Hugo Myth Season Again

Voting is open for this year’s Hugo Awards, and consequently I need to get back to dispelling the strange ideas about the Hugos that seem to proliferate at this time of the year.

This post has been inspired in particular by the latest episode of the Coode Street Podcast where Gary and Jonathan do their usual fine job, but don’t quite get everything right.

Something that they do get right is the “I haven’t read enough” myth. Every year people trot out the idea that if you haven’t read “everything” then you are not eligible to nominate. This is nonsense. Jonathan and Gary make two very good points. Firstly they talk about some categories in which they feel they don’t know enough, but that isn’t stopping them from nominating in other categories. Nor will it stop them from looking at the nominees in those categories once the finalists are announced.

Secondly Gary notes that he has not yet read a number of very high profile novels, including the latest books by Ann Leckie and NK Jemisin. Gary is a novel reviewer for Locus, and has been for decades. It is his job to read novels. But there are so many that he hasn’t had the chance to read these two obvious contenders. I have read them, but because of the Tiptree reading I haven’t yet read the 2017 novels by Cat Valente, Jeff VanderMeer, Kim Stanley Robinson or Nick Harkaway (sorry guys, I have bought them). Both Gary and I will still nominate in the Novel category. No one can read everything.

There is some discussion in the podcast of the Series category and the question of how many words have to have been published for a series to qualify. That limit is 240,000 words. I’m afraid that Nnedi will have to write at least one more Binti book for the series to be eligible.

The other new award is the YA Book. There is no word limit for this. That decision was made deliberately because many YA books are much shorter than books aimed at the adult market. Jonathan mentions the possible overlap between the YA award and Hugo categories. Yes, we know. One of the main reasons why the YA Book Award is not a Hugo is precisely because there was potential for overlap. That was done deliberately. So I’m afraid saying that you won’t nominate a book in both the YA Book Award and a Hugo category is a bit pig-headed.

Where there may be a possibility for overlap is between Novel and Series. NK Jemisin’s The Stone Sky is in line for Novel, and the Broken Earth trilogy is eligible for Series. It would be an amazing achievement if Nora was to win Hugos for all three books in a trilogy and for the series as a whole, but it is possible.

Finally we come to the bit where the podcast goes totally off the rails. Jonathan resurrects one of the best known zombies of Hugo lore, the idea that the Hugos were once for science fiction only and were later changed to include fantasy. This is not entirely Jonathan’s fault. He got the story from Justin Ackroyd. I have had this discussion with Justin before. He was wrong then and he is still wrong now.

The usual “proof” of this myth is that the Hugos used to be known as the “Science Fiction Achievement Awards”, and also affectionately as the Hugos. WSFS made the official name of the awards the Hugos because it was not possible to register a service mark for “Science Fiction Achievement Awards”. Quite rightly that was deemed too generic by the US mark registration people. The phrase “Science Fiction Achievement Awards” was later mostly eliminated from the WSFS Constitution as it was no longer relevant. (The official renaming was ratified in 1992 and, according to the Business Meeting minutes, was passed without objection.)

However, this change does not mean that the Hugos were once “officially” only for science fiction. The oldest version of the WSFS Constitution that we have available is from 1963. You can read it here. If you look at the definitions of the categories (Section 2) you will see that they use the phrase “science fiction or fantasy” (or, in the case of Amateur Magazine, “science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects”). This was long before “Science Fiction Achievement Awards” was dropped from the Constitution. There was, as far any anyone can remember or records show, never a time when the Hugos were exclusively for science fiction.

Of course this doesn’t stop people from nominating only science fiction if that is what they want to do. However, it is a bit disingenuous to compare the Hugos to things such as the World Fantasy Awards (which are exclusively for fantasy) or the Locus Awards (which have separate categories for science fiction and fantasy novels). The reason that those awards are able to make such distinctions is that they have management structures in place that can make those decisions. There is no “Hugo Committee” that is empowered to decide whether a work is science fiction or fantasy. The Hugo Administrators are just administrators and would run a mile from any suggestion that they should make such a decision. To have an award just for science fiction you would have to institute a process for deciding what qualifies, and that process must not devolve down to a popular vote.

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Crawford Award

As many of you will have seen, the winner of this year’s Crawford Award was announced this week. The book in question is Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, and it is one of the most remarkable debuts I have seen in a long time. Machado’s work has appeared in venues such as The New Yorker, Granta and Tin House. The collection was also a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award, the USA’s top literary award. You will guess from that that the stories are very literary, and you would be right, but they are also fascinating. I am seriously impressed.

