Right I've shut up so far because it's clearly a topic that for some reason means a lot to people on both sides, and I really really can't be arsed to get into a protracted online fight (partly because I've set myself the challenge to watch the whole Star Trek back catalogue while in lockdown, but also because I just can't be arsed). So this might be my first and last post on this thread (don't worry I've huffed off if I don't respond, but Star Trek won't watch itself now).
I respect and usually like JK Rowling and I don't personally at first saw what she wrote to be particularly bad or offensive, I had to have it pointed out to me. But then again, I'm just yet another cis straight white male with an opinion. I don't know the lived experience of living a trans life, just as I don't know what it's like to be black or for that matter, female. And therefore, it's not my place to decide what is offensive and what is not. Dressing up as a black person is bad, dressing up as a blonde person is acceptable, divorced from context there should be no difference, but we all know that dressing up as black has all sorts of cultural and historical associations and connotations that make it offensive and, most importantly, it's not the place of the white person to offer some clever argument to justify something that really, really emotionally hurts other people. Just bl..dy accept it and move on.
It's similar with trans-ness. What might seem an innocuous academic argument can really really hurt people, and we as cis people generally don't know the context and history of where this hurt comes from. The correct answer is to say sorry, learn from it and move on. Now I don't know what it's like to be black in this country, or indeed what it's like to be a woman either, and I try to take the same approach there too. But what I gather from my brother (who used to be my sister), and his circle of friends (as well as one of my PhD students who wrote a whole thesis on trans experiences in health care) it really, really, really f.cking sucks to be trans. Suicide rates are through the roof, many get rejected by their own parents and friends when they transition (one of my brother's friends has been completely cut off from his family). Many are desperately lonely because finding a partner who accepts them can be a minefield. And then there is the constant bullying that accompanied many from childhood. Bullying that stays with them through adulthood and comes from all sections of society. I'd write more here, but I'll leave this as I don't want to talk for him, he can do it himself. As I say I'm cis white male so it's not my place to account for you someone else's lived experience, but these are just some of the things I noticed.
Black people are saying now they've had enough, and we're listening, or at least I bl..dy well hope we are for a change. Some, many even, get angry and abusive, which is not cool, but we should aim to understand where it comes from. Black cultural theorists like Stuart Hall or Paul Gilroy have described the "stereotype trap" that follows black reactions to racism. Because black people get stereotyped as aggressive, their very anger at the stereotype confirms the stereotype. It's really quite difficult to work against - they only need one black person to be less of a saint and punch back to confirm to the racists that they're violent by nature. So they have to be extra saints, they have to be saintly in ways that white people never have to be, and when they are, their feelings are discounted because they appear to be more or less content (because of the lack of anger, right?).
We know this about race. Now listen to trans people. Really listen for a change. They're hurting, they're really really hurting, from a lifetime of micro and sometimes macro aggression. Nothing ever seems to get better, at the moment it's getting worse and they're under attack from lots of different groups, and when some of them see red and unwisely lash out, the stereotype gets confirmed and they can safely be comfortably ignored again as the aggressors. I don't care, I really don't give a sh.t about the ins and outs of Rowling's argument about menstruation and womanhood, she might have a point that stands by its own, but it has a whole lot of context to it that has been ignored because it discounts lived lifetimes of constant aggression and anti trans prejudice. If white people had never been racist against black people, then wearing black face might be as inoffensive as peroxide hair. But we have been, and it's not.
And now I'll log off because captain Sisko is in grave danger.
I've never had a signature, and it never did me any harm