as analogies for each other) where I can go, and that stress, that fear and pain and worry, doesn’t get to me. Even if the source of the stress shows up there, it’s my ‘safe place’, and so I don’t feel the stress (or at least, not as strongly), and when the source goes away, so does the anxiety and worry.

      It’s because I OWN that space. I control it. I know every single thing about what it contains, and has contained. I’ve filled that space with emotion- laughter, sadness, anger- but it has all been MY emotion. And so I know everything I can do there, everything that can happen to me there. And I don’t have to worry about unknowns.

      I feel like that’s what these ‘safe space’ groups are attempting to do, if more emotionally than physically. You know the people there. You know how they’re probably feeling when someone tells a story, or how they’ll probably react to an event, because they’re ostensibly the ‘same’ as you. You can expect that, if you have an issue, they’ll empathize, and know how to fix it, or at least not make it worse, because they’ve had that same issue. You don’t necessarily control them, but you have the knowledge of what’s probably going to happen that allows you to stop worrying and stressing about the possibilities.

      In a way, it’s sort of what Fight Club was, only inverted. Fight Club, all the guys there knew that there was going to be crazy violence- people would get mad, blood would flow, bones might be broken. But they also knew that there wasn’t any way that it was going to go too far, because that’s why EVERYONE was there. It was emotionally safe, if not physically safe.

    • Mechwarrior

      I’m a transwoman and don’t see any real issue for why Kiele shouldn’t be in such a group. Mostly, Teresa seems to be transphobic.

      • pleasechangemymind

        But she’s not! She has loads of trans friends! She’s actually looking out for THEM! *eye rolling intensifies*

      • Tylikcat

        I can’t argue with Teresa’s ill-disguised transphobia. (Or something. I don’t know quite what’s going on there?)

        But I’ve run into enough people who are bi-phobic who aren’t homophobes that it doesn’t seem like a stretch that such a position could exist. (And not just bi-phobic gay people, which is the stereotype. Or at least one stereotype. There’s a lot of equal opportunity bi-phobia out there, despite all that frequently cited passing privilege.)

  • Tsapki

    Damn, all those comments about Gamergate on the previous page seem to pale woefully in comparison to the sort of situation this actually is.

  • Zedd

    When a bunch of men want to have a men’s only club, there are clever ways to legally keep out non-men. Like a mustache club, where a stache of a certain length is required to join. But then the bearded lady tries to join, and nobody knows what to do, *because they’re not allowed to be honest.*

    • Eric Meyer

      So a minimum cup size club! Wait, no, fat dudes. Childbearing? But there’s those who can’t… Hair length is right out…

      Yep, it’s official. Facial hair is awesome.

      • Tylikcat

        Especially if you pretty much only want white guys there to begin with 😛

        • Rumble in the Tumble

          Fu Manchu would like to have a word with you :v

          • Tylikcat

            Oh, it’s not a filter that excludes everyone – but if you require facial hair, it’s not going to include a lot of men, and a disproportionate number of the men excluded will be non-white.

        • The Articulator

          Black men can’t grow beards? I feel like I’m missing something somehow.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      It’s so comparatively easy to hold a men only club. You even have a handful of signs to choose!
      “Men’s Rights Activists gathering”
      “No Bitches allowed”
      “GamerGaters United”
      “Reddit/4chan crossover reunion”
      “Pick Up Artists Meetup”

      I could go on but I’m making myself sad

      • Zedd

        Nah, only one of those would work to make a men’s only club.
        Mens Rights Activists? Honey Badgers and women like Erin Pizzey could waltz right in.
        No Bitches? Illegal.
        GamerGaters? Most of “Notmyshield” could waltz right in.
        Reddit/4chan reunion? “Notmyshield” again…
        Pick up artist meetup actually would work… if you consider those men.
        Maybe a “Dark Triad” club, only for people who score high on the Dark Triad?

        As for legal women’s only clubs, you can think of a few if you get creative.
        Ovarian cancer survivor’s club?
        High estrogen blood test club to include trans women?
        Quilting Bee, completed quilt necessary to join?

        • Debbie Jackson

          Presuming that only women have ovaries to have experienced ovarian cancer just serves to erase trans men completely. I know the above is sardonic, if nothing else then the “quilting bee” flagged that up – but seriously, you can’t incorporate trans women based on estrogen level but forget that some men bleed once a month!

        • Elaine Lee

          High estrogen blood test club would exclude post-menopausal women, but include older transwomen. Ovarian cancer survivor’s club might include spouses/partners of those who had died of ovarian cancer. And you KNOW there are a couple of male quilters out there!

  • BGB

    And so the unfortunately common trend of a marginalized group further splintering itself continues:(

  • ClockworkDawn

    Yeah, ya big meanie!

  • Lheticus Videre

    Man. RL LGBTQ issues are complicated enough. I don’t even WANT to imagine what would happen if this situation could actually happen.

  • Fortooate

    I don’t like Teresa! Everything she’s saying seems like it’s being said in bad faith.

    First panel: ‘or even reprimanded’ as if everyone’s already on board with that as a possible consequence; Teresa gets to look indulgent and fair by rejecting it

    Second and third panels: Trying to drum up evidence for ‘Kiele is REALLY a MAN! See?’

    Fourth: “It’s you’re fault if you’re interpreting me as an asshole, I’m just trying to protect people!”

    Fifth: “Kiele’s starting to cry, I’d better match it so that I look just as wronged! I need to make it sound like Kiele is threatening women’s safety by existing near us!”

    I’m not saying she’s lying or being purposefully manipulative, but it sure seems like she’s being intellectually dishonest and ‘gaming the system’ to get the result she prefers instead of having a real discussion about the issue.

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      To be fair, I think they’re both genuinely worked up. But you’re absolutely correct about the problematic terms she’s using.

      • Shweta Narayan

        Kiele’s worked up because they’re being attacked, though, while Theresa’s worked up because her view of things (which hurts Kiele) isn’t just being accepted. They’re not at all symmetric situations.

    • Random832

      “First panel: ‘or even reprimanded’ as if everyone’s already on board with that as a possible consequence; Teresa gets to look indulgent and fair by rejecting it” – that or people have jumped to accuse her of wanting it and she is genuinely offended by that.

    • SuddenFan

      I don’t think she’s acting in bad faith. A lot of times (in life and in these comments) we unfairly cast people as dishonest. I think Tylikcat’s response above is illustrative:

      “I mean, I think she’s being awful, but I also think she’s probably sincere in her convictions of where she draws the line on gender identity – people don’t have to simultaneously practice all forms of bigotry, and indeed, often don’t. Maybe as a dynamorph it’s relatively easy for her to accept that people have identities that don’t match the shape of their outward bodies. But for whatever reason she has a bee in her bonnet that if your gender identity isn’t fixed, then it’s femaleness isn’t real. I get the impression that if Kiele identified as female all the time, and happened to shape change into a male body while still doing so, that wouldn’t bother Teresa. (Especially if Kiele made a big deal about being put out by this.) She might feel secretly more female, but she wouldn’t exclude them.

      So she’s grasping at straws to justify herself. Some of those straws are pointing out the flaws in her logic – probably in part because she’s upset. And notice how quickly she realizes that she missteps. But that doesn’t mean she’s not sincere. (I wouldn’t be surprised if at a gut level she doesn’t actually really believe in non-fixed gender identities. Maybe she just realizes she doesn’t understand them and goes from that to being certain they can’t be real women ever.)”

  • Superfrick

    OMG. I can barely figure out my own gender issues, I can’t imagine how complicated it would be with uncontrollable shapeshifing.

  • GreatWyrmGold

    I mean, some anvils need to be dropped, but…

    • 3-I

      This happens to people in the real world every day. If you consider that anvilicious, TVTropes has lied to you.

  • palmvos

    I hope Alison does not insert herself into this. just either listen to how brad addresses this, or walk on past. based on the statements about brads powers- he already knows Alison is there.
    personally- id say that Teresa is demanding too much of a ‘safe’ space, but I don’t see anyway to convince her of that.

  • Emmy

    Appreciation post: Brad’s shirt.

    • screechfox

      Absolutely. Brad has fantastic taste.

    • Margot

      Also, is Brad running this whole conference on his own? Because wow.

      Oh no, of course he’s not, there was that awesome blue woman, and I guess many more. Still, they’re doing an amazing job!

  • chaosvii

    Love the suspenders.
    I’ve never been able to rock them like that, despite what various people who have seen me in them might tell you 😛

    Oh yeah and the whole “I’m not comfortable with you because I can’t pigeon-hole you into a category I can easily express in words!” is endemic to human society, such as the sub-culture witnessed here.
    I’m looking forward to future pages that afford Teresa the chance to either clear her rhetoric of irrelevant & unclear stuff and move onto the valid argument she’s putting together (which I probably won’t consider sound anyway), or explore all the other bad rhetoric and why they fail to produce a good reason to have Kiele join a different group (even if Kiele moving to a more welcoming group is the smart move here).
    I suspect a valid argument Teresa could make would go something like Only women who are unambiguously defined as women are welcome in the group. The group needs to focus on reclaiming security first before any other goals can be pursued. Ambiguous women undermine the reclaiming of security. Kiele is not unambigiously defined as a woman. Therefore Kiele cannot be welcomed here.

    It is really intriguing to hear how Kiele reports themself. I can’t tell if this is a way of conveying how they perceive themself as gender-fluid, agender, or a woman that has to occasionally act like they’re a man due to their body changing into a masculine form. Given the context of the dispute though, I imagine Keile perceives themself as a woman in general, but knows that they have to do the gender performance of a man whenever they end up shaped like one.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      Do you realize how dangerous “unambiguously defined as a woman” is? Defined by the judgement of whom? Which authority, which insight? There is only one person to decide of that and that’s the person concerned. Keile identified themself as such then, and that’s all there is to it, period.

