PART TWO: Deconstructing Transgenderism for non-radical feminists

June 8, 2008


WARNING: I’m using logic again, thorry!

The term “real women” was used deliberately in Part One, and I for one have decided to not back down from it’s use, because it’s kinda important for all sorts of secret feminazi reasons loosely pertaining to the status of my chocolate stash. Or perhaps because transgenderism itself is a suicidal train wreck waiting to derail the unwary feminist in a few years, as trends progress.

So that was my half-assed intro, and I’m interrupting it already.

Perhaps my motive for debunking this disaster wasn’t clear, and so now would make a nice time to go through those reasons. First, I really don’t care what transgendered people do with their own bodies, it’s none of my business as long as they aren’t hurting anybody else. And that, you see, is really the crux of the matter. For what they are doing will eventually come back to bite real women in the ass in a few years. But it occurred to me that my explaining that prediction in a way which makes sense to vanilla feminists is asking for the moon — for one reason because we mustn’t hurt any body’s feelings by pointing out the stupid, and for another many feminists seem to be having a great deal of trouble understanding the simple logical inconsistency which exists in their support of transgenderism. You see the dilemma. So let’s deal with the logical inconsistency first, and then get to the prediction later.

But let’s do this the right way and bring a healthy dose of skepticism to the fore, because only the gullible automatically believe everything they hear without questioning it’s validity. If transgenderism can survive this examination intact, then I will cease my harping on the subject and wish them well. Let’s begin:

First, we have someone who claims to not feel comfortable in hiz own body. All well and good, many people are uncomfortable about some aspect of their physical appearance that they wish to change. This individual claims to be a different gender then hiz birth body indicates. Well we have a problem with that word gender. Because feminists keep saying that there is no gender. So if transgenderism is a valid medical condition, and transfolk really do need to change body parts, then the reason they need to change those body parts is because gender is real. Which automatically makes the favorite feminist theory invalid — yanno, the one where they screech that gender is a social construct. Yanno, the one theory which has formed the foundation for all other subsequent feminist theory for the last three centuries. Yanno, the one theory which if rendered invalid automatically reboots every other feminist theory in existence. That one, ya fucking pea-brain.

That has been said many times already, and yet the vanilla feminists still stand around like cows farting breakfast, and claim to not “understand” a very simple logic problem. Do they also not understand what happens to all those other feminist theories when the foundation crumbles? If gender is real, then it logically follows that other concepts are true as well, and we get to say all sorts of things which they probably won’t like but will have to accept anyway. Here’s the first one:

If gender is real, then there are real differences between men and women.

Well obviously there are physical differences, that’s nothing of interest. Yes, and those differences which are so important as to require surgery must be of the internal variety, such as emotional or intellectual, for example. The reason we know those differences must be internal is because the transgendered themselves say that it is impossible to change their internal structure, and so they are altering their external body — the only thing they say which is capable of change. In addition, if you’re going to say that there are real internal differences, then there is no logical reason to limit those internal differences to just one particular attribute or characteristic. From all that, we get this:

If gender is real, then there are other real internal differences between men and women, such as emotional/intellectual/moral/etc..

Okay, that’s not sooooo terrible, feminists have already proved that in most jobs at least, women can perform as well as men. And of course I don’t mind that it may indicate there are moral differences, because I already think men suck anyway. But it gets progressively worse as we proceed down the merry road of deductive reasoning:

If gender is worth changing body parts over, then those differences must be significant. You do not go to that much trouble over minor or insignificant differences.

But all along feminists have been insisting that the differences between men and women are minor; and also insisting that because those differences are minor, then segregating jobs and other skillsets is discrimination. But darlings, when those differences become worth switching body parts over, then those differences become major, and then gender discrimination becomes not only reasonable but acceptable. It ceases to be discrimination at all, and becomes instead a normalized condition of womanhood…

… And isn’t that how sexism started in the first place, darlings? Why yes it is, m Andrea. (You know I’m wack when I start having imaginary conversations in a freaking blog post fercrissake.) Sexism and it’s close friend misogyny are propagated by the idea that women are very different from men, and have very different skillsets which conveniently are not as shiny as the skillsets belonging to men.

We know men will take advantage of any opportunity to normalize gender discrimination because that is the over-whelming pattern. Until vanilla feminists are willing to seriously argue that sexism is permanently eradicated, then we can expect that pattern to continue in some form, and so it behooves a person not blinded by fairy lights to look for ways men will subvert women’s status. And darlings, transgenderism is as great an opportunity for subversion of women’s status as the sexual liberation was back in the 60’s. It slid so effortlessly into “liberation equals pornification”, and some are still wondering how that all happened!*

The very foundation of patriarchy is the separation of all humans into distinct classifications of gender, each with their own set of approved characteristics and skillsets. Eliminating patriarchy entails breaking the chain between each gender and it’s corresponding set of approved characteristics. Vanilla feminists understand that part, but their logic disintegrates at the next stage of critical reasoning.

The next section briefly veers off track. A post-within-a-post. It dissects their reasoning again, discusses one part of their motivation, and also refutes their motivation:

They believe that gender is a made-up social construct which does not exist, but somehow or another an individual still needs to move from one made-up socially-constructed gender to another. Let’s look at that. Even a person of average intelligence realizes that if a thing does not truly exist in reality, then there can be no existing sub-components of that thing. So there is no need to move from one non-existent component to another non-existent component. The only idea these feminists have “proved” by supporting transgenderism is that gender exists — the very thing they insist does not, and the very thing they claim to work to eliminate.

So why are they supporting transgenderism, when it obviously doesn’t make any sense? There are several fascinating reasons, but here’s what they tend to say, if I keep nit-picking them down to an actual reason during conversations:

They will claim they need to work within the framework of culture; that in order to get to a place where there is no gender, they must first continue to pretend that gender is real. But what they are really saying is that the quickest way from a sexist society to a post-sexism society, is through bargaining with lies. This is their only remotely plausible excuse for supporting transgenderism, if they bother to think it through. But why on earth do they need to bargain with made-up socially constructed lies at all? That is the mark of a child, who argues with shadows. Also, I would like to see some proof that the quickest way from a sexist society to a post-sexist society is through the never-never land of make believe.

These feminists must assume that people in general are really quite stupid and have difficulty with reality; and frankly, I agree with them on that point. But I stop at the part where we wrap people up in cotton wool and assume the only way to get people to face reality is through yet more make-believe. You don’t get to the place where reality reigns by practicing pretense. You get to the place where reality reigns by practicing reality. Pick any attribute you want, and the way to get better at it is to practice that very attribute. You do not become a better musician by practicing baseball. You do not become more honest by lying.

A society which convinces itself that lies are a valid pathway on the way to achieving some goal only convinces itself of the necessity of lying to itself; and then that belief system is used on other subjects as well. They’ve already decided that belief system works as a good tool, after all. But you never actually get closer to reality, you only get deeper into the use of lies. Lying even to oneself becomes a comfortable, familiar pattern; so much so that one is not always aware of it’s occurrence. Doublespeak become doublethink, and both reign supreme.

Our Orwellian Alert System has screeched itself into oblivion long ago, it’s voice hoarse from screaming. Now there is only the echo of a few pointing out the idiocy and they too wonder if the sheer number of thundering hordes signify authenticity. No, it simply means the voice of reason must dig in and use the only tool which can defeat the greater mass of thundering hordes — logic. But in order to be effective, one must first clearly delineate their offensive manipulation strategies (as opposed to defensive strategies) which are intended only to silence and confuse.

It is impossible to argue that transgenderism holds no negative repercussions for real women, yet most feminists are blatantly refusing to even consider the existence of these negatives. Instead, they label any disagreement as a “transphobia”, entirely forgetting that claiming something is phobic can only be valid if the criticism is actually addressed, and proven to be wrong. As such, the charge of “transphobia” becomes nothing more then a manipulation doublespeak technique intended to silence.

There are two major tactics the trans supporters use; one is the stupid crying girl as a pity shield and the other is the charge that we are “transphobic”. We are not supposed to notice that they never actually refute any of our accusations. Instead, we’re supposed to be overcome with sympathy for one and insulted into silence by the other. Surely we’re not cruel enough to ignore the crying girl, are we? Surely this lack of pity indicates some sort of phobia against an entire class of people, doesn’t it? Um, how ’bout they answer the criticisms which are never answered?

Deflecting our criticisms with aspersions upon our character is an ad hominem attack writ large. When your entire argument rests upon insults, you’ve lost the debate. When your entire argument is “look at the tear-stained face”, you never had an argument to begin with. When your entire argument presupposes an assumption which you never bothered to prove, — child, you are a fucking fool.

Come on, kids, it’s past time to put those Orwellian manipulation tools away. It’s past time for a change. You can do this, I know you can. There is a way out, and it is beyond beautiful. Anyway, let’s get back on the logic train where we left off:

Remember, the transgendered claim they can only express their feminine attributes if they have a feminine body. By making each set of approved gender characteristics utterly dependent on which body the transgendered person happens to claim, — guess what we get to say next? Well, for starters:

Which set of characteristics one is permitted to express is utterly dependent upon specific body parts.

The chains of patriarchy are still intact, and stronger then ever thanks to a brand new source of socially sanctioned paternalism. A new source of sexism will have a variety of new effects upon society, in addition to further entrenching those already in existence. The transgendered are coyly bargaining with patriarchy, promising in return for a peaceful co-existence that they will submissively uphold the traditional genderized norms. Dear readers, how exactly does that help real women? Because it seems to me that it only creates a long list of problems, all of which increases the amount of sexist dogmatism that must be overcome.

Personally, I believe some feminists are focusing on the extremely short-term benefit and completely ignoring the far more damaging long-term consequences. Yes, transgenderism proves a man can have feminine attributes, but in the process, it also proves that feminine attributes are ultimately only limited to females. It’s a trap, designed for people who only consider immediate gratification of short-term goals worthy of consideration. If the only short-term benefit is utterly nullified by the long-term consequence, — and in fact made worse — then only a total imbecile still thinks the damn thing is valuable.

So what do we have so far? We’ve briefly mentioned that patriarchy has a habit of subverting any feminist cause for it’s own misogynistic purposes, and that transgenderism merely cements patriarchal gender norms. In addition, I hope it was clearly determined that there is a fundamental inconsistency within transgenderism itself which, besides never being addressed, undermines the very foundations upon which feminism was founded. Along the way, we highlighted some peculiar blind spots of vanilla feminists which are quite fascinating in their own right — all in all, a nice little display of tunnel vision, just waiting for someone who isn’t a venomous feminazi to explain it all.***

And if that isn’t enough, I believe the answer to the question which is never asked, has been found. Kind of exciting, if you’re into inexplicable enigmas. Stay well, thanks for reading, and seeya next time.

_
*Actually nobody ever wonders why it happened. Reseachers document the rise and fall of trends and attribute it to misogyny; rarely do they ask what causes societal-wide misogyny in the first place.
**Serious thanks to TheBewilderness!
***Probably TheB again, she knows everything. Then I’ll act like I knew it all along.

166 Responses to “PART TWO: Deconstructing Transgenderism for non-radical feminists”

  1. Debi Crow Says:

    Thank you, from a woman who has too often been on the receiving end of the verbal attack of “transphobia”, and no doubt will be many more times – just thank you. You have far more patience than me in explaining this stuff!

  2. bonobobabe Says:

    Rock on, mAndrea!

  3. m Andrea Says:

    Hmmm, no one likes this post at all, except for you two. What’s up with that? Mucho gratis, btw. I was probably still too rude, hurting those pweshus wittle vanilla fweelings by pointing out the stupid. :/

    Fear of failure or looking stupid is only reasonable if human perfection is attainable or if the person is focused on results; that’s why it doesn’t bother me when somebody points out my own idiocy. If winning is the only measure of success, then mistakes along the way become failure. But if the process of learning is more important then the results, then the successful thing is that they keep going. And of course one always end up with productive results, if one simply keeps chugging along.

    Anyway, I was just over at the fabulous Allecto’s and the little lightbulb went on. I said something about how sexism can’t be solely and exclusively be due to cultural conditioning, because otherwise sexism wouldn’t take so long to eliminate and men wouldn’t fight so hard to keep their bloody porn, etc.

    But then it occurred to me that for thousands of years, men insisted that women were inherently inferior, but still proclaimed to love them anyway. Yet women can’t admit that men are inherently sexist, because then it would mean — what? —That women are loving people who are inherently damaged and therefore inferior?

    But that is exactly what men have done for thousands of years.

    Only men can love that which he claims is inferior — in the same way that one loves a dog. Women can’t, or won’t, love a man in the way she would love a dog. So she rationalizes to herself that men are not inherently damaged, so she can justify her love for him as either an equal or her superior.

    It would mean that women could never be equal with men, always either being above or below. I will have to thunk on this some more. Or maybe go back to work, lol.

  4. bonobobabe Says:

    Men claim to love women; men claim that women are inferior to them. I posit that that is most definitely NOT love. Of course, we all know that when men say “I love you,” and women say, “I love you,” they are two completely different things.

    I think what women feel is a tad bit closer to real love, but they aren’t off the hook. Often, what passes for love on the part of women is hero worship. THAT’S why they can’t admit that hubby is a sexist asshole. Because they are worshipping him as a god among men. They can’t admit he’s a pig among pigs.

    TRUE LOVE only exists among peers/equals/colleagues. If there’s a one-up/one-down relationship, it ain’t love, no matter what the people involved claim.

  5. thebewilderness Says:

    This is a brilliant post, my friend, but if you want me to comment you are going to have to start referring to me in your post as “she who must not be named”. Cuz it’s embarassing to comment in a thread in a post where you talk about me.
    Still, brilliant post, absolutely brilliant!

  6. m Andrea Says:

    lol I was wondering about that.

    Oh, that is excellent Bonobobabe, thank you. A Jehovah’s Witness woman I know, who is a minister or whatever they call it, tells me there are three kinds of love: erotic, what one feels for a fucktoy; brotherly, what one experiences with an equal; and agape, what authentic altruism is based upon.

    Agape is when someone sacrifices themselves for the good of others, with no expectation of anything in return. If a woman had babies because of what being a mother could do for her (make her feel important, useful, etc, passing on her genes, etc) then it is not agape. I only mention that because there is a tendency to equate motherhood with the selflessness of agape love or sainthood. Agape is also not to be confused with doormats, who only sacrifice themselves because they have very little self-esteem. That is actually a form of self-hatred.

    That’s why doormats drive me crazy, because they are lauded by others and themselves for being so “selfless” and “patient”, but they are really driven by the self-hatred. A person with healthy self-esteem would not tolerate an abusive situation like the doormats do. A person with healthy self-esteem would not question whether they should sacrifice their own personal safety or freedom for the benefit of an asshole.

    It’s almost a kind of self-abuse by proxy. Instead of actively doing it to oneself, one idly lays down and allows another to inflict harm. You see, the second part of agape love has to do with that sacrifice being of ultimate benefit to the other person, a change to their internal character. If there is no ultimate benefit, no internal character change, then it cannot be agape love. There is no benefit to a violent person who is allowed to do whatever he wants with no accountability or responsibility for his violent actions. He gets away with crap, of course, but getting away with crap does not make him a better person, and so the self-sacrifice of the victim becomes worthless. The ultimate purpose of agape love is to render the other person into a more fully evolved human. If the self-sacrifice does not do this, then it is not agape.

    I suppose the vanilla feminsits could say that this is exactly what they *are* doing, laying around for ten thousand years while idiotic men use them for punching bags and rapetoys. But there is no reasonable indication that men are ever going to stop. And there is zero evidence to indicate that allowing oneself to be a punching bag for an abuser does anything but allow the abuse to continue unabated. Allowing abuse to continue only teaches the abuser that might is right; there is no automatic mechanism which teaches the abuser that he should care.

    What Ghandi advocated, and all the others who layed down and allowed the steamrollers to crush them were hoping, is that the subsequent publicity, shock and outrage of sympathetic folk would then rise up and then demand accountability of the abuser. Ghandi and the others were not counting on the abuser’s character being changed by their sacrifice — but instead they were counting on the public finally holding the assholes accountable. Because nothing else was working, they did indeed make the ultimate sacrifice for the betterment of the individuals affected by the asshole, but neither they nor the one who finally held the asshole accountable actually affected change within the asshole himself. The asshole only stopped because he finally had no other external choice. His basic character was not altered.

    Gah, I can’t decide if all that was worth posting, sorry. My point is that women’s self-sacrifice for men’s betterment is a lost cause. Only accountability will work.

    “Love is either the desire for that which is not possessed or the desire not to lose what is loved. In either case, love is marked by a lack and thus the desire to acquire what is lacking.”

    http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/content/BPL_Images/Content_store/Sample_chapter/9780631235989/9780631235989_4_001.pdf

    …”Love is the striving or ambition that characterizes all human activity. However, the love of pleasure, wealth, fame, persons, beauty does not finally alleviate love’s poverty or need because all temporal things perish. That is why, Diotima affirms, ‘‘all men . . . desire the immortal.’’

    …”‘‘[I]f all men were to compete for what is noble and put all their efforts into the performance of the noblest actions, all the needs of the community will have been met, and each individual will have the greatest of goods, since that is what virtue is.’’

    ….”As noted, Aristotle thematized love cosmologically with his argument of the unmoved mover. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle posited the highest good as the ultimate ground of movement because it moves others as the object of
    their love and desire. The Absolute is the quintessence of perfection that thereby moves everything to strive for it. The final cause thereby remains in itself exempt from movement because movement denotes a lack, a desire for fulfillment. Since the Absolute lacks nothing it also desires nothing.”

    …”Agape is a descending redemptive love, from God to humankind. Agape is
    completely unselfish; it is sacrificial giving. Agape loves the other and thereby creates value in the other. Eros, on the other hand, is acquisitive desire; it is the ascending movement of human attempts to reach God (however perceived).”

  7. buggle Says:

    I liked this post a lot. Thanks for it. You always make me feel so nicey-nice, cause you are so evil and mean 🙂 Hee hee, just kidding of course. I just really appreciate people saying what I’m sometimes too skeeeered to say! Good stuff here.

    In my experience, when talking about this stuff, when I ask questions, I just get met with “you are transphobic!” Ok, sure, maybe I am, but does that mean that my questions don’t have any merit? Cause I think they do! But all I hear is “transphobic!!!! Blah blah! Hater!!!” Like you, and most of us, I don’t give a flying fuck what people do with their bodies. And that’s not what this is all about.

  8. Debi Crow Says:

    Bewilderness I have had 5 Google searches to my blog this week looking for “the bewilderness radical feminist”! I think you’re famous, whether you like it or not! 😀

  9. Debi Crow Says:

    Sorry, it’s Debs of the Burning Times here, by the way, I changed my username. xx

  10. thebewilderness Says:

    Criminy! Should I be skeerd?
    It’s probably one of the radfems from ibtp wondering where I get all my radical ideas from. I told them it was you and mAndrea, and buggle and pisquari, but they are insatiable consumers of radfem ideas so they are on the hunt. Still, it’s a bit creepy.