However, I would also like to draw your attention to the short list which contains many more good books. Here it is:

  • City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager)
  • Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys ( Publishing)
  • The Art of Starving, Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen)
  • The Tiger’s Daughter, K. Arsenault Rivera (Tor)
  • Spellhaven, Sandra Unerman (Mirror World)

I’d like to direct particular attention to The Tiger’s Daughter. The basic set-up is as follows: Shizuka is the heir to a fantasy version of imperial China; Shefali is the daughter of the queen of the nomadic Qorin; they are brought up together, fall in love, and together they fight demons. Rivera isn’t as accomplished a wordsmith as Machado, nor as off the wall, but this is a beautifully constructed novel and just the cutest lesbian warrior love story ever. I cried. I can’t wait for book two.

Both of these books have been recommended for the Tiptree, but the remit of the Crawford and Tiptree juries is very different and I have not said anything about the books’ treatment of gender.

Further details of the Crawford Award announcement are available from the IAFA website.

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Return of the King

It was great to have T’Challa in the last Avengers movie, but giving him his own movie was always going to be a whole new level, and one Marvel could easily have botched.

I can’t pretend to understand all of the political issues that the film has to deal with. Africa is not a country, and African-Americans are not the same as Africans. I could see some of that being played out, and I know it will be impossible to please everyone. From my point of view, as a Black Panther reader from way back in the Don McGregor days, and a cat person, this was a fine movie. I also understood and enjoyed the parts where it made comment on wider political issues.

The film isn’t perfect. I’ve been seeing people online complaining about lack of queer content. But all things considered it could have been so much worse. Or it could not have existed at all, which would have been terrible. I very much hope that other people enjoy it as much as I did.

Oh, and stay right to the end of the credits. You always do that in Marvel movies, right?

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Beaumont as Athena

On the way home yesterday I shared a train with Jen Grove who showed me this image she had found in the archives of the British Museum. It shows one of the world’s most famous trans women as the goddess Athena. Given that I have been talking about Amazons all month, I thoroughly approve. Also it is great to know that she used that name. I understand that she went by Lea when she was working as a spy in France, but the name she uses here is far more grand so I shall use that in future.

I would love to see this picture on display as part of the BM’s LGBT+ Trail. It would also be nice to see a bit more respect in the official write-up.

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Queering the Classics

Ha! As if Greece and Rome needed any queering from us. But we did it anyway.

I spent yesterday at Reading University at a conference on “LGBT+ Classics: Teaching, Research, Activism” organized by the Women’s Classical Committee. Given that I am not an academic and have no training in the Classics beyond a few years of schoolgirl Latin, I was deeply honored to be asked to give a paper. As they asked for Activism, I gave them Activism, and I am delighted to report that the talk appeared to go down very well.

It was only a small conference, but of such efforts big things can grow. I was particularly pleased to share the platform with Nicki Ward of Birmingham who is one of the authors of this superb guide to Queering the Curriculum. I have noticed that in the work I do training universities on trans issues, academic staff are conspicuous by their absence. Part of this is doubtless due to overwork, but we still hear the “I treat all people the same” excuse for avoiding diversity training. Classicists have absolutely no excuse for not including queer material in their courses, and if yesterday was anything to go by they are delighted to do so. It is a start.

Anyway, huge thanks to Katherine Harloe, Talitha Kearey and Irene Salvo for a great event. Hugs to Liz Gloyn who was unable to get there. Thanks to all of the speakers, especially the wonderful Jennifer Ingleheart. I learned a lot, and made some great new contacts. We should do this again.

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Discoveries from the Road

Jackie Shane

For the past two days my Amazon Horde and I have been entertaining audiences in London and Bristol. But LGBT History Month is as much an opportunity to learn for me as for anyone else. The people I am on platform with always have interesting things to say.

On Friday at the National Maritime Museum I got to meet Max Carocci, who works for the British Museum and is an expert on Native American cultures. Max has a little to learn about trans culture in the West, but he knows a lot more than I do about the people we now lump together under the umbrella term, Two Spirit. I’m really looking forward to spending time learning from him.