      (Can you feel how confident in my opinion I am knowing Brad is standing this very same ground)

      • pleasechangemymind

        I think they (chaosvii) do understand how dangerous that is. I think that was actually the purpose of their post. 😉

        Can I just say how lovely it is to see almost, like, 95% of the comments on here coming down on the side of “Tersea, I get you’re feeling unsafe and stressed out and I sympathize, but you’re completely wrong and you need to stfu.”

        • ∫Clémens×ds

          I’ll let him speak for himself but so as to defend my own response to his comment, he called it a “valid argument Teresa could make”, and nope nope nope

          And yes that is delightful. Even more so after last time a few pages ago when, say 67% of people were questioning the validity of someone’s conditions to participate in a safe space and it was the worst.

          • chaosvii

            Heheh, yeah you’re thinking of the annoying definition of valid.

            I’m using the term to mean Conclusion flows from the premises, now all we have to do is figure out if the premises are true in order to deduce that the conclusion is therefore true not Well I suppose they’re maybe correct in their own special way or have a point or some other non-committal mild agreement way of saying that I can’t/don’t wanna rebut the rhetoric they’ve put forward.
            I’d like you to note that I used the term sound, in a context to clarify that indeed I do not find Teresa’s attempt at coherent argumentation to be convincing even when I extrapolate a series of premises & conclusions from what she’s said. I don’t think the premises are true, therefore while I can imagine a valid argument she’s probably going for, I also reject said argument on pretty much the same basis as you’ve outlined.
            From whence is it established that Keile is “unambiguously not a woman” anyway? (and further how could that unspecified establishment of such be applied consistently?)

            To be fair, I was totally halfassing the hypothetical valid argument by having a secondary conclusion as an introductory transition to the premises, then finally getting around to the minimalist conclusion that flowed from the premises.

            Also, it’s rather presumptive to identify me with the gendered “himself” so I’d like to take the time to thank you for generally not doing that.

          • ∫Clémens×ds

            I will do so, but I seem to remember you being comfortable when I did so before (at the time hopefully answering to a context clue of yours, although I have no recollection of it now) Regardless, my apologies if I misgendered you.

            And regarding the rest, I guess I had a hard time making these assumptions because I absolutely cannot think one such “valid-as-coherent” argument can be reconciled with a worldview where “were you a man or a woman before” matters in any form.

      • Random832

        “Unambiguously” has a pretty clear definition: it means everyone, even the worst bigots, define someone the same way. Being “unambiguously defined” is a privilege.

    • Eric Meyer

      It’s entirely possible that Keile’s dynamorphing causes mental shifts as well. When female, she’s completely female, and acts and reacts in a female manner. When male, he’s completely male, and acts and reacts in a male manner. Just because he’s male now, and tearing up about inclusiveness, doesn’t mean he’s acting more ‘womanly’- he’s probably much better attuned to his ‘feminine side’, more capable of unabashedly revealing his feelings, due to his experience as a woman. And when a woman, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a lot more straightforwards and unconsciously assertive due to her experience as a man.

      • Tylikcat

        And now may we have a public service announcement reminding viewers that gender identity is not the same as societally decreed gender roles.

        *blinks a bunch of times*

        Gender essentialism is flippin’ scary.

  • Julian Arce

    Wow… just wow. You are blurring so many lines, not just with this recent arc, but with the whole “dynamorph” thing, from what is human, to what is gender… so many exciting possibilities. Keep up the good work.

  • Liz

    First off, Teresa, surely you know better than to go with “what gender were you before?” if you’re also claiming to support trans women. Come on.

    Now that’s out of the way, a lot of questions here – why didn’t Kiele leave the discussion group when they became male? Would the people in that discussion group have been equally threatened if a gender-fluid person whose gender expression wasn’t tied to their dynamorphism had come to the group? All-in-all, sounds like ambiguous rules are to blame here. Something like “If you have a reasonable expectation of being male while in this group, please refrain from attending this particular women’s support group. This other group, however, is good for women and anyone else who might at any time identify as women.”

    • Tylikcat

      It really sounds like some subset of attendees had an axe to grind here, an it had been percolating for some time period… and Kiele was a really good scapegoat. Especially if they didn’t become male until they were verbally attacked. In that scenario, they went there in good faith (dress would indicate they were presenting as female) and were pounced on by someone with an agenda – which I think isn’t something they should have been expected to anticipate. It’s still not clear at what point they changed over into being male, or how long this has been going on before we see this little vignette.

      • Shjade

        The “transition triggered by emotional state” quality of that anomaly makes this scenario especially fascinating. Physical manifestation of how some real people actually feel, I’d imagine? I could maybe understand the objection being raised if it were purely transform-at-will switching going on, maybe (even then I’m really in no position to judge, defer to those with more relevant perspective), but when it’s something that literally changes with mood…gosh.

        • FlashNeko

          It’s also interesting to consider the societal psychology of it, provided the gender change isn’t caused by specific chemical level ratios in the body like in this case when (presumably due to the stress) Kiele’s adrenaline levels have reached the “fight or flight” point.

          But if the change is of an unconscious, psychological nature, does Kiele turn into a man when threatened and/or scared because most of the social cues he (and I’m only using “he” because that is the gender he is currently in as of this strip) has been given all of his life informed him that a man is better suited for dealing with stressful, threatening situations?

          It’d be interesting to track this element of Kiele’s transformations both for the sake of studying the psychology of it, and so Kiele could be better informed of what situations cause the change so he can both prepare himself and anyone else who might be taken out of their comfort zone by it ahead of time.

    • Mechwarrior

      Why should he/she be excluded simply due to being female only part of the time? It’s not like he/she is trying to sneak into the group then go “haha, now I’m male, bitches. In your defensive space!” He/she is trying to get the same help as the rest of the group, and it sounds an awful lot like it’s even harder due to his/her condition.

      • Liz

        1. I agree that Kiele deserves a lot of empathy in this situation since his/her situation isn’t something he/she can control.
        2. I agree that his/her intent was obviously not malicious – but malicious intent isn’t required to hurt someone.
        3. I still think he/she should’ve left the group when he/she became a man.
        4. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to set aside one women’s group for gender-stable women and have another for women and gender-unstable women. Makes a man-free space for those women who were uncomfortable (and their concerns were valid – Kiele isn’t a woman who is sometimes a transwoman. He/she is gender-fluid. The women’s group was supposed to be for women.), makes another space for women who aren’t bothered by gender fluidity or whose empathy for people in Kiele’s situation outweighs their hurt at possibly having a man in a woman’s only space.
        5. All that being said, this “some of my best sisters are trans!” showdown is doing way more harm to Kiele than Kiele’s failure to leave did to any of those women in that support group.

    • Slowloader

      Kiele didn’t leave the group, she was denied entrance (1st panel “When I tried to come inside, I was a woman.”) this means that someone (probably Teresa, but could have been someone else) recognized Kiele and ‘outed’ them as a part-time man in order to deny them inclusion in the group.

      • Weatherheight

        That seems a reasonable interpretation, and if it went down that way, it makes Theresa’s position much less tenable. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Silenceaux

    I guess I don’t really buy the “some of my best sisters are trans” line when that person asks a question like “before your anomaly, were you a boy or a girl?”. I know the barest amount about trans issues, and I know that question is entirely off-limits.

    • Tylikcat

      I kind of do. I mean, I think she’s being awful, but I also think she’s probably sincere in her convictions of where she draws the line on gender identity – people don’t have to simultaneously practice all forms of bigotry, and indeed, often don’t. Maybe as a dynamorph it’s relatively easy for her to accept that people have identities that don’t match the shape of their outward bodies. But for whatever reason she has a bee in her bonnet that if your gender identity isn’t fixed, then it’s femaleness isn’t real. I get the impression that if Kiele identified as female all the time, and happened to shape change into a male body while still doing so, that wouldn’t bother Teresa. (Especially if Kiele made a big deal about being put out by this.) She might feel secretly more female, but she wouldn’t exclude them.

      So she’s grasping at straws to justify herself. Some of those straws are pointing out the flaws in her logic – probably in part because she’s upset. And notice how quickly she realizes that she missteps. But that doesn’t mean she’s not sincere. (I wouldn’t be surprised if at a gut level she doesn’t actually really believe in non-fixed gender identities. Maybe she just realizes she doesn’t understand them and goes from that to being certain they can’t be real women ever.)

      • Dang, Tylik. I’m consistently impressed at how clearly you can put these complex thoughts across. Fantastic explanation.

      • S.I. Rosenbaum

        So I’m guessing nonbinary femme-looking folks aren’t welcome in her shitty safe space either?

        • Tylikcat

          Well, under the scenario I outlined above, no, but who the fuck knows? I mean, there is a history of womyn-only spaces that are open to trans-men but not trans-women because some people think assigned birth gender matters over everything and identity doesn’t. Her slip about asking Kiele what gender they were before changing hints at something more going on in her backbrain, but I’m not even really interested in trying to predict what. Or maybe she’s just flailing, and it comes down to “I don’t want them there and I can’t articulate it on any logical grounds Wah!” …which, come to think of it, really does take me back. Shades of a past I do not want to revisit!

          (Though Teresa keeps reminding me of Toni from DTWOF… which is probably unfair to Toni, it’s just something about how she’s drawn.)

    • Hydrawolf

      Unfortunately, it is possible to be in the community (whatever community is in question), and still be an asshole to others in the same community.

    • Mechwarrior

      “I’m not a racist, some of my best friends are black…”

    • Random832

      I don’t think that’s fair. Most non-dynamorphic trans (or other non-cis) people have been trans (or other respective gender identity) for their whole lives and having come to discover it is not really the same thing as an actual transformative event that truly has a “before”. Kiele may or may not have been genderfluid (or whatever is the right term if that’s the wrong term) before his/her anomaly manifested; it hasn’t been stated.