  11. buggle76 Says:

    There are radical feminists at ibtp? Who knew? I’m so happy that you, TheB, are still over there. I can’t stomach it at all. I went over today and saw that there is still the same stupid crap about moderation, made me RAGEFUL!! Ah, clueless people…

    I think TheB should have her own blog 🙂 I’m always like “YES!” when I read your comments.

  12. Sis Says:

    Hello Buggle, BW, Debs, babe and mAndrea. Just printing this out now. Buggle76 you’re bad, girl; and too right.

  13. buggle Says:

    Gak, I know, that was unnecessarily snarky, and towards the wrong people too! I actually like a lot of the members there, and there are certainly radical feminists there. It’s the moderators who I can’t stand, and I am happy to mock them and aim snark towards them. 🙂 HEE.

    Sorry to disrupt your excellent thread m Andrea.

  14. thebewilderness Says:

    Not to worry buggle, you are absolutely correct about the dearth of radfems, and we always muck around with mAndrea’s threads. She never SEEMS to mind. Also, no blog for me, not now, not ever. I depend upon you younglings for the bloggy goodness.

  15. stormy Says:

    Excellent – and I looooove the graphics! 😛

    Enjoying the comments too. Sorry, don’t get much time to read blogs anymore, otherwise I would have stopped by sooner.

  16. Polly Styrene Says:

    Have somewhat belatedly discovered this Mandrea, but yes you have the problem in a nutshell:

    Trans activists criticise “biological essentialism” because you can be a ‘woman’ born in a male body or vice versa. And radfems who say that only “females” assigned at birth are deemed (by patriarchy) to be in class ‘woman’ are being biologically essentialist. (even though we’re not, we’re describing an imposed/constructed class, not a chosen one).

    Yet for a ‘woman’ born in a ‘male’ body to have the ‘right’ body, surgical/chemical intervention is needed.

    Which is biologically essentialist – because it means you can only be a ‘woman’ if you have ‘female’ genitals.

    And of course some peeps then add yet another layer of biological essentialism by claiming BRAINS are gendered.

    And all this reifies gender – which trans is supposed to be challenging?

    Confused? you will be…..

  17. Polly Styrene Says:

    And lets not forget that Harry Benjamin the ‘father’ of transsexulism believed that being shy and passive were female secondary sex characteristics. And that being aggressive was a secondary male sex characteristic. No shit.

  18. m Andrea Says:

    I do not mind — muck about all you want.

    “Paraphrasing a common sentiment:

    You still have cis privilege.

    Claiming that someone is “transphobic” can only be valid after the criticisms are actually addressed, and proven to be wrong. In the same way, claiming that “cisprivilege” even exists must entail addressing the criticisms, and proving them to be wrong.

    Otherwise, it’s merely a manipulative technique, designed to elicit pity before validity is ever proven. I loathe being manipulated.

    In reality, what is meant is that many people have the privilege of not having our sanity questioned. Because let’s face it: if transgenderism isn’t a valid whatchmacallit, then it borders on insanity.

    Yanno, there is nothing wrong with fetishes, nothing at all. If the transcommunity believes that radical feminists are ever going to give up fighting for real women, then I don’t know what to tell you. We’ve been fighting for millenia and are not going to stop now. This isn’t about transfolk at all, this is about women being forced to accept the gender binary as truth — no way in hell.

    Have you noticed, our arguments only get stronger, while yours stay the same. You really should notice the pattern here.”

    from: http://shutupsitdown.co.uk/2008/06/18/transgender-and-radical-feminism/
    found via Arantxa’s: http://xtan.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/266/
    *looks at the ground, kicks the dirt, and mumbles “thanks”*

  19. aw fisticuffer Says:

    This is a fantastic post. Fantastic, are you still around at IBTP?

  20. ck Says:

    I’d like to toss some questions in, if I may:
    1) You say If gender is worth changing body parts over, then those differences must be significant. You do not go to that much trouble over minor or insignificant differences. and then conclude that Sexism and it’s close friend misogyny are propagated by the idea that women are very different from men, and have very different skillsets which conveniently are not as shiny as the skillsets belonging to men.

    I’m wondering though, where you get that the differences worth changing body parts over are connected to skillsets? Can’t it be something more like the sense of being someone has? Physical girth or lack thereof? Body parts, etc? I don’t think you can totally get away from culture there, but I don’t see that hierarchical skillset differences follow from your first point.

    2) This is the big question I think (maybe due to my own academic biases): you say They believe that gender is a made-up social construct which does not exist, but somehow or another an individual still needs to move from one made-up socially-constructed gender to another. Let’s look at that. Even a person of average intelligence realizes that if a thing does not truly exist in reality, then there can be no existing sub-components of that thing. So there is no need to move from one non-existent component to another non-existent component.

    Stop the logic train for a moment. What do you mean by “exist in reality”? You’re using terms like “made-up” that seem to imply fantasy, imagination–as if gender is just an illusion. But if it’s more like a category, a way of organizing the world and perceiving it, then it has a reality that is parasitic on the empirical world. I don’t want to go all Judith Butler here and scream “performance” (really, I don’t–she is my philosophical nemesis), but if that’s one interpretation, then your presentation of social construction is lacking a little.

    I’m still working all this out, and I’ve only known one FTM and more MTFs (I notice they aren’t getting discussed here–are you thinking different analysis applies?). But I, too, am interested in analytic rigor and want to be sure we’re clear about what is at stake ontologically.

    (PS: I won’t link it, but if you search ‘transgender’ on my blog, you’ll see my own thoughts on ontology, reduction and gender)

  21. Elly Says:

    Well, I hesitated a bit letting a comment since your post is two weeks old and, well, because I’m one of those weird transgender which can only cry as a pity shield or accuse someone of being transphobic. (Actually, I think I can do both at the same time).

    But on the other hand, I think you’re wrong. http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png (This is quite unfair, by the way, I can’t insert pictures as your do in your post. Well, i’ll still refrain crying for some more time, anyway.)

    So, let’s go.

    «Because feminists keep saying that there is no gender. So if transgenderism is a valid medical condition»

    Personally, I don’t think it is.

    «and transfolk really do need to change body parts, then the reason they need to change those body parts is because gender is real. Which automatically makes the favorite feminist theory invalid — yanno, the one where they screech that gender is a social construct»

    Well, to say “there is no gender” and “gender is a social construct” isn’t quite the same thing. I think the latter is true, but the former isn’t ; if there was no gender, there would be no sexism.

    If gender is a social construct, why would it be so weird that it can be “constucted” as women when you have a male body, and vice-versa ? Either because you inherited a female soul in a male body, because it’s a contradictory person who likes to say “black” when the authority says “white” and to say “i’m male” when the authority says “you’re female”, because it’s a very feminist person who says “fuck off you male opressors, i don’t want to be the same gender as you”, or because someone lost a bet, it doesn’t matter. Social construction doesn’t always work perfectly, and thank gode there are some “misconstruction”.

    «If gender is worth changing body parts over, then those differences must be significant.»

    I don’t think gender is worth changing “body parts”. Escaping part of social oppression is, because living in a “feminine” way, wearing skirts, make-up and such is not really easy when you are “read” as being male.

    “They believe that gender is a made-up social construct which does not exist, but somehow or another an individual still needs to move from one made-up socially-constructed gender to another. Let’s look at that. Even a person of average intelligence realizes that if a thing does not truly exist in reality, then there can be no existing sub-components of that thing.”

    Social construct is a real existence . It has influence on your life. If it had no influence, there would be no need to feminism ; women category wouldn’t even exist.

    “Feeling” as a woman while having a “male body” doesn’t reinforce the gender coercition more than “feeling as a woman” while having a “female body”.

    As for the rest… well, I think these are deductions based on wrong bases, which could maybe be what some old school transsexuals say, but doesn’t seem to me to be the majority of trans’ arguments and look a bit like a straw(trans)man to me.

    Maybe I should develop a bit, but I need to go to cry, so I can’t.

  22. m Andrea Says:

    Ck, hello and welcome. Sorry it took me so long to notice responses.

    1. I’m wondering though, where you get that the differences worth changing body parts over are connected to skillsets?

    Skillsets was kinda the wrong word, but I couldn’t think of anything better at the time, and I still can’t. I wasn’t thinking so much of physical characteristics, but more of internal attributes which automatically render into external expectations. Such as “of course he’s better at math, or leadership, he’s a guy, what did you expect”.

    If someone is going to change body parts and claim the existence of a cause which requires that change, then there’s no logical reason to assume that only one cause exists. If that is the assertion, then it must be proven.

    If someone is going to change body parts and claim the existence of an effect from that change, then there’s no logical reason to assume that only one effect exists. If that is the assertion, then it must be proven.

    You see, the trans supporters are either insisting that only cause and/or one effect exist, or they never bothered to think about it. Assertions need to be proven, even if they never bothered to make their assumptions explicit.

    If the door is open, then any idea can walk through. But they want the door to be open only for certain ideas, and that’s not how logic works. They opened the door, and now lots of other painful things get in as well. This is not a situation where people get to pick and choose. Logic is not a buffet.

    2. What do you mean by “exist in reality”? You’re using terms like “made-up” that seem to imply fantasy, imagination–as if gender is just an illusion. But if it’s more like a category, a way of organizing the world and perceiving it, then it has a reality that is parasitic on the empirical world. I don’t want to go all Judith Butler here and scream “performance” (really, I don’t–she is my philosophical nemesis), but if that’s one interpretation, then your presentation of social construction is lacking a little.

    Some thing either exists or it does not exist. A thing is not possible to half-exist. If it does not exist, then it must be an illusion. Society has agreed to pretend that the shadow is real; however, that agreement does not make the shadow itself spontaneously become real.

    The shadow is one thing, and our perception of the shadow is a different thing. Those two things are not the same; they are not interchangable. We can always get a different perception of the shadow, and it will not change the shadow itself.

    “But if it’s more like a category, a way of organizing the world and perceiving it, then it has a reality that is parasitic on the empirical world.”

    Illusions are never real, ever, under any circumstances. _Pretending_ that a shadow is real may have some benefit occassionally, but once we believe that the shadow itself is real, or that our belief in the shadow has created a genuine entity out of thin air — we are lost.

    Yes, I do think the ftm are substantially different from mtf, and will be over to visit your blog.

    GENERAL NOTE to visitors: I do welcome contrary views, it’s just that so many have no point to make at all, only insults. Yes, I insult people for being non-logical!! and I would probably get offended if someone did the same to me — however if they still had an actual POINT, and a REASON, then I’d still hit the damn “post” button and freaking deal with it. Oh, and then I’d apologize for being WRONG.

  23. Polly Styrene Says:

    Well I’ve written a reply to the whole ‘how and why gender is socially constructed and why it doesn’t really exist’ thing. But it’s on my blog and I can’t be arsed to type it out again. So you can read it there if you want.

    But a short note about Judith Butler. She doesn’t think gender exists either. Sorry. That’s the point about it being performative. It doesn’t exist. It doesn’t mean gender is a performance.

    And yes sexism can exist without gender being real. You can have a real consequence of a social construct. Law is a social construct. A life sentence in prison is a real consequence of the ‘law’ against ‘murder’. A social construct is a set of rules which everyone agrees to believe exists but has no objective reality. However the common belief in its existence can have real consequences.

  24. Polly Styrene Says:

    Oh and because it is clear to me that peeps still ain’t digging it, a part 2 of ‘why gender and also sex are socially constructed and why this means they aren’t real’ is coming up soon. Because I tend to assume that everybody (like moi) has already been round the deconstructionist houses on this one. But they haven’t. And I like to help stooodents who are trying to write essays.

  25. thebewilderness Says:

    There continues to be a problem with peoples ability or willingness to distinguishing between the individual opinions of individual people and the policy positions of trans activists.

    You were linked for a minute on the carnival of feminists, but the influential people who enjoy the torture of women for fun and profit (Amp and BD) declared your post to be “hateful” so you were delinked. Fancy that!

  26. m Andrea Says:

    If the only way to win an argument is to ignore the question, that says there are some very scared people who have no answer… Can you imagine how they must feel right now? Scared shitless that ordinary people who have no personal stake in the trans debate will merely listen. I feel sorry for them.

    Anyway, defensive manipulations used as avoidence mechanisms do not work forever. That’s what the psychologists tell me anyway. Eventually, the person must either admit the lie or literally have some sort of meltdown. Apparently, that’s also pretty standard.

    I feel sorry for them.

  27. Elly Says:

    “There continues to be a problem with peoples ability or willingness to distinguishing between the individual opinions of individual people and the policy positions of trans activists.”

    But well, maybe I am wrong (I am french, so it is possible french trannies are soooo different that US trannies and I understood incorrectly most of the trans’ blog I read because of the language), but I think it would be quite equivalent for me to say that you americans globally suck because you’re pro-Bush.

    If you want to have some kind of pertinent analysis, you have to make the difference between contradictory positions. And yes, they are contradictory positions ; i would agree that indeed some transsexual people correspond to what is said here about the need to make the biological sex match with their body, with some “a woman soul in a male body” stuff (I am not certain they are trans activists, though : activist require some dose of being active, and many don’t want to define as trans’). And, on the other side, you have people that define themselves as “without gender” or “other” who don’t want operations and think they are an alienation. It’s not just “individual opinion”, it’s something like ideological currents, and if you don’t make a bit of a distinction, you can’t say anything relevant.

    Personally I try to make a distinction between people critical of transgenderism because the girl they are attracted to could have, OMG, a dick, people thinking that trans (wo)men are not (wo)men because they don’t have a

    BTW, mAndrea, how can you say gender does not exist and man and woman are not that different, yet talk about “real women”.

  28. Elly Says:

    (Note: I’m didn’t cry yet, but I’m starting to stutter. The precedent post is incomplete, sorry. )

    “There continues to be a problem with peoples ability or willingness to distinguishing between the individual opinions of individual people and the policy positions of trans activists.”

    But well, maybe I am wrong (I am french, so it is possible french trannies are soooo different that US trannies and I understood incorrectly most of the trans’ blog I read because of the language), but I think it would be quite equivalent for me to say that you americans globally suck because you’re pro-Bush.

    If you want to have some kind of pertinent analysis, you have to make the difference between contradictory positions. And yes, they are contradictory positions ; i would agree that indeed some transsexual people correspond to what is said here about the need to make the biological sex match with their body, with some “a woman soul in a male body” stuff (I am not certain they are trans activists, though : activist require some dose of being active, and many don’t want to define as trans’). And, on the other side, you have people that define themselves as “without gender” or “other” who don’t want operations and think they are an alienation. It’s not just “individual opinion”, it’s something like ideological currents, and if you don’t make a bit of a distinction, you can’t say anything relevant.

    Personally I try to make a distinction between people critical of transgenderism because the girl they are attracted to could have, OMG, a dick, people thinking that trans (wo)men are not (wo)men because they don’t have a XX/XY pair of chromosomes, and people who criticize surgery/hormonotherapy/etc.

    BTW, mAndrea, how can you say gender does not exist and man and woman are not that different, yet talk about “real women” ? Seems a bit contradictory to me.

    What I feel is that indeed some transsexuals think they can become “real” women by surgery, psychiatric brainwash and cosmetics ; and while i think these people need help, I agree that the resulting political message is quite reactionary.

    On the other hand, I also feel that saying that only XX women can be women is quite exactly the same thing, except you move the line a little (you are not defined by the shape of your genitalia, but your chromosomes).

    Now, personally, I think that the real feminist message is to say that there is no real men or real women, and thus that, if you really want to identify to one of those two genders, you assigned gender, your genitalia, your capacity to pay for surgery don’t matter ; and the only real important point is your capacity to move away for the opressive mechanisms (either that you perform because a true guy does that, or that you are eager to submit to because a woman is submitted) both of your current gender and your assigned one.

  29. polly styrene Says:

    Well Elly, I’m not going to answer for M Andrea, (particularly since she ain’t linked to me yet, am I not evol enough?) just for myself but it is perfectly possible to refer to something that does not exist, or that you do not believe exists. Take god for example. I refer to god all the time. Yet I am an atheist and believe god does not exist.

    When I personally say gender is not real (I have a really lengthy explanation of this on my blog for anyone who hasn’t fallen into a light coma by this stage) what I mean is this:

    Gender only exists as a social construct. If society at large did not believe in gender, there would be no gender. Therefore it only “exists” as a collective belief, and has no independent and objective existence.

    Just like god in fact. Which is why Richard Dawkins wrote a hugely popular book called ‘The god delusion’. The effects of god, or more accurately belief in god, are very real, of course. But it is the BELIEF IN GOD that has an effect, not god him/her/itself. Because god does not exist and can not have an effect. Therefore an UNREAL thing has an effect because REAL people BELIEVE in it. God is just like gender – gender is not real, it is REAL people ACTING on the belief that it is real that has an EFFECT.

    Moving onto point 2 – the distinction between trans activists and trans people.

    I also distinguish between trans activists and trans people. And I do not criticise all trans activists. I criticise only those trans activists whose activism promotes the belief that gender is real. Not all trans activists do this. Some are just fighting for basic human rights for trans people,which is right and proper.

    The distinction between trans activists and trans people at large is important. Are all Americans responsible for George Bush? No. Are the Americans who voted for George Bush responsible for his actions? Ab-so-fucking -lutely. I do not hold all trans people responsible for reifying gender, merely those who advocate beliefs that reify gender and advocate the adoption of these in the public sphere. Which many do.

  30. Polly Styrene Says:

    Can I also say something rilly, rilly, important here. If you are going to use the word ‘transphobic’ can you please be clear what it means. And explain if necessary.

    Because if it means ‘believes the idea of transgenderism and some trans activists reify gender,’ then yes I am transphobic. I

    f it means ‘supports unjustified (note that word unjustified please, there are some cases where discrimination is justified, against any group) discrimination against trans people’ then no, I am not transphobic.

    If it means ‘supports the idea that females assigned at birth are in a different political class under patriarchy from those who assume female sex/gender woman in later life and thus have the right to organise separately’ then yes I am transphobic.

    D’ya see? There’s no point in arguing if we are just using words to mean different things (witness the debate over ‘real’ and ‘exists’) Because then we are just debating the meaning of words. And a word can mean anything you want it to mean. Ask Humpty Dumpty.

  31. Polly Styrene Says:

    Ps the smiley was unintended, but looks quite appropriate.

  32. Elly Says:

    “but it is perfectly possible to refer to something that does not exist, or that you do not believe exists. ”

    I guess. But I find it contradictory to acknowledge something is “real” whereas fighting against this social construct. Of course gender has an effect on reality, but speaking of “real woman” implies more than just saying a woman.

