On Feminism and Transphobia

So.  I can’t possibly be the only person who is really fucking pissed off that there’s a link to a transphobic piece of bullshit in the latest Carnival of Feminists, can I?

I’m not linking to it, but it’s the very last post in the carnival, and unless you’re also an anti-trans bigot or merely ignorant about trans issues, a title like “Deconstructing Transgenderism” will probably stick out at you like a sore thumb.  Honestly, I got a trackback from the carnival but didn’t remember submitting anything recently, which is why I was even looking.  I wasn’t planning on reading the carnival, but I did skim the page, and that just jumped off the screen. Truly, I’m embarrassed to have a piece of my writing included alongside it.  Though it is a bit ironic and definitely fitting that the post of mine in question is about certain feminists acting like stupid assholes.

The argument in the transphobic post is an old one, that transgender people are buying into the patriarchy by rejecting the concept of “fluid” gender roles and instead promoting a gender binary.  The first laughable thing is what is always so laughable: the concept that transgender people are the ones with repressed views on gender.  I’m sure there are a few (get any group, and you’ll always find a few people who are ignorant, hateful or not very bright), but in my experience, transgender people tend to have the most liberal views on gender and what it means in a person’s life.  (After all, when did fixed ideas of what “man” and “woman” mean become progressive?) The second laughable, well okay just offensive, thing is the complete and utter inability to understand the feelings and experiences of transgender people (like with all things I’ve personally never been through, I don’t claim to entirely “get it” either, or pretend that all transgender people feel and experience the exact same things). There’s also a total like of desire to even try to understand, and a stubborn, grotesquely selfish insistence that other people suffer miserably to meet the writer’s personal political standards regarding how one should live their life.

Next, there’s the puzzling, just plain ignorant and uninformed understanding of transgender transition as always resulting in genital reconstruction surgery. Uh, for those wondering, it doesn’t. Not all transgender people can afford the expensive surgery, not all want it, and contrary to the writer’s belief, not all transgender people — in fact, seemingly much fewer than cis-people, hence the huge misunderstanding — base their whole gender identity on the appearance of their genitals. So let’s reject this myth right away.  But we can’t just ignore this entirely incorrect part of the writer’s argument — especially since it all seems to be one big lead up to the assertion that transgender people make surgical changes to their genitals as an “accessory,” as one might swap out a wardrobe choice, or as a thrill for a sexual partner.  Also, she ends this repulsive diatribe by portraying transwomen as overly emotional (no sexist stereotypes there) and saying that transwomen deserve to be spoken to as though they’re subhuman since they have the audacity to refer to themselves as “real women” rather than “a permanent member of the respectable third gender.”  (And as a last note, how ridiculously clueless is it so suggest that even if transgender people were not “real men” or “real women,” something I of course entirely disagree with, that they would all fall under a single gender???)

One question: when is this going to stop?

Now, I don’t regularly read Philobiblon, and don’t know what her intent was in including this piece.  I don’t know what her general feelings are towards transgender people and transphobia.  I do know that I’m terribly insulted by the decision as it reinforces the idea that bigotry against transgender people is a legitimate feminist view.  It’s not.

As we often discuss, there are many feminisms. And there are many feminists I disagree with on many issues. There is a lot of legitimate room for feminists to debate and contradict each other, and I don’t think that we should try kicking someone out of the feminist club every time they say something we personally think is wrong. But there are a few things that I believe ought to result in revocation of a feminist card, to the extent that one exists: a desire to outlaw abortion, a tendency to make apologies for sexual assault, and bigotry in any form.

Transphobia is not a legitimate point of contention, it is bigotry, plain and simple. We wouldn’t allow a white woman to berate black women for calling themselves “black” because it just reinforces the entire cultural construction of race, and pass it off as a feminist point of view. We wouldn’t allow a straight woman to berate lesbian identity as illegitimate and pass it off as a feminist point of view. Or, I at least certainly hope that we wouldn’t. And I can’t see it being included in a feminist blog carnival. Transphobia is a similar attempt to patronize and mock a person’s identity and should be treated no differently.