      I think that s/he is in the right regardless and it actually would weaken that message to implicitly concede that s/he would only be right if his/her gender identity weren’t actually caused by his/her dynamorphism, but that doesn’t change that what Teresa is asking isn’t really the same thing as what you’re talking about saying to a RL trans person.

      • S.I. Rosenbaum

        yo last time I checked, not having been trans or genderfluid in the past is not a barrier to being trans or genderfluid in the present.

      • Chamomile Mint

        I think that the point Theresa tried and failed to get across is that she wants to know whether Kiele identifies as female and has to deal with a male body sometimes, identifies as male and has to deal with a female body sometimes, or identifies with whatever gender her body is at the moment. These are all three possible, but Kiele would only belong in her support group if she identified as female all the time and had to deal with being in a male body.

        I do concede that she communicated poorly, but she is upset and hurting, and I think that she deserves some understanding.

  • Lizzy

    Looks like Brad didn’t successfully put out those fires…

  • Scott

    Uhh, yeah. Good luck with that one, Brad. How do you mediate between two people who are both just trying to find a place to be able to feel like they belong? If I were to put myself in Brad’s shoes and had to take a side, I would probably side with Kiele against Teresa.
    I have a lot of sympathy for Teresa, though. I know that one of the hardest things in the world is feeling alone, feeling like you’re the only one going through the problems you are facing. I understand that just knowing that someone else has gone through the same things can make a world of difference. I understand that many of these issues are some of the deepest and most troubling parts of who we are and that the prospect of sharing them, even if we know we need to, can be terrifying. I understand the fear that once you share this deep, intimate part of you that you will be judged or mocked or alone. I understand that as you try and process all of these feelings and take this horribly challenging step that the audience does matter. That there are people who, through no fault of their own, can make it nearly impossible to cross that bridge simply by being there.
    Yet, at the same time, Teresa is the one trying to exclude someone else based solely on her own bias. Her argument for why Kiele shouldn’t be there has a strong undertone of “no true Scotsman”. She is willing to accept some people as women, including trans women, but won’t accept Kiele because Kiele doesn’t meet her standard for what a woman is. The problem I have is that this isn’t Teresa’s private therapy session. This isn’t Teresa’s personal home. As I said before, I can understand her perspective, but I don’t believe that Teresa has the right to decide who is and who isn’t a woman and who can and who can’t be a part of the discussion.

    • Arkone Axon

      Agreed. I wholeheartedly concur. This is a conference that Brad has set up for people who are physically different, who are trying to find their place. If anything, they should be coming together and admiring each other’s differences and uniqueness, not demanding their own little cliques.

  • Gemmy

    This is why the idea of safe spaces is starting to make my teeth itch.

    Not because of that “coddled millenials” bullshit or whatever. Safe spaces simply don’t exist.

    At the same time, discussion groups like Al was sitting in earlier are valuable. But calling them safe is nonsense. Either Tina would have had to endure feeling bad, or the others had to avoid words or entire issues. The latter is obviously the all-around better, easier option. But that already conflicts with safespacenetwork.com’s definition of safe spaces as a space where people “can relax and be fully self-expressed”.

    The same thing applies to that same discussion group leaving aside the thorny issues Vanessa brought up to stick with stuff like body image. I think the choice was up to the discussion leader and she did alright, but Vanessa must have felt that it wasn’t safe for her, if she couldn’t talk about what she felt most strongly about.

    The argument going on on this page is a bit different. It seems to be the idea that it is super vital that your subgroup be able to talk only amongst yourselves. This isn’t maintainable unless you know everyone involved quite closely, though. I mean, a bunch of the women Teresa is talking about might be also nonbinary! There’s really no way to make sure what group a person belongs to beyond what they say of themselves (see: white-passing poc, or the general impossibility of defining “woman” through any biological reality, untransitioned trans people). Like, you can try to be super intrusive, but that makes you a dick and doesn’t necessarily help you either.

    I also generally don’t understand why it’s so important only people in your subgroup be in on your discussions and take part in your movements, as long as these outsiders pull their weight. On the other hand, there’s historical precedent for those same outsiders completely taking over the movement so I suppose I get it. But in this case, I’m not sure that applies. There’s no indication Kiele did anything besides being in the room. And, like, they’re a dynamorphic bigender person. Do you really think they’re more palatable to the general public?

    Back to safe spaces. Even if you manage to make everyone besides your subgroup leave, do you seriously think you’ll be safe? Think TERFs, for example. You don’t need “male privilege” to be abusive or just a huge piece of shit. Your subgroup isn’t naturally made up of more decent people, and you won’t get rid of the jerks by sticking to your own.

    Anyways, with the way the comic is written, it’s more on Kiele’s side than Theresa’s, so, um, yay for me? Also, Allison please don’t interfere pleeease

  • JohnTomato

    There are answers, we have not been able to state the questions correctly. Richard Feynman believed that once you can get a problem down to basic math it’s solution becomes solvable. People are much more complex than math.

    • The Articulator

      Nah, humans are just math, but it’s like giving calculus to preschoolers. We don’t even know the notation, let alone how to solve it.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    These questions are interesting, and important, and completely undermined by Teresa’s “what were you before mutation”. Siding with her is especially hard to forgive now.

    • Debbie Jackson

      I agree, the phrasing of that was just horrible. In many ways I think she’s actually trying to teach (from privilege and likely complete misapprehension) – she’s trying to explain to Kiele the ‘real challenges’ faced by those who are trapped in their body rather than having what she probably sees as the ‘option’ to shift. Quite possibly she’s trying to ‘splain to Kiele that they haven’t got the experience of being legitimately female from the assumption that they started out as male, in contrast to trans women who considered themselves female to begin with. But that doesn’t make her correct, of course; Kiele doesn’t seem to have much choice in their shifting, and is literally female while shifted into one. The assumption that Kiele doesn’t actually understand femininity is a complete shot in the dark and speaks more to Teresa’s personal bias than anything legitimate going on.

      • ∫Clémens×ds

        I’d even go further and say that whether it is a choice or not being relevant is a very, very bad heritage of compaigns for homosexual tolerance, falling back on the Oh so despicable pseudo-authority of Nature (and fuck that noise)

        But yes, it’s not even the concern here. Trans people giving a hard time to other queer people because they think their experience of oppression is somehow compensated by the “choice” they have is harmful enough, it is even more so when there isn’t even one.

  • As a non-binary person, good job on the part of the SFP team on this page. It feels very real, for a world where anomalies exist. Of course, it feels real enough that I have absolutely no desire to engage in debate about where Kiele belongs, but I appreciate it all the same.

  • Will

    The thing is though, do we know that Kiele is naturally one way or another? If they’re dynamorphic nature is linked to emotions, they might naturally be both, just depending on the time and their emotional state.

    What I mean to say is there might be no default?

    Teresa might just be linking a static gender to Kiele to make her feel right and justified. If she views Kiele as naturally a man who can shapeshift in to a woman, it gives her more validation than considering that Kiele may be gender amorphous.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    At first I didn’t understand what Theresa meant by “bi gender discussion groups.” If there were groups specifically for gender fluid dynamorphs, I would agree that Kiele should make use of those. But I think the reference was just to general discussion groups and not to ones specifically focused on being bi gender. So I can’t fault her for participating in the women’s one.

    I’m personally very lucky in my experiences of discussions and discussions on gender topics. It’s hard for me to relate to Theresa, since even if Kiele suddenly changed genders in the middle of a seminar I wouldn’t want to kick her out unless she said something rude or was disruptive. I would just figure that no matter what body she has at the moment, she’s someone who has to deal with being a woman at least part of the time, so the seminar is relevant to her.

    Maybe Brad is doing the best thing, just by listening to both sides. Both people had a chance to make themselves heard in a respectful way. Even if there is no easy answer that will please both, at least they aren’t being ignored.

    • pleasechangemymind

      I agree completely: bigender/genderqueer/non-binary groups tend to discuss more the intricacies of having to deal with peoples’ confusion and bigotry, or with the issue of being queer in itself (disclaimer: I’ve only been to a few, #notallgroups?). They are less often a space to deal with specifically female or male gendered issues, such as oversexualization of female bodies or the culturally accepted disposability of male ones. And while both support groups may be great, if Kiele needs to talk about things specific to womanhood – from menstruation to feminine presentation to particular social issues – a women’s group would probably be the place to do it.

  • Tylikcat

    From what was mentioned several pages back, different people have different gender identities, just as they do here. http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-59-3/

    Some people have fixed gender identities, some people don’t. Probably some people have gender identities that are more in line with what other people expect from their bodies than others. People are complicated. Dynamorphs just turns it up to eleven.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, what I object to with Teresa is that she wants the event to cater to her particular definition. Does she invite a bunch of women to her room? Hey, I bet at least one of the women who feels similarly has a room. Nope, not good enough. So what she wants is some kind of official stamp, but that’s not what she says she wants. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it is underhanded. I think the event needs to set up rules, and public event rules need to be inclusive whenever possible – it might make sense to say “This particular meeting is for this sub-group” but if someone wants to have a super strict interpretation of that sub-group, they need to do it in their own space and not try to co-opt the public event.

    In effect, Tereas is trying to get the ADA to say “These people aren’t real women” and that’s icky.

    • Elaine Lee

      Yup. Only way it works. Let everyone who wants to come into the big group (as long as they’re not disruptive). Let them all talk. Let people who sympathize with each other form friendships. And those friendships are where the real healing takes place.

  • Ian Osmond

    This is a situation in which I’m RELIEVED that my philosophy is “I’m a cis het white male; I don’t get to have an opinion on this matter.” I get to say, “Hey, people who are directly involved get to choose and I just support whatever they decide.”