    “I criticise only those trans activists whose activism promotes the belief that gender is real. Not all trans activists do this. Some are just fighting for basic human rights for trans people,which is right and proper.”

    Do you intent to allude that trans activists being more active than just “human rights” promote “real gender” ? Or maybe I interpreted that wrong.

    Anyway, yeah, many trans people I knew were, to sum it up, not feminist. On the other hand, so were many non-trans people. Should the trans ones be blamed particulary ? I’m not certain.

    “If you are going to use the word ‘transphobic’ can you please be clear what it means.”

    Are you talking to me ? I don’t think I used this term, except as a joke to the accusation saying that trans were supposed to only either use this term or cry.

    “if it means ‘believes the idea of transgenderism and some trans activists reify gender,’”

    No, I don’t think it is. But I don’t think you can talk about “transgenderism” as if it was an ideology, and if it is not the case, I don’t see what you mean by “transgenderism” which can reify gender.

    “supports unjustified (note that word unjustified please, there are some cases where discrimination is justified, against any group) discrimination against trans people’’

    I don’t see how discrimination can be justified, but this may be another debate.

    “If it means ’supports the idea that females assigned at birth are in a different political class under patriarchy from those who assume female sex/gender woman in later life and thus have the right to organise separately’ then yes I am transphobic.”

    I don’t know if it’s transphobic, but I think it’s giving a almighty statute to gender. I mean, if it is absolutely impossible to get rid of the way you were assigned, well, better stop losing my time in fighting for a world where there is no gender and go ask my wife to fetch me a beer while i watch football/soccer (except I won’t, cause like neither beer nor soccer. Damn, thank god i transitioned, I would have sucked at being a man)

    More seriously, I think a political class is defined as how you are at a time T, not as you were ten years ago or at birth. I think a rich guy owning a multinational who lost everything and must now work at macdonald should have the right to organise with fellows workers even if he wasn”t one (now if he treats other workers as shit because he is different he should be excluded – but the same is true for other workers), I think a guy who concerted to islam should have the right to organise with other people discriminated for being muslim, and I think a trans woman who is being discriminated for being a woman should have the right to organise with other women (now if she is oppressive to other women, she should be excluded too – but the same is true for other women).

    This being said, I personally have difficulties going in a group centered around being a “woman”. While I would be OK going to a “lesbian only” reunion (on the other hand, as Wittig said, “lesbians are not women”, so there is some coherence).

  33. Polly Styrene Says:

    “More seriously, I think a political class is defined as how you are at a time T, not as you were ten years ago or at birth”

    Ok then. So I convincingly alter my appearance (I’m white) so that I look ‘black’. Am I then ‘black’. Or have I lived with years of white privilege? Is that part of me? Is Michael Jackson white. Even though he’s bleached his skin and had loads of surgery.

    Most ‘trans’ women unfortunately don’t ‘pass’ very well in any case as ‘born’ women. By which I mean their physical appearance betrays their ‘trans’ status. So they get treated not as ‘women’ but as ‘failed men’. Which is shit. But it’s not the same as being ‘female’ from birth. It’s not the same as having been told FROM BIRTH that you are the inferior gender.

    You cannot wipe away the male privilege you were born with Elly. Any more than I can wipe away my years of white privilege. And to pretend you can is a fiction.

  34. Polly Styrene Says:

    And you know what – a white man who converts to Islam, is not going to be treated the same in the west as a man originally from Pakistan who’s been Muslim from Birth. Because he has privilege. White privilege. Being brought up in the Mainstream religion privilege. People won’t look at him and assume he’s a terrorist.

    If you walk round a lot of western countries and you’re from Pakistan, say, or India, people ASSUME you’re a Muslim. Even if you’re Christian. Or Atheist. Or Hindu. Or anything else. It’s up to other Muslims if they let him join their group. He doesn’t have a ‘right’ to impose himself and his white privilege on it.

  35. Polly Styrene Says:

    And no Elly (she said going for the serial posting prize). It’s not “impossible to get rid of the way you were assigned’. How is saying those assigned ‘female at birth’ are different from those assigned male and brought up with male privilege saying it is ‘impossible to get rid of the way you are assigned’. It’s got fuck all to do with it, that is the non sequitur of the century.

    I am saying someone born ‘male’ can never be the same as someone born ‘female’ under patriarchy because that’s a fact. I didn’t invent patriarchy, I’m just living under it. And under patriarchy you CAN’T get rid of the way you’re assigned. We need to get rid of patriarchy. And to do that we need to stop believing in the fiction that is gender.

    You can call yourself what you want. It’s just a word after all. I’m not a ‘woman’. I am of ‘class woman’ under patriarchy. And if you choose to call yourself a ‘woman’ ‘man’ or any variant thereof, that will not alter. The only thing that will alter that is getting rid of the fiction that is gender. Now if a person is assigned ‘male’ and decides to take the gender ‘woman’ without altering their body at all, they can at least claim to be defying gender, though they still won’t destroy it. Someone who decides that they are of gender ‘woman’ and then gets new genitals to match is just saying patriarchy was right after all – if you have a vagina, you’re a woman. Case closed.

    Again. If I change my appearance so that I look black, convincingly, have I stopped racism? Have I made any dent in at all? Is saying that I cannot change my ‘race’ giving power to the concept of ‘race’? No – it is an honest description of a lived experience. Racism is not about skin colour. It is about a lived experience of oppression. That’s the difference.

    The only way out of the whole sorry mess is this. Stop believing in the fiction that is gender. If you want to change your genitals change your genitals. Do not say that makes you same as me, with the same life experience of oppression because it does not. I am not a woman. I am a human being. Oppressed by patriarchy in a way you have not been oppressed by patriarchy. Deal with it.

    Black “women” are oppressed by patriarchy in a way that is different from white “women”. They have a right to organise separately.

    “Women” with disablities are oppressed by patriarchy differently from “women” who do not have disabilities – they have a right to organise separately.

    Etc Etc Etc.

  36. thebewilderness Says:

    This is a tiny tap with the clue stick, for the kazillionth time.

    “I am saying someone born ‘male’ can never be the same as someone born ‘female’ under patriarchy because that’s a fact. I didn’t invent patriarchy, I’m just living under it. And under patriarchy you CAN’T get rid of the way you’re assigned. We need to get rid of patriarchy. And to do that we need to stop believing in the fiction that is gender.”

    Prepare for the eleventieth change of focus.

  37. polly styrene Says:

    Of course the BW. Because these are unanswerable points. However I want to give Elly the credit she very much deserves here and say that (unlike the vast majority of those who comment on this topic) she has used actual arguments and addressed what I’ve said, as opposed to using ad hominem attacks and just claiming I/MAndrea said things were never even fucking said.

    Or just repeating the word ‘transphobic’.

    I just think you’re missing the point Elly. Sorry.

  38. polly styrene Says:

    Which is Biological Essentialism. If you are a Muslim, there (arguably) is not considered to be any interior essence which makes you a Muslim (yes I know this is a broad generalisation, bear with me) – though ‘muslim’ has racist overtones because it is associated with certain ‘races’.

    Now saying “I am a muslim” , or becoming a Muslim doesn’t reify anti islamic prejudice. Because there is no ‘essence’ of being a ‘muslim’. And that’s the difference. You can’t be a ‘muslim trapped in a christian body’. You simply change your religion.

    So the Muslim equation goes like this.

    Muslim=follower of Islam

    If for instance you have an accident so that you become a wheelchair user overnight, your former privilege as a non “disabled” person evaporates, because being ‘disabled’ is seen as just your body.

    You haven’t become ‘disabled’ because you were a ‘disabled person trapped in a non disabled body’. You have become ‘disabled’ because your body has changed. There is no ‘interior essence’ of being “disabled”. Society at large has no difficulty with the concept of the idea that you are “able bodied” one minute, and “disabled” the next. (nb I do realise disability is socially constructed as well, hence the quote marks). So the (physically) “disabled” equation goes like this.

    ‘Disabled’=has a physical disability

    However the POINT, the whole point about gender is that it’s not just your body which makes you a ‘woman’. There is considered to be an interior essence of ‘being a woman’. This is gender. However the point about this mysterious inner essence is that it always attaches itself to people with vaginas.

    Society at large attaches certain attributes to ‘woman’. Such as -bad at maths, naturally passive, can’t put up shelves, etc, etc. It is ONLY ABLE TO DO THIS because of the belief in the mysterious female essence ‘gender’.

    Now if you say “I am a woman, therefore I need a vagina”, you are reifying gender. (gender woman=person with vagina).

    If you say “I am a woman, therefore I behave in a ‘feminine’ way” you are reifying gender. (gender woman=feminine behaviour). If you say “I want to be feminine, therefore I am going to wear lipstick” (“feminine”=certain behaviours) you are reifying gender (even if you’re male). Please note that ‘born’ women can do the second two as well – they can reify gender too! So the whole equation goes like this

    Person with vagina=gender woman=feminine=’feminine’ behaviours

  39. Elly Says:

    “So I convincingly alter my appearance (I’m white) so that I look ‘black’. Am I then ‘black’. Or have I lived with years of white privilege? Is that part of me?”

    I don’t think the comparison is very good to begin with (gender and “race” seems like quite different constructions to me). But ok, consider this. I am seen as white in my country. Now I move in Amerika and am seen as, say, latina (I take this example because I have the impression that there actually is a cultural distinction on this point between our 2 countries, but I may be wrong). I am therefore opressed as a latina. Do I have the “right” to organize with them ?

    “Most ‘trans’ women unfortunately don’t ‘pass’ very well in any case as ‘born’ women.”

    Yes. And sunday I was with a geeky girl who is usually ‘read’ as being a guy – e.g. she goes to male toilets because if she goes to female, she has problems. Yet, she is a biological female. Does she has the right to organize with women (supposing she would want it) ?

    “You cannot wipe away the male privilege you were born with Elly. ”

    No, I wasn’t born with it. I was raised with it, which is quite different. Because people are raised differently, they construct differently, and so on. This is not to say I don’t have ‘male privilege’. But between, say, me and my quite heavily machist male colleague, and between the geeky girl I mentioned before and a girl whose purpose in life is to be the most feminine girl, there is quite a lot of differences in the way we constructed.

    Which makes me quite optimistic as for the possibility to eventually overcome some assigned stuff when you make efforts and are in alternative subcultures’ (such as feminist).

    “And under patriarchy you CAN’T get rid of the way you’re assigned. We need to get rid of patriarchy. And to do that we need to stop believing in the fiction that is gender.”

    And you’re assigned to believe in gender. So if you can’t get rid of how the way you’re assigned under patriarchy, then you can’t get rid of patriarchy, except if you think not believing in gender is just saying “I don’t believe”.

    I think you can get rid of quite a lot of what you’re assigned. Now if the reaction of those opposed to patriarchy is to say “no, but you can’t get rid of everything, you just suck for doing that, you’ll never be like us who don’t believe in gender, only in woman”, well, I don’t see how that’s supposed to attack patriarchy.

    “And you know what – a white man who converts to Islam, is not going to be treated the same in the west as a man originally from Pakistan who’s been Muslim from Birth.”

    No. But, especially if s/he makes his religion visible (hijab, the male robe and hat and beard) he will get quite opressed anyway. I think it is sufficient to allow him to organize with other muslims ; and i think it would be the appropriate strategy for them, too.

    And the fact of being ‘white’ doesn’t mean he hasn’t be hardly opresse because of that. I think the muslim Kosovar or Croatian immigrant who will probably be read ‘white’ (if i’m correct in my geography and ‘racial’ memory map) would have the right to be quite angry if someone said he hasn’t been opressed.

    “Racism is not about skin colour. It is about a lived experience of oppression.”

    Ok. But what about a Japanese guy who never lived oppression because his skin colour, since he was in Japan, and come live in a country where he is living oppression. I think it’s quite obvious he must be allowed to organize with other people perceived as “asians” ; yet he didn’t live oppression because of this.

    Which makes me stick to my position : the important stuff is the currently lived oppression, not whether it is since birth or not.

    “Society at large attaches certain attributes to ‘woman’. Such as -bad at maths, naturally passive, can’t put up shelves, etc, etc. It is ONLY ABLE TO DO THIS because of the belief in the mysterious female essence ‘gender’.”

    Yes. But the thing is, society at large has no way to look up in your panties and see whether you have a vagina.

    So if I understand correctly, if, say, I transition at 20 and become a passing woman, I should still not be in the ‘women’ class when I am 70, though I have been considered and opressed as a woman for 50 years, because it wasn’t since birth ? I’m sorry, but I think it is quite weird.

    “If you want to change your genitals change your genitals. Do not say that makes you same as me, with the same life experience of oppression because it does not. I am not a woman. I am a human being. Oppressed by patriarchy in a way you have not been oppressed by patriarchy. Deal with it.”

    Yes, and I have been oppressed by patriarchy in a way you have not been oppressed by patriarchy. And everybody has the right to organize separately, no problem.

    Now, well, must be my old syndicalist education, but I think things move quite a bit faster when we all organize together when we are opressed by the same thing.

  40. polly styrene Says:

    “Society at large has no way to look into your panties and tell whether you have a vagina”. Well they do that when you’re a baby in case you hadn’t noticed. And you get this thing called a ‘birth certificate’? Elly when you popped out of the womb, and someone wrote ‘boy’ on your birth certificate, you had male privilege. Right from that moment. Forget all the ‘different construction crap’. I am constructed differently from the Queen of England, but we still both have white privilege. The only way in which ‘gender’ and ‘race’ are different constructions is that nobody believes you can be ‘trans’ race. Because race is not seen as an ‘interior essence’ but a purely physical attribute.

    And Elly – I don’t go round showing people my genitals. I do not look ‘feminine’. Yet people can tell I’m female. From my face. Men and women are different facially. They have different bone structure. I am no biological essentialist but that’s a fact.

    No you’re still ignoring gender Elly, and that’s the problem. I gave you the equations. The ‘woman’ equation has 4 parts. You know that thing, that interior essence.

    Have I ever, ever said ‘Trans’ women and women, and men, and anyone else SHOULDN’T ORGANISE TOGETHER? No what I have said – is if black women want to organise separately, I have no right to demand to crash that on the basis that I also am oppressed because I’m a woman, or because I’m not a lesbian. I said women born women have the RIGHT to organise separately.

    So which is it you are saying. That women born women don’t have the RIGHT to organise separately? Or that they shouldn’t because it’s not effective? Exactly as The Bewilderness predicted, you’re trying to shift the focus.

    You know what I am fighting Elly. Male Privilege. Aka Sexism. Aka Misogyny. Aka Patriarchy. Aka the belief in gender. Now of course SOME people who have been raised with Male Privilege can see that’s wrong. Some of them are not trans women but are plain old ordinary non trans men. Now by YOUR logic I should let them into a space for women as well. Because it makes us stronger. We’re all fighting the same thing.

    You’re MISSING THE POINT. Drastically. And since I don’t believe in gender, I don’t believe there is some mysterious internal thing that makes me a woman, I really can’t organise with someone who does believe in that, just because we’re all fighting the same thing. Because that’s one of the things I’m fighting. It would make as much sense for me to organise with the Christian Right, because we’re both opposed to pornography, and hey – that makes us stronger, because there are more of us. Do you see?

    No probably not.

    Shifting the focus? I think so.

    Let me shift the focus a bit Elly. I think it’s my turn. Why do you think you are so oppressed by not being let into a group for women born women? Why is it a basic human right to go into one lousy group? Why aren’t you picketing bridal fairs because they don’t stock size 12 shoes and therefore oppress trans women? Why aren’t you criticising groups of men who beat up trans people? (last time I checked no trans person had ever been beaten up by a group of radical feminists). Is it that you don’t want women born women to be able to have a space to themselves? Because you think they shouldn’t have rights? Is that it?

  41. polly styrene Says:

    Can I make a clarification re race – when I say it is seen as a purely physical attribute, I realise it is also constructed to include ‘ethnicity’, I just mean that it isn’t seen as having an interior emotional/psychological (to the person) component. Hell you know what I mean – I hope.

  42. polly styrene Says:

    Nb “I’m not a lesbian” is a typo and should read “I’m a lesbian”

    Ok I really will shut up now. Bet Elly won’t though.

  43. Polly Styrene Says:

    Um and how about this from Kate Bornstein Elly (she is a transwoman if you’ve never heard of her).

    “Some transsexuals take exclusion by lesbian separatists as oppression, but I don’t think so. Lesbian oppression at the hands of the dominant ideology is not the same as the exclusion experienced by the transgendered at the hands of lesbian separatists — lesbians just don’t have the same economic and social resources with which to oppress the transgendered. “

  44. m Andrea Says:

    I haven’t read any of last I don’t know how many replies, but I would just like to say that Elly seems kinda amazing. Jesus, girl I don’t know how you can stay so calm. I understand why the radfems discussing all this would seem like an attack to the transgendered, regardless how polite the conversation actually is. It cannot easy to hear that some people invalidate something so personal about yourself.

    I know a couple transwomen in real life who can stay this calm when we are discussing it, but then again I think they are special as hell about all kinds of things.

    Anyway, you are doing really swell here, and I noticed.

  45. m Andrea Says:

    “If you want to have some kind of pertinent analysis, you have to make the difference between contradictory positions… some transsexual people correspond to what is said here about the need to make the biological sex match with their body,… you have people who don’t want operations .”

    I do not believe there is a distinction that matters. Many more transgendered would undergo medical treatment, if they thought they could “pass”, could afford it, not lose their spouse or children, suffer through the transition phase, etc etc. It’s called a transition for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is because oftentimes the person starts out only knowing that something doesn’t feel right. Some take many, many years to understand how they feel, and of course feelings and perceptions and opinions change and develope in response to new information and stimuli.

    That’s one of the reasons I put the whole gender confusion thing on it’s own continuum and leave it at that. Another reason is because anthropologists do not start out studying the smallest subsections of people; they start at the top, at the biggest group of a thing they can find, and do not work their way down until they feel comfortable making some basic observations about the biggest classification which are true for all.

    Yes, people are bugs, to be studied under a mircroscope. Nobody’s exempt in my evil world.

  46. thebewilderness Says:

    “Now, well, must be my old syndicalist education, but I think things move quite a bit faster when we all organize together when we are opressed by the same thing.”

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion on that.
    Women’s mileage has differed dramatically over the past six thousand years.

  47. polly styrene Says:

    But MAndrea you are ruining your evol transphobic reputation! I think one thing we can all agree on is that people don’t need to provide a justification to transition. It isn’t up to me or anyone else to decide what people do with their own body, or how they look, or to discriminate against them on that basis (and BTW if you want an example of justified discrimination Elly here’s one – only women being allowed to work in women’s refuges. It’s discrimination – against men – but for a valid reason).