I don’t think that most feminists need to hear this. It seems that a majority of feminists now reject transphobia, at least in theory. But I’m astonished, saddened and outraged that it needs to be said at all. I remember in college, I took a class called Sex, Gender and Social Relations. One of the topics was transgender identity, and one of the texts we read (of which the professor was critical) was by Janice Raymond, I’m pretty sure a chapter from her infamous book attempting to illegitimize transgender identity and whose arguments seem to be a continued basis for transphobic “feminism.” I was still at the beginning of my process of feminist awakening (though at the time I’m sure I thought I was very advanced), and at a total infancy in my understanding of transgender issues. This was, in fact, the first time I had ever dealt with transgender issues in an in depth way. And I wrote an essay ripping Raymond’s thesis too shreds, getting an excellent grade as I remember, and thinking that this bullshit written in the late 70s must be long gone. By that I mean, it had to be gone in feminist circles, since we’re all so so very socially and intellectually advanced. The naivety makes me laugh bitterly, now. If you told me then that I’d be writing about similar modern “feminist” views a few years later, I would have stared at you slack jawed.

This isn’t feminism, and it’s not feminist disagreement. Transphobia is prejudice and hate, and I’m not going to give it pass based on age, ignorance, fear, understandable distrust of men (something I personally struggle with) or repeated use of the word “patriarchy.”  These excuses don’t fly.  We need to stop allowing transphobia to be shrugged off as somehow defensible from a feminist standpoint.

If we refuse to actively reject this shit as feminism, refuse to stop linking to it, we are a part of the problem.  I’m astonished by the number of comments on that post which praise the writer, insist on using incorrect pronouns for transgender people, and portray transwomen as misogynistic fetishists.  I’m made physically fucking ill by it.  And I can’t watch it being linked to in a general roundup of feminist thought and just shut up about it.  None of us should be able to.

Fellow feminists, I beg you to stop this fucking nonsense. Just stop it.

UPDATE: The link has been deactivated from the blog carnival.

0 thoughts on “On Feminism and Transphobia

  1. Ashley

    Sigh.

    I don’t know, Cara. I’m starting to think that there will always be these types of divisions within feminism (and the progressive movement generally)… Recent conversations about the presidential primary (any mention of which, at this point, makes me curl up in the corner and rock back and forth, mumbling incoherently) have me thinking that some people are simply unwilling to seriously consider their privilege in one area or another.

    In much the same way that some of the men in the progressive movement never really seem to “get” feminism, maybe some feminist somewhere will perpetually be spouting off about how horrible Islam is, or how transwomen shouldn’t be allowed at our all-girls meeting, or how the most important issue in feminism is fill in the blank, and everyone should focus on that.

    Maybe there’s some way to deal with that that can keep a movement together. I hope so.

    Reply
  2. Cath

    Even worse than that horrible screed of bigotry was the fact that there were so many comments praising and encouraging it. Ugh.

    Feminists don’t “embrace transgender people because they prove that gender is fluid”; we embrace them because they are PEOPLE and feminism is about the worth and value of every human being.

    Reply
  3. Kristen

    Cara,

    As Ashley said, I’m not sure there is much hope for feminism to be bigot free…Amanda-gate, sex worker hate, hell sex in general, classism not to mention on the fringes some real misandry, references to mom’s as breeders, references to SAHM as traitors.

    Eh, reading Women, Race and Class has made me all cynical.

    Reply
  4. Renee

    Transphobia is something that I have been fighting against since I first became aware of it. One of things that is always thrown at me is that it is not a womanist issue or that black people can only take on so much.
    What I don’t understand and refuse to excuse is demanding respect and neutrality for ourselves while at the same time failing to stand up against such obvious bigotry and hate. The perfect example of this is the case of Duanna Johnson. She was beaten by a white Memphis cop. If the same thing had happened to a black male Jackson and Sharpton would have been holding a vigil even as I write this. We need to start validating the humanity of everyone.