    Because I don’t have the right to have an opinion, I don’t have the responsibility to have one. Yay! I’m off the philosophical hook for once!

    • Cuindless

      As a similarly white cis het male, I think you may be a bit wrong-headed about this, Ian. Yes, we have a responsibility to not throw our opinion at the underprivileged as if we were right (i.e. we shouldn’t try to be white cis het male saviors), but that doesn’t absolve us from standing up for the underprivileged when they are being attacked.

      • Ian Osmond

        I admit that my comment was more flippant than anything else. But it does point up my absolute inability to figure out what actually IS “right” in this situation. I see genuine hurt on both sides, and honestly good points on both sides.

        • Debbie Jackson

          As a cis white het female, I believe we do have a responsibility to step back from the discussion, to show respect and deference for what members of the actual communities involved have to say. But also, it’s down to us to ensure that we continually learn and remain informed by listening to those discussions – so that when we see oppression in action we can make use of our greater privilege and help shut it down (as per Cuindless’ answer). Perhaps it’s a matter of engaging *with* the issues, rather than *in* them.

          • The Articulator

            As a white ~male, in more than a couple axes of oppression nonetheless, I can speak from experience when I say that a minority is rarely of one mind. You will have people who are adamant on both sides.

            Listening to and supporting the minority’s opinion is meaningless because you will rarely get a clear answer, unless you are already looking for that answer.

            If the entire community is of like mind, then sure, – I’m not pretending there aren’t some unambiguous issues – but I haven’t seen such easy answers very often, and I’m not sure we’ll see one here, not least because we don’t have any dynamorphics in attendance.

            Actually, that’s not quite true – we have two, and they disagree. Kind of illustrates my point.

          • Debbie Jackson

            Please don’t mistake my intentions, here – when I described the best course of action as listening respectfully to what members of a minority community had to say themselves I wasn’t trying to imply in the slightest that this would be some sort of grand, unified point of view. My point is that it doesn’t matter whether a community is entirely of one mind. It matters that you pay heed and listen to those voices – preferably to as many variant opinions as possible from within the same community – and learn from each and every one.

  • Hiram

    “I want a safe place for people but not YOU people.” Oy vey.

    • martynW

      I’m afraid that at some point, almost all “safe spaces” end up like that.

      A fatal flaw of the social justice movement is that, if carried too far, it becomes exactly what it’s trying to fight.

      • Mechwarrior

        Fortunately, self-awareness is pretty important for effective social justice to begin with so that helps.

  • Mechwarrior

    Bigots don’t become bigots because something went wrong i their lives. They become bigots because they were taught bigotry and view people as “others” who need to be shunned, humiliated, or attacked because of their differences.

  • Arkone Axon

    Actually, using your example… helping those female victims of sexual assault would actually require helping them to overcome their negative associations with maleness. So you actually make me think that it’s important to have males in such a group (including male victims of sexual assault), just to help the females see that their attackers do not represent men as a whole. (I know that forcing them towards such things before they’re ready can be counterproductive, but… at some point they do need to learn to look at a man without thinking of them as “the enemy.”)

    Bigotry is one of those things where you have to work at it and teach yourself to overcome said negative thoughts.

    (If anything, seeing Kiele transform like that ought to be an excellent teaching aid. “See? Here is someone who can be both fully female AND fully male, and in both cases is still a good person.”)

  • Arkone Axon

    Oh… I looked through all these comments (and I’m very impressed with how thoughtful and insightful so many of them are) and I thought of the PERFECT analogy for this situation.

    Anyone ever watch Batman: TAS? Specifically the episode “Sideshow?” It has Killer Croc staying for a time with a retired band of “freak show” performers now living on their own farm. There was a “seal boy” with flippers instead of hands and feet, a pair of siamese twins, a large ogre, and a hunchback. All of them extremely different… and they accepted Croc despite the fact that he was clearly different from them, because he shared two things in common with them. One: he clearly knew what it was like to be different. Two: he was a person in need.

    Brad’s trying to make a place just like that. A place where all who are different can feel accepted and loved… and not pushed away because they’re different. Which is exactly what they get too much of in the outside world as it is.

  • Kate Blackwell

    Has blue person even done something to offend or deserve this kind of treatment? Seems like curly girl is making a scene for no other reason than “omg a guy”.

  • ruhrow

    Ah, see I read it as “I would choose not to go in there if I happened to be a woman at that point in time” but I like your read too. Mine is almost more problematic.

    • Debbie Jackson

      I’m pretty sure they meant “If I had walked past the sign while male, I would not have entered, because I wouldn’t be appropriate for that space – but as a woman, I am.” Kiele seems to be saying that they directly switch gender and physical form together and it impacts on their mindset and worldview as well as their more obvious presentation. Thus I think they’d appreciate the solution I presented of taking a break from the discussion (in whatever manner) should a switch occur, since they chose not to attend as a male.

  • Lostman

    Hasn’t really turn into that… yet, as far as I can tell.

    And yes I to salute the creators.

  • Retrikaethan

    i wonder when it’s going to hit teresa like a ton of bricks that the “arguments” she just used are exactly the ones other people use against trans people…

    • The Articulator

      I hope ‘soon’, but predict never. Bigots are generally pretty inoculated from their blindspots.

  • bta

    Gotta give credit to Brad here: He’s presumably been dealing with cases like this for a while and keeps going patiently, whereas arguments that can’t quite be mapped out in simple terms of Good and Evil tend to be Allison’s kryptonite and almost made her give up on herself at the end of last chapter.

    Allison has a lot of qualities, but I get the impression Brad is just the toughest of the Guardians when it comes to facing the frustrating complexity of the world. She could have learned a lot from him had they kept more in touch.

  • Chris Hubbard

    To me, the biggest problem here is, this is supposed to be a safe place for those whose alterations made them different and yet every step of the way we see the large group getting broken up into smaller and smaller groups and the eventual outcome of that is, everyone will be alone all over again, because noone is exactly like another person there. The group discussion our hero sat in on was proof of that, with it seemed like the entire group objecting to something going on in it. And its continued on here. “You dont fit in precisely with everyone else, therefore you must be excluded.”

    5 bucks says those same bigender groups she is so convinced would accept her would also reject her because, “You dont know what its like to be stuck as one gender and wish you were the other” or some such thing. Or maybe its more, “You dont know what its like to be both at once. Begone you silver spoon having jerk!”

  • bta

    I don’t think the underlying logic of safe spaces is based on specific members of a group being jerks or worse, it’s more about removing that particular group’s very presence from the space because, for various reasons, it makes the people the space is intended for self-censor/get talked over/feel bad.

    I do not have an opinion on the validity of this logic and am kind of curious of how the discussion on safe spaces will evolve in the future (with their increased visibility on college campuses, or the internal realizations on its possible manipulative possibilities – there are definitely toxic personalities willing to use the rules for the sake of making their victims suffer ostracism), but at the very least I’m skeptical about this gender bender character being in any position to be an oppressor, from a gender politics standpoint.

    I mean, Kiele presumably joined the discussion group because she’s almost one of a kind – is she supposed to stay alone in a room while the ones that can fit into neat little boxes have their talk?

    On that note, props to Brennan and Molly – the idea that a “mutant” solidarity would necessarily suffer from being made of individuals with wildly different experiences is a pretty logical one, and has been nicely expanded upon across the comic and this particular chapter. The parallels with the discourse over gender politics getting more sophisticated for the sake of inclusiveness are pretty much the cherry on top, too.

    • The Improbable Man

      Agreed on the props to Brennan and Molly, it really is a brilliant idea to cover this topic.

  • bta

    Considering how slow they’ve been on other issues, and how biodynamics with very specific problems are much rarer than people with say, autism? I’d wager not much yet, especially since these biodynamics are the first, or maybe only*, generation of their own.

    *I find it kind of weird how there’s been zero concern in the comic itself over the possible children of biodynamics. Statistically, some of them should already be born, and if they turn out to have powers this could trigger enormous existential panic over “the next step in human evolution” the way it is with the X-Men. You’d think these babies would be the most scrutinized beings in the whole world.

  • Philip Petrunak

    It really is a hard thing. On one hand, this is a safe space for women. But the nature of safe-spaces is they aren’t really supposed to be inclusive, but exclusive. Men can’t be there, and as a man I fully respect that. There are a lot of conversations that wouldn’t happen there if men were in the room because many women would either be uncomfortable or even afraid to say some things.

    So this person, for whom identifies as a both man and a woman probably shouldn’t be there. It would be one thing if they presented as a man, but still identified as a woman. But if a person identifies at least in part as a man they probably shouldn’t be there. This isn’t something like excluding bisexual people from events for gay men and women. That’s just wrong, but this is different.

    As men, we need to respect the space women need for and amongst themselves. That’s part of what being a man means, at least to me.

    • Debbie Jackson

      I admire and appreciate your perspective, but I slightly disagree. Kiele isn’t someone who constantly identifies as a man ‘in part’ or ‘as both a man and woman’, but someone who identifies specifically as a woman – just not all of the time. Kiele has less of a permanent identity, more of a temporal identity, so the solution (in my view) should be temporal also.

  • This is a fine can of worms. I think that we’ll get to know a lot more about Brad by seeing what solution he comes up with and how he reaches it. If he volunteered for this knowingly, that already says a lot about him. The very fact that he can remain calm after hours (maybe even days and weeks) of this sort of thing speaks volumes.

    I think that Alison is starting to learn just how complicated the world can get. Running a women’s refuge service means that her natural inclination is to side with Teresa. However, she can see that Kiele has a good point as well.

  • We’re going to wear out the the creators if they fill all our story requests.

