Also.Also.Also: Guardian Edits Out Judith Butler Accurately Labeling TERFs Fascists After Quote Goes Viral

Wow I forgot to write an intro and for 30 whole minutes this post just had the word “intro” as a placeholder (hope your day is going better than mine).


Queer as in F*ck You

As we were workshopping titles for today’s link round up (the would-be winner? “Also.Also.Also: Queer Feminist Icon Judith Butler Called TERFs Facists, so That’s About That on That”) The Guardian actually pulled the Judith Butler quote that’s been going circling through feminist and queer circles online all day? And honestly, I cannot imagine what happened behind the scenes to cause such a massive edit after it published and after it went viral. But! That is what happened, and so here we are.

Here’s the original — now edited — Guardian interview with Judith Butler that’s gone everywhere today, and honestly it’s still a worthwhile read because any day we get a JB interview is a good day! Judith Butler: ‘We Need to Rethink the Category of Woman’

And then, while we were looking into what happened, we found this piece from UK Yahoo News which seems to have a lot of Butler’s original quotes and sentiments intact, in case you missed them earlier today: Feminist Icon Judith Butler Compares Terfs and so-Called ‘Gender Critics’ to Fascists

Also there’s some screenshots of Butler’s original comments still going around online, such as right here:

Ok, what else is happening in gay news today!

This is actually kind of related to Judith Butler’s whole point? American Medical Association Recommends Removing Sex From Birth Certificates. “The AMA says that designating babies as either ‘male’ or ‘female’ at birth ‘fails to recognize the medical spectrum of gender identity.'”

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And more from Ro! “Wow also a new MUNA/ Phoebe Bridgers music video today!”


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I Dated My Entire Quarantine Pod. “Our polyamorous fivesome kept me sane during the pandemic. Then the world opened up again.”

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Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 365 articles for us.

25 Comments

  1. I opened the Guardian interview early in the morning (here in the UK) and left it in a tab all day because I didn’t have time to read it, so I had the original version in the evening when I finally got around to it… and yep, they deleted a whole question and Butler’s response.

    The question was: ‘It seems that some within feminist movements are becoming sympathetic to these far-right campaigns. This year’s furore around Wi Spa in Los Angeles saw an online outrage by transphobes followed by bloody protests organised by the Proud Boys. Can we expect this alliance to continue?’
    All three paragraphs of Butler’s response are floating around: https://twitter.com/SpillerOfTea/status/1435339240297181194?s=20

    …you can guess what nonsense followed. Sigh.

        • Exactly what scenario are you imagining that this is relevant? Where you must know someone’s physical sex *immediately* but can’t ask them because they’re unable to communicate or unconscious, can’t ask anyone else, can’t identify it by physical examination, and have nothing available to identify who they even are except for their birth certificate which is somehow oh-so-conveniently present *and* you’re 100% sure it’s actually theirs? Be realistic.

          If your problem is that trans and/or nonbinary people might occasionally lie to doctors, and that your solution is that doctors should invade *everyone’s* privacy just to be sure, then that’s extreme overkill and the vast majority of people are going to have a problem with that. This is ignoring the fact that most trans people will change their birth certificate if it’s legal for them to do so, making it useless for determining their assigned sex at birth anyway. And if the reason you need to know is hormone-related, treating trans people based on birth sex can even be dangerous to them.

          I don’t know how it is for other people, but to even see my birth certificate, you’re going to have to rifle through a box in my closet (and also, if you can’t ask anyone, obviously I wouldn’t be able to tell you which box or which closet or even which *house* it’s in). Why the crap aren’t they looking for my medical card instead, which I keep on or near my person most of the time and is way more useful? The idea that birth certificates need any kind of medical information is ludicrous. And the fact that the only purpose for birth certificates is to define you as an unique individual rather undermines the argument than “it doesn’t need to define you”.

          • Right. I meant that your sex says nothing about who you are, only that it is vital information. That is plenty realistic. Thanks.

    • I mean, sort of. I think the other commenters are correct that, like, not since I was under 5 years old has my birth certificate itself traveled to a Drs office with me and I think that is likely true for many. But another aspect is this: The AMA’s recommendation to no longer record sex as “M” and “F” is rooted in medical and biological science.

      Even before we talk about trans and non-binary people, intersex people exist. In this day and age, we have scientific evidence that there are actually more biological sexes than just “M” and “F” – there are several chromosomal combinations that exist beyond “XX” and “XY”. In being forced to record sex using only the 2-3 options available on birth certificates (some now allow for a 3rd gender option), doctors are not only prevented from communicating vital medical info for anyone whose biology falls outside those two options, they are potentially forced to record information that is medically inaccurate.