    Reply
  5. Zenobia

    Yeah, I read that piece a long time ago and I was pretty surprised to see it included there. I’m guessing Natalie’s intent was to be inclusive of a wide range of opinions, but still, between that and the Margaret Sanger interview, this particular kind of alienates anyone who’s not white, middle-class and cisgendered. Although the Sanger interview is included rather than fully endorsed I guess and it’s still interesting.

    Reply
  6. transientdesire

    That argument of “promoting a gender binary” is particularly nasty when you are aware that quite often transgendered people were — still are — being denied treatment or help if they didn’t/don’t conform to strict, binary gender roles.

    Also, good to know that apparently Othering people by calling them a “third gender” is a-okay when you also call that little box “respectable”. Sigh.

    Reply
  7. Harrietsdaughter

    This is why I don’t read the feminist carnivals…thanks for not linking to it.
    It’s too bad that, as others have said, there will always be divisions in the feminist movement. But I will never get why those divisions are there… why it’s so hard to let people be people, why so hard not to “other” – particularly from a bunch who claim to resist othering.
    *bangs head against desk*

    Reply
  8. professor what if

    Thanks for alerting me to this. I had checked out the carnival and missed this.

    Your comments on transphobia are excellent and badly needed. Seems feminism still has lot to learn from queer theory…

    Reply
  9. Feminist Avatar

    Wow, the comments at that piece are even worse than the article. The thing that I find so mind-boggling is that in the same article that criticises transgender people for reinforcing gender, the commenters consistently refer to MtF women as ‘men’ or as ‘he’ and comment on how allowing MtF women into women’s groups is allowing men into women’s groups; that MtF women still think like men; that MtF women are perverts trying to use gender as another way to access and oppress women. If gender is fluid, why are they so convinced that these women are men? They also say that transgender people should be happy with their designation of ‘third gender’, but if gender is fluid, there shouldn’t be two genders, let alone three!! It’s entirely contradictory and just so hateful.

    Reply
  10. fannie

    I had seen that piece some time ago when the author came to my blog looking for a debate about trans issues. While it’s nice to see competing viewpoints, I don’t know that she understands what transgenderism is, why trans people seek reassignment surgery, or that most do not even seek surgery (for various reasons).

    While I agree that it’s not really our place to kick people out of the feminist club, I’m not so sure that the author of that article even considers herself a feminist. Her schtick seems to be that she’s a loud and proud anti-feminist. I’ve read several of her pieces and the common theme of pretty much all of the is that she’s smart, feminists aren’t. She wins. The end.

    Yawn.

    Reply
  11. Veronica

    Miss Andrea is clearly a hard-line social-constructivist with regards to gender.

    To her, gender is merely a societal response to physical sexual differences.

    “Getting” trans-ness requires, minimally, an appreciation of a more essentialist philosophy of gender. That there is this invisible thing inside each of us called “gender.”

    If she can’t understand gender from that essentialist perspective, there is no use carrying on a conversation about trans-ness with her.

    Reply
  12. Cara Post author

    Veronica:

    Honestly, I don’t buy either the nature or nurture arguments with regards to gender. I think it’s a combination of effects, and I agree with the line about gender being a “performance” — which I don’t think is the same thing as belittling the importance of gender in the lives of many people or saying that any one gender identity is more or less legitimate than the other. There are a huge range of gender identities, from feminine women and masculine men to feminine men and masculine women, transgender people, genderqueer or gender non-conformative people who alternate gender expressions. For example, I was born female, and since I adaptd so easily to that identity I believe that I was also born with a feminine gender. But I think that the ways in which I enact femininity — i.e. the way I cross my legs, or the fact that I shave them, or the way that I often apologize for things that aren’t my fault — were most likely taught to me in a subconscious way and probably don’t have much to do with my vagina or estrogen production at all.

    I do agree though that people who take the most strict “gender is a construction” stance are those who tend to be transphobic, or vice versa. Personally, I take the same stance with regards to trans-ness as I take towards sexual orientation: I think that it’s mostly biological, but don’t really give a shit whether it’s biological, social conditioning or a choice. People have the right to express their gender(s) and sexuality however they want, regardless of the reason, and the whole “reason” conversation, I think, distracts from that extremely important fact.

