Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Now They Call Me A Transphobe, Too

I write from southern France, where the current recording project with a wonderful international cast of musicians is going brilliantly.  My upcoming visit to England later this month began largely on a whim, and turned into a busy visit, with a gig somewhere most of the days I'm on the island.  In keeping with the theme of my latest album, Notes From A Holocaust, most of the folks coming forward to organize gigs have been focusing on the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The fairly intense interest in organizing events and highlighting the horrors that are transpiring in the Middle East notwithstanding, the tour plan has not been without drama.  The owner of the venue we were going to use in Portsmouth on February 27th was visited by someone unknown, and decided hosting a Concert for Palestine wasn't a good idea after all, after 3,000 flyers had already been printed up to promote the show.  Luckily, the organizer was able to find another, nicer venue in town, so the event is going ahead.

At one of the London venues, the owner of the venue also canceled the gig on the friend and comrade who was organizing it, even more last-minute, this time on the basis of someone informing him that I'm transphobic.

Gigs related to Palestine solidarity having problems is nothing new, and the allegations of me being antisemitic or a Nazi of one sort or another are patently ridiculous, but also nothing new.  I've written scores of explicitly antifascist songs, and I've never written an antisemitic one, or anything else antisemitic in any other form.  And I've written many essays explaining why these sorts of allegations against me and so many other people critical of Israel or US foreign policies are ridiculous, and why some self-styled "antifascists" like to make these scurrilous, extremely sectarian arguments.

The allegations of transphobia are relatively new, but they are being made by exactly the same sectarian, allegedly "antifascist" element, on the same corporate social media platforms that seem to be designed to amplify this kind of nonsense.  This seems worth pointing out.  To anyone familiar with the X/Twitter and Reddit accounts doing this sort of trolling, systematically trying to get my gigs canceled by spreading false rumors, it's obvious that it is exactly the same accounts involved with making the accusations of transphobia.

Other than the desire to spread disinformation of all kinds in the service of ruining the life and career of a chosen target, the most recent focus on my alleged transphobia has two fairly evident reasons for existing.

One is that a significant proportion of the self-styled crusaders against antisemitism and transphobia that do this sort of thing identify as trans.  So if you accurately describe a situation where you're being screamed at by an aggressive "antifascist" who is trans, you risk allegations of transphobia, just by describing the behavior of your aggressor.  That's one factor.

Another is that during a time when the self-proclaimed Jewish State is very actively committing genocide, trying to make allegations of antisemitism against a songwriter of Jewish origins stick is more challenging.  And so the exact same people -- incidentally the exact same people both in Portland in in London, among those few who show up to public meetings and can be identified as real people -- have now switched gears from their baseless accusations of antisemitism and the complete bullshit about "David has joined the far right" to making accusations against me around transphobia, and continuing their efforts to get my gigs canceled.  All the while a genocide is being perpetrated, but they have better things to do than oppose actual genocide perpetrated by actual fascist client states of their governments.  They have to go after the most well-known anti-Zionist musician in the folk punk genre (me, I humbly submit).

This is not a coincidence, and these people are far from innocent actors.  They have no principles and no purpose, other than to be oppositional and undermine the efforts of those who do have principles and purpose, such as me.  If they have any other reason for their activities, they utterly fail to make their own case, in any kind of coherent way, because they have none.

Because I said appropriately descriptive and negative things about the trans woman who was screaming at me at the last rally in Portland I attempted to sing at, in October -- and even perhaps because I describe her as a trans woman, which she herself wants to be identified as, I am a transphobe.  This is the level of intellectual discourse we are dealing with here, that successfully convinces pub owners to cancel gigs.

For the record, however, other than the complete lack of evidence for my supposed transphobia, what we do have is copious evidence that I am in fact an advocate for LGBTQ rights, and specifically the rights and needs and desires of trans people.

For the record, I receive regular messages on all the platforms from young trans women who tell me how validated they feel by my trans anthem, "Is That A Girl Or A Boy?", which I wrote years ago.  It tells the story of a little kid who was raised as a boy, but who always felt that she was a girl, and eventually came out as one.  It validates her feelings, and it apparently does this effectively, according to all the affectionate messages I receive from trans women who apparently haven't heard that I'm a transphobe.