  • Elaine Lee

    We have the same two female superhero favorites… outside of the characters in this comic, of course! But I’m not sure I can go with your idea about the sensitive woman/insensitive man character. This may be because I’m the mother of sons and don’t see my sons that way. I’ve also known insensitive, bullying women and caring, compassionate men throughout my life. The men who take time to comment on SFP are an especially wonderful group. It seems to me that this scene is about creating a group where people have the exact same issues as the rest of the group, so that members feels that they are talking with people who understand and sympathize with them. It’s just really, really hard to do that without excluding some people. It can never work perfectly, or be completely fair.

    • The Improbable Man

      Thanks to both you and bta for the explanation regarding safe
      spaces. I’m not very familiar with them, so I appreciate the explanation.

      Please don’t think that I believe that all men are jerks, I just thought that allowing us to know that Kiele wasn’t a big jerk in the actual meeting as a woman, but having him be less sympathetic in this situation as a man, would have made Teresa seem more sympathetic, and it would be harder to have a position on who is “right”. I guess, based on what you and bta have said, Teresa is right even if she’s being a jerk about it, because the space is for women only, and Kiele can be a man some of the time.

      The thing is, it feels like kicking a bisexual person out of a gay support group, and that doesn’t seem right to me.

      • Debbie Jackson

        Honestly I think the ‘most logical’ answer is fairly simple, even if it isn’t easily practicable and might not be acceptable for anyone.

        A bisexual person simultaneously possesses the potential for sexual desire toward their own gender and to the opposite binary gender; they are always in that state, and therefore they always have a claim to participate in gay spaces. It’s a complete misapprehension to believe that being bisexual means vaccilating between straight and gay based on one’s current partner, as if external relationships alone defined the internal self.

        Kiele however *is* specifically a woman some of the time, and specifically a man some of the time, so she is welcome in a space which includes only women *while she is a woman*.

        So I would say that if Kiele experiences a change mid-discussion, he could leave that particular space until his emotions level back out again and she can return (or, the space can be put on temporary hold to aid him with this, depending on prior arrangement and frequency) to maintain the sanctity of the space as designed. If Kiele is willing to accept this compromise themselves then they can choose to take part safely in a female group while female and a male group while male, or else try the bigender groups, as they prefer. What *isn’t* appropriate is allowing the rest of the female group to attack, exclude and villify Kiele while female due to the possibility she may change or the presumption that her alternate self invalidates her femininity overall .. especially when she is liable to change under assault.

      • Elaine Lee

        Not that sure Theresa is right. The conference in this comic is really a microcosm of what is going on in the world right now, only it’s a microcosm on steroids, due to the biodynamic thing. But I worry in real life that we are dividing ourselves into too many groups, pushing away natural allies and shutting down voices that have interesting things to say.

        Story: In the mid-1980s, I was mugged at knifepoint, around 10:00pm, on my street in NYC, by a man who threatened my life. The man who mugged me was black and the man who saw the mugging and ran to help me was also black. (I’m white.) I suffered from a bit of PTSD, after the attack, so that I couldn’t walk on that street at night, or walk anywhere around 10:pm, or on a full moon (as the moon was full that night), without going through a complex ritual of altering the rhythm of my steps, so that I walked weirdly. I think I just needed to change something, and thought somehow that changing how I walked would prevent a reoccurrence. Crazy, right? But I was still terrified. And if I heard footsteps behind me, I freaked out. I did not go to a support group for this, but if I had, I don’t believe a group that excluded black men would’ve helped me at all. It seems to me that a group that included compassionate black males would’ve been more help, though I’m not sure such a thing would even have existed at the time. I’m not sure it exists now! I eventually worked through this on my own, but I’m not sure that a “safe space” support group would’ve helped with that, since I would’ve had to leave and go right back on the street. I realize, by the way, that this is only one personal example that wouldn’t fit every problem.

  • Jamie Jeans

    Ugh, using transgender friends as an excuse, misgendering, crying… wow, WOW… there’s a hell of a lot to unpack here.

  • Elaine Lee

    After reading the entire conversation…
    I would hope that a world in which dynamorphs began to appear, there would eventually be so many different kinds of people that these labels we use would become meaningless.

  • Guest

    This came out really critical and I don’t really mean it that way. I’m… not trying to say the page should be different, I like seeing what the writers/artists want to do with SFP. I’m not at my expressive best right now but I wanted to make a comment anyway.

    So,uh, dear reader-person, you’ve been warned this might come off as critical or annoyed or not super articulate, skip this comment if you’re not in the mood for that.

    This strikes me as one of those dialogues that people put in fiction to create a conflict for the story, or something, just to get people who would´t really want to to fight, because fighting is supposed to be interesting or something. Is it really so complicated? Why would people fight in this situation? Don’t they all want it to work out for everyone? Is it so hard to say, “Well what would you need for the panel to work for you?,” as if, of course it should work for everyone. Teresa has a problem with how it is right now, that … should obviously of course be addressed, because it’s a support group? And so does Kiele. So…. it’s all good right? That’s what they’re there for, to be in a helpful supportive environment, provided by the organizers, right? Well, maybe that’s what will happen on the next page, Brad will say something to that effect. I guess Teresa’s not supposed to be yelling… but if everyone’s really acting in good faith, that just means she’s really scared or threatened, right, and something important to her needs to be addressed?

    • Debbie Jackson

      I think the general progression here is to show how Brad and his assistants are learning that exact thing – they need to listen, to ask what’s actually required by the communities they’re trying to serve and then implement something balanced that takes it all into account.

  • Guest

    I wonder how overhearing this makes Alison feel. If this is how Teresa feels about Kiele, Alison might imagine how some of the attendees must feel about her own presence at the conference.

  • RobNiner

    I’d argue that while Kiele is only a man about half the time, or however long, they are always at least partially a women inside. The experiences and memories of them being a woman don’t go away. Also, Teresa should learn some manners.

  • Debbie Jackson

    My suggested solution to this issue, based on clearly significant fears/frustrations on both sides:

    Continue to allow Kiele participation in whichever groups they identify with at the time, and impress upon the women’s discussion group the need for inclusivity. The group already accepts trans women, so intersectionality shouldn’t be an extreme ask. But ask Kiele gently if, should their emotions act up in discussion to the point that they’re at risk of imminent change or they actually transform, they would be willing to step outside and gather themselves (with support and help if necessary) until they are calm enough to continue. They’ve already stated that out of respect for the security of female-only spaces and the sake of the other members they’re willing to step aside when their being doesn’t conform – only in advance, rather than with the meeting in progress. If Kiele is willing to take a quiet break of their own accord should this occur again, it would remove the concern of a masculine presence in that space while also offering better inclusivity when Kiele and others like them are legitimately seeking support as a female. In return the group would have to agree to accept Kiele while female as a fully legitimate member and refrain from any further personal attacks especially since they can lead to transformation.

    Alternatively the group could agree ahead of time to pause discussion and work to assist if *any* member became too overwrought to carry on, which would remove the requirement to leave the room in the meantime – no discussion space would be ongoing to invade.

  • Debbie Jackson

    I shared a few other solutions above, but one thing I didn’t touch on were Teresa’s valid (if perhaps misguided) feelings of threat and discomfort. Personally I would prefer to see her expand her worldview to include individuals such as Kiele and to become more comfortable with their engagement and existence. It’s quite possible she’s as strictured and phobic about new types of being as her words seem at first reading. However those feelings seem too legitimate and deeply held to be entirely without value, and dismissing her side of things out of hand – while easy – isn’t necessarily right. It may well be that Teresa has had thoroughly painful encounters in the past with those who’ve claimed membership of a protected space and then used it to aggress against other members. We also aren’t shown whether or not other members of her discussion group agree. If Teresa is the only one who feels threatened, one solution would be to offer her a transfer to a different group for women so that both she and Kiele could engage in the manners that best suit them without further conflict.

  • Debbie Jackson

    That was me; I’d previously been hoping that the heckler would gain a little more background and purpose of action by having their character explored, maybe having taken issue with something at the party. I’m actually quite happy to be wrong, though. This is a far more nuanced situation.

    I get the impression that this convention is either Brad’s first attempt or certainly an early foray into creating such broad-scale dynamorphic support. He’s constantly putting out fires because he hasn’t yet learned where to best install the automated sprinklers.

  • chaosvii

    My first instinct was to take it at face value too.
    At the same time, I live around too many people who are frustratingly not to be taken at face value when it comes to stuff that the society at large cannot bring itself to be honest about. So I hesitated and leaned on the heuristic that social context makes clear statements ambiguous for no goddamn reason.

    • Weatherheight

      “So I hesitated and leaned on the heuristic that social context makes clear statements ambiguous for no goddamn reason.”

      Sometimes, concise eloquence entertains me by startling me.

  • Lakstoties

    I’m probably oblivious to the finer details, but here’s how I’m looking at it… Here is this person that can fully exist on either side of the spectrum. A person who can understand the details of gender issues on a much wider scope and probably provide the BEST option for relating these issues and translating them to everyone involved in a manner that was unreachable before… And this other woman is so superficially obsessed with her own existence, she fails to recognize the amazing ally before her. This person could answer so many questions and relate them in terms everyone can understand.

    I don’t know. I just believe that true resolutions to issues cannot be made by adopting a policy of insulation. Then again, I don’t get the whole safe place bit. I was raised as a quasi-“Gen X”er with the understanding the world is a dangerous place, “safe” ain’t gonna happen so wear a helmet and be ready to dodge the bullshit. So, maybe I’m just an insensitive asshole… I really don’t know anymore. I really try folks, but it just seems so superficial to me.

    • Weatherheight

      “Wrap that rascal.”

      Those of us who came of age during the explosion of AIDS got a lot of messages telling us to protect ourselves and not trust others avowals when it came to sex. There was a lot of splash-over into related areas (intimacy and such). Watching our parents divorce at a higher rate than ever before in America also influenced our trust. And I don’t even want to get into the near-constant exposure of blatant hypocrisy of our leaders (political, spiritual, and cultural). As a result, cynicism is a big part of my generation’s legacy – good and bad.