    Reply
  13. Tracey

    …I think that it’s mostly biological, but don’t really give a shit whether it’s biological, social conditioning or a choice. People have the right to express their gender(s) and sexuality however they want, regardless of the reason, and the whole “reason” conversation, I think, distracts from that extremely important fact.

    Abso-fucking-lutely!

    Reply
  14. Veronica

    People have the right to express their gender(s)…

    hear, hear…

    (and if I may add?)

    …and be respected for them, including in common language usage and legal dealings.

    Reply
  15. kelly g.

    But there are a few things that I believe ought to result in revocation of a feminist card, to the extent that one exists: a desire to outlaw abortion, a tendency to make apologies for sexual assault, and bigotry in any form.

    Word.

    Reply
  16. belledame222

    Thanks for posting this; and no, you are DEFINITELY not the only one gobsmacked by this. All I can think is she maybe just included everything that was nominated without really looking it over or giving it much energy. It still isn’t an excuse (the title alone, hello? as I said over there: would you take a piece called “Deconstructing Homosexuality? would you at least make sure the author was queer herself?) But whatever it says about me, I -really- don’t want to believe that anyone I respected could’ve read that tripe and greenlit it anyway. If I learn otherwise, well, so be it, but I’d really have to seriously reassess my feelings about the entire Carnival, which would be a shame, all things considered.

    Reply
  17. belledame222

    …I think that it’s mostly biological, but don’t really give a shit whether it’s biological, social conditioning or a choice. People have the right to express their gender(s) and sexuality however they want, regardless of the reason, and the whole “reason” conversation, I think, distracts from that extremely important fact.

    another amen here.

    Reply
  18. Michelle Rose

    Wow, it’s all the same old arguments, isn’t it? We TG’s aren’t women, we’re just guys in a dress flexing our male privilege and having it all, right?

    The fact that most of the TG community doesn’t buy into the gender bi-polarity paradigm is what, IMHO, twists a lot of people’s underwear into knots. Too many feminists pay lip service to that ‘gender fluidity’ concept and then balk at one or more of the concepts inherent in that idea.

    Spectrum. It’s SUPPOSED to be a spectrum but otherwise intelligent people who objectively claim to recognize that and acknowledge it seem to subjectively take it personally when they encounter something unexpected on their radar screen. (“Oh, jeez! A tranny that doesn’t want GRS? Yow, ‘he’ must be a predator/fetishist/sex worker!”)

    Maybe it would be easier for feminists to accept this if it were easier–and cheaper–to do GRS for FTM’s. But what’s between your legs shouldn’t matter; it’s what’s between your ears and what’s in your heart of hearts that counts.

    And I note one grim fact underlying the feminist argument that TG’s are only men and nothing else; it presupposes unpleasant motivations on our part: madness or predation and not a lot else.

    And I for one do not like being told that my essential feminine aspects are the result of either insanity or an ulterior motive to harm another. THAT pisses me off.

    Michelle Rose

    Reply
  19. drakyn

    Thanks for this.
    I actually have been planning on snarking mAndrea’s posts for a while and her being included in a feminist carnival just made me have to; theres so little logic and actual truth/facts that snarkings about all it deserves.
    And even the OCD stuff in the comments was only a new way of putting an old trope, everything is old hat and we’ve addressed it–even if folks like mAndrea and thebewilderness refuse to read/acknowledge it.
    Hells, the idea that there are more mtf folks than ftm folks probably isn’t even true. That stat is based off of old studies looking at how many folks get SRS/GRS; which is stupid as few trans*guys get bottom surgery and not all trans*folks choose to medically transition.

    Reply
  20. belledame222

    btw, the author of that little excretion is at least as charming over here, in several ways at once:

    http://bastantealready.blogspot.com/2008/06/r-word-part-four.html

    “If I ever get around to it, I have a few more posts coming about why transgenderism doesn’t make any sense and is actually harmful to real women *as an ideology*. The transgendered folks themselves I actually feel sorry for, believe it or not.”

    Mighty white of her.

