The following review of Julia Serano’s “Excluded” by lesbian Kit Van Cleave was published by Houston’s OutSmart, owned by publisher Greg Leu. In response to complaints by male transgenders, the review was redacted, censored and removed. An apology to men was issued:
An apology from OutSmart on a book review in the November issue
November 12, 2013 | Greg Jeu
In the recently released November issue of OutSmart, we published a book review of Julia Serano’s Excluded, which dealt with issues pertaining to the transgender community. Although the piece was run through our normal editing process, the extreme insensitivity of the review did not come to our attention until after publication. For this, we truly apologize.
As soon as we realized we had erred, the review was removed from our website immediately. At OutSmart, our goal is to be informative, not harmful, and to build bridges between members of the LGBT community, not to create divisions. OutSmart aims for the highest level of inclusivity and has utmost respect for all of our readers, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is very apparent that this incident does not reflect that goal.
After holding a staff editorial meeting on Tuesday, November 12, we have taken steps to ensure that this type of mistake will not occur again. We thoroughly appreciate the feedback the community has given us regarding this piece. Listening to each of your experiences with the review is the first step to fixing the issue. Whenever we let our readers down, we always strive to use the situation as an educational moment to improve the magazine, its content, and ourselves.
Again, our sincerest apologies to those we have offended. We thank everyone who continues to support our publication and help us grow.
Greg Jeu Publisher
Here is the oh-so-offensive, terrifying (to men) and censored review, published without permission under fair use. Make up your own mind:
“All that aside, some books I just can’t get through, even with sustained effort, like a pair sent to the OutSmart offices. I’ve had to struggle to grasp the authors intentions, and examine why I found these books impenetrable. Sometimes it’s just style- long sentences covering half a page without ceasing, terms created without definition or juxtaposed to other terms so that the two don’t make sense: lack of logic; inability to support an argument; unclear overall goals; ambiguity.
In Julia Serano’s “Excluded”, for example, the first twenty pages is given over to redefining terms, making up new terms, and wrestling terms about the various available “lifestyles” in the gay community. As Serano puts it, “I call myself a woman and transsexual…because I feel those words best describe some parts of my person.” Okay, fair enough, until this comment follows immediately after: “ I do not believe that there is some magical underlying quality all musicians, or all bird people, or all women, or all transsexuals have in common.” Huh?
Another puzzlement is the prefix cis. “It is difficult to discuss trans people without also having langage to describe the majority of people who are not trans.” Serano writes, continuing, so “transactivists often use the word cisgender as a synonym for non-transgender and cissexual as a synonym for non-transsexual.” And that’s all the definiton of cis we’re going to get from Serano. According to other sources, the word actually stands for people happy with the gender and sexuality they feel they were born with. I know gay people reject being called abnormal, but that’s no reason to come up with a new word for “normal”.
Wikipedia attributes “Cisgender” to Carl Buijs, a transsexual from the Netherlands. In April 1996, Buijs wrote in a Usenet posting, “I just made [the word] up.”
As Serano’s book is also a bit of a memoir, I found in Part One, Chapter 2, that this writer, who calls herself a woman, has made the decision to still retain his penis. As a matter of fact, Serano went to a summer camp specifically to protest people with penises not being allowed to attend the Michigan Women’s Music Festival (the sponsors were apparently avoiding “male energy” with this fest.)
I believe I’m lost. If we’re going with the idea that semantics is dead (i.e. “transsexual” doesn’t mean what it means), or no longer useful, then throw out the dictionaries. Until then, I expect writers to try to stay within the agreed meaning of the words we all use. Otherwise, I can call myself a puppy, but no one will know what I’m talking about when I describe my life.”