    But – this is where gender harms ‘trans’ people too. And that’s why we need to get rid of it. Because some people alter their bodies and then find out they’ve made a mistake. They didn’t really want to alter their bodies at all. They were confused by the gender=certain type of body delusion. The problem is that once you’ve altered your body you’re stuck with it.

    Some people like to pretend this doesn’t happen (I can give you examples if you want, but it involves links). But people do regret transitioning, or find out it doesn’t meet their needs – in actual fact the post transition suicide rate is roughly equal to the pre transition suicide rate. And it’s shockingly high. About 20%. Now obviously there a variety of reasons for this. But I think we can all agree on one thing. The way both the ‘problem’ and the ‘solution’ is currently constructed isn’t working.

  48. Elly Says:

    Polly styrene<
    “And Elly – I don’t go round showing people my genitals. I do not look ‘feminine’. Yet people can tell I’m female. From my face. Men and women are different facially. They have different bone structure. I am no biological essentialist but that’s a fact.”

    Yes, but quite a lot of people won’t look in details whether you’re male or not, such as hair, how you dress, and such. Some people ‘pass’ as the other gender without even wanting it. OK, some will never want and some need quite a lot of make-up or surgery if they want it.

    But I think if you have been living perceived as female for 20 years,you quite share the female oppression.

    “You know what I am fighting Elly. Male Privilege. Aka Sexism. Aka Misogyny. Aka Patriarchy. Aka the belief in gender. Now of course SOME people who have been raised with Male Privilege can see that’s wrong. Some of them are not trans women but are plain old ordinary non trans men. Now by YOUR logic I should let them into a space for women as well. Because it makes us stronger. We’re all fighting the same thing.”

    No, that’s not it. I think globally all those people should organize together and the “xxx-only” space shouldn’t be the norm. But I’m perfectly OK with “xxx-only” spaces when they are in complement to this.

    But the question concerning transwomen is not to let enter an ally because he sympathises to the cause, but to let enter someone who suffer from the same oppression. And I think a trans woman can suffer from the same oppression as a woman. So, she should be able to enter.

    “I don’t believe there is some mysterious internal thing that makes me a woman”

    But you think there is some external thing : you think it is birth assignation that makes you a woman (at least for the others). I personally think it is the oppression you undergo ; which is indeed quite looser. Now well, whether to accept people who feel that some internal force make them women or not is another debate to me.

    “Why do you think you are so oppressed by not being let into a group for women born women?”

    Well, :
    1) I don’t think I’m particulary oppressed by this since, well, unlike the experiences I read on US blogs, the only time I was excluded from a “woman-only” group, the only person who thought I shouldn’t attend the reunion was… me. Which was quite akward, but I don’t define as a woman and at that time wasn’t opressed as one, so I didn’t think it was pertinent for me to go to women-only reunions (don’t worry, though, I’m still a pain-in-the-ass-tranny for other points. And I do call some stuff transphobic some times. )
    2) I don’t believe in women-born-women. As Simone de Beauvoir said, “on ne nait pas femme, on le devient” : “you are not born a woman. You become one.” I can understand the “having lived a girl childhood” and such, but born women ?
    3) Concerning the oppression I think trans women who are oppressed because they are seen as women are also “oppressed” (even if, right, it has quite nothing to do in term of scale or quality, but I lack vocabulary) if they can’t go to “women-only” space because of they being trans, since, to me it sounds quite silencing the fact that they are living the same oppression.

    So if I debate with you it’s not because I am concerned by this, but because I don’t agree how you define “political class” of women or even race. You seem to think (if I understood correctly) the first years (and, particularly, birth) are the most important, and i think the lastly lived ones (and, particulary, now) are the ones that matter.

    “Why aren’t you picketing bridal fairs because they don’t stock size 12 shoes and therefore oppress trans women? Why aren’t you criticising groups of men who beat up trans people?”

    Well I can debate in the evening on the web and do stuff in the day, I don’t see the point of this. Besides, wouldn’t exactly the same sentence work as a reply to you if I replaced “trans” by “cisgender” ? 🙂

    Now, well, one reason for my participation in all this is I didn’t quite understand why you had so much discussion on trans-in/exclusion and stuff, whereas in France we had not. And I don’t quite have the answer yet. Maybe the “last years VS first years” of experience that matter could be a lead, don’t know.

    mAndrea<
    “Jesus, girl I don’t know how you can stay so calm.”

    Yeah, me too, I’m starting to think my doctor gave me too much of androgen supressors.

    “Many more transgendered would undergo medical treatment, if they thought they could “pass”, could afford it, not lose their spouse or children, suffer through the transition phase, etc etc”

    Hum, I am not quite sure. It’s an impressionist analysis and from another country, but I heard our “official teams” on transsexuality (here, they are the psychiatrists who decide who is a true transsexual and who is not) now had to face more and more ‘transgender’ people who don’t want surgery, and they don’t quite know what to do with them, because they don’t like when you don’t go “all the way”. And it’s not a money issue, since we have social security and surgery can be paid to you if you go through those teams. (Now, maybe it’s just that everybody in our transgender community knows that french surgeons are terrible at SRS, but i’m not sure of it)

    And I know more and more transpeople who define as “non-binary”. (And I don’t want to frighten you, but I realized, when reading a feminist board archives, that two of those transgender people I know were very critical of “transgenderism”, surgery reinforcing gender and such 3 years ago :p)

    Now that doesn’t mean it’s a majority, but in the activists group I found them quite present.

    polly styrene<

    yes, I quite agree on your last post. The fact that surgery is presented as some miracle and quite mandatory procedure is bound to cause deception.

  49. m Andrea Says:

    “And I know more and more transpeople who define as “non-binary”

    Elly, what is “transgenderism”? Or, if you don’t like that word, what does it mean to be “transgender”, in it’s broadest sense? Because I don’t understand how someone could even consider themselves transgendered, if they are not wanting to look female?

    I thought the whole point was that they identified as women? If someone is simply wanting to express traits such as nurturing, etc, I don’t understand the need to identify with symbols. Could you point me to some trans organization which explains this a little better?

    Oh Polly some links would be interesting. That is very troubling.

  50. Elly Says:

    mAndrea:
    Well honestly I may not be the best person to answer to vocabulary questions, since I am used to the french one but not the english one, and they might be nuances (the terms don’t always have the same meanings for different people, so for different countries…)

    But well, according to how I see it and Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender ) the term ‘transgender’ is quite broad and groups different kind of community who shares not to identify fully as the gender they are assigned.

    Wikipedia>
    “The precise definition for transgender remains in flux, but includes:

    * “Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these.”[1]

    * “People who were assigned a gender, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves.”[2]

    * “Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the gender one was assigned at birth.””

    So the term transgender groups cross-dressers, transsexuals, drag kings/queens and so on.

    Now my impression is that most of “gender-critical” transpeople I know define as transgender, whereas most of “women souls trapped in men body” (and vice-versa) define as “transsexual” or, for some, “Benjamin syndrome”.

    mAndrea>
    “Because I don’t understand how someone could even consider themselves transgendered, if they are not wanting to look female?”

    Well, as I see it, being transgender (can) mean rejecting your gender, but it doesn’t necessarily mean embracing the other one. I know some people who want to look “androgyne” and not be seen as men or women, or some who pass very well as women (or men) but don’t necessarily define as women (which can seem contradictory, but is understandable since “passing” can imply a bit less problems – which is all the more true for those who pass as men).

    I guess it’s quite complicated, part of it because the terms don’t always mean the same thing between two different people 🙂

    “I thought the whole point was that they identified as women? If someone is simply wanting to express traits such as nurturing, etc, I don’t understand the need to identify with symbols.”

    I don’t have a simple answer to that. I think part of it is common oppression (an agressor won’t ask me if a am a male-to-female transsexual, a transvestite, or just a man who wears a skirt because it’s just cultural and doesn’t see why I couldn’t), and the other part is linked to how emergence of communities happens and these sort of things for which I don’t have a clue.

    As for pointing out to a trans organization, I’m sorry but I don’t know any which is in english.

    I don’t know if this answer helps, but I think it is the best I can do _o_

  51. m Andrea Says:

    Thank you for that, Elly. I’m just trying to understand with a little more nuance, and it occured to me that I was getting ahead of myself.

    “I thought the whole point was that they identified as women? If someone is simply wanting to express traits such as nurturing, etc, I don’t understand the need to identify with symbols.”

    I don’t have a simple answer to that.

    Okay. The question itself seems simple enough, though. What makes that question hard to answer? Yes, I understand that “lots of people have their own opinion on transgender issues” yadda yadda, but surely we can make some broad generalizations? Because if we can’t make any generalizations at all, then transgenderism itself becomes an elusive package of nothing and therefore can’t exist.

    So, does a transgendered person usually self-identify as transgender because they prefer the accroutements of a particular gender, or because they prefer the character traits of a particular gender?

    If that is too broad a question, which one of those is the reason for YOUR self-identification? Because I still don’t understand why character traits are tied to particular accessories.

    “Well, as I see it, being transgender (can) mean rejecting your gender, but it doesn’t necessarily mean embracing the other one. I know some people …”

    Okay, but aren’t most transgendered wanting to pass as female? A true androgyous look isn’t causing any problems for anybody, the problem arises when a transgender doesn’t pass very well as female (which of course is not their fault and they shouldn’t be harrassed.)

  52. Luckynkl Says:

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. Gender is just short for gender or sex role. Key word there, role. You know, like an actor playing a role? It’s better known as masculinity and femininity. Butch / femme is also another take-off on it. So what are some of you saying? That role playing is real? Oh, and I suppose Mary Martin is really Peter Pan? Charlton Heston is really Moses? And Lon Chaney is really a werewolf? Grow the fuck up, would ya?

    Gender/sex roles, which are fabricated roles and social constructs, are not to be confused with sex. Sex has to do with reproduction, not genitalia. Quite simply, half the population can reproduce, the other half can’t. Females are the ones that can. Males are the ones that can’t. It doesn’t matter if a female is able to, wants to, or chooses to reproduce, it doesn’t negate the fact that only females can. It also doesn’t matter whether you believe in your biology or not. Because it believes in you.

    Come on, folks, this stuff really isn’t all that hard. It’s so simple that flies get it, donkeys get it, and 2nd graders get it. But grown adults can’t?

    That said, a woman is simply an adult human female. Which differentiates her from young, sexually immature, human females (which we call girls), and from females in other species. Woman is distinctly human. Again, it has to do with reproduction, not genitalia. If there’s any construct, it’s the focus, emphasis, and value placed on reproduction, not in the biology itself.

    So what are mtf trans saying? They woke up one morning believing they could pull babies out their asses? Well, let me know when that happens. Because they’ll be the first males in the history of humankind that could.

    Ok, let’s talk a little biology. There are 2 sexes. Male and female. Sorry, there is no third, much less more. Let’s count. X = 1. Y = 2. See that? There’s no third. We’re all a combination of X’s and Y’s.

    It’s more than symbolic. If you’ve ever seen an X chromosome, it does indeed look like an X. A Y chromosome doesn’t look much like a Y tho. It’s a looks like a severely degenerated X and is a fraction of its size. Almost as if someone took a pair of sissors and cut big pieces off an X. As a result, the Y chromosome is biologically incomplete which renders him incapable of reproducing. As many have long suspected, males are indeed degenerated mutants. It should also be noted that the Y chromosome continues to progressively degenerate. What scientists know is that this will eventually result in the extinction of males. Males in several species have already disappeared. The human male will be no exception.

    The healthy X chromosome, which is biologically complete, carries approx. 1500 characteristics and the entire blueprint for human DNA. Everyone has an X. One cannot survive without an X. But one can survive just fine without a Y. Y chromosomes only carry approx. 20 characteristics. Pretty much its only function is to determine male sex.

    Now, for those that are good at math, 1500 does not equal 20. Nor is 1500 interchangeable with 20. Got it? Good. Let’s move on.

    X’s = female. Y’s = male. Again, the Y chromosome determines male sex. So it doesn’t matter how many X’s one has, if there is Y present, this renders him male. Which makes clear that those with AIS are being incorrectly labeled female. They’re not. They’re male.

    Yes, I’m aware of the intersexed. The truly intersexed are called hermaphrodites. They have both XX and XY cells. All others need not apply. If you’ve got a Y, you’re male, period. True hermaphrodites are about as common as 2-headed goats. Tho to listen to some people, they’re on every street corner. They’re so extremely rare, that I’m not even going to bother trying to chase that rabbit down any hole, any more than I’d go in search of 2-headed goats.

    This concludes the biology lesson. What should be noted is that the Y chromosome, which is what determines the male sex, has been scheduled for termination by Mother Nature. IOWs, postmodern and trans arguments just simply don’t hold water. Because Mother Nature isn’t going to listen to your bullshit. If you’ve got a Y chromosome, bye, bye. Like I said, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in your biological sex or think it’s a construct or not. Becaus it believes in you. Deal with it.

    What I think trans are really more than likely identifying with, is feminiity. Which is a gender role (I prefer to call it sex role) assigned by the patriarchy to girls/women. Feminization is just a tool of oppression. When one group wants to oppress another, it feminizes them. IOWs, girls/women aren’t the only group of people feminized. Slaves, for example, are feminized. So were the Jews during WWII. But the fact that feminiity is so closely associated with females goes to the root of who this tool of oppression was first practiced and forced upon, and continues to be practiced and forced upon.

    That doesn’t make you a woman, Elly. That just makes you an effeminate male. Sorry, but cutting off and sewing on genitals and taking hormones, and all the magical thinking in the world, isn’t going to change your sex and make you capable of reproduction. You will still be male. A surgically/chemically altered male, perhaps, but nonetheless, still male, and incapable of reproduction.

    Yes, I’m well aware that not all females can or want to reproduce. Again, that doesn’t negate the fact that only females can. What’s more, all females will be treated from birth as if they can and will until proven otherwise. And if they can’t, they will be poked and prodded and tested to find out why.

    Is this ever done to the male-born? Does anyone actually sit around wondering why males can’t reproduce? By the same token, is anyone actually surprised when a woman produces a human being instead of a 3-headed giraffe? Well, gee, why not? Are you essentialist or something?

  53. stormy Says:

    From Reuters:

    Transgender “man” reportedly gives birth
    Thu Jul 3, 2008 8:15pm EDT

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Thomas Beatie, who was born a woman but after surgery and hormone treatment lives as a man, has given birth to a girl at an Oregon hospital, People magazine reported on Thursday.

    Beatie, 34, who kept female reproductive organs after initiating a transgender transformation and legally changing his name from Tracy Lagondino in his 20s, confirmed the birth to the magazine.

    The baby, conceived through artificial insemination using donor sperm and Beatie’s own eggs, was born on June 29, and Beatie and the baby are “healthy and doing well,” People reported.

    “The only thing different about me is that I can’t breast-feed my baby. But a lot of mothers don’t,” People quoted Beatie as saying. He has had his breasts surgically removed.

    He told the magazine that contrary to published reports, the baby was not delivered by Caesarean section, but no other details about the birth were given.

    Beatie made world headlines — and stoked public debate about the boundaries of gender identity — when he went public with his pregnancy during a guest appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in April, in which he was shown undergoing an ultrasound examination.

    The thinly bearded Beatie told Winfrey then that he began his sexual transformation about 10 years ago when he started taking testosterone injections and had surgery to remove mammary glands and flatten his chest.

    Upon deciding to have a child about two years ago, he halted his bimonthly hormone injections and resumed menstruating.

    Beatie’s wife, Nancy, 46, whom he married five years ago, was unable to conceive because of a prior hysterectomy. Otherwise, he has said, “I wouldn’t be doing this.” His spouse has two grown daughters by a previous marriage.

    She said on “Oprah” that their parental roles would be fairly traditional despite his transgender status. “He’s going to be the father, and I’m going to be the mother,” she said.

    The couple, who operate a T-shirt printing business in Bend, Oregon, are legally married and he is recognized under Oregon state law as a man.

    Beatie has said he is writing a book about his childhood, his mother’s suicide and his life growing up in Hawaii, where as a youngster he was a Girl Scout, a teen beauty pageant contestant and earned a martial-arts black belt.

    He began living as a man in his 20s, eventually changing his gender on his passport and driver’s license. Like many individuals who identify themselves as transgender men, or “transmen,” Beatie opted not to remove his ovaries and other female reproductive organs he was born with.

    I thought it appropriate to dump this here, but I should really dump it over at Transphobic Central (aka CowBlog)

    This report/situation really does illustrate some of the points made above.

    The ‘man’ is ‘role of man’, not an actual (biological) male. So much so, she kept her female organs, and had a double mastectomy.

    To me, the whole situation reads like homophobia. Especially the:
    She said on “Oprah” that their parental roles would be fairly traditional despite his transgender status. “He’s going to be the father, and I’m going to be the mother,” she said.
    W.T.F.?

    This does not break down gender roles, merely reinforces them.
    Hence, I fail to see how transgender helps feminism, particularly since its goals seem the opposite.

  54. m Andrea Says:

    “Transphobic Central (aka CowBlog)” hahahahahahaha If I wasn’t positive someone would kill me, I’d rename her link in the blogroll. There’s no point to being not-transphobic when it apparently only means “doesn’t agree with everything they say”.

    Also, Amy’s Brain had a nice post up yesterday, and I’m totally stealing “vanilla vigilante”.

    That situation with everyone referring to a pregnant woman as a man made my head explode. Talk about orwellian doublethink. The only bad thing about transgenderism is that after it’s over, people are going to claim that political correctness has gone too far and they’ll increase the hate-on for everything else.

    mmmm, blueberry muffins.

  55. Elly Says:

    “So, does a transgendered person usually self-identify as transgender because they prefer the accroutements of a particular gender, or because they prefer the character traits of a particular gender?”

    I think most of the people I know define as transgender because they reject being “in” the gender they have been assigned. Which can be for multiple reasons, a few of which I think I named (from “feeling as a man trapped in a woman’s body” to rejecting gender in general).

    “Okay, but aren’t most transgendered wanting to pass as female?”

    Well, there are FtMs, too.

    And the problem is that most of the people who really really pass won’t say “hey, I’m a tranny, actually”. They usually won’t go to LGBTI demonstrations. So well, except the ones who are in transition, I don’t see how I could estimate their number. I can only see people who define as trans and go to trans, feminist or lgbti events. And on these people, I have the impression that for many “passing” isn’t really the top priority.

    For the others, I think they just want to live their life as quietly as possible, being viewed in a gender they can bear, even if it means reinforcing it. Like, well, most cisgender people.

    “A true androgyous look isn’t causing any problems for anybody”

    It depends what you call androgynous. I know that only wearing a skirt when you are seen as male can be a problem. Even if you don’t want to pass as a female with it.

    “If that is too broad a question, which one of those is the reason for YOUR self-identification?”

