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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Kit Power
    November 5, 2014 @ 2:59 am

    Well, thanks for guaranteeing that my earlier Tweet to Pex Lives about this article is now entirely redundant πŸ™‚ . FWIW, I think omitting the usernames was the classy thing to do here, and I approve of UvT doing that, not least because it means the 'basers don't have a leg to stand on in terms of their complaints, IMO.

    I guess I'd only want to add that 16 out of 80,000 does not represent 'a lot' of Doctor Who fans, any way you statistically slice it, though I fully accept that any number of homo/trans-phobic fans is too many. I haven't been to GB in many years, but I have fond memories of many of the people I conversed with there in the old politics forums, and I have a knee-jerk reaction to seeing them lumped in with the worst the site has to offer.

    Really enjoyed the UvT article mind, and fully support their refusal to 'unpublish'.


  2. curlyjimsam750
    November 5, 2014 @ 2:59 am

    I absolutely disagree with the attitudes expressed by these posters – but there's a difference between "scholarly research and ethnography" and directly copying a not insubstantial amount of copyrighted material (without citation! – even if this is "playing nice" in one respect) with the bare minimum of accompanying critical analysis. If I (say) want to criticise a novel, there are various ways in which I have the right to do so, but copying out five hundred words, not giving the source and putting "ISN'T THIS AUTHOR AN IDIOT" at the bottom is not one of them.


  3. Lewis Christian
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:03 am

    Also worth noting that the site boasts 80,000 members, yet only about 200-300 people are active at any one time.


  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:09 am

    That's at any instant, but there's fairly high turnover in that 2-300. Certainly it's a highly active site.


  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:10 am

    Well, they link to the forum, if not the original post (which, again, seems more polite than not). But I think, whatever my views on it may be, that this sort of Buzzfeed style of journalism is now an accepted part of online discourse.


  6. Lewis Christian
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:13 am

    True enough. And it also depends on which parts of the forum you frequent/visit, with regards to where most of the ugliness occurs. It just makes me laugh a little that they boast to be the world's biggest Doctor Who forum, yet there are many inactive members there just making up the numbers too. During my few years there, I also noticed a lot of people leaving as new people joined, and the revolving door continued – normal for any forum, but the rules and moderation were getting more and more complicated, messy and on a whim that it wouldn't surprise me if more and more people now start to leave the site. It has the general reputation for a reason.

    (There are some great sections and great people, but it's drowned out by the seas of idiots, negativity and nastiness.)


  7. Ibu Profin
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:20 am

    I will admit to being slightly disappointed in the choice to make Missy yet another version of an old character, when the opportunity was there to create a new character and one who was a strong female to boot.


  8. Dustin
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:36 am

    I've never heard of Michael Gove before now, but games enjoining violence against real-world individuals (even cartoony mock violence like this) are extremely inappropriate. It seems to closely resemble the "punch Anita Sarkeesian" game.


  9. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:40 am

    I think there are a number of distinctions to be made between them, but the most significant is probably that "slap Michael Gove" fits cleanly into a longstanding British tradition of anti-establishment satire, whereas "punch Anita Sarkeesian" fits into a tradition of male threats of violence against women for expressing their views.


  10. jane
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:01 am

    I disagree — it's one of the few opportunities for a character to change gender, which is much less represented culturally than cisgendered strong women.


  11. Seeing_I
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:06 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  12. Seeing_I
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:16 am

    I've been a member there since 1999. It's been an interesting ride to see how fandom (or that segment anyway) has waxed and waned, grown more sanguine or more hysterical, over the past 15 years.


  13. Seeing_I
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:17 am

    By the way, when I tried to send a comment through the "Contact Us" link provided, I got an error message upon sending (bad redirect link or something). So try this instead –



  14. Seeing_I
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:21 am

    It's also worth mentioning that in the "Do you approve of Missy's identity" poll, it's currently 1,357 "for" and 360 "against" (with 218 "undecided"). So it's not like there's this huge backlash – just a super-vocal minority.


  15. Jack
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:36 am

    I actually agree with Ibu, simply because of all the choices that were out there, Missy being the Master was the most obvious one, and I was hoping for some sort of dramatic shock rather than the thing everyone had been calling for since Deep Breath. Without getting into the gender politics of it-I get the importance of it, but here I am strictly discussing the dramatic impact of the reveal and what it meant for the story-Missy just being the Master instead of the things that Dark Water hinted she could be was a massive letdown. Bear in mind that I'm one of the people who has never really been impressed with the Master other than the Delgado version, and always thought the character should have been left behind along with Pertwee's Doctor, which colors my reaction, but the giddy split second when Missy could have been Romana was worth far more than the crash back to Earth the reveal was.

    I get how important it is for gender, I just regret the missed opportunities for a different story that would have resonated better with me.


