Did transphobia help kill Colombia's peace referendum?

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/11/did-transphobia-help-kill-colo.html


So that’s why that Pope asshole recently came out swinging at trans folks. I didn’t know the background, and chalked it up to more religious intolerance. I guess I was right.


[ETA] This type of hate is going to destroy us all.


I’m fully against discrimination against anyone, and it’s awful if this derailed the peace efforts. But the quoted sentence from that “teaching handbook” is understandably offensive to cisgendered people. Wouldn’t the gay community be up in arms if that statement had been “One isn’t born heterosexual or homosexual, but rather learns to be one, according to the society and age in which they grow up?”

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As someone who is cisgendered, I disagree.


Sorry, didn’t mean to make it a blanket statement like that. But you get why it would be offensive to some people to state that they weren’t born they way they are, right?

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I am a cis male, and I learned to be a cis male. I like who I am.


Not really, actually. Can you explain what you personally find offensive about the statement and help me to better understand why you feel offended by it?

The point it’s attempting to make is that gender and biological sex are not one and the same, and that femininity and masculinity are constructed, not natural outcroppings of our biological sex. We can easily understand that if we compare masculinity and femininity in different cultures. Men and women in different cultures have different expectations. This doesn’t mean that one’s biological gender or things like hormones don’t influence the way gender is constructed, just that the social aspect of gender matters and can be changed in more positive directions.


I got something completely different from that sentence, a meaning without any gender or sexual orientation bias. To me, it meant that we learn to be who we are over time. That’s a strong and useful message.

One way to create monsters is to teach children that they can’t forgive themselves.


I am really confused by the statement and it probably would make a lot more sense in context. I could see how this could be construed into something i would both agree and disagree with.

Though I find it very very hard to believe a peace referendum was killed due to one sentence in a “handbook”. Not even sure what that is about… I mean let’s focus on ending an armed civil conflict since 1964 and hash the rest of out as we go.


It’s probably not the only reason, but given the church’s history of anti-communist activities, I can imagine that it helped to get out the no vote… consequences be damned.

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It seems inoffensive; but the phrasing is sloppy. Even the most die-hard ‘God created them Male and Female!’ type would find it pretty hard to argue that there is a lot of acculturation involved in being a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’. Even if you assume a pretty stiff helping of divine design and/or ‘evolutionary psychology’ and take “Men are all about being hunters and warriors and getting laid; while chicks are naturally submissive baby-nurturers and helpmates” as axioms; it takes a ton of acculturation to fill in the details(is blue the boy color or the girl color today? Are men protectors and providers by participating in a market economy and a legalistic system of dispute resolution on behalf of their single wife and dependent children, or by accruing enough dead animals and prestige to provide for their harem?).

The notion that sex is, like, a cultural construct, man… is a pretty bold claim(and also arguably contrary to the interests of trans people/activists: if you can just acculturate people to be ‘men’ or ‘women’ why would you even think of dealing with the, unfortunately crude and far from fully successful, gender reassignment techniques or the considerable stigma and risk? You’d just acculturate people to match their genitalia and call it a day.); but given the sheer variety of what ‘man’ and ‘woman’ have meant to the assorted cultures of the world at different times and in different places; it is trivially moronic to pretend that ‘man’-ness or ‘woman’-ness is something one does purely innately.

I would be…deeply surprised…by the existence of an acculturation mechanism that could make me be other than what I am(and, despite a willingness to use some overtly disturbing tactics, it has been pretty reliably demonstrated that neither homosexuals nor transgender people can be coerced into ‘normalcy’, beyond the bare minimum of enduring procreation and hiding their preferences; experiments on heterosexual and cisgendered subjects haven’t attracted the same level of interest; but are unlikely to be any more effective); but anyone who denies that, had I been born in a different time and place, I would be ‘a man’ in any number of different, culturally determined, ways is just being an idiot.

Perhaps this just suffered in translation; but it seems like an utterly uncontroversial statement of fact that could have been stated slightly more clearly.

And, as for saving the children from the gays? Y’know what’s worse for children than the Pink Menace? Decades of brutal civil war.


My comment got eaten? I guess I am not allowed to have any opinions about this. Apparently I have less experience with leftist insurgence and non-normative gender than the other participants here. Have a nice conversation, “everybody”!

Okay, as a cis male, I am now even more confused about what gender is.

I mean, I get that “masculinity” and “femininity” have referred to different traits at different times and in different countries. And that some men are more predisposed to things that our culture considers “feminine”, and some women are more predisposed to things that our culture considers “masculine.” That’s all ridonkulously obvious.

But I thought that gender was something apart from all of that: that there’s an actual difference between a woman who lives her entire life doing and enjoying what a stereotypical man would, and a man who just happens to be in a female body. And ditto for when the genders are reversed.

I get how you can “learn to be” the former, but I thought gender was more of what is described in The Matrix as a “residual self-image”: an internal reflection of what your external identity should be.

If gender is something you can “learn,” then I don’t think I know what gender is.

I dunno. My cow-orker who has family there says the peace referendum never had a chance because the public considered it a handout of huge quantities of tax monies to vicious, ireedeemable criminals who had murdered, extorted, tortured, or raped some relative of nearly every taxpayer in Colombia.

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I have sympathy for them, but the same could have been said about the IRA/UDA/UVF etc. during the Northern Irish peace talks in the 90’s, and we’re better off for having them happen.


The same problem crops up more or less anywhere an ugly fight drags on into a stalemate. Prolonged war is bad news; but you are in a stalemate because neither side can enforce its will on the other; and people rarely volunteer for trial if there is a serious chance of consequences.

It’s an ugly balancing act between the desire to stop ongoing bloodshed; and the desire for justice to be done(as well as to avoid the “If you commit a murder, you go to jail; if you commit a decade of atrocities, you get an amnesty and a seat on the coalition government” perverse incentive.


The gays will recruit your children! Into their competing faction.

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