    Because of being insulted or called a “tranny”, being asked if I was transsexual or something, etc. I didn’t really care wheter I was a tranny or not, but the rest of the worl surely seemed to do.

    “That situation with everyone referring to a pregnant woman as a man made my head explode.”

    So, you mean gender is a fiction, but if you’re pregnant, you are a woman ?

    “That situation with everyone referring to a pregnant woman as a man made my head explode. Talk about orwellian doublethink”

    Well I see more doublethinking in saying gender doesn’t exist, but it is a social construct, but it is being pregnant, but it is at birth and can’t be changed (at least the Luckynkl post is quite clear on that)

    “The only bad thing about transgenderism is that after it’s over, people are going to claim that political correctness has gone too far and they’ll increase the hate-on for everything else.”

    Yeah, well I think I heard the same argument about gay pride and nearly every new movement. Women in pants ? Damn, I’m for women’s right, but that’s going too far.

    And well, if we are too much in the norm, we are criticized for reinforcing gender ; if we step outside of it too much, because we make political correctness go too far and are preparing a backlash. And poor Thomas Beatie does both at the same time.

    Well, sorry, I’d like to say more stuff and maybe rewrite some sentences which might be harsh, but my time in this cyber-cafe is over, so, well, no re-reading.

  56. stormy Says:

    I think most of the people I know define as transgender because they reject being “in” the gender they have been assigned.

    Just about every darn radfem fits that criteria; so I guess radfems are transgendered (as opposed to transexual). However, we are NOT transgendered, we just oppose the genderrole binary. The other issue is of course that the trans movement encompasses, and also tries to encompass to gain numbers, anyone and everyone. Those that don’t like gender roles and reject them; those that want plastic surgery on otherwise healthy body parts; those that wear dresses one or two days per week (hi Tom!); those that cross-dress but basically just have sexual fetishes for women’s clothing.

    So, you mean gender is a fiction, but if you’re pregnant, you are a woman ?

    Nope. Not woman – FEMALE. Thomas Beattie is female, but chooses to dress and pass for a ‘man’. Hence I used the pronoun “she”, because only biological human females can bear offspring. This proves that all this so-called genderbending switching from ‘one gender to another’ is just smoke and mirrors — an illusion.

    Just as illusionary as those people who get all over body tattoos and dental surgery to look like leopards. They are still human, not leopards. Just as Beattie is still female, not male. By virtue of the fact that Beattie has given birth, that makes her, by some standards not mine, ‘more’ woman than myself, a nulliparous female. I used ‘woman’ there, because it is more to do with ‘expected’ sex category function.

    I am female assigned at birth (FAB), and from birth, was treated differently than those who are male assigned at birth. Treating one category of human over another based on whatever criteria (including skin pigmentation) is discrimination. We who are FAB are fighting this lifelong discrimination. This is another point of contention that radfems have with transactivists, who seek to obliterate the discrimination that FABs face from childhood/birth, by insisting that they (TWs) no longer have male privilege. It is not that simple to ‘deprogramme’ the formative years, whereby sense of self is carried forward into adulthood. The fact that many TW activists think it their right to barge into FAB-only spaces just because they have approximated (artificial) body parts, does actually show that male privilege is alive and well in TW activists, and that the ‘change’ is merely external and superficial.

  57. Elly Says:

    ““If that is too broad a question, which one of those is the reason for YOUR self-identification?”

    Because of being insulted or called a “tranny”, being asked if I was transsexual or something, etc. I didn’t really care wheter I was a tranny or not, but the rest of the worl surely seemed to do.”

    Well, I realize that I quite elude the question by saying that, because it doesn’t tell why I behaved in such a way to be called like this.

    Now it is quite difficult to answer, because analysing how my brain works using this own brain is bound to give a biased result. But I think this is because I rejected being a “man”, and this is because of two composants:

    1) an identitary one. I was too shy, too crying, too… well, not enough man to be a “true” man and it was made clear to me that i wasn’t a real man.

    2) a “political” one because I rejected the “you have a penis, ergo you are a man, ergo you must behave like a ‘real man’, and so on” equation.

    Now I don’t want to speak in name of all trannies, but I guess my “identity” part is indeed a quite pure product of gender.

    I mean, gender (let’s personify it as a person for the sake of demonstration) tells me “you’re not a real man”.

    I say, “ok, then I’ll be a woman”.

    Gender tells me: “you’re not a woman either, because you don’t have a vagina”

    I say “ok, then I’m something else”.

    But Gender is still not happy : “No”, he says, “there is nothing else”.

    What I mean through this boring dialogue (except that I’m not only reinforcing gender, but also personifying it) is that being the product of something doesn’t mean you reinforce it ; you can also just show how contradictory it is.

    Now of course in “transgenderism” you also have people who want to erase every contradiction by undergoing surgery and every possible procedure.

    But even if criticizing the whole “transgender” movement because of that is kind of funny and generates those kind of discussions which I must admit I enjoy and allows you to be “evil” and so, I don’t think this analysis can give interesting leads on what to do concretely.

    And I even think it is counterproductive: by opposing “feminism” and “transgenderism” with quite agressive arguments (e.g. not respecting pronouns because the guy gave birth, the whole “you trannies can only cry or call other transphobic”, and such) the only result it can have is to make “transgender” a block. I mean, even I who define as quite feminist , when reading all this, I have the slight tendency to want to reject this and say “ok, I’m not feminist, you’re right, hell with it” and even to defend the really essentialist transpeople whom I seem to be doomed to be linked with (and God knows I really hate them, at least the ones who explain to me that I am actually just a man in a dress because I don’t want operation and my shoes are not “feminine” enough).

    This being said, in order to conclude, I am sorry for what I am about to say, but I think I had to if I wanted to match the high level :

    Luckynkl:
    “That doesn’t make you a woman, Elly. That just makes you an effeminate male. Sorry, but cutting off and sewing on genitals and taking hormones, and all the magical thinking in the world, isn’t going to change your sex and make you capable of reproduction. You will still be male. A surgically/chemically altered male, perhaps, but nonetheless, still male, and incapable of reproduction.”

    Well, at least *I* can pee standing up :p

  58. Polly Styrene Says:

    Hi Elly

    Yet again – props to you for engaging in intelligent debate. No I don’t believe in women born women either. I just used the term because it is in common currency. I actually use the term ‘Female assigned at birth’ because it is broader (it includes people who are technically ‘intersex’ such as those with Androgen Insenstivity Syndrome, but are for all intents and purposes ‘women’).

    The whole reason this debate is important – and I realise you’re not saying this personally – is that it is currently the legal situation in England (where I live) that anyone who has had ‘gender reassignment’ legally is treated the same as any other woman. I have no problems with that in most areas. Since I believe woman is a fictional construct I don’t care who calls themselves a ‘woman’.

    BUT to have gender reassigment you just need a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. You can become a ‘woman’ and still be a biological male. And you can then – enter a woman’s domestic violence refuge, take a job giving personal care to someone who’s a woman (which a man would not be entitled to take legally) etc etc.

    And THAT’S why this matters. Biological females are having their safe space taken away from them and told they (potentially) have to admit biological males. But if I say that’s a problem I get called ‘transphobic’ by some people – though not by you I suspect.

  59. Polly Styrene Says:

    And as the deconstructionist I am MAndrea, transphobia central must disagree with you. I have no problem with Thomas Beatie being a ‘man’. What I have a problem with is him being a ‘real’ man. Because if he is a ‘real’ man something must be making him a ‘real man’ and that thing must be gender. Because nothing else distinguishes him from ‘women’. Certainly his biology doesn’t.

    Go ask Alice – when she’s ten feet tall.

  60. Polly Styrene Says:

    Now I don’t want to speak in name of all trannies, but I guess my “identity” part is indeed a quite pure product of gender.

    I mean, gender (let’s personify it as a person for the sake of demonstration) tells me “you’re not a real man”.

    I say, “ok, then I’ll be a woman”.

    Gender tells me: “you’re not a woman either, because you don’t have a vagina”

    I say “ok, then I’m something else”.

    But Gender is still not happy : “No”, he says, “there is nothing else”.

    This bit is brilliant Elly because you’ve got the problem in a nutshell (personally I think it’s because you’re French – all the big thinkers on gender are French, it’s cos the whole bloody language is gendered). You are only allowed to live in one gender or the other, and to do that you have to have the bits.

    Now this is why I say individuals aren’t to blame for the problem. The problem is when society as a whole is in the grip of this mass delusion. It INSISTS that you can be a ‘woman’ trapped in a ‘man’s body’. So no I’m not objecting to you personally saying you are a woman, when what you mean is your personal sense of identity fits the (fictional) gender construct woman best. Because ‘woman’ means nothing. It’s just a constructed gender category.

    What I am objecting to is the people who say “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body, I have always been a woman and I am having my genitals CORRECTED because of that, because obviously I should have had a vagina and god made a mistake on the production line”

    Because that’s just silly.

    Or even sillier – I identify as a woman and thus even though I was born with a penis, I am exactly equivalent to someone who was born with a vagina in the way the world at large treats me and anyone who says that isn’t so is transphobic.

  61. Polly Styrene Says:

    And please, please rename me transphobia central. Cos everyone clicking on the link will have their minds blown……

  62. m Andrea Says:

    Yanno what, this:

    “* “Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these.”[1]

    * “People who were assigned a gender, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves.”[2]

    * “Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the gender one was assigned at birth.””

    Describes what they are NOT. I want a definition which describes what they ARE.

    That’s not a description; that’s an avoidance mechanisim.

    mmmm coffee. she has arisen, and is teaching baby birds to fly today. joy!

  63. Polly Styrene Says:

    Where is that from MAndrea? Ya see as the deconstructionist I am I have no problem with people calling themselves unicorns if they want. I have a problem with them saying they are a REAL unicorn though. That is why I pounced on the F word yesterday despite my vow to avoid it forever.

    If someone starts saying Thomas Beatie is a REAL man, I want to know why is he a real man. Because that implies there is something about him that makes him a real man, that other people who are not real men have not got. And if the answer is just because that is what he ‘identifies’ as then you are saying the definition of ‘real’ man is someone who identifies as a man. Which makes the whole thing meaningless because all you are describing is the interior of someone’s head. I mean if I say I identify as a ‘real’ man but I’m lying and I don’t – am I still a real man? You see the problem, it is positively Descartian. (if that is an adjective, and I freely admit I know nothign much about Descartes).

    That’s why I keep getting annoyed when the comparison with homosexuality is made. Yes that is a construct (I’ve seen more arguments about what is a lesbian, what is butch, what is femme than I’ve had hot dinners). But it is a description of something, even if the something varies. Someone isn’t a lesbian just because they identify as one, they are a lesbian because they do something – are only sexually attracted to women, are primarily sexually attracted to women, are a woman focussed woman, however you define it, but you are defining a characteristic, not a consciousness. The fact that you are a gender just because you identify as it apparently, just proves gender is a bunch of bollocks.

    I rest my case. However I have to break it you that you are not the baby bird’s mother even if you identify as a mother bird.

  64. thebewilderness Says:

    “* “Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these.”[1]

    That would cover about ninety percent of the human race.

    Which is a clear example of why gender is a false construct that has been enforced by brutal means for thousands of years, and must be repudiated.
    Criminy, everyone is ambiguous until they are conditioned to conform.

  65. bonobobabe Says:

    Completely OT and you all may already know this, but the IBTP forum is now defunct. Probably too much drama, I imagine. I quit posting there after I was attacked for saying something radical. Gee, then don’t call yourself a radfem message board. Dumbasses.

  66. thebewilderness Says:

    They have put together a temp forum to plan for how to set up a new one with less authoritarian “modding”.
    If you’re interested mAndrea can give you my email, and I’ll send you a link.

  67. Branjor Says:

    ***Well, at least *I* can pee standing up***

    That’s pretty pathetic, but *anybody* can pee standing up.

  68. bonobobabe Says:

    They have put together a temp forum to plan for how to set up a new one with less authoritarian “modding”.

    Is that like having a meeting to discuss how to have a meeting?

    If you’re interested mAndrea can give you my email, and I’ll send you a link.

    Doubtful. Even if the mods aren’t going to be acting like mods, they are still the same people so it’ll be the same old male-identified, my-Nigel-this-and-my-Nigel-that crap. And anyone with truly radical thoughts will be spat on.

  69. thebewilderness Says:

    I beg your pardon!

  70. bonobobabe Says:

    I beg your pardon!

    I’m sorry. Did I offend you? You weren’t a mod, were you?

    Did you not witness the behavior I mentioned? I think a lot of that stuff was personal. Mods just took a dislike to someone and then that was it.

    Your experience was obviously different than mine.

  71. Luckynkl Says:

    Doubtful. Even if the mods aren’t going to be acting like mods, they are still the same people so it’ll be the same old male-identified, my-Nigel-this-and-my-Nigel-that crap. And anyone with truly radical thoughts will be spat on.

    Well, that’s you know you’re a radical feminist, bonobobabe. Everyone hates you. RFs are arguably, the most hated group on the planet. Which tells you who threatens the patriarchy and who doesn’t. I’d worry if they did like you or your ideas. That means you’re on the wrong track.

    That said, I’m there. So it’s not like you’ll be alone.

    P.S. I think you have thebewilderness figured wrong. She’s very wise. Take the hint from there. I think you will like her very, very much.

  72. m Andrea Says:

    I believe we are experiencing a miscommunication, and that is all. So easy to do, on teh interwebs.

  73. Jennifer-Ruth Says:

    ***Well, at least *I* can pee standing up***

    *That’s pretty pathetic, but *anybody* can pee standing up.*

    Oh, come on Branjor, that was hilarious. It was obviously flippant. It was also an entirely brilliant response to a comment that swung entirely below the belt. Which is shame, because the rest of this comment thread has been very civilised.

    BTW – I have very much been enjoying the debate between mAndrea, Polly and Elly. I have become unsure where I stand on the entire issue because you are all so damn compelling.

  74. m Andrea Says:

    Polly: “And I do not criticise all trans activists. I criticise only those trans activists whose activism promotes the belief that gender is real.”

    You sorta explained a little elsewhere in this thread what you thought you meant by this, but I am still confused. I am operating under the premise that it is not possible for someone to claim to be transgendered, unless that person believes gender to be real. Could you explain your reasoning, please?

    For instance, many trans folk say all kinds of things, but when nit-picking them into particular either/or positions, it becomes obvious that they don’t say what they mean, or believe what they say. Elly unfortunately was another example of that, but I don’t have the heart to pick apart her words directly, unless she says she doesn’t mind. (I am getting really good at this interogatin’ crap, it only took two replies, and with the vanilla girls it takes me hours.)

    Anyway, the reason I say that all transgendered must believe that gender is real is because of this: If they do not believe that gender is real, then they would simply opt for an androgynous lifestyle, whatever that is. They would reject both the machismo of a traditional real man and they they would also reject the barbie doll of a traditional real woman.

    In other words, they would not fight to become/use/wear/act those characteristics or attributes of the “other”, which in this case is female. To reject some thing is not the same and is fundamentally different from claiming some other thing.

    It is possible to reject one thing and at the same time not claim some other thing.

    Rejecting a thing creates a vacuum which sucks in something else, if and only if the center is not solid to begin with.

    If the center is solid, it does not change when superfluous crap is removed or rejected.

    If the center is solid, it is the Unmoved Mover. It cause the people and culture around it to move, the very nature of itself does not move or change at all. The Unmoved Mover rejects and ejects frivolous crap, and does not require more and different frivolous crap as a replacement.

    That is my reasoning, and apologies if it’s not clear. But that only refutes one part of the transgenderism argument, the one which claims they “are not real men”; there is another argument which claims that they “just are” real women, and the rebuttal to that is to simply take the above reasoning and invert it.

    This is why I say people are distracted and confused by complicated ever-changing definitions and justifications; it is simple, basic logic which will kill the heart of transgenderism where it stands.

    I’m just trying to figure out a way to explain the very simple to idiots. Their comprehension is so very low to begin with. Thank god for the brightness of radfems, else I’d go completely insane.

  75. Elly Says:

    mAndrea:
    “For instance, many trans folk say all kinds of things, but when nit-picking them into particular either/or positions, it becomes obvious that they don’t say what they mean, or believe what they say. Elly unfortunately was another example of that, but I don’t have the heart to pick apart her words directly, unless she says she doesn’t mind.

    Well, actually I would prefer that, so yeah, please, I think I can survive it
    (anyway, everybody knows that many male-to-female transition only because they are masochist), because here I don’t quite see how I don’t mean what I say (but I am ready to admit that I don’t always know what means what I say)

    “Anyway, the reason I say that all transgendered must believe that gender is real is because of this: If they do not believe that gender is real, then they would simply opt for an androgynous lifestyle, whatever that is.”

    I don’t quite see why this would prevent them to define as transgender (which, yeah, is a quite broad term encompassing many different things, which you can dislike, but on the other hand there are more precise terms if you mean more precise stuff).

    By the way, is there a difference between ‘transgender’ and ‘transgendered’ ?

    “In other words, they would not fight to become/use/wear/act those characteristics or attributes of the “other”, which in this case is female. ”

    Why ? You assume that wanting (and thus fighting for) ‘female’ stuff is believing in gender, but it may be only because, well, you like those characterstics better ? I mean, ok, I love high-heeled boots, lipstick and pink, now should I refrain from liking this because it is believing in gender ? I don’t think so. Maybe gender construction plays a role in why I like all this, but I don’t see why I should culpabilize about it.

    Polly Styrene:
    “This bit is brilliant Elly because you’ve got the problem in a nutshell (personally I think it’s because you’re French – all the big thinkers on gender are French, it’s cos the whole bloody language is gendered).”

    Well, thank you, even if I’m think you’re quite exagerating 🙂 But you’re right about the language, I must admit I would maybe not have the same gender identity or the same vision on gender if I had been talking a less gendered language.

    “BUT to have gender reassigment you just need a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. You can become a ‘woman’ and still be a biological male. And you can then – enter a woman’s domestic violence refuge, take a job giving personal care to someone who’s a woman (which a man would not be entitled to take legally) etc etc.

    And THAT’S why this matters. Biological females are having their safe space taken away from them and told they (potentially) have to admit biological males. But if I say that’s a problem I get called ‘transphobic’ by some people – though not by you I suspect.”

    I don’t see how the gender identity law is the problem here. I mean, whatever the law, I think there will be “problems” if you want to look at the gender on a ID. E.g. I don’t think a ftm guy who appears for everybody as a man would be exactly welcomed in a “woman-only” space. If you want to exclude people from certain spaces basing on their gender, I don’t think looking at the ID is very relevant (in particular if refuges want to welcome people who don’t have an ID).