  16. dm
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:46 am

    I've been a member since 2003, when I was 13, and I've commented about once a year since then. The standard of discussion there was pathetic even to my 15 year old mind when the revival began. A lot of people have a lot of interesting things to say, but on the whole I prefer to come here for a chat about my favourite tv show.

    I must say, though, I really enjoy the "Dr Who" section, which is a bizarre roleplay area set currently in 1964. A lot of silly fun but I encourage everyone to check it out.


  17. Adam Riggio
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:53 am

    One of the (aesthetically) sadder trends in Doctor Who over the years has been Gallifrey and the Time Lords becoming relatively boring. The mysterious technocrats of the Letts-Dicks era and the satirical techno-mystics of the Hinchcliffe-Holmes era became the conceptually empty men in funny collars of the JNT years. Davies dealt with the decades-long dearth of creative ideas with the Time Lords by destroying them, essentially fridge-ing an entire people for the sake of drama in the Doctor's narrative.

    This is an entirely fresh start conceptually to introduce new ideas into Time Lords as part of Doctor Who's iconography, which will be necessary now that they're alive again and will come back to a semi-regular role in the show eventually. It completely passes over the old ideas about the nature of authority that dominated how they were conceived in the 1970s. Instead, they become a species defined by regeneration, their physical and biological relationship with becoming, change, and transformation. The Michelle Gomez Master has opened the Time Lords to be defined by a gender fluidity and schiz.

    I'd call it the most creative development that the Time Lords have had since The Deadly Assassin on television (and the Lawrence Miles era in the books), and fully follows through on the queering of the Master which Davies began, which itself was the most creative development for that character since, again, The Deadly Assassin.


  18. UrsulaL
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:54 am

    Oddly, some user names were omitted, and some, those which were in quote boxes within the quotes, were left in place.


  19. Gallifreyan_Immigrant
    November 5, 2014 @ 4:54 am

    Fortunately, many of GB's members have been very progressive about Missy. There's been quite a lot of good discussion in the threads.

    I'll probably send a message to the board members, but I still feel they have a point about the privacy. I don't know…maybe it's just an emotional reaction.

    That being said, the quoted GB posts are some of the most ridiculous things I've ever read.


  20. John
    November 5, 2014 @ 5:08 am

    I don't really understand how Jack, who wishes Missy was Romana or some other character who would be a bigger surprise than the Master, agrees with ldu, who wishes Missy was a new character.

    My basic issue with ldu's view is that the way Missy was presented throughout the season is that she's someone who has history with the Doctor, and that there's some mystery as to her identity to reveal. Revealing "Surprise! She's someone you've never heard of before!" seems massively more disappointing than being a gender-switched Master. My problem with Jack's theory, beside the fact that I rather like the idea of a gender-switched Master, is that I don't think "Surprise! She's a character from the classic series you new series only viewers have never heard of before!" works much better, and with the set-up, that's the only way they could have done it.


  21. Scott
    November 5, 2014 @ 5:09 am

    I have to admit, I'm actually kind of impressed by that poster who will only be satisfied if the Master not becomes a man again but it's revealed that Missy turns out to be a robot with the Master's memories or something. That's incredibly specific.


  22. Scott
    November 5, 2014 @ 5:25 am

    As for Gallifrey Base, all I know is that I've said one or two things on the boards over there that I've realised were rather daft in hindsight and that I wouldn't want someone on another site to post without my knowledge or consent solely so that they could (slightly snidely) make fun of me about it, so as idiotic as some of those original statements were I can't in all honesty get too outraged against Gallifrey Base about this.

    And it has to be said — funny though it may be and a good point it may have, discussing the original article in terms of being "scholarly research and ethnography" is being rather generous to it.


  23. Tallifer
    November 5, 2014 @ 6:13 am

    The Kulturkampf between religion and tradition on the one hand and humanism and modernism on the other. "Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil."


  24. John Peacock
    November 5, 2014 @ 7:09 am

    I think that seeing The Master as a solution to the Missy Mystery is looking at it the wrong way round – It's surely more likely that they began with the idea of reintroducing the Master and then chose to do it in a way that introduced the character incrementally, which I think is rather clever: If she'd been The Mistress from shot one, we would have brought all our expectations to bear on the character and the performance – in a way the mystery part isn't important, but rather the ambiguity, which allows us to really see the character as opposed to immediately lining her up with Delgado, Ainsley and … well, those two … and awarding points; as it is (although many of us concurred with immediate reaction of Sue out of Adventures With the Wife in Space) we gained some familiarity with the character before official Master-ness was thrust upon her. Looking back over her inserts through out the series, it's wonderful to see how Master-ish the character is and how much fun Michelle Gomez seems to be having. In addition, by the time the next regeneration rolls around for the Doctor, we'll all be thoroughly used to the idea of Time Lord gender fluidity and it won't be a problem.