    This was, by the way, in the course of, well, you may want to read the whole post and comment thread. Next bit after that:

    “About the word “retard”. It used to have a clinical definition meaning someone within a specific IQ range, as did the terms imbicile, moron, and idiot. Someone who can’t identify (or solve) basic logic problems would qualify under that catagory.

    Yes, I’m making fun of certain feminists when I use that term, and no, I don’t care. I don’t care because regardless how tactful I have tried to be in the past a certain type of person will always prefer to change the focus of the discussion so as to avoid addressing the criticism.

    …Did I answer all your questions? Oh, since disabled people really are disabled, there is no insult to them. It’s only insulting if they prefer to think they’re not disabled.”

    ***

    Real charmer all round, innit? Let’s give the lady a hand. Clap, clap.

    but, you know, -logical-.

    Reply
  21. Lisa Harney

    I’ve been debating whether I even want to give Andrea’s posts attention – they’re so far away from logic and reason that Drakyn’s approach of satirizing it may be more sensible.

    On the other hand, given how they’re cheering on the idea that trans women become women to allow men to rape and prostitute them because all that matters is male ownership of female bodies, I think a very bright light should be shined on this stuff.

    It’s disgusting.

    Reply
  22. Cara Post author

    Lisa, these calls are always tough to make. There’s a reason why I directed my criticism more towards linking to the post than to the post itself — I’m more interested in talking to people whose minds there is at least a chance of changing, and I have no interest in raising the technorati ratings of assholes. All of that said, I wouldn’t be able to criticize the decision to write about it either. To me, it usually comes down to gut feeling — along with how widely known the person in question is already.

    Reply
  23. Lisa Harney

    Yeah, I’m totally not criticizing your post here. I love your post.

    I wasn’t thinking of linking to it so much as pointing to it (in a not-linking way), quoting the choice bits, and saying “this is how transphobic bigots are,” but with more words.

    Reply
  24. Cara Post author

    Oh, I didn’t think that you were criticizing my post . . . though now I’m a little worried that should have 😉

    I was just responding in general to your musings on the topic with my own musings. That’s all.

    Reply
  25. belledame222

    I would’ve just ignored it (except to mock/flame here and there), but the inclusion in the CoF meant, yeah, needs to be pointed out.

    Wonder who nominated it.

    Reply
  26. belledame222

    and yeah, wtg with the ableism as well: never even mind the “retard” crap (and her assy response at Kim’s): the appeal to “use the psychiatric establishment as a way of officially stamping Those People as Sick Fucks” (I mean, it would be that if it were more coherent) is just…charming.

    and: OCD? I mean…say wha? What?

    “Oh, sorry, did I say OCD? I meant ‘bacon.'”

    I mean, besides being horrid, her posts are…just not even written in Earthspeak.

    Reply
  27. GallingGalla

    At this point, I am on the verge of jettisoning my identification as a “feminist”. I am getting very weary of this constant stream of hate, and I feel that mandrea and those like her present a real, physical danger to women, cis and trans alike. I really, really am at a loss at this point as to any reason why I should continue to identify as a feminist.

    It’s not just the transphobia, it’s the racism and classism, too, which these radfems serve up in heaping portions. I was re-reading this post by bfp from December 2006, and in comments, bfp, Yolanda, and blackamazon point out the racialized nature of radfem transphobia – transphobic radfems are almost exclusively white. I’ve never, ever heard or read anything even close to this level of transphobic hate by radical women of color; indeed the vast majority have been very supportive of trans* folk. I just wish trans* folk (including myself) would be more supportive of rwoc.

    I’m rambling, I’ve just had it at this point.

    Reply
  28. GallingGalla

    I’ll just add that this is something that I can no longer even blog about anymore, b/c it’s just too painful. I don’t know how trans* folk like drakyn and Lisa Harney do it.

    Reply
  29. Pingback: Note to Carnival of Feminism « Galling Galla

  30. Lisa Harney

    Sorry, Cara. I’m just slightly on edge because of this getting into the carnival.

    GallingGalla, I haven’t been blogging for the past couple of months.

    I have deliberately been ignoring mandrea’s posts for months, but if she’s going to carnivalize them, then it’s harder to let it go without comment. On the other hand, I think she wants the attention.