    Now, as you might have guessed, I’m not a big fan of excluding transwomen from women space in general. Still, I can have some tolerance for some specific cases, but even there, I think that if the only reason to exclude a women is because she has (or should have) a male stamp on her ID, there is a problem. Because I can understand e.g. the male privilege argument, but if no one is able to detect this male privilege I don’t think it can be a reason sufficient to exclude a person.

    (Now, this could quite be read as accepting “passing transwomen” but not “transwomen who don’t pass”. Which isn’t what I mean. (so yeah, mAndrea may be right, I don’t say what I mean). I think that globally the important part should be the behaviour, not the apparence)

  76. m Andrea Says:

    okay damnit, it is not IQ at all, only an unwillingness to face reality. Denial, you reign as king, and your consort is fear.

    That is why radfems see reality for what it is, for we are not afraid.

  77. stormy Says:

    Anyway, the reason I say that all transgendered must believe that gender is real is because of this: If they do not believe that gender is real, then they would simply opt for an androgynous lifestyle, whatever that is. They would reject both the machismo of a traditional real man and they they would also reject the barbie doll of a traditional real woman.

    I agree with this mAndrea.

    This is my biggest issue with transgenderism. The insistance on rejecting one stereotype for another. Not exacly edgy (as they often PR). More like upholding the existing dichotomy.

    Take for example, that statement from the Oprah show:
    She said on “Oprah” that their parental roles would be fairly traditional despite his transgender status. “He’s going to be the father, and I’m going to be the mother,” she said.

    I puked at this. The *need* for a mommy and a daddy (nuclear family) just upholds patriarchy. There are other ways to raise children (group efforts) other than a nuclear family. So, WTF can’t the ‘daddy’ (Beattie) stay at home with the kid?

    Tranz uphold the existing dichotomy.
    Tranz uphold the existing structures.

    Not edgy. Not new at all.

  78. m Andrea Says:

    m Andrea:“Anyway, the reason I say that all transgendered must believe that gender is real is because of this: If they do not believe that gender is real, then they would simply opt for an androgynous lifestyle, whatever that is.”

    Elly: I don’t quite see why this would prevent them to define as transgender (which, yeah, is a quite broad term encompassing many different things, which you can dislike, but on the other hand there are more precise terms if you mean more precise stuff).

    Because the idea is not to define terms, the idea is to blur the definitions so throughly that no specific criticism can be made. It’s kinda hard to criticism something so elusive when no matter what the criticism, the answer is always, “well that might be true for this thing over here, but it couldn’t possibly be true for this thing over there, because They’re Completely Different!™ ” It’s like a Monty Python sketch, and we’re not supposed to notice how ridiculous it is. I noticed.

    And so I am going to lump them all together and proceed accordingly. If the transcommunity wants to insist that these various subgroups are so very different, then they can do that. But it still doesn’t matter, because all the transgender subgroups have two things in common and those two things in common are what I am attacking: either they say they are transgendered because they aren’t “real men” or they say they are transgendered because they are “real women”.

    But there is a third choice and that third choice would be popular only IF transgenderism was not a fetish or some sort of mental illness. I believe you are attempting to claim this third choice for yourself, and that’s great Elly, but everything else you say directly contradicts your claim.

    By the way, is there a difference between ‘transgender’ and ‘transgendered’ ?

    Transgenderism is a belief, an ideology, an umbrella term. Transgendered are those who claim to “be”.

    m Andrea:“In other words, they would not fight to become/use/wear/act those characteristics or attributes of the “other”, which in this case is female. ”

    Elly:Why ? You assume that wanting (and thus fighting for) ‘female’ stuff is believing in gender, but it may be only because, well, you like those characterstics better ? I mean, ok, I love high-heeled boots, lipstick and pink, now should I refrain from liking this because it is believing in gender ? I don’t think so. Maybe gender construction plays a role in why I like all this, but I don’t see why I should culpabilize about it.

    So do you think you are a real woman? yes or no. pick one. Just a one word answer. Then add anything you want, after. Do not hedge by asking what is a real women. We can talk about that afterwards, if you want.

  79. thebewilderness Says:

    Having dabbled my toe in that toxic pool of third wave Radfemphobia, I sincerely beg the pardon of everyone on this thread for suggesting that they expose themselves to it.
    For a brief moment I thought there would be an effort to restructure the next forum to include radical feminism in more than just the name. Criminy!
    This is the sixth time I have been wrong about that group. I think I finally got it.

  80. pisaquaririse Says:

    Yes Bewilderness yes!
    Radfemphobia! It is everywhere.
    Normalize this term asap peeps. Take back the movement already.

    (General note: this is not a characterization of anyone in this thread)

  81. bonobobabe Says:

    Well, that’s you know you’re a radical feminist, bonobobabe. Everyone hates you. RFs are arguably, the most hated group on the planet. Which tells you who threatens the patriarchy and who doesn’t. I’d worry if they did like you or your ideas. That means you’re on the wrong track.

    That said, I’m there. So it’s not like you’ll be alone.

    Well, which forum is it now? I saw one blogger mention starting one, and she specifically mentioned the IBTP forum.

    mAndrea is free to give out my e-mail addy, in case no one wants to give out the URL of the new forum(s) publicly.

  82. Elly Says:

    mAndrea:
    ”Because the idea is not to define terms, the idea is to blur the definitions so throughly that no specific criticism can be made. It’s kinda hard to criticism something so elusive when no matter what the criticism, the answer is always, “well that might be true for this thing over here, but it couldn’t possibly be true for this thing over there, because They’re Completely Different!™ ” It’s like a Monty Python sketch, and we’re not supposed to notice how ridiculous it is. I noticed.”

    Yeah, right, it was much better in the good old times, when we had clean and precise definitions which where made up by the experts in psychiatrics. Very feminist, those guys, by the way.

    So, yeah, ‘transgender’ is blurred. It’s maybe why I can define as ‘transgender’ and not as ‘Harry Benjamin Syndrome’. Now if you want more precise terms, I think they still exist. Help yourself.

    ”And so I am going to lump them all together and proceed accordingly.”

    Wonderful, it will help having constructive discussion where the criticism can be heard and be helpful.

    ”But it still doesn’t matter, because all the transgender subgroups have two things in common and those two things in common are what I am attacking: either they say they are transgendered because they aren’t “real men” or they say they are transgendered because they are “real women”.”

    Yeah, I’m pretty certain the FtM/Ftx community will feel very concerned about being real women.

    And, uh, I don’t get it. You say gender isn’t real, but you’re attacking the fact that transpeople say they are not ‘real men’ ?

    ”So do you think you are a real woman? yes or no. pick one. Just a one word answer”

    Is my personal identity that important to the discussion? Yeah, I know, the personal is political, but don’t you think the focalisation on how I *personally* define is quite similar to what you reproach to your ‘opponents’ with their “crying game”, that is to center the debate on a very personal discussion ?

    The “ok, I love high-heeled boots, lipstick and pink, now should I refrain from liking this because it is believing in gender ? I don’t think so.” part of my post was an example, it’s a generic ‘I’. I admit that maybe I should have made it clearer, but on the other hand I don’t think it had that much importance whether I did wear lipstick or not.

    So really, I would appreciate that it does not center around my personal identity and my personal tastes, because really, who cares ?

    Now, no, I don’t define as a “real woman” because I don’t think real woman exists. I usually define as “trans'” and “pasfemme”. And I don’t wear lipstick or high heel boots. But I quite like pink.

    And I don’t think any of this is particulary great or wonderfully subversive or reactionnary or anything. I think what really matters is not how you dress or what you look like, but what you concretely do and say. And you can fight against oppression or be an oppressive piece of shit, you can reinforce gender or fight it, whether you’re transgender or not.

    So, I don’t think “transgenderism” is an ideology. But of course, yeah, how you justify and explain it (e.g. “a woman soul in a man’s body”) denotes your ideology.

    And as Marx said, the ruling ideology is the ideology of the ruling class. Which isn’t exactly feminist. So if you consider “transgender” as an ideology and pick the most dominant ideas to determine which ideology it is, yeah, you will find it is quite anti-feminist and gender reinforcing. And you’ll have the same results if you consider the “cisgender” ideology, the “man” ideology, the “woman” ideology… But I don’t see how this can be helpful.

  83. m Andrea Says:

    Elly, that was a spectacularly ginormous pout fest, which is why I thought about deleting it. But you did in fact answer the question, and thank you for that. I realize it was painful for you.

    “Is my personal identity that important to the discussion? Yeah, I know, the personal is political, but don’t you think the focalisation on how I *personally* define is quite similar to what you reproach to your ‘opponents’ with their “crying game”, that is to center the debate on a very personal discussion ?”

    No, because the general is not the same as the specific, and you are here giving us your personal opinion and so it’s important to know where you are coming from. If it matters, I think a guy should be able to wear all the frilly stuff he wants, and no one should think a thing about it.

    Elly, since it is the transgendered themselves who refuse to use stand-alone definitions and continually change their position statements in response to criticism, finding an umbrella term becomes appropiate. “Feminism” is also an umbrella term which comprises many individual branches and includes many types of people, and no one obects to the the term itself!

    It’s like every single objection to transgenderism is met with either: that’s transphobic, that doesn’t apply to this, we don’t have to answer that, that thing is sorta like this but don’t notice the discreptancy, that makes me cry, you’re mean, that thing is real I tell you so take my word for it, we can’t look at specifics it’s too general, we can’t look at at generalizations it’s not specific enough.

    It’s a Monty Python sketch. Helen at the f-word insists she’s not an activist, and yet, strangely enough, she’s speaking at some tran rally this week trying to encourage them to get political.

    Anyway, next question! So if the clothes and other accessories are what makes you happy, then why do you have to associate with the folks who think they’re real women, unless you’re doing that “huddle under the umbrella” thing you say you don’t like? I’ve actually heard it said many times that fighting for the right for a man to wear a dress is for some unfathomable reason — too hard. But yet these exact same individuals will insist that everyone should fight for the right for a man to be a woman, as if that is somehow easier.

    It makes no sense, Elly. We’re being asked to look at shit and call it chocolate. I’d write a post, except… my head keeps shattering… and the phrase “IQ below 70” magically appears on my screen… repeatedly.

  84. panoptical Says:

    If we’re going to discuss the ontology of gender it may help to agree to use certain terms in certain ways. In my gender studies classes, we were taught (partly for the sake of clarity and convenience) to use “sex” to refer to the biological categories “male” and “female” and the characteristics that males or females have that are positively attributable to biology; and to use “gender” to refer to the behavioral, performative, or socially constructed categories “man” and “woman” and the characteristics that men or women present that are not positively attributable to biology.

    You stipulate that if gender is real, then there are real differences between men and women. You further conclude that some of these differences must be emotional/intellectual/moral/etc. You yourself have pointed out some of these differences, viz., that women love men as equals while men love women as inferiors – which is certainly an emotional and possibly a moral difference. But most importantly, it is a significant difference – significant enough for you to include it in your favorite posts, and reiterate in the comments to this post.

    In fact, much of the discussion here of the behavior of (MtF) transgendered individuals centers on whether they have in fact become “real women” – in other words, whether they behave like women, or whether they still behave like men. One significant difference that has been discussed is whether trans folks tend to take over discussions like men do. Another is whether they tend to intrude upon women-only spaces the way men do.

    None of this discussion could possibly be understood without there already being underlying assumptions about the behaviors of men and the behaviors of women – for instance, the assumptions that these behaviors are different and that these differences do matter.

    The idea that feminists are trying to deny or erase gender differences is a strawfeminist argument. Instead, feminists try to point out that gender differences are a result of socialization, rather than biology – and therefore we can change these differences and we can hold people accountable for their behaviors.

    The problem with our patriarchal society is not that it practices gender discrimination – it is (among many other things) that it practices sex discrimination. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself whether you would like men to treat you the way they treat each other. For example, men typically try to dominate each other, but almost every feminist I have read wishes wholeheartedly that men would not try to dominate them. Therefore, men ought not to behave the same way towards both genders.

    The further problem – and this gets to the root of why transgender can be a good thing – is that the patriarchy forces people into gender roles that do not necessarily suit them. Just because a person is female, doesn’t mean they wish to be treated like a woman, or to act like one. Just because a person is male, doesn’t mean they wish to be treated like a man, or to act like one. If everyone could decide for him, her, or hirself how they wished to be treated, and actually be treated that way, we’d come a lot closer to an ideal society. Females could decide that they didn’t want to be treated like second-class citizens, and as a result, they would not. Males could decide that they didn’t want to act like Cock-Bearers, and they would not.

    However, we do not live in that ideal world. Instead, we live in a world where how people are treated – and expected to behave – is dependent upon their body parts. Therefore, in some cases, the only way to be treated differently is to remove or swap out some of those parts.

    And yes, the further further problem with the patriarchy is that in addition to assigning genders based on sex, it also defines those genders. By switching sexual characteristics with the intention of switching (or realizing) gender, people (1) accept the patriarchal gender definitions and (2) accept that patriarchal gender assignments are given based on body parts. So to an extent, transgendering does accept patriarchal premises. However, people who find themselves to be the victims of a patriarchal system should not be faulted for being unable to escape that system – after all, if we could escape, we would.

  85. polly styrene Says:

    Well I agree with you Elly, a person is not an ideology. Dikipedia says an ideology is an ‘organised collection of ideas’. (Polly thinks the meaning of life can be discerned by google searches BTW). So merely ‘being’ trans or even ‘identifying’ as a gender isn’t an ideology in itself. However the minute you promote those ideas as ‘an organised collection’ outside your own head, it becomes an ideology. The ideology in the case of ‘transgenderism’ is that gender is not a social construct, but something real and essential to a person – part of a ‘core identity’.

    Now the minute you express that idea – you are expressing an ideology. Now I know personally that not everyone who IS ‘transgendered’ or ‘transsexual’ subscribes to exactly the same beliefs. And that quite often those expressed by the wheels that squeak the loudest aren’t necessarily that commonly held. For instance there are plenty of transwomen who agree that FAB spaces are NOT transphobic. But because a few high profile activists are those that say they are, people who know no better think that a few people represent ALL transwomen. Which is as unfair to transwomen as it is to anybody else.

    And Yes M Andrea is right – fighting for the right for a ‘man’ to wear a dress is not harder than fighting for a ‘man’ to be a ‘woman’. Logically the whole thing makes no sense…..

  86. polly styrene Says:

    And totally OT – I see I am already being discussed in the new IBTP forums. No idea what they’re saying (I doubt it’s complimentary) cos I’m not a member, I just sees my links. But as Oscar Wilde said…..

  87. Elly Says:

    “No, because the general is not the same as the specific, and you are here giving us your personal opinion and so it’s important to know where you are coming from”

    Ok, I’m giving my personal opinion. But, on the other hand, so does every other person commenting on this post. Where they do “come from” isn’t as important ?

    Do YOU define as a real woman ?

    ““Feminism” is also an umbrella term which comprises many individual branches and includes many types of people, and no one obects to the the term itself!”

    Yes, but I think it would be problematic to criticize feminism because of one of its branches said if it isn’t shared.

    And feminism has a bit more coherence, since you don’t usually estimate that the opinion of a woman who doesn’t define as feminist represents feminism. What men think of women isn’t feminism either. But for transgenderism you don’t look at what “transgenderists” say (and I never saw anyone define as this, but maybe there are), you don’t separate what has been said by trans’ activist who thought a bit on the subject and what the psychiatrists say, and so on.

    The problem I see with the approach of talking about the whole ‘transgender’ without nuance is that is “essentializes” it: transgender is in itself reactionnary and anti-feminist, or, in the other case, wonderfully subversive and revolutionnary. And of course it’s more flattering (for transpeople) in the latest case, but it’s the same problem: you can’t see the contradictions, the tensions, which are operating in this “movement”.

    There is sometimes the same problem with the “gay” community : either “gays” are seen as subversive, challlenging patriarchy, or reactionary since they want to integrate it, recuperated by commercial affairs, etc.

    Now if you want to label those whole “movements” with ‘feminist’ or ‘anti-feminist’ stamps, okay, please yourself. But I don’t see what is gained from this (except, well, a lot of comments :p)

    “So if the clothes and other accessories are what makes you happy”

    Which isn’t particulary the case. I was just trying to say that liking ‘gendered’ clothes and accesories isn’t bad and doesn’t make you a bad feminist.

    “then why do you have to associate with the folks who think they’re real women, unless you’re doing that “huddle under the umbrella” thing you say you don’t like?”

    I don’t know what you exactly mean by “associating”. I don’t think I particulary “associate” with them. Now well, I won’t refuse to work with someone who defines as a “real woman”, be it a cisgender feminist or a tranny, mainly because I won’t probably ask them. If that’s a question of self-definition, well, yes, I still define as ‘trans’ even though I have heavy disagreements with some people defining the same way, as I do with defining as ‘feminist’ or as ‘human’.

    “’ve actually heard it said many times that fighting for the right for a man to wear a dress is for some unfathomable reason — too hard. But yet these exact same individuals will insist that everyone should fight for the right for a man to be a woman, as if that is somehow easier.”

    I think there *is*, for some part of the population, a better acceptance of a transsexual woman who wants to go “all the way” than there is for crossdressers. At least, she makes efforts, she wants to undergo SRS, so that’s okay. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easier (by crossdressing you can put your dress back on pass as a man, which isn’t the case if you take, e.g., hormones).

  88. polly styrene Says:

    I think there *is*, for some part of the population, a better acceptance of a transsexual woman who wants to go “all the way” than there is for crossdressers. At least, she makes efforts, she wants to undergo SRS, so that’s okay. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easier (by crossdressing you can put your dress back on pass as a man, which isn’t the case if you take, e.g., hormones).

    I think this is true Elly. And the reason is that this is seen as a ‘true’ problem of gender – and represented in essentialist terms. That’s why there is such a movement among some people to try and claim that ‘brains are gendered’. It’s an effort to try and represent something in terms that are already in common currency – Men and women are fundamentally different, gender is essential and fixed – because if it’s essential, then it must be fixed. That is why there is the claim that transwomen – have ‘always’ been women, just ‘women trapped in men’s bodies’.

  89. m Andrea Says:

    Polly is frickin’ brilliant, and that is all. Thank you very much, Polly! What you said was extremely helpful, and deserves much more thought.

    There are still some problems which confuse me though, and I don’t believe there is a logical answer, or an answer which is complimentary to either the transfolk or their supporters.

    “I think there *is*, for some part of the population, a better acceptance of a transsexual woman who wants to go “all the way” than there is for crossdressers.”

    I need some more help here, Polly, because I’m not buying your explaination — completely. Although it does add clarity to why you said you limited your critiicism to those who claimed gender is real.

    Because according to this last bit, they are lying to themselves and others, and we are supposed to accept this as good. I personally don’t believe lying is good under any circumstances and have very strict standards when it comes to honesty. Even social lies make me cringe.