      As long as you recognize it as a influence, you’re on your way to learning to not let the influence utterly control you.

  • Elaine Lee

    Beyond everything that has so far been discussed on this page, a person who had experienced being both male and female, shifting many times over his/her lifetime, would have INCREDIBLE insights to share with everyone involved. Who wouldn’t want to hear from such a person?

    • The Articulator

      Because insight is almost the opposite of a safe space. The former requires a difference of viewpoint or opinion, while the latter attempts to create an environment where everyone has been through the same things, and so can offer empathy and understanding.

      Not saying this is a cast iron definition or argument, but I can think of plenty of people who, if they need safe spaces at all, do not want them to include people who have a large experiential distance.

      Edit: Note: I am not complaining about safe spaces here. I recognize the value of such an environment, as I have described it. If it sounds disparaging, that might be more about your values than mine.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    I saw his response before I saw yours so I can say: this is the most boring definition of valid.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    If we are to, I’m still on the fence here. As far as I’m concerned, being bigender, agender or genderfluid is not, as some trans people sadly think, some kind of better alternative (or worse: “better because you get to choose” (choice is utterly irrelevant in the discussion of gender identity)) to their condition.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Okay so I think you need to check a lil’ closer to the real world because there definitely are people born with both set of sexual organs, or neither, or even genetic complications with no bearing on sexual phenotype, and that’s scratching the surface of the biological intersex–

    *And none of this has any shred of relation with gender identity*

  • Eric Meyer

    I feel that would be the simplest solution- but as memory seems to be persistent, that sort of solution might be one that Kiele can’t abide, as she, when rejoining the group, would have memories of suddenly being rejected by a group he had been Included into.

    • Izo

      Then unfortunately, Kiele will have to deal with the fact that there are some people who may reject him or her. That’s sadly part of life where people are individuals with different sets of beliefs and norms for which they are or are not comfortable, whether dynamorphic or not. Any solution they come up with would need to take into account the needs of the entire group, not just the needs of Kiele. If there’s no way for both Kiele and the rest of the group to be happy, they should have some other group for Kiele, perhaps composed of women who are okay with Kiele and gender-switching/fluid/metamorphic dynamorphs who suffer from a similar aspect in their lives.

      I brought up the idea of Kiele leaving when a man and going in when a woman as one possible compromise for everyone, although there’s very rarely a perfect solution in life.

  • Walter

    My gut instinct is that Kiele has this more right than Teresa. They are both dynomorphs. Their oppressors wouldn’t see a shred of difference between them. There may indeed be difficulties that dyno-women run into that dyno-bros don’t, but its really hard to imagine the bigots in this setting being like “Woah, Kiele, you are only a lady PART of the time? Our bad. Here’s your Patriarchy membership card!”

  • Tylikcat

    I don’t have a strong opinion, though that seems to be in line with what Kiele was expressing. It seems like a reasonable way of handling things. At least, unless there are other confounding factors, like Kiele only turning into a man because of being verbally abused.

    On a personal level, I’m not really the best person to ask about how gender exclusive spaces should be administered. I have a common experience of the social, physical and political issues of womanhood, because I’ve lived my life in a female body (and I’m quite comfortable in mine, though the mammary development is a bit excessive.) But I’m somewhere in the non-binary / agender side of things, personally. (More or less? I mean, this didn’t even occur to me as such when I was younger – I just figured I was strongly gender non-conforming and didn’t worry about it. It was all so much more straightforward on the west coast!)

    • Izo

      This whole ethical question also, to me, does bring up the idea of ‘why would Kiele want to be in a group in which he/she is not going to feel comfortable to talk about his/her innermost feelings in the first place. Kiele needs to be in a group of people who want him/her there, so that the therapeutic nature of the group would actually be effective. As it stands, it’s not only not effective for Kiele, but it also is not effective for anyone else.

      Take yourself for example. You see yourself as non-binary or possibly asexual or somewhere in between on that spectrum. Would you want to go into a group for therapeutic reasons and feelings of belonging if you knew that, in doing so you would 1) NOT have feelings of belonging by the other members, and 2) be making the group unable to provide therapy for anyone? I think the main problem here was there isn’t a group already available for Kiele in which he/she can go into, composed of either women or people with multiple genders/changing genders who would be accepting of Kiele. One would think there would be at least a few people in this convention that would be, and it would make that group all the stronger in its purpose of providing therapy for Kiele.

      • Tylikcat

        You keep on asserting that meetings at a con are a therapeutic environment. Why do you think this? These are, well, meetings at a con. Many of these people aren’t going to know each other. Think this through.

        (I suspect you find the notion attractive because there are some restrictions that can be reasonable in a therapeutic environment that are completely unreasonable in a social one, so if you assert it’s a therapeutic environment you don’t sound completely off the wall. But again – these are discussion groups. Unless we have some reason to believe they were set up as group therapy – and most aren’t! and that’s kind of a big deal and has a lot of formalisms that come with it – it seems silly to keep asserting that they are.)

        In terms of your question, it depends on the group, and it depends on what I intended to accomplish by attending.

        I’ll give you an example. I present as female, if not conventionally so. (Again, I’ve generally thought of myself as just nonconformist, and it wasn’t really until I read more on gender theory that I start to wrap my mind around people having gender identities. Well, that and moving to Ohio, where people generally cared so much more about my gender than I did. I’m still not 100% sure that non-conformist isn’t a better description, but when I talk with people and how they feel about their gender identities… I just don’t really have that.*) I’ve also spent a lot of time in the tech world, though I’m back in academia at the moment.

        Back in my tech days, I definitely attended meetings that had been de facto boys clubs up until that point, where I made people uncomfortable by my presence, and frankly, where I didn’t feel welcome. Why did I do it? Because I thought making more room for women in tech was important, and also, those meeting involved access and contacts that were important to me from a career perspective. It wasn’t always fun, but I slogged through it, and generally, it paid off.

        * Heh. My big break with the Catholic Church – not that I was raised Catholic, but both parents were lapsed – was when I was six and I found out that it was a really big deal that Jesus was male (I was mostly familiar with baby Jesus, and gender hadn’t really come up) and found out that women couldn’t be priests on the same day. I was all “That’s utter bullshit!” and I was done. I mean, my parents had never even gotten around to having me baptised, so it’s not like I’d even really gotten started.

  • Tylikcat

    And yet somehow all that socialization hasn’t made me passive, demure, compliant, indirect, dented my skills at maths or computers, or made me a less fearsome opponent on the mat (or if it has – darn!)

    Socialization is a thing. Neural structures maybe aren’t much of a thing, but that’s another story. (Stupid reporting of science will be the death of me.) Hormones are definitely a thing (though not necessarily the same thing that popular culture holds them to be.) But men and women have so much more in common than they have actual differences. The statistical skew isn’t that great for pretty much anything other than actual reproductive equipment.

    • Markus

      That’s because education doesn’t turn a person into something by magic, they have to want to be that thing. What I’m saying is that if you wanted to study math there’s less infrastructure for you to do it, but the fact that a guy has more stuff in place to teach him math and more pressure to learn it doesn’t suddenly make him better at math than you.

  • Weatherheight

    I’ve been keeping out of the discussion over the last few pages, mostly because my personal experience doesn’t ever include any issues with my sexual preferences or my gender identity (at least, not from where I sit – others might beg to differ, I suppose). But I do have one question about the scenario:

    Did Kiele fully understand the expectation that this forum was to be limited to those who identify as female gender, did she understand that it might be confrontational or upsetting, and did she have any expectation that she might shift as a function of that confrontation? If so, she has an obligation to give that information to the others in the forum from the beginning so that they can properly interpret her transformation as not a deception but rather than an involuntary stress reflex over which she has no control and is a function of her anomaly, not her personality. She might very well have been better off using the session as a resource to access more focused, one-on-one counseling, rather than participating in a counseling session for which her condition makes problematic as regards the other participants’ experience.

    The group discussion setting depends on trust, and Kiele’s withholding of information may very well be seen as either predatory or derogatory by the remainder of those attending. Theresa’s reaction, while not exactly flattering to her, is understandable to me. I don’t endorse her reaction (and I find myself having some trouble condemning it, on the other hand), but I can’t say I’m entirely on Kiele’s side either (although I can empathize to some degree with her problem).

    To use a poor analogy, if I’m pouring my heart out to someone about my job problems, and the person across from me then says, “Oh, by the way, I work in HR at your place of employment and I knew about that relationship, such as it is, from the get-go, I just decided it would get in the way of the conversation,” I’m done with that conversation and likely with that person. They violated my trust and they will have to work extra hard to get any trust back from me (I have trust issues).

    There’s a lot of context missing here in this conversation, and that context would greatly inform how I would feel about this situation. As it stands on the page, I feel like I just need to walk away, butt the hell out, not judge either of them, and work very hard at trying to feel compassion for their respective situations / hangups (and probably not live up to my expectations for myself).

    And, as always, thanks to everyone who posts – I’m learning every time I visit (maybe not learning well, but learning haltingly).

    • Weatherheight

      Based on other’s comments and re-reading the comic, it seems reasonable to me that Theresa jumped Kiele at the door and outside the meeting space, effectively not giving Kiele a chance to explain her situation to the group. That invalidates a lot of the premises on which my viewpoint was resting.

      Yeah, feeling a lot less charitable to Theresa given that scenario.

  • Weatherheight

    What I’m hearing you say is that all people are screwed up but about different things and are offended by different things.

