As we have seen, a common trait of social justice activists is the need to silence opposing viewpoints. A recent example comes with a twist – social justice activists are attacking each other and dragging their world of academic publishers into their outrage.
An article in the current issue of the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia has created such a controversy over the past several days that the members of its board of associate editors have now issued an apology for publishing it.
The article is “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. In the paper, Professor Tuvel takes up the question of whether the considerations that support accepting transgender individuals’ decisions to change sexes, which she endorses, provide support for accepting transracial individuals’ decisions to change races. She defends an affirmative answer to that question.
Seems reasonable to me. I don’t see how it is that the logic behind transgenderism fails to extend elsewhere, such a transracialism. If anyone out there is capable of making such a clear distinction, feel free to do so in the comments section.
The interesting thing here is that Tuvel is a social justice activist who is quite serious about her position.
Yet her article offended and outraged other social justice philosophers:
The result has been an eruption of complaints from a number of philosophers and other academics, expressed mainly on Facebook and Twitter. Among the complaints is the charge that the paper is anti-transgender.
Hmmm. If being “anti-transgender” is a “charge,” then it would seem the world of philosophy itself has become a world of indoctrination. For the “charge” here sounds to me like a charge of heresy.
Check out the outrage:
Nonetheless, in one popular public Facebook post, Nora Berenstain, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Tennessee, says the essay contains “discursive transmisogynistic violence.” She elaborates:
“Tuvel enacts violence and perpetuates harm in numerous ways throughout her essay. She deadnames a trans woman. She uses the term “transgenderism.” She talks about “biological sex” and uses phrases like “male genitalia.” She focuses enormously on surgery, which promotes the objectification of trans bodies. She refers to “a male-to- female (mtf) trans individual who could return to male privilege,” promoting the harmful transmisogynistic ideology that trans women have (at some point had) male privilege. In her discussion of “transracialism,” Tuvel doesn’t cite a single woman of color philosopher, nor does she substantively engage with any work by Black women, nor does she cite or engage with the work of any Black trans women who have written on this topic.”
Is there any evidence that getting some philosophical paper pubished in some obscure feminist philosophy journal constitutes “violence?” Sounds like someone is jumping the shark to me. But then again, social justice activists need words to qualify as violence to rationalize their censorship – the end justifies the means.
Anyway, don’t overlook some of those social justice truths: terms like“biological sex” and “male genitalia” are bad, while the whole notion of trans-women ever having had “male privilege” when they were men is “harmful transmisogynistic ideology.”
So the social justice warriors circulated an open letter and solicited signatures. The letter read:
It is difficult to imagine that this article could have been endorsed by referees working in critical race theory and trans theory, which are the two areas of specialization that should have been most relevant to the review process. A message has been sent, to authors and readers alike, that white cis scholars may engage in speculative discussion of these themes without broad and sustained engagement with those theorists whose lives are most directly affected by transphobia and racism.
Of course, the journal editors folded in record time and are now apologizing for their misconduct:
We, the members of Hypatia’s Board of Associate Editors, extend our profound apology to our friends and colleagues in feminist philosophy, especially transfeminists, queer feminists, and feminists of color, for the harms that the publication of the article on transracialism has caused. The sources of those harms are multiple
As for the author, she writes:
But so much wrath on electronic media has been expressed in the form of ad hominem attacks. I have received hate mail. I have been denounced a horrible person by people who have never met me. I have been warned that this is a project I should not have started and can only have questionable motivations for writing. Many people are now strongly urging me and the journal to retract the article and issue an apology. They have cautioned me that not doing so would be devastating for me personally, professionally, and morally. From the few who have expressed their support, much has been said to me about bullying culture, call-out culture, virtue-signaling, a mob mentality, and academic freedom.
So once again, we can see the Light of the secular approach – reason and evidence leading to yet another social justice witch hunt. In this case, it’s hard to keep track of which is the best way to virtue signal.