      So, if we go with your statement that birth certificates provide “vital” medical info (which as other commenters have pointed out, is questionable to begin with), we really should have something more like 6 options to be medically accurate…

  2. With regards to the Judith Butler interview, join me in taking a moment to register displeasure! The Guardian has a dedicated email with a dedicated person, the Reader’s Editor, you can write to if you feel their editorial standards are being neglected (and I’d say this is!)

    It’s all explained here https://www.theguardian.com/info/2014/sep/12/-sp-how-to-make-a-complaint-about-guardian-or-observer-content and the specific email is guardian.readers@theguardian.com

    Let them know! I wrote an email and got a received receipt, so it’s definitely live.

    (also put this as a reply, my bad!)

    • That Muna/Phoebe Bridgers video had me laughing out loud but also feeling the feels at how lovingly they recreated But I’m a Cheerleader!! I am all in for their homage to my favorite movie!

  3. This article should be amended. I can’t see the screenshot here but Butler’s original comment referred to the Wi Spa incident. Guardian redacted the comment to take away fodder for the TERFs to exploit. Guardian did a good thing. Updated info shows the person involved in Wi Spa was a sex offender with multiple charges. Why would anyone denigrate Guardian for making sure Butler wasn’t defending an abuser?

  4. Ok, really? The charges were reported by numerous outlets including The LA Times. I’d assume it was a case of a transwoman being unfairly targeted but it doesn’t look that way. Some of us are really hurting over the discourse surrounding this & asking me, a transwoman, to do the labor of finding a link for you? And convince you somehow that this incredibly triggering scenario is real? You can Google it & then choose whether to buy it or not. Don’t ask me to think for you.

    • Patrice I agree I should have done better research. I thought I had but was going on old information reporting it was a hoax. Indeed this is very triggering for people, myself included, and not your job to educate folx. I wish the Guardian had figured a way to edit the question but leave Butler’s words intact. An unfortunate consequence of the uproar over this is that people not in LA or gender theory circles are indeed educating themselves on this and it is not good on many levels.

      • i just replied above, then saw this reply. Patrice, very sorry you have to deal with everything this event has created. Peps, i really appreciate you coming back and trying to respect the situation Patrice is in – i hope it’s helpful to her.

        for everybody concerned about protecting trans people, i hope we all find ways to support them, and a little grace for each other while we work through the tough spots.

        • Thank you for your replies. I didn’t mean to be ungracious in my comment, the whole thing is distressing so I hope ya’ll understand.

          The “Wi Spa is a hoax” thing was never credible. It’s a thorny situation but I want to be a good ally to cis women like so many of them are an ally to us. Women were hurt in this incident by someone claiming to be trans. I’m not going to take on that shame like TERFs want me to, but believing conspiracy theories over supporting our sisters only helps TERFs. It makes it too easy to divide us.

          Maybe it’s just a straight up information literacy problem, people not knowing what to believe. Who knows. When even AS is getting it wrong, I can’t blame ya’ll. This story has sadly been a gift to the right and so has the fact that our allies have been a little blind on it. It’s a sad situation.

          • i hope nothing i said implied you were ungracious. given the situation affects you in a personal way, i think it was both necessary and generous to share what you understand.

            we may disagree about whether AS has gotten their take wrong. the publisher and author accounts don’t align, so a choice has to be made if you’re forming an opinion. my experience is that often when there are sides about events, there’s some aspect of truth to both accounts, but also some spin. maybe that’s the case here.

            this situation is similar to the few instances of false rape accusations – the one example jumps to everyone’s mind who looks to doubt, despite how disproportionate the harm is. i’m sorry for those 5 women’s distress, but the original complainant is a bigot who has taken license to propagate hate and disinformation that will hurt many more people, and i hope people focus on that when the issue comes up.

            thank you again for sharing your perspective. sending you peace.

  5. I hope it’s okay to say, but I’m wary about boosting Judith Butler. Obviously, what the Guardian did is atrocious, and they have a legacy of transphobia that deserves to be called out.

    But I also wouldn’t necessarily call Butler a feminist icon. They defended Avital Ronell, who was accused by a student of sexually harassing him. It became obvious that they knew about Ronell’s general behavior (even though they, along with others, tried to deny it). And Butler’s apology wasn’t even focused on defending Ronell as much as it was about bringing the MLA into it (as the President at the time).

    They also, along with other academics twisted language around queerness and “feminism” to make it seem like it was anti-feminist of a guy to “manipulate” #MeToo language and use it against a queer woman, which is a pretty egregious thing to do, especially considering those fields of academia supposedly care strongly about rhetoric and power structures. It was all super victim-blame-y, and it basically helped Ronell keep her position.

    I know you can’t ignore their contributions to gender theory, and the Guardian’s actions are heinous, but I feel like that bit of behavior got quickly glossed over and forgotten, and to me, it seemed pretty egregious, especially considering how prevalent abuse is in academia.

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