What I learned from Max is that the Navajo are even more amazing than I thought. I knew that they had four commonly recognized genders, based on how you were assigned at birth and how you ended up as an adult. But, like most ancient cultures, they had a much better understanding of intersex people that we do. Max told me that it was also possible for a Navajo baby to be assigned intersex at birth, making for a 5th social gender. Of course by no means all intersex conditions are recognizable at birth, but considering how appallingly intersex infants are treated by other cultures (including our own) this is remarkable on the part of the Navajo.

By the way, Max tells me that the Navajo are not comfortable with the term Two Spirit because their traditional beliefs do not include spirits. Umbrella terms are hard, especially when you are trying to bring over 100 different cultures together.

I was very pleased with the speakers I put together for the event at M Shed yesterday. Jana Funke, ever reliable, taught me a lot about the lesbian history of the women’s suffrage movement. (And people, if someone is called Christabel by their parents but insists on being known as Christopher there’s a lot more than just sexuality going on there.) But my big discovery came from Darryl Bullock’s talk on LGBT musicians.

I like to think that I know a bit about queer black musicians. I’m familiar with the likes of Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Little Richard, Big Mama Thornton and Billie Holiday. Darryl introduced me to Jackie Shane. Mind officially blown.

For a long time Jackie has been known as an extravagantly camp gay man. As she vanished from the music business in 1971 no one knew any better. Even in Darryl’s book that’s how she’s written up. But last year Jackie resurfaced. Darryl, bless him, was on the ball and yesterday he introduced us to Ms Jackie Shane, pioneering trans musician.

Born in Nashville in the 40s, Jackie began wearing dresses and high heels when she was four years old. By 13 she considered herself a woman in a man’s body and started wearing make-up to school. Her gender wasn’t so much a question as it was a matter of fact; pragmatic to the core, she knew who she was and lived it. As Jackie told Rob Bowman in his essay on her life, “I could not be anyone else if I tried. It would be the most ridiculous thing in the world for me to try to be a male.”

That quote is from an i-D article about Jackie. Considering how trans women of color are treated in the US today, Jackie’s story is little short of miraculous. Things have gone backwards so far since she transitioned.

Anyway, I have bought a copy of the only album of Jackie’s work that it available. It is extraordinary. I will be playing tracks from it a lot on the radio from now own. The photo above was apparently taken in 1967. If I’d known about her back then I would probably have spent the rest of my life trying to be her.

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Yesterday on Ujima – LGBT History & Feminism

Yesterday’s show was given over mainly to previewing the LGBT History Day that is happening at M Shed on Saturday. Full details are available here.

The first hour focused on LGBT music. I talked to Darryl Bullock about his book, David Bowie Made Me Gay, and about the queer black roots of modern popular music. Then I welcomed in my Ujima colleague, Angel Mel, who talked about what is happening on the music scene in Bristol today.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

In hour two Karen Garvey and I previewed the rest of the day’s events. We also fangirled a bit over David Olusoga’s A House Through Time TV series.

Along the way I talked about the legal case underway in Trinidad and Tobago which hopes to overturn the islands’ homophobic laws. If you want to donate to the fundraiser to cover the legal costs you can do so here.

Next up I ran an interview with Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party. With Tuesday having been the actual 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, it seemed appropriate to talk about women and politics.

Of course one of the big issues for feminism in England right now (the rest of the UK seems to be avoiding most of the nonsense) is the status of trans women. Sophie, as she always does, committed to intersectionality. However, there is a TERF* event planned for Bristol this evening and I asked a couple of young trans people from Bristol University to talk about it. Quite what the TERFs want is a mystery, especially as they call their event “We Need to Talk” but won’t tell anyone where it is and don’t want any trans people involved.

You can listen to hour 2 of the show here.

The music for the show was as follows:

  • No One Knows You When You’re Down & Out – Bessie Smith
  • Hound Dog – Big Mama Thornton
  • Jailhouse Rock – Vinyl Closet
  • Only God – Sarah Hansson
  • Good Golly Miss Molly – Little Richard
  • Cream – Prince
  • I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

*TERF = Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, a term invented decades ago by actual radical feminists to distinguish themselves from people who are neither radical nor feminist, but claim to be both as an excuse for persecuting trans women.

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A Short History of Gender at UWE

The lovely people at UWE Feminist Society filmed my talk from last night and have put it on their Facebook page. Serious video skillz there. They’ve sent me the file and I’ll get it up on YouTube or Vimeo sometime, but in the meantime the Facebook version is available.