  25. Rob Edwards
    November 5, 2014 @ 7:25 am

    Seems yet another case of anybody whose opinion differs from the norm been ridiculed by all and sundry.
    I don't like the idea of a female Doctor and I will say it , just like if all the female charactors of fiction in books and on TV on in movies were cast as Male they would be uproar and it would be justified, Doctor Who is a male who regenerates just as Ripley from the Alien series is female.


  26. elvwood
    November 5, 2014 @ 7:36 am

    @Seeing_I: And plenty (most?) of those in the 18.6% of votes who were 'against' will have non-sexist/homophobic/transphobic reasons, such as "it cheapens the Master's sacrifice in The End of Time," something I've heard someone say (possibly in a comment here).

    Which is not to defend the attitudes of the quoted handful and their ilk – these deserve to be called out – just another reminder that they are far from representative.

    @Lewis Christian: I agree, the experience very much depends on where you go on GB. I haven't ventured into the current TV sections for years, because of the dripping bile of a few posters. The audio section is mostly fun but threads occasionally get spoiled for me by Nick Briggs haters, while the marathons section has always been positive, supportive and friendly. It's probably mostly a numbers game: there are way more people interested in the current TV series, so if (say) 1% of subscribers are idiots, you'll generally notice them in the sections with biggest audience. This might even be exacerbated by them seeking out the biggest audience for their rants!


  27. Tymothi
    November 5, 2014 @ 7:43 am

    Has anyone made the obvious "actually, it's about ethics in Doctor Who journalism" joke yet? No, then I guess I just did.


  28. Ibu Profin
    November 5, 2014 @ 7:50 am

    I suppose what I am really trying to say is that so many talk about how rich and varied the universe of Doctor Who can be, that it can go anywhere in space and time, and yet I somehow find it somehow less imaginative to bring back old favorites, when a new character would actually expand the universe of the show.

    Yes, of course I get that revealing that Missy is the Master has a certain degree of innovation, and I understand the argument that going for a shock(ish) reveal gets the show more press than if she was a completely new character. I get that it is to be somewhat expected that that is what you do to generate 'buzz'.

    However, I also remember the Hinchcliffe years in particular being full of innovation with countless new characters created that added to the mythos to the series which I find to be invigorating and forward-looking. (Now someone will remind me about how the Cybermen, Daleks and Master were reintroduced during his era in a new and different way, and fair enough.)

    I guess I just found the Missy reveal slightly underwhelming. I also acknowledge that it may not be until after the series finale before one can really comment definitively one way or another about where this is going.


  29. Jesse
    November 5, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    I was hoping for some sort of dramatic shock rather than the thing everyone had been calling for since Deep Breath.

    She should have been Adric.


  30. jack
    November 5, 2014 @ 8:08 am

    Ripley is a human female and the massive lack of female action heroes places her in a very different context to the Doctor.


  31. elvwood
    November 5, 2014 @ 8:08 am

    I think there's two things going on here, and it's important not to conflate them. First, there's the simple position of not wanting a female Doctor or Master, which is a perfectly reasonable opinion to hold and should not be pilloried.

    But the second thing is that the reasons some people are giving for holding this position are sexist, homophobic, and/or transphobic, and that has to be called out.

    Note that not all reasons for disliking the idea are like that – for instance, having a female or black Doctor would make it harder to do historicals without either focusing on (or pointedly ignoring) sexism or racism every time, which is a reason based on the realities of producing the show.

    Anyway, I'm sure that in the heat of the moment, people will forget this distinction – or already have…


  32. Owlie
    November 5, 2014 @ 8:17 am

    ''for instance, having a female or black Doctor would make it harder to do historicals without either focusing on (or pointedly ignoring) sexism or racism every time'' … This is a fallacious argument. 1) it's not like these characters regularly rock up to 1920s Alabama– racist attitudes are/were not the same the world over. 2) it's not like racism and sexism are realistically depicted in historicals anyway, regardless of the Doctor's gender/color? how many WWII episodes have they done now, and how many of those episodes actually realistically depicted Nazism?


  33. Nyq Only
    November 5, 2014 @ 8:22 am

    And weirdly self-defeating – I wonder if they were mocking the other posters? Doctor Who regeneration is premised on the new Doctor/Master/Romana/Generic Time Lord being a new person with old memories. I suppose it is the robot bit that saves it for them? In which case what are they saying? Surely the Master being in a non-biologically female body and yet whole heartedly embracing a personal identity as a woman is a more overt statement of the Master changing genders as a character?

    On a side note if the Master's new body is a robot one then that would be cool regardless IMHO.


  34. Chris
    November 5, 2014 @ 8:32 am

    Speaking of Adric, in this episode when it was said that the dead show up in the Nethersphere, my first thought was the Doctor saying "oh no, Adric's running around here somewhere."