For the record, if I were a transphobe I probably would not have written "Ballad of CeCe McDonald," about the trans woman in Minneapolis who stabbed a Nazi in the middle of his swastika tattoo with her sewing scissors one night, when the Nazi attacked her in a bar.  I crowdfunded thousands of dollars for the recording project on which that song appears, back in 2014.  I crowdfunded that money in order to tell CeCe's story effectively, with a great band backing me up.  In no uncertain terms let's be clear that the morons accusing me of transphobia are undermining my efforts to record and promote songs like these.

For the record, if I were a transphobe I would not have spent a bunch of my own money to spend a day in a recording studio re-recording "Song for Bradley Manning" to reflect Bradley's transition.  Since soon after her arrest for exposing horrific US war crimes in Iraq, where as Bradley she was a US soldier with high-level security clearance, she announced that she was named Chelsea and her gender identification was female.  In 2013 some people complained on Facebook that I hadn't re-recorded the song to reflect Bradley becoming Chelsea, and that by having the old song up I was "dead-naming" her.  These accusations are and were ridiculous.  But not to the people making them.  I gave them the benefit of the doubt, and re-recorded the song.  I'm glad I did.  My current critics love the fact that this debate in 2013 happened, that someone in Ireland wrote a blog post about it.  Of course these people don't know or care that the author of this blog post soon thereafter became one of my paid subscribers, she so appreciated my eventual response to her article, and my re-recording of the song.

If I were a transphobe, I probably wouldn't have spent much of latter 2020 making an album with a brilliant trans musician.  It's Been A Year was a collaborative effort between me and Jane Reynolds.  I wrote the lyrics to all the songs, Jane wrote the music, did the arrangements, and recorded everything.  It's certainly one of the best collaborative artistic efforts I've engaged in.

I could go on talking about songs I've written for marriage equality and other related subjects, but I'll stop there.  I don't think there's any need for me to wrap up this argument, because I'm not responding to actual allegations that make any sense, so what can I say?  Other than, no, these people are spreading lies, for whatever nefarious purposes I do not know, but whatever their reasons for behaving like complete idiots or intelligence agents is, it has nothing to do with me actually disliking trans people or not supporting their rights to live their lives however they want to, free of discrimination, never to be treated the way these supposed defenders of trans rights are treating me.

Once the trolls and bullies allegedly defending the rights of trans people realize they have absolutely no case at all, and they are attacking a vocal and I dare say eloquent supporter of trans people and their struggles on a completely scurrilous basis, their next tack has been and will be to attack people I have associated with, as if the fact that I appear on some asshole's YouTube channel means that I agree with that asshole's worldview.  This is McCarthyite/witch trial Guilt By Association stuff, the implication being if you are a believer in trans rights then you cannot ever talk with anyone who isn't, or you've somehow been tainted and are now impure.  That is fantastical thinking, along with McCarthyite thinking.  Anyone who actually cares about trans people rejects it out of hand, because we obviously need to change society, rather than ignoring it or attempting to banish it, since that doesn't actually work in reality.

In the real world, beyond the minds of the morons, it is absolutely essential for anyone who gives a shit to communicate with people who have different perspectives, and to do so as often and as publicly as possible.  Not in order to validate the perspectives of, say, an actual transphobe, but to have real dialogue that actually does exactly the opposite of validating transphobia.  If you just silo yourself off and only engage with people who agree with you, you accomplish nothing -- unless all you're trying to do is banish anyone who communicates with transphobes from your ranks, in order to maintain some kind of ideological purity, or to keep your spaces "safe."  

But there is truly no safety in the real world that can possibly be found that way.  There are actual transphobes out there that make the world very unsafe for so many trans people, and we have to change that -- not by attacking the defenders of trans rights or people who talk to transphobes, but by actually changing society through engaging with it honestly, by communicating, rather than by banning and canceling and campaigning against people who should obviously be your allies.  That is, if these trolls and bullies are honest actors who actually care about trans rights, antisemitism, or anything they say they care about.  Which they clearly are not.

The political bullies and trolls fall into two categories:  very, very confused people doing the work of the FBI on a volunteer basis, or people getting paid to spend their time writing all the venues I'm playing in and trying to get all my gigs canceled.  Those are the options, all the others are false.  Which side are you on?  With communication and humanity, or with trolling and bullying and Cointelpro tactics?  Those are your actual options, puritanical fantasizing aside.  I didn't choose this situation, and neither did you, dear reader, but here we are.

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