Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey


Dear Readers,

Last week, our colleague Dr. Istvan Aranyosi posted a discussion focusing on a comment made by Dr. Rachel McKinnon on a thread over at Daily Nous. Dr. Aranyosi’ post was not moderated in any way by any of the administrators of this blog. Whilst we, Dr. Sandrine Berges, and Dr. Serife Tekin, the authors of the present statement, believe in the benefits of some moderating in philosophy blogs, we also think that the political climate in Turkey is such that any attempt at moderating may come across as a form of censorship – a perception that we want to avoid. Nonetheless, as two of the four co-founders and administrators of this blog, we want to disassociate ourselves from the contents of Dr. Aranyosi’s post. It by no means reflects our position.

First, we believe that it is not appropriate to single out any individual for criticism in a public blog post, especially one that is not particularly senior, nor tenured. Second, and more importantly, we strongly object to any attempt to reassign one’s gender. In a previous version of the post, Dr. Aranyosi did so inadvertently – i.e. without knowing that he was talking about a trans person. When it was pointed out to him, he hastened to make the necessary revisions. However, some readers may well have seen that earlier version, as it was posted then.

Thus, we would like to apologise to Dr. McKinnon for the use of a fictional male counterpart bearing her name in the original post. We feel that this was unacceptable and understand that it is extremely offensive to suggest to a person that they be other than what they say they are as far as gender is concerned. As Dr. McKinnon herself explains:

The threat of gender essentialist stereotypes (for example, trans women retain male characteristics because they’re male) is particularly strong for many trans women, as trans women are constantly and acutely aware of the risk of being negatively stereotyped in nearly every social domain in which they participate. That is, gender identity is nearly always salient to trans* people, and it’s a domain that they often care deeply about. Rachel McKinnon, 2014. “Stereotype Threat and Attributional Ambiguity for Trans Women” Hypatia 29(4), 861.

We are sorry for any hurt or offense that the post may have caused Dr. McKinnon, both by singling out one of her comments on a different blog for public criticism, and by making a play of her gender.

Sandrine Berges, Bilkent University, Turkey
Serife Tekin, Daemen College, USA


Written by Serife Tekin

December 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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