  35. Nyq Only
    November 5, 2014 @ 8:38 am

    Some characters are more mutable than others. Superheroes, for example, can be different characters (e.g. the identity of Captain America can change). James Bond can be played by different actors and those actors can still change aspects of somewhat one-dimensional character.
    Ripley isn't one of those kinds of characters really.

    However we can run your thought experiment with other characters.
    e.g. is there an issue if Wonder Woman was a man for some run of the comic book? There is one substantial objection which is that there are so few prominent women superheroes that losing one, even for a short time would be a problem. Aside from the big issue then it could be potentially great or potentially awful. The greatness of awfulness would all depend on the quality of the writing and how the writers and artists handled that central premise.

    The same is true of Doctor Who. Any change of Doctor is a risk. The idea behind Colin Baker's version wasn't terrible but the end result was pretty awful. So yes, a woman Doctor could be disastrous but only because every regeneration is potentially disastrous. But of the many Doctors really only Colin Baker's is widely poorly regarded, so the odds are that with the right actor and good writing a female Doctor would be fantastic.


  36. Aaron
    November 5, 2014 @ 8:46 am

    I think I read the same poster's comment, and they were saying something slightly different (or it could be a different person, I don't know). The person I read said that they wouldn't be okay with Missy regenerating back into a man at the end of the episode, as it would still imply that Time Lords can change gender. The only thing that would make them happy is if Missy is a robot, and the real Master is remote controlling her from somewhere else, and will reveal HIMSELF in the finale, and her just as a puppet.

    Ignoring the obvious narrative complications that this seems to present for very little reward, now that I write that out I wonder what this view says about the poster's views on female agency…


  37. Chicanery
    November 5, 2014 @ 9:12 am

    1) Making a female character into a male character is clearly different from making a male character into a female character due to the whole lack of female lead franchises.

    2) There is no reason for a character defined by upending genres and power structures to remain male if they can change gender. The Doctor has always been defined by flux, so rigidly defining them as male makes no sense.

    3) Nah, you can have a different opinion and not be ridiculed. Just don't have an opinion that is "my penis is displeased".


  38. Adam Riggio
    November 5, 2014 @ 9:36 am

    The new series, both Davies and Moffat eras, have introduced many new recurring characters: the Weeping Angels, the Ood, the Silence, John Hurt's Doctor, River Song. These have certainly added to the mythos of the show, and I'd say the balance of new characters/concepts is largely on Moffat's side. Amy and Rory, River as well, and especially Clara have narrative arcs that have been the most innovative since Ace in developing new conceptions for the Companion. Same thing with new takes on classic monsters and supporting characters: Strax and Vastra, the Daleks' Robomen, Kate Stewart's model of UNIT, Rusty the Conscientious Dalek, and now the Gomez Master.

    This is some serious progressive momentum to the world of Doctor Who, with at least another decade of potential to my mind. And at the rate of experimentation we've been going, it'll keep introducing new potentials.


  39. Alex Antonijevic
    November 5, 2014 @ 9:54 am

    I go to GallifreyBase sometimes, but that place is absolutely toxic. Just about the only forum on there I frequent is the one with the upcoming DVD lists, which I find helpful. The episode forums themselves… ugh.


  40. Anton B
    November 5, 2014 @ 10:21 am

    I am a completely non-violent person but as a teacher personally affected by the ill informed and toxic policies introduced by him as education minister I would slap Michael Gove in a heartbeat. (Of course it helps that his face is so slappable.) I probably wouldn't punch him though, or anyone else.


  41. FlexFantastic
    November 5, 2014 @ 10:27 am

    Don't worry, Kit Power, you'll get full credit from the Pex Lives crew for this one. We'll just pretend Phil doesn't exist… πŸ˜›


  42. Anton B
    November 5, 2014 @ 10:35 am

    I have never been tempted to visit Gallifrey Base and am even less so now.

    However I think I would like to try to understand what these people who think a female Master or Mistress is 'Political Correctness gone mad'* are concerned about. Seriously is there anyone on here that genuinely dislikes the concept of gender fluidity in Time Lords (not other franchises protagonists. I don't want any "it'll be Jane Bond next" arguments) that can explain why. That might be useful.

    *I find it hilarious that the only time the phrase 'Political Correctness' is ever used it's when someone is complaining that it's 'gone mad'


  43. Jesse
    November 5, 2014 @ 10:41 am

    I'm old enough to remember when "political correctness" meant "rigid orthodoxy," not "challenges to my own rigid orthodoxy."


  44. BerserkRL
    November 5, 2014 @ 11:17 am

    So what do we call this dispute — WarriorsGate?


  45. BerserkRL
    November 5, 2014 @ 11:20 am

    I still think Missy is really Harry Sullivan.


  46. BerserkRL
    November 5, 2014 @ 11:23 am

    Turning from Derek Jacobi to John Simm, or Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi, is perfectly fine, but changing gender — oooh, it offends my sense of realism!