    Reply
  31. belledame222

    Per disillusionment with feminism and in general, I’d like to hope that the sort of comments and posts found here (for instance) would outweight the excretions by the likes of Heart and mAndrea and so on. It’s not really my place to say, though, and the inclusion of the piece in the CoF, now with Natalie’s less-than-totally-satisfying explanation (others have already commented on why it’s troubling) really doesn’t help the “oh, just fringe nutters, ignore them,” at all.

    mainly, if push comes to shove, I could give a shit about the label “feminism” or this or that organization: the actual people come first, period. One revises one’s ideologies and movements and labels and organizations to accommodate the actual needs/rights of the human beings one is supposedly fighting for, not the other way around. What dismays me more is when sorry little sparrowfarts like this, and particularly the enabling of their bullshit by people who should know better, add to decent peoples’ psychic burden and drive them to apathy, cynicism and despair.

    Reply
  32. Jennifer-Ruth

    The feminist movement will not be free from strains and infections of bigotry because the human race is not free from it yet.

    We have 1000’s of years’ of oppression and discrimination behind us in terms of class, race, gender, sexuality, ability, etc. etc. Many of the biggest changes and activism towards libertaion for many different oppressed groups have occured in the past 50-100 years. That isn’t very long at *all* in comparison.

    And you know what? We still have a long, long way to go. And change often takes generations of people – lifetimes. All we can do is keep pushing forward and hope the world is better for the next generation, and even better for the generation after that.

    I don’t feel that incidents of bigotry within a movement are reason enough to reject that movements politics or name. But we sure the hell should talk about it and express why it isn’t right. Like you are doing here, Cara. And all the replies to the original Carnival post and the posts that have come from it. We gotta keep talking…turning our backs isn’t going to make it go away.

    Reply
  33. Winter

    saying that transwomen deserve to be spoken to as though they’re subhuman since they have the audacity to refer to themselves as “real women” rather than “a permanent member of the respectable third gender.”

    Since when was there a respectable third gender for transpeople to occupy? You can theorise as much as you like (and I love theory), but people still have to live in the real world in which we have a very strictly enforced binary gender system. Existing in some kind of liminal third dimension would be totally unliveable for most people. In order to be a viable subject, you have to be intelligible in terms of gender norms, whether you like it or not (and I don’t). I would love to see a world in which gender is no longer attached to biological sex, and in which there are more than two viable genders available, but right now I want people to be able to live bearable lives.

    Also, I have a problem with the idea that a hard line social constructionist argument inevitably leads to an anti-trans position. I need to unpack this in a longer post, but social constructionism has taken queer theory in basically the opposite direction. If gender is socially constructed (mediated through language and discourse), then it is equally socially constructed for all of us. And just because something is socially constructed does not make it fluid (really starting to hate that word), or easy to change, or any less deeply felt than something that is “natural.” In fact it can be easier to change something that is “natural” than it is to change something that is “socially constructed.” I know a lot of people reject a hard line social constructionist, which I can understand, but I think the idea that social constructionist=anti-trans needs to be challenged.

    Reply
  34. Cara Post author

    Winter, I’m confused. I didn’t argue that there was “a respectable third gender for transpeople to occupy.” The person whose argument I was criticizing, including that part, said so. Also, I didn’t say that social constructionist = anti-trans. I said that those who are anti-trans seem most likely to be social constructionists, and my experience is that those who are social constructionists are more likely to be transphobic than those who are not. I don’t think that all social constructionists are transphobic. For example, while I could be totally wrong as I haven’t read all of her work, I never got the impression from what I have read that Judith Butler is anti-trans.

    Reply
  35. Cara Post author

    Though to be clear, while I reject the trans people should accept that they are a third gender argument, I have absolutely nothing against the decision that many people make to identify not as man/woman or masculine/feminine and am all for establishing new, more precise and more inclusive gender categories, if we’re going to have gender categories at all.

    Reply
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  37. Lisa Harney

    The problem I have with many of the more militantly vocal advocates of “gender as a social construction” (like mAndrea in the post quoted above) is that they take “social construct” to equal “imaginary,” and then try to use that to prove that being trans isn’t really possible.

