April 17, 2018
I am one of the co-founders of WORT-FM, community radio in Madison, Wisconsin. I am currently the President of the Board of Directors.
One of our shows is The Access Hour. From the WORT web site:
The Access Hour is WORT's commitment to community access to the airwaves. For one out of every 168 broadcast hours each week, we turn the airwaves over to a member of the public to program on their own.
That hour is every Monday night from 7 to 8pm.
On March 19, 2018, Thistle Pettersen was on the Access Hour. Petersen has done two previous Access Hour programs. These programs have generated a lot of controversy. They cover a group of people who call themselves radical feminists. These so-called radical feminists claim that gender identity is not a valid idea, and that sex (that is, the concept of what is male and female) is determined by biology — that is, by the type of genitalia that exists at an individual’s birth.
As President of WORT, I have received at least 65 emails in regard to the Mach 19 program.
I would like to address my personal reactions to this. These are my own thoughts. They are not necessarily the opinions of WORT, or the Board, Staff or volunteers of WORT.
I have a number of problems with this radical feminist idea.
One issue that comes up in most of the pro-radical feminist emails I received is that the radical feminist community has, via their right to free speech, the right to present their ideas on WORT. I’ve been involved with WORT since before it began. Free speech has always been important at WORT, but free speech is complicated. The WORT Mission includes the words “respecting all peoples and their environments”. Denying the existence or legitimacy of transexuals denies them respect, and is therefore not in compliance with the WORT Mission. In addition, the trans community also has the right of free speech. To them, free speech includes the right to be called by their name. The radical feminist community denies the trans community their free speech by denying them their name and identity by saying transexuality doesn’t exist.
The trans community goes so far as to refer to the radical feminist discussion as hate speech, because it denies their identity. The radical feminist community disputes that their discussion is hate speech, presumably because they do not raise their voices or use the word hate.
The pointed ignoring of observed facts is sometimes called gaslighting, after the 1944 movie Gaslight. The intentional ignoring of facts by the radical feminist community could be called gaslighting.
The denial of the trans community by the radical feminist community joins the infamous list of deniers in our history, which include Holocaust deniers, climate change deniers, flat-earth believers, and 9/11 truthers.
The list of arguments cited by the radical feminist community is a list of pseudo-science and twisted language.
To claim that their theory is based on biology invokes the concept of biological determinism. In the past, biological determinism has been used to justify the theories that women are inferior to men, that people with black skin are inferior to people with white skin (as proposed in the book The Bell Curve), and that same-sex relationships are inferior to opposite sex relationships.
The claim that hormone replacement therapy blocks the normal progress of puberty is also absurd. The very reason that HRT is used by the transgender community is to block the hormones of one gender and provide the hormones of another. The claim that transgender ideas lead to mental health issues and suicide is also absurd, because the denial of transgender thinking causes at least as much mental stress as gender dysphoria.
Some radical feminist writers express the concern that young people who express their gender identity as transexual might later change their thinking, and if they had begun a transition, might have proceeded to far to return to a pre-transition state. I know several people who identify as transexual. I was very close to one and drove here to her sexual reassignment surgery, and supported her after her surgery. She received counseling before her hormone replacement therapy and before her surgery. I believe she was fully informed of her choices and chose freely. I am certain that she did not receive pressure from peers, counselors or physicians to begin her transition.
I do feel that, in our society, social concepts of gender roles are very flawed. Denying the concept of gender dysphoria or transsexuality does not resolve anything. The assumptions that people must fit into a pre-defined category of gender identity and must adopt the mannerisms and behavior of that category does a great disservice to all people.