    Also, the TARDIS should have a rocket engine on the outside. Otherwise I won't believe it can travel through space and time.


  47. BerserkRL
    November 5, 2014 @ 11:26 am

    I'm old enough to remember when "political correctness" was a term that left-wingers applied to themselves in gentle self-mockery, before conservatives discovered it and failed to get the joke.


  48. Jesse
    November 5, 2014 @ 11:48 am

    It wasn't always gentle and it wasn't always self-mockery. It got hurled around in heated intra-left disputes.


  49. benny whitehead
    November 5, 2014 @ 11:55 am



  50. John
    November 5, 2014 @ 11:59 am

    I've never thought that "expanding the universe of the show" is accomplished by introducing one-off villains we've never seen before and will never see again. Did the Wirrn or the Krynoids really accomplish much world-building? The most extensive world-building of the Hinchcliffe years, as far as I'm concerned, is in The Deadly Assassin, in its reimagining of the Time Lords.

    World-building comes through playing with continuity, not inventing fun new one-off monsters.


  51. encyclops
    November 5, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

    Christ, would I love to see an episode featuring Rusty, the Conscientious Dalek doing things like putting hospital corners on beds, paying the parking meter, recycling plastic bottles, crossing at the crosswalk, and so on. Ah dorable.


  52. encyclops
    November 5, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

    John: I've always felt that Sutekh, Magnus Greel, and the Fendahl (Williams, yes), and the Great Vampires (Bidmead, yes) helped at least imply a more complete world if not build it, but I know what you mean.


  53. encyclops
    November 5, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

    I'm betting Missy's a robot, actually, but that she's being controlled by the Mistress from elsewhere. Instead of mv /Missy/soul.txt /Nethersphere/Missy/soul.txt she did a cp and put it into a Cyberwoman Mk 2 body that's "incredibly lifelike." Well, she's got to get out of the inevitable deathtrap somehow. But the real Mistress is still Michelle Gomez.


  54. Melissa Robertson
    November 5, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

    I don't think it's political correctness gone mad, per se, I mostly just think that, while interesting concepts could be explored, such as someone adjusting to an involuntary gender change, will probably not happen for fear of offending trans people (despite the fact that this is an involuntary gender change). It just feels like they aren't going to really address the internal struggles the Mistress' gender change would cause (which is fine – she is a villain after all, without a lot of screen time, and she's already seemed to adjust to it off-screen). The problem would come in when we have a female Doctor. I worry that they wouldn't give the issues the weight they deserve for fear of "political correctness."

    I feel like political correctness drys up a lot of potential options for interesting storylines, as well as often precluding rational discussions of otherwise good stories when an error was made, which is why I wish it wasn't seen as so important in media (Within reason, of course.)


  55. Melissa Robertson
    November 5, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

    I don't see how numbers 1, 2, and 5 are transphobic/sexist/whatever. Would someone enlighten me, please?

    Number 1: The person's right. It would be a big change (and difficult to adjust to) if someone you knew underwent a sudden gender change (not the transgender kind, the literal kind). How is this transphobic?

    2. Again, not wanting someone to change genders because you fancy them, is, while kind of selfish and creepy, not really transphobic, especially since we aren't talking about a voluntary gender change.

    5. They make a valid point. If Susan ever regenerated into a man, it would be extremely difficult for David. (Actually, any regeneration would be difficult for David, but changing genders even more so.) Perhaps since they are thinking primarily in terms of what would happen to the people around the gender-swapped person, and not what the actual person wants? But again, in this case we're talking about involuntary gender changes.

    Please enlighten me, because I really don't understand this.


  56. mimhoff
    November 5, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

    But the Doctor is also characterized by his immense privilege. He comes in to any scenario and expects people he's just met to recognize his genius and do whatever he says. He's an icon of the British empire.

    Which is not to say it's impossible for him to change, but how would you write this character if they went to the past and were treated like Martha?


  57. John Seavey
    November 5, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

    Well, 1 and 2 would generally be considered transphobic because the commenter is considring them only as objects of attraction, and not as people. Saying, "I don't want so-and-so to change gender because then I will/won't be attracted to them anymore" is kind of selfish, because they're not doing it for you. They're doing it because they don't feel like the body they currently have is theirs. Behaving as though your (and in this case, "you" is the commenter and not you personally) sexual interests should be taken into account in the decision-making process only exacerbates that feeling.

    That's also more or less the problem with 5; certainly, transitioning is a big hurdle in a lot of relationships, and I've known it to be the cause of a break-up. And nobody is saying that anyone has an obligation to stay with someone who is now a different gender. But the fact that this commenter's mind immediately leaps to, "Oh, think of the poor person in a relationship with them!" again can be seen as a form of minimizing the experiences of the trans person in favor of the cis person they're in a relationship with.