This talk is designed to give an overview of just how different attitudes to gender were in the past. None of it is in-depth history, though I’m quite happy to talk about parts of it in more detail, and I try to note where my knowledge isn’t very deep.

The video does include the Q&A, and one audience member asked for more information about African practices. I don’t know a huge amount about Africa, but someone who does in Bisi Alimi. Last night he wast tweeting about just the sort of things I would have mentioned had I known about them in time. I linked to the thread here.

Content note: inevitably I talk about castration, and about people having sex.

The talk comes in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. Both are just over half an hour long.

Huge thanks to Tessa and her colleagues for making me so welcome.

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Tomorrow on Ujima

In the midst of all this I still have to do my radio show. Naturally tomorrow I am devoting most of the show to LGBT History Month. I will be joined by Daryll Bullock, a local writer whose book, David Bowie Made Me Gay, has been receiving international acclaim. Darryl will be talking to me about the queer black roots of modern popular music. He’ll be followed by Ujima’s own Angel Mel who will bring us right up to date with news of the queer music scene in Bristol.

In the second hour Karen Garvey from M Shed will pop in and we’ll preview the rest of the entertainment we have planned for Saturday. If you are in Bristol there will be loads of great talks so do pop in.

I also have a short interview with Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, that I bagged when she was in Bristol on Sunday. Naturally we talked about the 100th anniversary of (some) women getting the vote, the gender pay gap and so on.

Finally I’ll be talking about plans to hold an anti-trans event in Bristol on Thursday and how the increasingly hostile media coverage of trans issues is leading to an increase in the number of hate crimes against trans people in the region.

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One From the Road

It is crazy busy time around here, but just to prove I was in Cambridge here I am talking about queer Mesopotamians at Gonville & Caius College last week.

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Introducing Airship 2

This year I am trying to devote a bit more time to Wizard’s Tower. We have the new Juliet McKenna novel due very soon now, and I have another project I am hoping very much will happen. Anthologies have been a bit complicated due to Jo & Roz being engaged in a protracted house moving process. That, however, is finally sorting itself out, and we have decided to do a second steampunk book.

Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion 2: Rail, Sea and Sky, as the subtitle suggests, will have a theme of transport. Brunel’s original vision for Bristol was to be a transit interchange where rail passengers from London could transfer onto luxury liners to cross the Atlantic. Since his time, Bristol has become famous for aircraft manufacture. And because this is steampunk there is no reason why Bristol could not become a major spaceport with aetherflyers leaving for the British colonies on the Moon, Mars and Venus.

Adventure can come in many ways. Trains can be robbed by masked automata; ships can be menaced by a giant kraken; airships can be hijacked by foreign agents; and aetherflyers can be raided by Venusian pirates. As with Airship 1, we are hoping that contributors will take the opportunity to interrogate Victorian society and question the conservative values for which it has become notorious.

We have got a lot of the old gang back together for book two. Jo and Roz will be editing it again, Andy Bigwood is hopefully doing the cover, and we have confirmed stories from Ken Shinn, Ian Millsted, Pete Sutton, Scott Lewis, John Hawkes-Reed, Andy Bigwood, Roz Clarke, Deborah Walker, Piotr Świetlik, Jonathan L Howard, Stephen Blake and, er, me. What can I say? I had a totally batshit idea; Jo & Roz liked it.

That leaves us at least 3 spaces for additional stories. We may take more if we get a lot of great submissions. We can only afford to pay £50 per story, so it is nowhere near professional rates, but this series is all about encouraging new writing so who knows what we’ll discover.

For full details of the submission guidelines, deadlines, etc., see the Wizard’s Tower website.

Posted in Airships, Wizard's Tower | 1 Comment

On History Matters Again

I have a new post up on the University of Sheffield’s History Matters blog. This one is titled, How Not to Erase Trans History. It basically makes the case that trans people have always existed, albeit in culturally different forms at different times and in different places.

Those of you who are on the ball might remember that I have a talk with the same name scheduled for the Women in Classics Conference next Monday. However, the blog post is very much for public consumption whereas the Reading talk is both much more focused on professional historians, and much more focused on the Classical world.

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On Tour

OK, it is February, which means I am going to be on the road a lot. I don’t expect to have too much time to blog, but I will update Twitter when I can.

I have updated the schedule with a couple more ticket links, just in case any of you can come along. Other than that, see you on the other side, as it were.

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Ujima Volunteer Day

Want to work in Radio? Ujima has a Volunteer Day coming up on February 8th. Morning and evening sessions available. Find out how you can get involved.