    Other popular social constructs include law, government, police, money, economics, corporations, marriage, family, property, territory, nations, entertainment, fidelity, morals, ethics, taxes, language, courtesy, and so on.

    mAndrea hypocritically decides that this one social construct is unacceptable and that trans people are primarily guilty for upholding a pervasive construct that is largely enforced by people who are not themselves trans. She’s attacking trans people who actually have the least amount of power when it comes to dealing with gender normativity, and are typically subjected heavily to it in order to receive treatment.

    Of course, by railing against trans people, mAndrea herself is trying to reinforce gender norms, demanding that those born male never cross to womanhood and those born female never cross to manhood. She knows as well as anyone else that there is no “respectable third gender,” and that thirdgendering is used to other people and treat them as subhuman (just as she does). She transgresses nothing, she simply sets out to reinforce the dominant paradigm.

    Reply
  38. Renee

    I don’t feel that incidents of bigotry within a movement are reason enough to reject that movements politics or name. But we sure the hell should talk about it and express why it isn’t right.

    I don’t know if that is always so easy. I identify as a womanist strictly because of the racism in feminism. I refuse to turn my back on feminism but cannot identify with a label that has historically treated people like me as other. I think at this time feminism has much to prove to the people that it has alienated.

    Reply
  39. brenna

    Well. Clearly, anyone who wants to become “the other” has an antiquated view of what gender is and is going to do nothing but reinforce gender stereotypes and keep me in a prison….

    Seriously though. The issue probably is that these women have fought for things that push the boundaries of gender roles, and they see people who want to change to a different and defined gender role as attacking that. The scariest thing in the world for someone who sees themselves as unique and “envelope pushing” is for someone to decide to fit into a certain category. They don’t see it as “I don’t feel like the gender I was born/ascribed as fits who I am, they see “I want to change genders so it will be socially acceptable for me to be a lumberjack/wear a pink feather boa every day (insensitive exaggerations purposeful to the illustration).

    The reality is that gender is still such an inherently undermining and uncomfortable and anxiety-prone issue in the lives of so many that anything discussing it leaves us feeling vulnerable and attacked. It has nothing to do with what an mtf might want to do with her life, but what another woman fears the mtf might expect from the other’s femininity. It’s not about what the ftm feels about himself, it’s what the woman fears he doesn’t value about femininity. It’s not about the transgendered person. It’s about the insecurities of so many women who haven’t figured out who they are and have defined themselves solely by how they can oppose the norm.

    Reply
  40. Lisa Harney

    I hate “mtf,” as it’s more of an adjective describing a verb, and feels dehumanizing othering. I’m a woman, not an mtf. “MTF” describes something I did in my past, but doesn’t define my entire life, nor does it define the entirety of my womanhood. Seeing “mtf” and “woman” explicitly separated like that looks like language that clearly marks me as outside womanhood.

    I’m not saying you’re saying that, just explaining what bothers me about the way the language reads to me. As to your actual point: That people like mAndrea rail about transgender and transsexual people because they make transgenderism and transsexualism all about them? Yes, I think that’s a fair and accurate point. I don’t think it should excuse them.

    I’m also not really sure that many of these women who complain about trans people reifying the gender binary really do all that much in the real world to act against the gender binary. Many are feminine, many are masculine. I don’t think I’ve really come across any who are trying to actively ungender the world. If anything, many are fairly quick to strongly and rigidly gender stuff and then decry it (sometimes even denigrating femininity in ways I would charitably describe as misogynist).

    And, the fact is, if they want to attack anyone for reifying and reinforcing the gender binary and its boundaries, going after people who cross those boundaries, who define themselves anywhere from masculine to feminine, and male to female, despite their birth and assumed upbringing, makes less sense than going after the large majority of cisgender and cissexual people who actively police and reinforce the gender binary, most especially against those who are seen as violating the boundaries (gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, etc).

    This comes down to:

    1) Their own prejudices

    2) Who’s safest to attack

    Reply
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