My take on the whole thing is that Tuvel's article is seen as dangerous not really because of her minor faux pas, where language is concerned, and also not really because she doesn't engage with the "right" literature, but due to "fear of modus tollens syndrome."
Here's Tuvel's argument, simplifying a great deal:
Tuvel's Argument (Modus Ponens)
- If transgenderism* exists (a person's real gender can be at odds with their apparent gender, in the way millions of trans men and women maintain), then transracialism could exist as well (a person's real race can be at odds with their apparent race, in the way Rachel Dolezal maintains.)
- Transgenderism does exist. Therefore,
- Transracialism could exist as well.
It's not obviously true that transgenderism and transracialism stand or fall together, but she argues that premise 1 is true and responds to numerous objections.
So what's the problem? I doubt it's really what the critics say. Instead it's that her critics are absolutely dead set against transracialism. They can't respect the likes of Rachel Dolezal, who claims to be black, despite her white parents. So if Tuvel had a good argument supporting premise 1, they think the upshot would be this:
Anti-Trans Argument (Modus Tollens)
- If transgenderism exists (a person's real gender can be at odds with their apparent gender, in the way millions of trans men and women maintain), then transracialism could exist as well (a person's real race can be at odds with their apparent race, in the way Rachel Dolezal maintains.)
- Transracialism does not exist. Therefore,
- Transgenderism does not exist.
It doesn't matter to the critics that Tuvel is making the first argument, not the second. Her first premise is dangerous, they think (I surmise), because it plays into the hands of people who make the second argument. Since the critics agree with the second premise of the second argument, they've got to refute the first premise of both arguments.
Fine, then try to refute it! Instead the critics are resorting to shaming and suppression.
*One of Tuvel's crimes, according to the petition and apology, was using the word "transgenderism." I use it too, in the spirit of this journal, which is manifestly not anti-trans.