Honestly, folks, if someone my age can find herself hosting a radio show then anyone can do it. Go on, fulfill your dreams.

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On Roman Hairstyles

Friday’s history event at Bristol University was a lot of fun and I’ll be blogging later for them about the trans history that I learned that day. For now I want to catch up on the dinner conversation. I was sat opposite Cath Fletcher from Swansea University. She has written a book all about Alessandro de’ Medici which should nicely explode the brains of all those idiots who think that there were no people of color in Europe before colonization started.

We also talked a lot about issues of translation. Something she mentioned to me was that Roman descriptions of how to style women’s hair kept mentioning a piece of equipment that would normally be translated as a “needle”. No one understood this, so they got some hairdressers to try to recreate Roman women’s styles. They quickly discovered that the only way you could keep those elaborate updos in place was to literally sew the style together with thread. Here’s hairstyle archaeologist, Janet Stephens, explaining how one such style was created.

Posted in Girly, History | 2 Comments

February Schedule

I think my schedule is fairly firm now. There are a couple of non-public things that I’m not sure I can talk about, but there’s plenty here.

Thurs. Feb. 1st — I’ll be on Shout Out Radio previewing local events.

Fri. Feb. 2nd — “Trans People in Sumer and Assyria”, The Bateman Room, Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street, Cambridge, 18:00.

Wed. Feb. 7th — I’m hosting Women’s Outlook on Ujima Radio from Noon to 14:00. The show will be an LGBT History special featuring Karen Garvey (M Shed), Darryl Bullock and Angel Mel, plus some more things that aren’t firm yet.

Wed. Feb. 7th — “A Short History of Gender” for the University of the West of England Feminist Society. Probably students and staff only.

Fri. Feb. 9th — I’m at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. My talk will be “Die Young, Stay Pretty: Women Warriors in the Ancient World”, which is the Amazons talk. Caz Paige is speaking too.

Sat. Feb. 10th — LGBT History Day at M Shed in Bristol. I’m hosting the event and doing the Amazons talk again. Fabulous line-up of speakers.

Mon. Feb. 12th — The Women in Classics LGBT+ conference at Reading University. My talk is called “How Not To Erase Trans History”. Getting in to see me costs money, but you can see the amazing Jennifer Ingleheart for free.

Thurs. Feb. 15th — I’ll be at the University of Manchester Students’ Union. I’m talking about Romans. Roz Kaveney will be there too, which is cool because my talk has some of her work in it.

Wed. Feb. 21st — I am looking after Stuart Milk for the day. We’ll be in Bath visiting schools and doing the Guildhall in the evening.

Thurs. Feb. 22nd — Stuart and I are in Bristol. The evening talk is at Bristol University Students’ Union.

Fri. Feb. 23rd – Sat. Feb. 24th — I will be at the Historical Fictions Research Network conference in Stoke-on-Trent. I’m giving a paper called “If Your Past Isn’t Queer It Is Not Realistic”.

Tues. Feb. 27th — I will be appearing at the Diversity Trust event in Stoke Gifford. I’m giving a public version of the “If Your Past Isn’t Queer It Is Not Realistic” talk.

Wed. Feb. 28th — I’m at Bath Spa University doing an extended version of “If Your Past Isn’t Queer It Is Not Realistic” to their Creative Writing students. It is open to the public and you can book here.

After which all I can say is thank goodness February only has 28 days.

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New Tour Dates, Including London

I have a few new speaking engagements for LGBT History Month to announce. And yes, I am thinking of this as like being on tour.

First up, if you are in or near London, please come and see me at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. I will be talking about Amazons, and the fabulous Caz Paige will be talking about her life as a trans pilot in the RAF. It is a little ironic that I’m covering cavalry and she’s covering aircraft when the museum really demands a talk about ships, but maybe the Amazons had a navy. If they lived on Paradise Island they would need one, right? Anyway, this will be on the evening of Friday, February 9th. I look forward to seeing some of you there.

On the 15th I am going to be at Manchester University Students’ Union. I don’t know if that is open to the public yet. I will let you know if it is.

And on the 27th I will be at Stoke Gifford just north of Bristol for an event that Berkeley is organizing in collaboration with the Alphabets Youth Group. On the bill with me will be the very wonderful Edson Burton, and Anna Bianchi who has written a lovely book on raising trans kids.