    That sounds wise to me. 🙂

  • Weatherheight

    “Not be able”?
    Can I be excessively pedantic and substitute “have orders of magnitude achieving anticipated and desired results from therapy”?
    Thank, Izo! 😀

    • Izo

      Being excessively pedantic is one of the reasons we have the internet and internet forums in the first place 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • KatherineMW

    Yeah, I agree. “Safe space” seems to be used to mean “a place where everyone is like me and no one disagrees with me, and I can speak freely about whatever I think without censure, but nobody else can say anything that bugs me”. And there’s no such thing. Even if everyone in a group has the same sex, race, class, and political party, they won’t agree on everything.

    So have a “relationships and dynamorphism” group, and a “class and dynamorphism” group, etc., rather than trying to sort everyone out by their specific identity. Ask that everyone be respectful of each other even if they disagree with each others’ views, and have the moderators step in if someone is being overly aggressive (it seems to me like the mods have been doing a great job at this conference, even given the challenging circumstances).

  • Tylikcat

    So a meeting that is otherwise open to all women at a convention is now therapy?

    I think there are things that are reasonable to expect from a therapeutic environment, but I think it’s pushing it pretty far to claim this is one.

    • Izo

      Yes, a meeting that’s open to all women at a convention can be therapy. Especially note the words ‘all women’ – meaning whatever they’re talking about in that room is something which, for them, having men involved would hamper the therapeutic reasons for having the group. Support groups ARE therapeutic, and it doesnt matter where they’re located. If they’ve paid for the room for a specific time and place, it can be used for whatever purpose they want. It’s not pushing things at all – in fact it’s how the law interprets it as well.

  • 9Jack9

    I hope you have the names reversed. Above, Teresa is in black, has brown hair and horns, and is projecting her fears. Kiele is wearing pink, has blue scales, and is defensive about being alternately all female and all male.

    • Dartangn

      Ah, It appears I have mixed the names up. Good catch.

  • Eva Smiljanić

    Honestly the only real complaint I have of this comic is that everyone is way too good at arguing their points. I mean, it makes sense for the people leading the seminars to know that, and Alison as well, since she’s in college and in a major that encourages discussions, but most people can’t argue perfectly. I get that it’s to avoid someone accidentally becoming a strawman, but the average person doesn’t really have the reading and practice to enter a deep philosophical/sociological debate with more than “this is bad for me”. Few people can (and do) argue their point calmly, with plenty of examples and have it sound good. I know I can’t, off the cuff.
    I hope this makes sense.

  • Raunchy

    Damn, hitting the heavy stuff today, aren’t we?

  • Debbie Jackson

    I think the overarching subject of Kiele’s membership, safety and accepted movement has to be dealt with first for Kiele’s own sake. The most important priority here is ensuring Kiele’s safety and the safety and cohesion of the group as a whole. When the method for achieving these is set down by Brad, Teresa’s response to that will flag up any further issues which still need to be handled. Teresa’s behaviour is wildly inappropriate in several different ways, even if we can surmise some of the motives behind it, but that behaviour won’t be easily addressed without having the right precedents set down first. For Brad to explain why her actions and position aren’t reasonable he must first state what the reasonable position ought to be!

  • Debbie Jackson

    Which is completely understandable, being as it’s clearly a major goal of the webcomic to encourage this sort of discussion and consideration in reality! SFP tends to extend social issues into situations where they wouldn’t normally be seen, using fictional abilities and people as a thought experiment on how these new conundra mesh into present real-world ethics.

  • Mishyana

    Alright, I’m sick of this whole ‘complicated issues’ and ‘having to think’ thing with this comic! I demand black and white answers!

  • The Articulator

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that 9/11 was a very traumatising event for a lot of people, and has probably contributed more to Islamophobia than nearly anything else in US history.

    Not saying that it is right to think in this way, but just because it wasn’t personal, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t traumatising.

  • The Articulator

    Well, that is good – but I’m less concerned about the proportion relative to the general population and more concerned about the proportion within the group that is very actively taking the moral high ground and acting upon it.

    “Not self-aware” + “strong ideology and actions” is way worse than”not self-aware” alone.

  • The Articulator

    Thanks for that. Height not being a good predictor strikes me as a good, valid point, but I’m less convinced that it’s fully true. I’ll try to work on that a bit on my end and see if it seems true to me or not, by randomly attempting to do so from the graph above, and seeing how well it works.

    I agree, the spreads very clearly overlap, but I dislike this as a measurement of similarity. I feel like I could probably find an animal that has a similar spread in a similar range, and I certainly wouldn’t use this as evidence of gross similarity.

    • Akiva

      I guess it depends on your perspective. My height is in that little bump around 185 cm, which makes me taller than ~80% of men based on that chart, even though I was assigned female and am probably not intersex.

      Humans are considerably LESS sexually dimorphic than even other great apes, like gorillas and orangutans. I don’t have a source (and I’d be interested to see one), but if you tried to place humans on a sexual dimorphism scale, we’d come out much closer to the “androgynous” end than, say, that one kind of fish where the male attaches itself to the female and then withers away to a pair of gonads.

      My experience as someone who passes for both male and female on a daily basis is also that most people will decide what gender I am in the blink of an eye and then be totally baffled that other people could *possibly* see me as a different gender. I can actually see the idea that men and women look totally different reinforcing itself in front of my eyes. So again, it depends on your perspective….

      • The Articulator

        Hmm. I really don’t like using “perspectives” where they can be avoided. That’s why I am trying to look at hard data and numbers rather than ‘what gender you guessed this person was by meeting them’.

        While humans may be on the lower end of the sexual dimorphism scale, I think that it is both true and important to understand that we are not all the way at zero, as well as attempting to zone in on exactly where we do fit in.

  • The Articulator

    Awesome! Thanks so much for going into this level of detail on this!

    As far as height goes, I’d like to point towards the reply I already gave to Akiva, since I’d basically just be reiterating that.

    Most of my reasoning on strength and athletics actually comes from high level sport, especially athletics, like the Olympics. I expect culture would severely dictate professional sport segregation, but less so for Olympic-style events.

    I’m heartened to hear that the distance is closing for runners, but it interests me a great deal to find out the details of the differences in the hips and pelvis. I agree that it clearly a reproduction-based difference, but my concern is that given such is the case, the plausible range of reproduction-based differences is reasonably large, no?

    Thanks for taking the time to talk with me about this!

  • The Articulator

    1) Apologies – this was flippant – I was, of course, not attempting to exclude other races. It was merely intended as a single example of an exception.

    2) Interesting – thanks, I hadn’t realized this. It never stood out to me because I can bring to mind several non-caucasian men with quite impressive facial hair. You’re sure this is absolutely proven?

    • Tylikcat

      It’s a matter of change in likelihoods. The men I’ve known who have had no facial hair to speak of* have been east asian and native american. Clearly not all east asians lack facial hair (though it tends to be sparser). (I’m trying to remember who amongst my native american friends and acquaintances had facial hair… and frankly, I get hopefully confused because I don’t know everyone’s lineages.)** Hell, I’ve known men of European decent who didn’t have enough facial hair to have a decent beard of mustache – there’s a lot of genetic variation – but they did have enough that they’d look scruffy if they didn’t shave. Kind of worst of both worlds (their words). There are some general discussions about the thickness or sparseness of facial hair across populations – heck, that’s web searchable.

      I’ve known black men with very little facial hair, and obviously that’s not always the case. There is more genetic variation in Africa than anywhere else, so I wouldn’t be surprised by anything. And in the US case there’s a lot of European admixture. But I know the least about the African case.

      There are also plenty of non-white (I avoid the term caucasian because it has a pretty messed up history – though it’s worth looking up if you’re interested) men who grow plenty of facial hair. There are some papers about the genetic markers for the likelihood of growing facial hair, and I seem to recall something about it being linked to a susceptibility to male pattern baldness. (i.e. If you have a lot of facial hair, you’re more likely to go bald.)

      * I fondly remember a friend who described his brother as shaving once a month, but not really needing to. The friend never shaved, and had no discernible facial hair.
      ** It’s also one of those things – I have to know someone fairly well for a lack of ability to grow facial hair to ever have come up in conversation. Though come to think of it, some of these were just random conversations at work when I was still in industry. Or, y’know, if I’ve spent a bunch of time kissing someone, I might have notice that they kind of need to shave – but I can’t really infer the lack of needing to shave. Then there’s the actual presence of a beard or something.

  • martynW

    Bottom line: “Social justice” is basically about taking people who have little or no power and giving them more power.

    Unfortunately, they are no more likely to handle power any better than any other human being ever has.

  • Seer of Trope

    The problem with those two rules is that when two feelings are at odds with each other, someone’s feelings is going to be negated. Someone has to concede to the other’s feelings above their own. The horn girl’s feeling of being uncomfortable being in a space with a genderfluid person might be hypocritcal, but it is still feelings. If there isn’t a capable mediator who can convince both sides to agree on the same, the principle of respecting feelings is going to boil to choosing one and forsaking the other. It’s not always zero-sum like this, but reconciling someone’s feelings is a difficult, and sometimes impossible, task.

  • Tylikcat

    Well, I suppose two out of five isn’t bad considering you’re making shit up rather than asking!

    • Eric Johnson

      I’m a veteran and have spent a good 6 years overseas. Trust me when I tell you that other people besides us crackers can grow a beard.

  • Shweta Narayan

    this, me too, yes. all the feels for kiele now 🙁

  • Izo

    When people form groups or social systems based almost entirely around being offended by other people (like many SJWs do – although the authors of this comic have portrayed Ali as someone who does NOT, which is one of the reasons I think Ali is an EXCELLENT example of how to further social justice without falling into many of the traps of SJW’ism) or portraying themselves as victims (even when they HAVE been victimized), it’s usually a very short trip from that to accusing EVERYONE of victimizing them and being offended by everything that ever makes them remotely uncomfortable. The problem is this – the world is not designed for people to be comfortable – compromise and just having to deal with the imperfections of the world and the people in it is a natural thing that people must live with in order to … well… live in the first place, and a utopia in which everyone has perfection and no one is offended can’t happen because everyone’s vision of utopia is different by the very fact that each of us are individuals who do not march in uniform groupthink.