  58. Melissa Robertson
    November 5, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

    I see, although number 1 more applies to deliberate gender changes than involuntary gender changes. Either way, it's still way out of line. It just seems to me like all this would be a lot more transphobic if we were talking about voluntary gender changes. Since they're talking about involuntary gender changes, it just comes across as selfish to me.


  59. Melissa Robertson
    November 5, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

    Exactly. It would definitely require careful handling. They can't just ignore it, like they often mostly have with past historicals, because this time it's the main character who is a member of those who were discriminated against, and it's so deeply ingrained in his character to take charge of situations. The inaccuracies would be a lot more noticeable.

    And I really wish that changing a female into a male wouldn't be seen as sexist. It just seems like overkill. So many story opportunities are lost because of that.


  60. jane
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

    Sorry, nope, the inability to accept changing gender is simply transphobic.


  61. jane
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

    Water, a reflective surface = a mirror


  62. jane
    November 5, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

    We don't know how "voluntary" or "involuntary" the gender fluidity of Gallifreyans really is. Romana in Destiny certainly seemed to have complete control of her regeneration, and I'd be more inclined to ascribe such control to the Master (as opposed to the Doctor). So I'm not so sure that making this distinction, at this point, is particular relevant concerning Missy.

    It's certainly not relevant concerning those afflicted with gender dysphoria — it's not really a "choice" any more than it's a "choice" of whether to be gay, bisexual, asexual, or indeed cisgendered for that matter. At least, my understanding of gender dysphoria is that putting it in terms of "deliberate" or "involuntary" rather erases the actual underlying cause of transsexuality in the first place.


  63. encyclops
    November 5, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

    mimhoff: I'd probably go with more of a Troughtonesque portrayal, or maybe something like the way Tom Baker behaved in situations where he was treated as an outlandish buffoon ("my dear, nobody could be as stupid as he seems"), or perhaps Peter Davison facing off against Sharaz Jek or Panna. A wry, sly false humility that leads whatever blowhard is giving him/her a hard time into a blundering mistake.

    Whether or not the Doctor's a white male again next time, I'd like to see that kind of characterization recur.


  64. Owlie
    November 5, 2014 @ 7:02 pm

    ''will probably not happen for fear of offending trans people '' as a trans person, I don't get offended by these story lines, but a lot of people like to get offended for me.
    Also fun fact: Lee from the Library was originally intended to be transgender, and that particular aspect of the story was mostly cut for time, not fear of offense. They talk about it in an audio commentary.


  65. Owlie
    November 5, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

    ''how would you write this character if they went to the past and were treated like Martha?'' unless you belong to the particular group of oppressed people in question, I find this kind of ''concern'' distasteful.


  66. elisi
    November 5, 2014 @ 10:38 pm

    Re. 5 – considering the average Time Lord lifespan compared to a human, David would probably be long since dead by the time Susan regenerated… Again it comes down to the fact that Time Lords are alien. They can live for millennia, and rather than die, they change their bodies (and personality) – just look at Clara's difficulties adjusting to Twelve. Is adding 'gender-fluid' to that list more alien than "I'm a Time Lord…You don't understand the implications. I'm not a human being. I walk in eternity." ? Maybe it is. Our bodies are physical things and more relateable than a Time Head. But personally I want Time Lords to be alien and different. πŸ™‚


  67. elvwood
    November 5, 2014 @ 11:18 pm

    As a parent I would have trouble not punching him.


  68. Kit Power
    November 5, 2014 @ 11:48 pm

    @FlexFantastic – well, I appreciate that.


  69. Melissa Robertson
    November 6, 2014 @ 12:12 am

    @jane: You're right, of course, in that nobody can help feelings of gender dysphoria. By saying "voluntary" vs "involuntary," I was simply trying to draw the distinction between coming out as trans and getting hormonal treatments and the like, and completely changing your appearance and even your sex, despite not having felt any gender dysphoria (to our knowledge) before. I was just trying to explain that that distinction made me feel like the comments weren't necessarily transphobic, although still out of line.

    @elisi: I'm perfectly fine with Time Lord gender-fluidity. You're right – it does make them more alien, and I would really like to see how Time Lord society functions in relation to this.


  70. Scott
    November 6, 2014 @ 12:41 am

    I should clarify, I mean "kind of impressed" in the sense that one can be "kind of impressed" by the sheer scale of a massive car pile-up, not "kind of impressed" in an "ooh, this person's got a good idea" sense.


  71. ferret
    November 6, 2014 @ 1:24 am

    While I don't agree with anything they had to say, I enjoyed that one ranting poster insisting on writing Brian Blessed's name – and his name alone – as BRIAN BLESSED, as if the mighty lunged man himself were speaking his name aloud.


  72. Anton B
    November 6, 2014 @ 2:03 am

    Maybe Moffat isn't done yet. There's another episode to go. I'm calling it now –
    Seb is Susan.
    After he finished being a horse that is.