I’ll be doing the short version of my “If Your Past Isn’t Queer it is Not Realistic” talk. The long version will happen at Bath Spa Uni on the 28th and will have a whole lot of extra stuff for the creative writing students. We are still waiting for a room allocation for that one so there’s no booking info just yet.

Posted in Gender, History, Where's Cheryl? | Leave a comment

Stuff & Nonsense

Every so often I think I should do a blog post rebutting some of the latest nonsense that the TERFs* have come up with. Then things get even more weird. I’m not going anywhere near the nonsense in the Labour Party because it is not my fight, but he’s a few examples of the bizarre things that have been going on.

As you may recall, the current TERF-fueled media assault on trans people is mostly about the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act and is a complete fabrication because a) the legislative changes would not give trans women the rights people are complaining about, and b) we have actually enjoyed those rights under the Equality Act for 8 years. I explained it all here.

Ireland has had a system of self-declaration of legal gender, similar to what has been proposed for the UK, since 2015, and recently there was an article in The Guardian about how Irish trans people had worked together with feminist groups in Ireland to make this happen, and that nothing awful had resulted from it.

Predictably the TERFs started harassing Irish feminists on social media. They also decided to have a public meeting in Dublin to school Irish women on how to be proper feminists. It was billed as being in support of Ireland’s fight for legal abortion, but as it was also part of a UK tour focusing solely on spreading alarm about trans rights the Irish were under no illusions as to what was intended. They issued a scathing open letter.

Since then I have seen TERF accounts on Twitter claiming that the Irish must be anti-abortion for opposing the proposed meeting, and that being pro-abortion is anti-feminist because the only purpose of abortion is to allow men to be less responsible about having sex.

Oh, and Germaine Greer has come out against the #MeToo movement.

Meanwhile it has been a common plank of TERF ideology, despite masses of evidence to the contrary, that trans women are all obsessed with gender stereotypes and act to reinforce the gender binary. Today I learned that, because they insist that being trans is only about gender presentation, they are taking to calling themselves trans because they don’t present in an extremely feminine manner, even though they were assigned female at birth and fully and proudly identify as women.

This is, I presume, another of their silly little psychological games in which they try to mess with trans women’s heads in an attempt to drive us all to suicide. I guess they are hoping that we’ll see anti-trans posts being made by people who claim to be trans in their profiles and be distressed by this. Thankfully you can normally tell because they will write “transwoman” rather than “trans woman” (using transwoman as a noun to indicate that a transwoman is an entirely separate class of being from a woman) and they’ll probably have “XX” in their profile as well).

About the only interesting thing about this is that their tactics are remarkably similar to those used by the miserable remnants of the Sad Puppy movement to harass writers that they don’t like on Twitter. Right down to the fact that their preferred targets are almost always young women.

One day we, as a society, will learn to recognize all of this nonsense and ignore it. Sadly that day is not yet upon us.

* TERF = Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, a term invented by Radical Feminists decades ago to distance themselves from the anti-trans fanatics. TERFs are notable for being neither Radical nor very good at feminism.

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In Mourning

The news broke last night that Ursula K Le Guin had died. Since then my social media streams have been full of very sad posts from distraught people. Yeah.

Many of my friends, of course, knew Le Guin well, and/or had consciously modeled their writing on hers. I only met her once. As I recall I was so terrified that I didn’t manage to say more than, “hello”.

One of the things about getting old is that you check obituaries for the age of the deceased. These days far too many of the people I see dying are younger than me. 88, however, is what we Brits call a “good innings”. And in this case it is very much a life well lived.

If I manage to reach that age I shall be delightedly astonished. However, even given all those extra years, I don’t expect to produce work as brilliant as Le Guin’s, nor do I expect to have anywhere near the profound influence on the world that she had.

That doesn’t mean that I will stop trying.

“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.” — Ursula K Le Guin, The Dispossessed

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LGBTHM Bristol Publicity Rollout

We have some publicity up for the LGBT History Day that I am organising at M Shed in Bristol on February 10th. My apologies for the relentless stream of publicity about this that I will have going between now and then.

As you will see, we have a great line-up of speakers. I’m really excited about all of them. There will be in-depth posts about each one coming up on the OutStories Bristol website over the next couple of weeks.

Those of you with an interest in human rights issues will be particularly interested in Jonathan Cooper’s talk. He’s one of Britain’s leading human rights lawyers and today he had a piece in The Guardian about the danger posed to LGBT rights by Brexit.

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