    An ideology based on lies cannot get my respect; it automatically gets my contempt. And that’s assuming that most of them really do not consider themselves real women — assumptions without proof is a big no-no. When someone or in this case an entire (sub)group, lies about the fundamental reason for their cause, it’s extremely foolish to believe anything else they might say.

    No other oppressed group had to lie, or routinely engages in lies, in order to further their agenda. No, this does not deserve respect. No. Add that to the list of manipulations I have gathered and it becomes even more incriminating. This list is reminding me and more every day of another group… the abusive manipulations of the MRA’s.

    “you’re not nuanced enough” I’ll have to add that to the list of contradictory excuses, but it kinda already falls under the catagory of “that’s too general”.

    “we lied to get acceptance” hardly respectable. “we’re not lying” totally contradictory.

    No Polly, I can’t accept that some significant percentage of transfolk are just trying to wear the clothes, and my reason is this: Every transitioning person I know has went through this period of agonizing over an androgynous wardrobe, hairstyle, etc. They know how to do this, most of them are quite good at it and if not then they get better with practice. It takes at minimum three or four YEARS for a halfway believable transition; it’s not a week-end pajama party. The transfolk who “pass” the best take even longer to transition; it’s really more an on-going process.

    In other words, they have plenty of time to think about clothes. If they wanted to create public acceptance of a guy wearing more girly clothes, then that is quite simple to achieve. Much, much more simple then this convoluted rigamarole they are doing now.

    Once upon a time (20 years ago) it was considered scandalous for a guy to wear earings, or to wear clothes with pretty and frivilous details, or matching flip-flops, or beaded bracelets, or a shoulder bag, or to get a facical, shave and a pedicure down at the salon with their buddies. These non-traditional men are sometimes called “metro-sexual” and of course sometimes asshole manly men make fun of them and beat them up.

    We are being asked to believe that this abuse from a few manly men is apparenly less painful when a non-traditional or “metro-sexual” claims to be a woman. We are asked to forget, as if by magic, a few peculiar details.

    The scorn, and the amount of harmful abuse IS THE EXACT SAME. There is no genuine “extra” benefit to claiming to be a real woman, so that becomes just another bullshit excuse. In fact, there is extra hardship. Their dishonest method of claiming some biological basis which justifies their need to wear pretty clothes only brings down the additionalwrath of radfems and now they have us to deal with, who are determined to desconstruct the entire idealogy down to nothing. Now add to that the very real and necessary scrutiny of those in the medical professions who study and treat such conditions, many of whom are extremely sceptical and making loud noises behind the scenes. We’re not finished yet!!!! Add to that list of problems one more, only now I can’t remember what it is and I really need to go feed my baby bird. lol

    Anyway. If wearing the stupid clothes was the main game, then going through all that is pure insanity. If a guy really just wanted to wear a dress, then he’d pretend he was irish and wear a modish kilt, or pretend he converted to islam and wear those totally awesome flowing things. (Have you seen some of those designer ones? They are breathtakingly beautiful, so elegant, classy, and comfortable to boot.) Godfucking damn that’s a lot easier then pretending he wants to be a woman.

    What is ultimately more damaging: scornful abuse from manly men for being too sissy, or scorn from radfems who are picking their reasons to shreds and giving the manly men even more ammunition? But we can’t stop there, for we must factor in the uninamous support they would receive from radfems and all the others, if they simply wanted to be a guy in a prettier clothes.

    It’s not pretty clothes they want; it’s clothes of a certain type which represents a certain ideal, which unfortunately renders it almost automatically into a fetish. That deserves a longer explaination. Later.

    It does not add up. I do not have have dates to give you, but I have noticed a pattern, and the pattern is that their excuses change in relation to the criticisms. It’s not merely that they are “changing their opinion when presented with new information” as all open-minded people will; but that their evolving “reasons” more closely resemble revolving excuses.

    Personally, I like elegant solutions, neat proofs, and pretty posts. I do not want to waste my time writing 20 individual posts deconstructing 20 stupid things. I’d rather write one or two which kills the heart. If I have to go through each of those idiotic pieces of crap excuses one by one, I will be a wee bit fucking furious.

  90. Polly Styrene Says:

    For a clue M Andrea, I turn to the comparison with homosexuality, because as Judith Butler says (and the ‘queer’ lot get disastrously wrong) you cannot separate gender and sexuality. The two go together in the public imagination like love and marriage as Radclyffe Hall proves.

    The idea of the ‘gay gene’ was started by a gay man, Simon Le (or is it la, anyhoos) Vay. And the reason is that he wanted to PROVE that people can’t help being gay. Because he thought this would make them more tolerant. What it actually led to was suggestions of pre natal testing for ‘gay’ foetuses that could then be aborted.

    Things that are seen as part of your nature, rather than a choice, (I just can’t help it honest, guv) are somehow seen as more legitimate. We have the incredibly ironic situation here of me thinking exactly the same as the Christian right on this one – “being gay is nothing but a choice”. But as Peter Tatchell (annoying but occasionally right UK gay activist) pointed out, if you feel the need to explain something that makes you feel there is something wrong with it.

    ‘Cross dressing’men are widely mocked, let’s face it, though ‘cross dressing’ women for some reason are invested with slightly more seriousness and seen as a threat (because being a man is more serious and they are ‘stealing’ male privilege?) So ‘I just want to cross dress’ is never going to gain public sympathy.

    Trans activists are actually – oh the horrible irony – being transphobic here. (ooh that’ll get me a few snarky remarks). Because they are saying ‘it is impossible to change gender’, which is deeply transphobic. I want to be a woman now, therefore I must have been a woman all along, this mysterious essence entered my soul at conception and that’s the end of it. The idea of ‘women trapped in men’s bodies’ and ‘female brains’ sounds a lot more explicable and legitimate to the general public than ‘a man wants to enact a female gender role’.

    There’s a similar delusion to sexuality. That we all have an essential sexuality. If you come out as a lesbian after 20 odd years of heterosexual marriage, you must have been a lesbian all along. There’s no way you could have switched. Because sexuality (the evol twin of gender) is also fixed. That’s why they keep trying to prove that there are ‘gay’ brains. All observation is theory laden.

  91. Polly Styrene Says:

    PS – I don’t think being deconstructed by radfems is much of a threat, since there are so few of us – was you being ironic? For most trans people, the threat comes from ‘average’ men in the street. They’re the ones who’ll beat you up.

  92. Polly Styrene Says:

    It also depends on who you include in ‘trans’. Some ‘trans’ people are just occasional ‘cross dressers’. And Steph, the transwoman who commented on my blog, was pretty dismissive of them as still maintaining their privilege when they wanted to. Which I agree with.

    I’m not blaming the individuals here for believing the crap. If society says ‘only these types of bodies are possible’, then it takes courage to live outside society. And ‘transwomen’ are now an established category in the minds of at least some people (For instance a popular UK soap has a transwoman character, played by a born woman actress natch).

    This is partly because the ‘physical’ transformation is more complete for transwomen. The Thomas Beatie story was a lot more problematic. It relied first of all for its newsworthiness on the idea man= biological male. ‘Biological female with male gender identity is pregnant’, isn’t really a story. And also points up the absurdity of gender. Why does Thomas Beatie identify as a man? Because he is a man (real man). Why is he a real man? Because he identifies as a man.

    We could go round in circles with that one for a very long time…..

  93. Elly Says:

    mAndrea:
    “Because according to this last bit, they are lying to themselves and others, and we are supposed to accept this as good. I personally don’t believe lying is good under any circumstances and have very strict standards when it comes to honesty. Even social lies make me cringe.”

    I think you got it wrong. Saying that “true transsexuality” is sometimes more accepted than “crossdressing” doesn’t mean that “true transsexuals” are “crossdressers” who go through transsexuality because it is easier.

    “If a guy really just wanted to wear a dress, then he’d pretend he was irish and wear a modish kilt, or pretend he converted to islam and wear those totally awesome flowing things.”

    So, you mean you don’t believe lying is good under any circonstances, except when it’s pretending to be from a different country or religion ? :p

    Now, ii’s not just a question of wearing dress, of course. I know an association called “men in dress” grouping, well, men who like to wear dresses; but I don’t think they consider themeselves transgender or even crossdressers.

    ““you’re not nuanced enough” I’ll have to add that to the list of contradictory excuses, but it kinda already falls under the catagory of “that’s too general”.”

    Do as you please, but I’ll keep thinking, both as a trans and a feminist, that it would be more helpful to understand that non-essentialist transpeople and non-essentialist feminists (and non-essentialist feminist transpeople) share common interests and point of view, than your kind of holy alliance grouping manly men, “radfems”, and doctors.

    Polly Styrene:
    “Things that are seen as part of your nature, rather than a choice, (I just can’t help it honest, guv) are somehow seen as more legitimate.”

    Oh yeah.

    “We have the incredibly ironic situation here of me thinking exactly the same as the Christian right on this one – “being gay is nothing but a choice””

    I think I can join on this too (this is also starting to look like an holy alliance :p) Except I would rather say it *can* be a choice, I perfectly admit that for some people there is no choice because this is just the way they constructed.

    “Trans activists are actually – oh the horrible irony – being transphobic here. (ooh that’ll get me a few snarky remarks). Because they are saying ‘it is impossible to change gender’, which is deeply transphobic. I want to be a woman now, therefore I must have been a woman all along, this mysterious essence entered my soul at conception and that’s the end of it. The idea of ‘women trapped in men’s bodies’ and ‘female brains’ sounds a lot more explicable and legitimate to the general public than ‘a man wants to enact a female gender role’.”

    Yes, the problem of “women trapped in men’s bodies” is that it sucks, but it is quite simple and brings some sympathy. And another problem is that it has been globally assimilated. I mean, I don’t have to use this cliché, people spontaneously propose it to me. It’s difficult challenging it, and I can understand that quite a lot of not specially feminist transsexuals end up using it.

    But there again, I think it isimportant to notice the divergences between “trans activists”. I know that if, personally, I was able to drop this cliché whan it had quite “naturally” come to me, it is precisely thanks to discussions we had in a transgender association.

  94. Polly Styrene Says:

    Hey Elly we agree – and you are right, the cliche is often culturally imposed, but that’s why we need to fight it. Personally I always refer to SOME trans activists, because no IRL trans person I’ve ever met has spouted this bullshit. However Helen G from the F word definitely does, so M Andrea is right there.

    The problem is that the narrative of ‘women trapped in men’s bodies’ has become so culturally enshrined it is difficult to displace. And the only way to do that is to fight gender. While we see gender as something essential (which the trans narrative is almost always represented as publicly) ‘unnatural’ gender expressions will always be condemned.

    I have heard for instance one trans woman – a writer – announce “They made a mistake when I was born, they thought I was a boy” Um – that would be the penis you had, I think. Now that kind of thing doesn’t help anyone, least of all her, as she is trying to believe a fiction.

    But there is a huge chorus out there of people attempting to demonstrate their liberal credentials who support the bullshit, despite the fact that they claim to be feminists who don’t believe in gender. They were the ones saying Thomas Beatie is ‘a real man’ and claiming that the people saying – um but he’s got a womb, were being transphobic. When in fact the only reason we’ve ever heard of Thomas Beatie is that he played on the cultural expectation that man=biological male=does not have a uterus and cannot conceive.

    As I pointed out, he is neither a real NOR an unreal man. Whether he’s a man or not depends on who you’re asking, gender is constructed externally. So the question is not – is he a ‘Real man’ but is he culturally defined as a man. Which is entirely different. But the minute M Andrea wrote about this concept – the cultural construction of gender – a horde descended and called her ‘transphobic’.

  95. m Andrea Says:

    “PS – I don’t think being deconstructed by radfems is much of a threat, since there are so few of us – was you being ironic? “

    For some odd reason you seem to be underestimating the power of logic. It was some Judith woman who came up with that famous violinist argument in regards to abortion, and apparently that was the thing which killed all the “but it’s a baybee” crap. One good argument took down an entire train of thought.

    Oh, and I really wasn’t referring to you so much in my last comment Polly, I’m just trying to avoid going to the trouble of making another post just yet. I took baby bird for walkies outside yesterday! He was scared the first couple times, but the third time he acted curious. lol

    We know he’s a boy because he comes running over to his food container at feeding time, plants his feet firmly in the dish, looks down, recognizes that it is indeed his food, and then looks at me, opens his beak reeeeeel wide and demands that food magically arrive. It cracks me up. I have no clue how to teach him to feed himself, and am hoping he’ll figure it out on his own.

    ““If a guy really just wanted to wear a dress, then he’d pretend he was irish and wear a modish kilt, or pretend he converted to islam and wear those totally awesome flowing things.”

    So, you mean you don’t believe lying is good under any circonstances, except when it’s pretending to be from a different country or religion ? :p”

    No, I meant if the assertion is “some of these guys just want to wear purty clothes and so they will pretend to be a women just so they can wear purty clothes” then there is a hell of a lot easier ways to go about doing it then pretending to be a woman. But you knew that already, Elly, and now you are simple being dishonest.

    I’m kind of tired of that. That is what the MRA’s do. constantly. so stop.

  96. Polly Styrene Says:

    Well yes, there are lots of men who wear dresses. Some of them do it in secret (they’re usually married), some of them do it publicly ( Eddie Izzard ), some do it in public and still retain their ‘masculine’ credentials ( David Beckham, sarong, nail varnish and Victoria’s panties ), some do it slightly ironically ( Grayson Perry ) , Some do it publicly with some spurious excuse (Richard Branson, forever dragging up allegedly to promote his businesses). Some just wear women’s pants and look girly but retain their stud status (Russell Brand, camp as Christmas, but still a famous Laydeez man).

    The woman/femininity divide isn’t absolute and that’s because of bleeding gender. As the man/masculinity divide isn’t absolute either. I think we can see gender as mult layered though (I’m coming to this conclusion). It’s like Judith Butler’s comment on drag. You can see a man in ‘drag’ as ‘masculine inner, feminine outer’ (Male body, female dress). But you can ALSO see him as ‘feminine inner,masculine outer’ (feminine gender, male body).

    That’s why we need to get rid of it and say – a dress is just a dress. Lipstick is just lipstick.

    I dunno if I’m a threat or not. I just like to annoy the self satisfied.

  97. Lara Says:

    Hey mAndrea, I do not mean at all to interrupt the thread, but I wanted to invite you to my new blog:

    http://rychousmama.wordpress.com

    It’s barely a day old, but I will be adding new posts to it probably every few days 🙂

  98. Cedar Says:

    I would hold that if you really believed gender “didn’t exist” — that is to say, was completely inconsequential in addition to being socially constructed, you wouldn’t care about the existence of trans_people. No really, you don’t think that, I’m claiming to know what’s in your head better than you do (but you’re claiming to know what’s in mine better, so we’re even).

    We’re making news these days, and there are enough of us to have a token presence in feminist spaces–not enough that people like you can be held accountable for your actions, but enough that we’re around. But that wasn’t true 30 years ago when Janice Raymond wrote The Transsexual Empire, when Robin Morgan called it ‘the ultimate expose’ and it was signed onto by Dworkin, Rich, et al. Why did they care? At that point, there were fewer than 10 books by transsexual folks (mostly, but not entirely women), and those were carefully edited and censored by cissexist and misogynistic publishers to make sure the stories matched what they wanted. And of course, transsexual folks, in order to get necessary medical care, had to say what certain (transphobic, homophobic, misogynistic) doctors wanted them to say–whether or not we believed it.

    Not only was Transsexual Empire a big phenomenon in [cissexual] [white] radical feminist circles, transsexual women who were making important contributions to the women’s movement were kicked out. Because the cissexual members of Olivia Records refused to kick out Sandy Stone for being trans (they already knew she was), other [white] cissexual feminists sent them all manner of hate mail, including death threats and threats of a boycott. (see Patrick Califia, Sex Changes for info) Another woman was kicked out of the Daughters of Bilitis for being trans. 12 years ago, a woman was kicked out of volunteering at a Vancouver rape crisis center because she was trans, and the resulting legal struggle caused that community to basically eject a cissexual lesbian feminist lawyer–a pretty scarce resource.

    There are plenty of other examples. But what I’m pointing to is twofold–one, that there is a large cost for the transphobia extant in feminist movements, with infighting, lost labor, loss of focus, burnout, etc– and two that the cissexual feminist community was even more fixated on transsexuals–specifically transsexual women–than the broader culture. But if gender was of no consequence, then our changing genders would have no consequence unless and until we started to have a voice in society strong enough to seriously challenge [white] [middle class] cissexual radical feminism, which if it’s happened has only happened in the past decade or less. So why the attention? Precisely because what we do violates your own construction of gender, precisely because you’re invested in the reality of gender, by which we mean sex.

    Social constructs have real consequences for real people. Those consequences are huge–I won’t go into them because we all, as feminists (and anti-racists, queer people, disability rights activists, etc), know this. Those consequences create two mutually exclusive social categories, referred to as man/woman, but also as male/female–unless you have no association between female and woman, then it’s a social [ly constructed] category. And, whether through these consequences or innately or a combination, I really don’t care, these categories have come to have personal meaning for a lot of people, perhaps most or all. (If I offered you a million dollars on the condition that you live the rest of your life as a man, would you take it?) The meanings created through these categories cannot simply be erased from our collective psyches by our say-so. We can work to change or broaden those meanings–which we are, most of the transsexual folks I know are proudly gender non-conforming–but so long as those are emotionally and socially significant, meaning-laden categories, people have a right to choose to which they belong, and people are going to exercise that right.

    I put it to you that if sex and gender are completely separate, it follows that no one has any greater or lesser claim to the status “(wo)man,” and that no one should be forced into one or the other of these categories at birth or in early childhood (or at all, really)–that children should only have the gender they assign to themselves, regardless of how that corresponds to anatomy.

  99. m Andrea Says:

    Hi Cedar and welcome!

    This may sound like a contradiction to my objection of transgenderism, but I do think “gender” exists. Or much more accurately, the effects of androgens on fetal developement is greatly misunderstood and underestimated. Which is why the gay community is toast if transgenderism is valid — but I’m not a scientist so I couldn’t presume to explain the particulars in more detail.

    I know a fair bit about hormones, but I am not an endocrinologist — who is the only person qualified to speak on this issue. A trans endodoc would be automatically disqualified as objectivity would be impossible.

    And the reason I’m getting hyper about transgenderism is precisely because it *is* gaining acceptance — time to nip it in the bud. I do not condone or advocate physical violence or any form of harrassment, btw. That is quite freaking disgusting and reflects poorly on any objectors. I believe it is possible for transfolks to continue being trans and enjoy their life, but the whole “real woman” thing is nonlogical and problematic.

    The reason it is nonlogical is quite simple: Expressions of character are not dependent upon body parts. Therefore, you do not need the body of a girl to epitomize any singular attribute or characteristic. The only reason to render this into complicated gobbledy-gook is to obtain a plausible sounding excuse for fetishization of body parts.