  73. Aaron
    November 6, 2014 @ 4:00 am

    That's actually the forum itself- the only thing it changes automatically is that anyone who writes BRIAN BLESSED's name will find it magically transformed into all caps.


  74. Seeing_I
    November 6, 2014 @ 5:06 am

    @ encyclops: Actually, Hinchcliffe can take credit for the Great Vampires as well, since the script was written for his era (with Leela) but shelved to avoid comparison to the high-profile BBC TV movie starring Louis Jordan.


  75. Seeing_I
    November 6, 2014 @ 5:10 am

    Jane Bond??? Yes, please!


  76. David Ainsworth
    November 6, 2014 @ 5:25 am

    5's making all sorts of heteronormative assumptions. Why should we assume David is heterosexual? If he's bisexual, he might love Susan to regenerate into a man. And more to the point, why would David having "trouble" be a reason not to do it as a story? Wouldn't it instead be a good story to write? It's like saying Othello and Desdemona shouldn't have gotten married because it was going to cause trouble.

    Also, it's interesting to me that someone so concerned about David's feelings isn't actually imagining the scenario along new series lines. David grows old and dies. If Susan is a Time Lord, not only does she outlive him, but based on Eleven's aging she may well continue to look like she's nineteen as David moves into old age. Why would David's feelings being married to a woman who doesn't age not pose a "problem" as bad or worse than her regenerating into a man?


  77. Seeing_I
    November 6, 2014 @ 5:33 am

    Honestly, I think trying to attach real-world notions of transgenderism to characters like the Time Lords is just asking for trouble.


  78. Nyq Only
    November 6, 2014 @ 7:36 am

    The issue of historicals as a problem for a female Doctor is very minor I think.

    Firstly consider the groundwork already done during the Moffat era.
    River has appeared in ancient Roman Britain, inter-war New York, 1960s America, and WW2 Berlin without causing the writers much of a problem. Victorian London is now the domain of a lizard woman, her wife and alien butler and Madam Vastra is (apparently) a respected advisor/consultant to the metropolitan police without causing a complete collapse in plot credibility.

    And it is worth considering all the historicals of the RTD era. Which one would require much more than a change in personal pro-nouns if the Doctor's gender was changed? The only one I can think of is Human Nature/Family of Blood. Even that one it is not hard to see how the script could be changed to accomodate the Doctor hiding as a human woman rather than a man (the Nurse Redfern character becomes Nurse Smith aka the Doctor). Now that double parter certainly would need to confront the sexist attitudes of the time in greater depth but to be honest the more I think about the even more brilliant that story would have been.


  79. Melissa Robertson
    November 6, 2014 @ 8:23 am

    Thank you, that was the point I was trying to make. To me, the situations seem different enough that it's harder to apply real-world transgender things to them.

    And I'm really not trying to say they aren't wrong and close-minded. I was just uncertain how they are specifically transphobic.


  80. John Seavey
    November 6, 2014 @ 8:51 am

    @Melissa: It's okay to ask. Sometimes there are things you learn by asking, sometimes there are things you learn by saying putting your foot in it and apologizing profusely. (This may or may not be me speaking from first-hand experience.) Nobody is born knowing all these things, and what you take away from these conversations is much more important than what you start with.

    One thing that's worth mentioning when you discuss "involuntary" vs "voluntary" and the decision to transition, is that a lot of trans people feel that there's too much emphasis placed by cis people on the transition process and the gender confirmation surgery. A lot of people who would like to transition don't have the funds or the opportunity to do so; a lot of people who are trans have phobias about surgery. To them, the important part is the realization that their anatomical gender doesn't match their real gender, not the surgery, so talking about transitioning as "voluntary" in that sense can bother many trans people.


  81. Melissa Robertson
    November 6, 2014 @ 10:50 am

    Okay, I will keep that in mind. I was really just trying to refer to when trans people realize their gender dysphoria and announce themselves as trans. I definitely put my foot in my mouth on that.


  82. 5tephe
    November 6, 2014 @ 10:53 am

    Frankly, I look forward to the day the Doctor regenerates into a woman and is thus forced to engage with the way her prior privilege had informed the way she previously handled all types of scenarios. Not least because it will make for a fascinating interrogation of how privilege has functioned historically, and how present it still is today.

    And a big party of that interrogation will come from watching immature fools like the ones quoted bleat in outrage at how the Doctor had had to change the way she acts because she's female now, and how that ruins the character for them.


  83. jane
    November 6, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

    Not all trans people are gender dysphoric, mind you.


  84. ferret
    November 6, 2014 @ 11:55 pm

    That's wonderful! πŸ™‚


  85. SK
    November 7, 2014 @ 6:15 am

    Sorry, nope, the inability to accept changing gender is simply transphobic

    Hang on, I thought that suggesting that a trans-man had changed from a woman to a man (rather than always having been a man, and only now having a physical body that always matches their real sex) was transphobic.