  • Izo

    Look, all I’m saying is therapy is one of those few areas where I actually do think ‘safe spaces’ make sense. Most of the time safe spaces are a HORRIBLE idea, and run counter to both freedom of association as well as being an excuse to discriminate.

    But the concept of therapy IS the concept of having an area in which to voice your innermost beliefs and opinions in an area where you can feel comfortable and ‘safe’ to do so. That’s why there’s stuff like a doctor-patient privilege in a psychiatrist’s office. The main problem I’m seeing here is that none of them actually are psychiatrists or psychologists, although they do seem to be trying to form an impromptu type of therapy session, by having these convention things in the first place. If Kiele entering the group means every other person in the group would not get therapy, what’s the solution? Have Kiele enter a group with others who have the same or similar problems to Kiele, or have her enter a group with women who ARE comfortable having Kiele in the group. Normally I’d say this would be a stupid and horrible idea, but with therapy in an area in which they have paid to use in advance for a particular purpose, it just isn’t the same as when, say, a group of students decides to commandeer a building and declare it a ‘safe space’ for people of one particular race/gender/etc.

    Kiele isnt going to get the help he/she needs in a group in which people are going to be judging him/her in the first place – why would he/she WANT to be in that group if the point is to be comfortable enough to talk through his/her issues?

    • The Articulator

      I think you are making a lot of assumptions which haven’t been shown to be fully valid, and didn’t really understand what I was saying before.

      You are assuming that every member of the women’s group would be completely incapable of receiving therapy if Kiele was present. Firstly, it may be only Teresa who would have that problem, and secondly, even if not, while it may lessen the efficacy of their therapy, it may only do so slightly, rather than completely.

      Furthermore, the whole point of bringing up utilitarianism was that we can weigh the harm caused by the factors in the above against the harm caused to Kiele in being excluded. It doesn’t matter that there are other support groups – I’m saying that, ignoring other support groups, letting Kiele in might still be the path that minimizes collective suffering.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Yeah, sure. That’s what happens after the state were you get a kick out of correcting people on pseudo technicalities, stating the most commonplace of things and missing the point by a galaxy cluster because dammit if they need to know your objectively correct definition of valid

    • Christophe2314

      Pretty hypocritical coming from the guy who started it in the first place. You got super offended by chaosvii’s use of the words because of course you did, you’re offended by everything and, when it was pointed out to you that you misunderstood what he said and *gasp* there was in fact nothing horrible at all in his post, you derailed the entire conversation so that you could keep being a jackass.

      • ∫Clémens×ds

        I don’t know, you can hop in our conversation and witness that it stayed pretty civil and interesting, settled pretty quick with not much whining. Can’t have that always can we

  • Lheticus Videre

    I personally don’t identify as having a gender identity. I don’t mean I identify as “agender,” I mean I don’t give a heck about personally having a gender identity whether it’s in line with my biological sex or not. I identify as being ME, no more no less, and to me all this gender identity stuff is just labels. I understand that many other people feel differently, but I’m not equipped to comprehend the perspective of those who place importance in gender identity beyond the fact that said perspectives exist and I should respect them.

    • Tylikcat

      I spent most of my life figuring that gender roles were a matter of social tradition and indoctrination but basically bullshit and going and doing whatever I felt like and being good at whatever I could. This has given me a very rich life, and if it’s gotten me into a lot of trouble, I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun with it.

      I only started reading up on gender theory (in the sense that applies to gender identities, there are a lot of gender theories out there, though honestly, I had only the most passing familiarity with most before) when I had a few close friends who were transitioning. We were talking, I didn’t want to be an ass, but there were things I was clearly not getting. And it was super helpful – I mean, it was confusing, because there was a tendency to write as if everyone has a strong gender identity, and I just don’t, but it also gave me a really useful conceptual framework. (Especially once I moved to Ohio, where people generally seemed to care so much more about their perception of my gender than I did. It was awful.)

      I really liked Julia Serano.

      * Okay, this is still my default position.
      ** I probably always did, it got worse after I started speaking languages that don’t gender their pronouns. What a relief!

      • Lheticus Videre

        Any suggestions on stuff on gender theory I can read?

        • Tylikcat

          Julia Serano, who I mentioned above, would be my best and most up to date selection – she just came out with a new edition of her book Whipping Girl. And she’s really cogent and awesome. (I kind of hope she includes a bit more room for people who don’t have strong gender identities in the new edition, but it was incredibly useful.)

          Most of what else I’ve read has been online, and I haven’t been keeping a bookmark file. I do have a page for Non binary folk bookmarked, though I’ve only read a couple of things up there (I’m trying to get a couple of papers out…)


  • Tylikcat

    Yeah, I need to check in here wearing my Actual Biologist hat and recommend that you read up on intersexed folks. (And if you haven’t had your daily dose of outrage, do some research on the treatment of intersexed children, though be warned, some of it is truly sick-making, OMFG.)

    …didn’t we just have this discussion? Anyhow, there’s more to sex than male and female, hitting at chromosomal, hormonal and receptor levels (all of which change over time, whee!) It’s really complicated, and I wrote a bunch about it recently, and I’m not going to do it again.

    And then we shall have a rousing chorus of:
    Gender, of course, is not the same thing as sex.

  • Chamomile Mint

    Am I the only one who’s with Theresa on this one? She’s admittedly expressing herself poorly, but it would be foolish to judge someones feelings based on how well they express them. Kiele is unique in that they switch between a male and female body and they can’t control it and that when they inhabit a male body they identify as male. This would make their closest analogue a bigender or genderfluid person, and I feel like Theresa wouldn’t accept a bigender or genderfluid person who was in a female body in her support group, so why is it wrong that she doesn’t want Kiele? Her support group is for people who identify as female 100% of the time.

    Some would want to argue, perhaps, that Kiele does identify as female 100% of the time, but I don’t think so. Kiele states that “I wasn’t a man when I came in” instead of arguing that they are still female even though their body is male. This would imply that they consider themself to be male in this moment, and thus not someone who identifies as female all the time. This would make Kiele not belong in the support group. While poorly phrased, I feel Theresa’s question about Kiele’s original gender was actually questioning whether they are a female who has to deal with being male sometimes or a male who has to deal with being female sometimes, the idea being that if Kiele identifies as female and has to deal with a male body sometimes that that is a situation where the support group could welcome them.

  • ∫Clémens×ds


    I don’t know what your intentions are, and they may very well be good, that you’d be a good natured human prone to tolerance, questioning your own knowledge and assumption, and self reflection. What I am about to say has nothing to do with that. This is not a judgement of character. You are not (as far as I know) a bad person. But.

    You are saying utter garbage. You’re confusing things that have no deal being even on the same continent. It’s such a nonsensical mess I am kind of overwhelmed. It’s a disaster.

    Honestly, I recommend you put a hard reset on everything you think you know and start again from the beginning by reading and listening.

    Nobody has used ‘hermaphrodite’ to scientifically refer to humans in forty years

    • Izo

      What I’m saying is not garbage, though, it’s SCIENCE. Science is just about data and facts, and is in fact a way of lessening confusion. I am really sorry, though, if what I said upset you, because that is definitely not my intention.

      However, i’m not going to put a hard reset on basic scientific principles. Very sorry that I have to say that, because I am not making ANY judgments on your lifestyle or anyone’s lifestyle. Homogametic, heterogametic, and hermaphroditic are all scientific terms that are still used. They are just not SOCIALLY used. Conflating science with social correctness can be problematic.

      I appreciate that you’re not attacking my character though, and I’m not attacking yours either. I just think you’ve confused biological and psychological gender identification, and sometimes sexual preference (which is a lot more psychologically-based for most people than biologically-based). And if I ‘start over from the beginning’ I’m going to come to the same conclusion – in fact probably even more reinforced, since from the beginning is several centuries of biology from the discovery of basic genetics, even if I start as late as Mendel. And just because something in science might make people feel bad, it doesnt mean the science is wrong. People used to think we lived in a geocentric universe, and each new scientific discovery showed we’re less and less significant in the cosmic scale of things – that the universe does not revolve around us, much as we would wish it did. People fought this notion for a long time, because it was socially unacceptable, even if scientifically accurate. Social correctness is good, but it should not try to take over a hard science. There are softer sciences, like psychology, which are more conducive to what you’re saying. And also, please remember that psychology does not mean ‘crazy’ and I am not even remotely saying that it does. Sexual preference, racial preference, gender identification preference, and pretty much ALL preferences are psychologically-based, whether part of the majority of a culture or a minority of the culture that individual is living in. But it’s not genetics, and it’s not physics, and it’s not math. Certain things to not change just because it’s socially popular or unpopular – they only change when other hard scientific principles, using the scientific method, disprove the former principles.

      • ∫Clémens×ds

        No really I mean you know words but neither what they mean nor what they’re used for and I can’t keep cringing internally at the level of absolute misunderstanding on all front there are here. This is the most misguided stuff I’be seen in a long time.

        I mean I can’t even start saying that “hard science” and “social justice” have no deal being in opposition since they have no deal being relevant to one another but first I would have to remind you that “biological gender identification” makes utterly no sense because gender has nothing to do with biology and then come back and add a note that you were the one to bring up sexual orientation in a conversation where it didn’t belong but then God please insist that you keep the “hermaphrodite” for the gasteropods and use the right scientific word for humans, which is intersex.

        In short, I don’t know which biology books you learn your nonsense from, but make it one published earlier than the 1920s.

  • Izo

    It IS applicable because it IS affecting others, if it’s been such a big deal that Theresa and other women inside don’t feel they can speak in the room with Kiele as a man for an all-woman dynomorph support group.

    Saying that someone’s gender has no place in a gender-based support group is illogical to the extreme.