(With Jamison Green) Letter to Taylor & Francis RE Sheila Jeffreys (2012)
© 2012 by Dallas Denny and Jamison Green
The following is the initial draft of a letter we sent to Routledge, an imprint of publisher Taylor & Francis, in regard to the scheduled release of Love Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism by Sheila Jeffreys and Lorene Gottschalk.
As soon as I finished the letter I mailed the draft to Jamison and he promptly returned it with corrections. I accepted his revisions with Word’s Track Changes feature and corrected a typo he had missed, but my mistake was to send out the draft letter, which misspells Jeffreys’ name. The draft didn’t include several sentences Jamison had added.
I was remiss in not sending Jamison a final copy for review. It was just poor form, and I have no excuse.
Radical feminist criticism of our action has branded us bookburners, censors, fascists, and women-haters, and several blogposts have linked our letter to transgender organizations and in particular to The World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
For the record, Jamison and I acted as individuals. We were not in consultation with others and we did not use our institutional affiliations in our signatures, nor did we call for WPATH oversight during the book’s editing. We did suggest Routledge contact WPATH, but did so solely because WPATH is the acknowledged world leader in research and treatment of gender-variant people. Our suggestion that Routledge correspond with at least six medical and mental health professionals in the field was to allow for a variety of viewpoints and not that of WPATH alone.
We and we alone are responsible for the letter—and I more than Jamison, since I conceived it and wrote it. The letter in no way reflects upon WPATH or any other organization or individual.
For the record, we have not burned books and have no problem with Jeffreys’ and Gottschalk’s right to free speech. We have the right to free speech also, and we exercised it by mailing the letter. We both abhor censorship, but we also abhor hate speech masquerading as scholarship. It is one thing to express an opinion that contributes to a body of knowledge and enables all parties to engage in dialog that moves thought forward, and quite another to needlessly slander an entire class of people who already have problems enough. All we ask for is a fair evaluation and a knowledgeable peer review.
The letter which follows corrects the misspelling of Dr. Jeffreys’ name.
7 June, 2012
Office of the CEO
Taylor & Francis
711 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Dear madams and sirs:
We are writing out of concern about the impending publication of Sheila Jeffreys’ and Lorene Gottshalk’s book Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism by Routledge Press.
It is highly usual for either of us to react to a book before it is published, but in this case we fear the publication itself will be a political act with grave consequences for transsexuals and transsexualism—and so we are writing.
Ms. Denny is the author of two books by Garland Press (now a division of Routledge, which is itself a division of Taylor & Francis), Gender Dysphoria: A Guide to Research (1994) and Current Concepts in Transgender Identity (1998). She held a license to practice psychology for many years, until she retired it. Dr. Green is the author of Becoming a Visible Man (Vanderbilt University Press, 2004), and several chapters in Routledge academic anthologies.
Dr. Jeffreys’ writings about transsexualism have to date been highly political, based in opinion paraded as fact, and she has repeatedly said and written false and slanderous things about transsexualism in general and individual transsexual people in particular. She champions “solutions” which would make the well-established process of sex reassignment illegal. Her writing has, in the opinion of many people, clearly and repeatedly crossed the line into hate speech. She is, quite simply, on a vendetta.
Just last week she was barred from Conway Hall, the venue for the RadFem 2012 conference, on the grounds of fostering hatred and active discrimination.
In 1979 Beacon Press published feminist Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. Based upon her 1977 dissertation at Boston College, the work was a polemic thinly disguised as a work of science. In it, Raymond asserted that male-to-female transsexuals symbolically rape all women by the mere fact of their existence. She (as does Jeffreys) deliberately misused pronouns, using them as weapons. Like Jeffreys, she argued for an end to sex reassignment—and she embarked on a tour of government agencies and insurance companies to accomplish just that end. Thankfully, her project was never fully successful, but it did create immense suffering and damage, effectively restricting thousands of people from access to even basic healthcare.
Last month Ms. Denny had the opportunity of reading Raymond’s original dissertation. To her surprise the Method section gave no demographic information about her supposed subjects (the very existence of these subjects has been debated). There were no protocols for her interviews. And yet Empire had a profound effect on transsexualism, playing a huge role in lack of coverage by insurance companies and the formulation of transgender-unfriendly policies by the federal government. Even now, after more than 30 years, the original federal directives remain in effect and have never been reviewed.
We find it distressing that Dr. Jeffreys has expressed her admiration of Raymond’s work—and even more distressing that her co-author was only recently her graduate student. We see disturbing potential for Dr. Jeffreys’ work to be little more than an update of Raymond’s screed, and we fear it will have disastrous consequences for transsexual and other transgendered people—as individuals.
We are morally certain Dr. Jeffreys will use Gender Hurts as a political weapon to attack transsexualism and transsexuals, and I urge Routledge and its parent companies Taylor & Francis, Inc., and Informa to ensure the following, at minimum:
1. That the work is rigorously based on empirical data (with no calls for action that are not evidence-based).
2. That the editor(s) establish and maintain correspondence with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the organization for medical and mental health professionals, to ensure #1, above—and moreover establish relationships with at least six medical and mental health professionals in the field so they can provide written feedback on the manuscript.
3. That the use of pronouns be controlled. I suggest the authors be required to write in accordance with the Associated Press Stylebook and relative to the lived experience of any transsexuals or other transgendered individuals discussed. They should not be allowed to see-saw between masculine and feminine pronouns, which a clever writer can do while adhering to the Stylebook’s standard.
4. That the authors not be permitted to libel any individuals they discuss—and indeed, that they should NOT be allowed to discuss individuals who are not by public figures by virtue of their writing or politics.
5. That the editor(s) require the work to have scientific validity and disallow any non-evidence based politicizing.
6. That the manuscript be rigorously policed to remove hate speech, slurs, and defamation.
We doubt those six points will be enough. We would like to further suggest that Routledge withdraw the work and seek a more rational, informed, and balanced author on the same subject. Please know we are not alone in our grave concerns about this book and about Dr. Jeffreys in general.
A response to this letter would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your consideration.
Ms. Dallas Denny, M.A., L.P.E. (Ret.)
Pine Lake, GA
Mr. Jamison Green, Ph.D.
Union City, CA