  86. SK
    November 7, 2014 @ 6:20 am

    But wasn't Ripley written as a male character, and only later cast as a woman?

    (And then there' s Peter Pan, definitely a male character but played by an actress. And we probably shouldn't even get started on pantomime dames.)

    Casting an actress as the Doctor would make it a different programme, for sure, and I'm not sure that the changes would be for the better.

    But it's silly to suggest that fictional characters 'are' male or female: they aren't either, they're not real.


  87. John Seavey
    November 7, 2014 @ 6:32 am

    Yes, I do want to make it clear that I don't actually speak for all or even any trans people here. πŸ™‚ I'm relating my understanding based on what I've learned, but learning is a never-ending process and I wouldn't presume to be an authority.


  88. Nyq Only
    November 7, 2014 @ 9:34 am

    Being fictional isn't a barrier to gender – at least if we are discussing gender as a social construct as opposed to biological sex. Sherlock Holmes does not have a Y chromosome because he doesn't actually exist as an actual biological entity but Sherlock Holmes does have a sets of social ideas attached to him regarding how he behaves and how other people behave towards him that are directly associated with our expectations of how men behave and how people behave towards men both in general and also in the context of his late nineteenth century setting.

    Any fiction that has people interacting involves an author presenting models of behavior. Aside from some Science Fiction these models usually include aspects of gender. So yes, fictional characters are usually either male or female and the author and reader bring with them expectations around the psychology and behavior based on those genders.

    I like the way you express the issue: "Casting an actress as the Doctor would make it a different programme" – but I disagree. It would only be a "different" program within the bounds of Doctor Who's tendency to always be a different programme (aka program for viewers in North America :).
    The Doctor has a set of behaviors which have been consistent through regenerations, that help drive the story and which I like BUT which are associated with the social status of men. These behaviors are essentially his tendency to barge into situations and power structures and take over as the smartest person there and get people o do what he wants them to do. He doesn't do this with physical strength or threats of sexual violence and NONE of these behaviors actually arise from him having a penis, more testosterone than the average human etc.
    I agree if the Doctor stopped doing that sort of thing substantially then that might be an issue but I see zero reason why a women couldn't behave exactly like that.

    Consider two contemporary actors – neither of whom are people I think would necessarily be great Doctors but both of whom regularly play roles as women who disrupt established social hierarchies. Jane Lynch in Glee and Michelle Gomez in Green Wing and in Bad Education. Actually Michelle Gomez would be great as Time Lord… they should cast her as the Master* and the only think wrong with Jane Lynch is she is American πŸ™‚

    I think this takes me onto another sexist trope – because the actor playing the Doctor should have a gift for comedy, I think some people find it hard to imagine a woman actress as the Doctor because they don't see how they would pull off the comedy. Tilda Swinton or Helen Mirren are often suggested as potential Doctors and I guess people rarely if ever get to see them being funny and there is a sexist trope that women somehow aren't as good at being funny. It is nonsense of course.

    [*Can we all pretend I wrote this a year ago]


  89. encyclops
    November 7, 2014 @ 10:55 am

    Nyq Only, you wrote this a year ago, didn't you? How prescient!

    I'd love to see Tilda as the Doctor giving some of those to-the-camera "can you believe this shit?" glances she used so effectively in Orlando. You're reminding me I haven't seen her vampire film yet.


  90. KMT75
    November 7, 2014 @ 11:12 am

    @ jane "Romana in Destiny certainly seemed to have complete control of her regeneration"

    I always thought Romana's ability to control her regeneration had more to do with Williams deciding he needed to explain why Princess Astra was now the Doctor's companion than anything else. There's no other evidence from the show to suggest that regeneration can be controlled. Indeed, quite the opposite. The 12th Doctor goes so far as to say he has no idea where the faces come from. Maybe if the Master was brought back by the Sisterhood, who claim they can take Time Lord regeneration to the next level. …

    @ elisi "just look at Clara's difficulties adjusting to Twelve."

    Yeah, that doesn't make any sense either, unless you chalk it up to Moffat needing to manufacture conflict. She's interacted with 13 different regenerations, of which, at least 3 or 4 before Capaldi have been Grade A pricks and a bunch have been wrinkly old men. Now she doesn't know who the Doctor is anymore because he's older and a dick? Gimme a break.


  91. Alex
    November 7, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

    "She's interacted with 13 different regenerations, of which, at least 3 or 4 before Capaldi have been Grade A pricks and a bunch have been wrinkly old men. Now she doesn't know who the Doctor is anymore because he's older and a dick? Gimme a break"

    'Our' Clara doesn't remember the lives of her splinters – which we knew, of course, since she didn't know about the events of 'The Snowmen' or 'Asylum of the Daleks'. She only saw the many Doctors briefly, in the final part of that episode.


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