Wasps on My TERF

Got up at 5 AM to spray a wasp nest under the eaves over our breezeway, something you definitely don’t want to do when they’re awake and alert. Just after I went back inside, three deer crossed in front of our house. A lightning-caused fire on the north side of the Catalinas crested the ridge overnight and is now on the south side, visible from our house. We expect more visitors, as animals are driven down from the lower slopes.

Poor Mister B is listless, sometimes feverish, almost constantly hacking. The vet tested him for valley fever and he doesn’t have it. The way he works his jaw after a hacking spell makes me think something’s lodged in his throat. We’re taking him back in later this afternoon.

We’re at the mercy of the vet, otherwise helpless to fix whatever’s wrong with our good boy. Donna was going to go to the ranch north of Phoenix this weekend with her friend Millie; she canceled this morning, saying she knows she wouldn’t be able to enjoy herself with Mister B on her mind. Normally I’d have encouraged her to go, saying something inane like “Don’t worry, I’ve got this,” but I’m as worried as she is and happy for the mutual support. I owe her a plane ticket to see the kids in Las Vegas once all this is past.

It’s interesting that in the midst of a sharp rise in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, the federal government’s flailing attempt to get out of the pandemic business altogether, blatant minority voter suppression in Georgia, Trump praising Confederate traitors as “winners,” and of course ongoing BLM protests and brutal police responses, there should simultaneously be a social media furor over J.K. Rowling’s views on sex and gender.

Most of the outrage seems to be based on Rowling’s advocacy for segregated spaces for biological women, her insistence on observing a distinction between biological and trans women, and her hesitation to embrace gender fluidity in the first place. All of which mark her as a TERF, a trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

Everything about the subject is toxic and I should know better than to get anywhere near it. But …

I don’t doubt the reality of gender dysphoria. We should treat trans men and trans women as men and women, to include dropping the “trans” identifier from all but medical records. In my heart, though, I know I’ll always make a distinction between biological sex and gender.

Rowling, like many others, gets worked up over anecdotal stories: biological men claiming to identify as women in order to invade dressing rooms and restrooms, tales of trans women competing in women’s sports and taking all the medals. Honestly, I have no idea how often or even whether these things happen. But if such stories are true, then it seems reasonable to grant Rowling a bit of latitude. Anyway, here’s a link to her blog, where you can read what she has to say.

I didn’t think the Harry Potter books were that great. But I read them. It never occurred to me, either reading the books or watching the movies, to question any character’s sexuality or gender, as many readers and viewers do now. But I want to mention Alan Rickman, who played Snape in the movies, the subject of a wonderful anecdote recently posted to Twitter:

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