  100. stormy Says:

    We’re making news these days, and there are enough of us to have a token presence in feminist spaces–not enough that people like you can be held accountable for your actions, but enough that we’re around.

    Thems is fighting words Cedar, and the EXACT reason that many feminists wish to exclude transwomen from feminist spaces. Here’s a really simple suggestion, if there are now ‘so many of you’, then start your OWN movement, rather than trying to crash our party.

    …were carefully edited and censored by cissexist and misogynistic publishers …
    …had to say what certain (transphobic, homophobic, misogynistic) doctors wanted them to say …
    … [cissexual] [white] …
    … a large cost for the transphobia extant in feminist movements …

    Here’s the next reason why TWs are frequently disfavoured in feminist groups — note that transphobic and cissexist are fairly consistantly the top of the list, with MISOGYNY (that’s the big one feminists are fighting BTW) coming in at last place. Also, most of the TW activist work seems to be focused AGAINST feminists (rather than patriarchy).

    … transsexual women who were making important contributions to the women’s movement were kicked out. […] 12 years ago, a woman was kicked out of volunteering at a Vancouver rape crisis center because she was trans, and the resulting legal struggle caused that community to basically eject a cissexual lesbian feminist lawyer–a pretty scarce resource.

    It is fun to gloss over some of the other facts in order to make one’s point. The TW was offered at least one other role within the organisation, and I think some form of compensation/severance package. But the part you so neatly forget is that this TW kept fighting and fighting VRC until it was nearly destroyed. That’s a fairly ‘caring’ attitude towards the aims of support of the organisation? To me, it sounds far less that this TW was concerned in any way about rape victims, or the organisation, but merely to be ‘accepted as woman’ and to make a point.

    Ignoring the non sequntur of paragraph 4.

    But if gender was of no consequence, then our changing genders would have no consequence unless and until we started to have a voice in society strong enough to seriously challenge [white] [middle class] cissexual radical feminism, which if it’s happened has only happened in the past decade or less.

    Well, at least you are very clear what the trans objective is when it comes to radical feminism — destroy it. You and the patriarchy do have that in common. Trans politics, it’s all about destroying (‘challenging’) feminism and radical feminism, never it seems, to be fighting patriarchy. So remind me again why we should invite TWs into all feminist spaces with open arms?

    But if gender was of no consequence, then our changing genders would have no consequence

    (I know, a repeat). This is in the current climate of perceived ‘gender roles’. Not in the radfem vision of a genderless society, whereby artificial, constructed, attributes and roles would NOT be forced onto people because of the arrangement of a few body parts.

    Social constructs have real consequences for real people.

    At last, something with which I agree — but again, within the context of the current climate. You also may wish to ponder on the social construct of the gender role assigned to females from birth, do you not think that we are just a little annoyed by our assigned role?

    …but also as male/female–unless you have no association between female and woman, then it’s a social [ly constructed] category.

    Female/male are biological sex categories, and most humans, with an exception of a tiny percentage, fit relatively easily into one or the other categories. Woman/man, whilst technically referring to the adult human status of those categories, carry a lot of superfluous baggage. I will throw you a bone on this one, TWs can have “real woman”, because it is a made-up category of nonsense. See, within this society RW shave their legs, armpits, wear make-up and dresses. TWs do the RW drag much better than the Females Assigned At Birth (FABs). I don’t do any of those things, therefore, by current societal definition, I am NOT a RW. Could it be that I am ‘male trapped in a female body’? No. But I do reject the expected and artificial role of ‘woman’. Radical feminists reject the artificial constructs of gender, they don’t go around upholding them by ‘switching sides’ (which is enforcing a gender-binary, like patriarchy does). We call for the elimination of gender roles.

    What you or anyone else does to their own body is their own business. However, in general I disagree with: unnecessary surgery, chopping off healthy body parts, re-inforcing artificially constructed gender roles. Transactivists like to tick all these boxes. Hence, there will always be ‘disagreement’.

  101. stormy Says:

    Winky smilie above should not be there.
    I really wish WP would fix the smilie bug.

    😦


  102. Can you cite anything that happened more recently than 12 years ago Cedar? The first two incidents you cite happened in the 70s.

    Incidentally I personally have the experience of being referred to a counsellor who was obviously a trans woman when I was expecting a born woman and it wasn’t comfortable. Which is why I think Vancouver rape relief were right actually. The trans woman I was referred to was obviously trans by her voice – in fact when she phoned me I thought she was a man and there’d been a mistake. It is difficult enough for women to seek help after they’ve been raped, without them ringing a rape crisis line and getting a male sounding voice on the other end. The rights of trans women do NOT override the rights of women who’ve been raped. Or do you think that you personally matter more than anyone else in the world? If trans women want to offer help of this type there are plenty of other organisations they could volunteer for. And incidentally plenty of trans women (there’s one who commented on my blog if you look, as well as those I know personally – and activists like Kate Bornstein) have no problem with spaces for women born women.

    Oh and if you’re citing Patrick Califia you might want to check out his views on sex with children and child porn here…..

    http://sizeofacow.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/patrick-califia-and-paedophilia/

    I really, really can’t be arsed repeating the other stuff I’ve said 5,000 times already Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  103. Polly Styrene Says:

    PS

    This may sound like a contradiction to my objection of transgenderism, but I do think “gender” exists. Or much more accurately, the effects of androgens on fetal developement is greatly misunderstood and underestimated. Which is why the gay community is toast if transgenderism is valid

    Well I kind of disagree with you on the androgens thing, biological essentialism Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, but you knew that already M Andrea, but toast? toast? I am NOT toast identified (though I like eating it very much). And you shouldn’t listen to anyone who’s saying I am because they’re probably un-sane.

  104. Polly Styrene Says:

    Though yeah I do have the ‘lesbian’ finger pattern……………………

  105. Cedar Says:

    The reason it is nonlogical is quite simple: Expressions of character are not dependent upon body parts. Therefore, you do not need the body of a girl to epitomize any singular attribute or characteristic. The only reason to render this into complicated gobbledy-gook is to obtain a plausible sounding excuse for fetishization of body parts.

    I agree with the first two sentences, and I think most trans folks would, too. There is the matter of other people’s perceptions, though–I can’t be seen as a member of X category unless I match certain expectations of what that category means, and because of the “conflation of sex and gender,” that does imply body parts–none of us have pure minds wiped clean of that, including you. Given that these oppressive categories exist, we have to challenge all of their boundaries–shaving legs, being passive/vulnerable/object/etc, being assigned female, only having two options, etc, not just some of them. If we uphold part of the distinction between man and woman but not the rest, how are we separate from Patriarchy? One still has to be able to talk about privilege, violence, etc, and I think the that feminist trans communities are hard at work on that. I think there’s a pretty big misconception among cissexual radical feminists about who in the trans community has what kind of male privilege, (which is rather frustrating for transsexual women who want allies for dealing with transsexual men’s sexist bullshit) but again I think that’s a discussion that has to happen with trans folks’ voices fully included. I doubt you’d take the handle “feminazi” if you didn’t know that outsiders being criticized by a group get pretty strange ideas about what advantages that group has, so I think we all have to be willing to really listen to each others’ experiences of sexism.

    Also, given that a really large portion of the trans community is queer, it seems odd for you to say that “the gay community is toast if transgenderism [sic] is valid”.

    I have to say–it seems like your logic train goes to ‘transitioning (or medically transitioning) is wrong (because it reinforces gender essentialism)’. Now, a lot of trans folks transition without medical intervention, or with only certain kinds of intervention. But you also say that you’re against politics not people, that we can keep being trans, etc–could you clarify? I feel like those two statements are inherently contradictory–if transitioning is wrong, then people shouldn’t do it. But though I disagree with you about it being “valid” or whathaveyou, it’s a simple fact that we transition, and you can’t change that whether it’s “valid” or not. We experience sexism, rape, objectification, 78% pay (less, really), having our ideas and accomplishments valued less than men’s (and cissexuals, esp. those who are both), etc etc and write on the subjects (see Julia Serano, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity; I have an article on rape culture due to be published later this year, see also too many trans woman bloggers to name) , only to be attacked by folks we would like to have as friends. Given that you can’t get rid of us (you can’t, the Patriarchy has been trying for 600 years and hasn’t managed it yet), how about trying to get rid of male domination and gender coercion with us?

  106. Cedar Says:

    If we uphold part of the distinction between man and woman but not the rest, how are we separate from Patriarchy?

    That should be: if we uphold part of the distinction between man and woman, how are we separate from Patriarchy, even if we challenge the rest?

  107. Polly Styrene Says:

    Cedar – I am a non feminine lesbian. I get shit for that. That doesn’t mean I’m going to “femme up” just for the benefit of the heteronormative majority. You don’t HAVE to do things just to meet society’s expectations you know. And we’ll never get rid of male domination and gender coercion if people keep supporting it by saying that heteronormative values are valid. You have to oppose things to get rid of them. You don’t get to cop out just because it’s personally uncomfortable and get everyone else to do it for you.

  108. m Andrea Says:

    Hey thanks for coming back Cedar. And again for what’s it worth, I think it’s wonderful when a man does traditional girly things. But the reasons given for doing those activities are important because the wrong reason for the right cause will still lead to wrong conclusions.

    Either one needs the body of a girl to express particular character traits, or one doesn’t. There is no middle ground to this argument, and I’m glad to see that you don’t appear to have a problem with it.

    However, consistency is important, and that is what I very briefly started to get at in my latest post “essentials” or whatever it’s called. The introduction one. People say they agree in theory to something but in practice we find inconsistencies. And so we have to look at why some folks continue to be inconsistent even after those inconsistancies have been delinated repeatedly.

    “I can’t be seen as a member of X category unless I match certain expectations of what that category means,…”

    is inconsistent with:

    “I agree with the statement: you do not need the body of a girl to epitomize any singular attribute or characteristic.”

    And Polly’s point was perfect, thank you!

  109. thebewilderness Says:

    “I can’t be seen as a member of X category unless I match certain expectations of what that category means,…”

    Aye, there’s the rub.
    Whose expectations would that be?

    “…how about trying to get rid of male domination and gender coercion with us?”

    By submitting to the expectations of what the category you have been placed in means?
    Six thousand years of history teaches us that that behavior supports what we wish to overthrow.
    You’ll forgive me, I’m sure, if I don’t take your word for it that suddenly, for no obvious reason, it is opposite day on planet earth.

  110. karen Says:

    a major point of this entire blog, not just this post, is to argue that men are different from women. further, you argue that someone born male can never be a woman.

    so clearly you’re arguing both that gender (woman/man) is real, and that biology (male/female) is immutable destiny.

  111. karen Says:

    “I can’t be seen as a member of X category unless I match certain expectations of what that category means,…”

    is inconsistent with:

    “I agree with the statement: you do not need the body of a girl to epitomize any singular attribute or characteristic.”

    no, the first is a statement about other people: to “be seen as” is grammatically a passive construction, wherein those doing the seeing aren’t in the sentence, but the seeing is their action.

    the second statement reflects the views of the person who said it, not those of other people.

  112. thebewilderness Says:

    “does everything have to be decided solely on the basis of logic?”

    Hello Karen? You appear to have missed the first line in the Post.

    “WARNING: I’m using logic again, thorry!”

  113. thebewilderness Says:

    My apologies mAndrea. I am such a sucker for trolls.

  114. m Andrea Says:

    In the first sentence, the person speaking is concerned that what other people see when they look at her matches what she wants them to see.

    In the second sentence, the same person admits that what other people see when they look at other people doesn’t need to match.

    It’s inconsistent, which renders it hypocrisy.

  115. m Andrea Says:

    And that is why we can’t have nice things. banned and swept. Thorry!

    I’m sorry dear, but you seem a little upset. Please calm down.


  116. […] to.  Privilege: I has it.   I also read mAndrea’s now-infamous post series about “Deconstructing Trangenderism“.   If you’re a feminist, you should go read it and let it really percolate in your […]


  117. […] obsessed. Now someone who is ‘transphobic‘ apparently is MAndrea. And that is why this post was delinked from the Carnival of the Feminists. (Edit apparently part one  of Mandreas post […]

  118. Polly Styrene Says:

    Did you do this link M Andrea? How?

  119. Polly Styrene Says:

    a major point of this entire blog, not just this post, is to argue that men are different from women. further, you argue that someone born male can never be a woman.

    so clearly you’re arguing both that gender (woman/man) is real, and that biology (male/female) is immutable destiny.

    Men (males) are different from women (females). They are biologically different from women – they have a different biological sex.

    Biological sex is not the same as gender (unless you are Monique Wittig, and I’m not). Gender is the wholly imaginary quality which apparently pertains to certain types of (sexed) bodies.

    Therefore biology is only destiny if you believe in gender.

  120. m Andrea Says:

    Beats me. I figured it had something to do with you importing your old blog. Which reminds me, I tried “exporting” my blog from WordPress a few days ago, and when I opened it up, it had only saved my very first four posts. So I sucked the whole site dry using unicode or whatever it’s called, just for safe-keeping. Who knows, maybe that triggered a fresh pingback, but I don’t see how, unless that address was the only changed one… no, still doesn’t make any sense.

    The fascinating thing about the radfem position regarding transgenderism is that while males and females possess the exact same emotional needs and mental capabilities, I still get to say that men suck — because of the affects of testosterone. And unfortunately for the trans argument, changing the amount of testosterone does not effect socialization or biological sex.

  121. Polly Styrene Says:

    Well I just uploaded a new picture to that post, (cos all the old ones got moved) maybe that did something. I was just a bit freaked out cos I thought hey I didn’t approve that!

  122. Polly Styrene Says:

    Well THIS woman’s position is:

    Certain people are arseholes. This is not in any way an essential quality. They were not born arseholes, their background and upbringing made them arseholes. However their arseholeness is socially condoned and assisted and thus they get to continue in the arsehole ways undiminished.

    It just so happens that in society, arseholeness is a characteristic that men are allowed to exercise more than women.

    Therefore men suck (on average). But it doesn’t have a biological basis (not necessarily convinced on the testosterone point I’m afraid – most men have roughly equal amounts of the stuff, but arseholeness is actually quite variable.

  123. m Andrea Says:

    I’m not a scientisty person, so any point I have to make on the testosterone would be better handled by a neurobiologist or better yet endocrinologist. Testosterone affects many attributes, and yet does not create measurable differences in brain structure, afaic. It effects libido (increase), impulse control (decrease), aggression (increase), decision making ability (poor). Lots and lots of research on hormones, complicated critters they are.

    One doc let it slip that synthetic hormones don’t have exactly the same effect as regular, which explains some things I had been whining to him about transgendered, but alas, documentation is necessary and finding an understandable online version of his explaination is not likely.

    I’m actually starting to wonder about the cancer rate in twenty years. Heard it from the horse’s mouth that yes, they ALL need life-long hormonal assistance, regardless of internet stories to the contrary. And this is why it is a bad idea to lump them in with females. Their undisclosed medical history will skew any study of real women’s health issues.


  124. I would recommend to everyone that they read Anne Fausto Sterlings ‘Sexing the body”. Especially the bit where she takes apart the idea of ‘sex hormones’. The problem with research on testosterone is the same as the research on anything else. All observation is theory laden.

    IE ‘Scientists’ start out to prove a premise. And sometimes the conclusions they reach are therefore skewed. Look at them another way and they fall apart. There’s a lot of bad science apart.

    It’s like the idea of chemical castration for paedophiles. Supposedly it reduces their sexual urges. But they don’t abuse children just to satisfy sexual urges. They could do that by masturbating. It’s about power. And they’ll still be evil bastards even if their sexual urges are reduced.


  125. That sentence should have read there’s a lot of bad science about BTW.

  126. Branjor Says:

    Another interesting thing about testosterone – levels increase in dominant animals, decrease in submissive ones. And women are more susceptible to the effects of testosterone than men are – it takes less of it to get a comparable response in women than in men.

  127. Polly Styrene Says:

    So maybe the dominance/aggression causes increased testosterone rather than the other way around….

    Too much doesn’t do your health any good anyway – which is why it’s a banned drug in sport. Anabolic steroids are testosterone. Athletes use it because it increases muscle mass. It’s a growth hormone, among other things.

  128. Luckynkl Says:

    Yep, scientists don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg. They don’t know if it’s aggression which causes testosterone levels to rise, or if it’s testosterone which causes aggression. Or so they say.

    I’ve never known the boys to be unsure about anything tho. Even if they don’t know something, they pretend to, and act all authoritarian on it. So I think they know damn well which one it is. And I’d bet the farm it’s the first one. Aggression causes testosterone levels to rise. If it were the opposite way around, they’d be shoring it up all over the map saying, “See? We can’t help ourselves. It’s in our hormones and natural for us to be aggressive.” But they’re not doing that. Instead, they’re being ambiguous on the subject and act like it’s all a mystery. Which I don’t buy. Because it would be easy enough to prove or disprove. 😉

  129. m Andrea Says:

    Well….. I was going to argue with you Lucky, because I just read a good study the other day about how watching competitive sports caused an increase in testosterone, but then realized you were correct once again. Damn you anyway. lol

    We gots to follow the money, as they say, or ask “what would a thousand asshole men find beneficial?”

  130. Branjor Says:

    A study I read on monkeys a long time ago measured testosterone levels on the same monkey when in a group in which he enjoyed high social status and then when he was in a group in which he did not enjoy a high social status. The T levels were higher when he was in the 1st group with high status and then dropped when he was put into the 2nd. Since it was the same monkey, it clearly shows that it was the environmental factor of high status which caused the increased T level, not vice versa.

  131. TransFeminist Says:

    I know this thread is way old, and I just happened to stumble on it during a random internet search and after reading this article, and some of the comments, felt the need to post.

    I am a Transsexual Woman. The **ONLY** reason I add my TS status, is that it seems you seek to deny my claim to being a woman. I agree with your thinking in some respects, but I think you’re logic is flawed in some areas, or rather, not your logic, but your associations. You are equating a biological difference with social constructs.

    There ARE differences between men and women. For the most part, these differences are very minor. Consider a spectrum. At the very end of, let’s call it side A you have one extreme, and at the opposite end you have another extreme, let’s call it B. Now then, let’s make 2 of these spectrums. We shall label one of them “Physical Sex”, and the other, “Psychological Gender”. Physically, I was born a man. I have a penis. We could get into all sorts of DNA/Chromosomal anomalies that COULD be present, but I don’t have a full map of my DNA handy. My “Psychological Gender” is female. Anyone who wants to pick a fight with me over it is welcome to.

    Now I agree 100% that the gender that is the result of a social construct (i.e. men are better at (insert asinine item here), or women suck at (another asinine item) is complete and utter crap. I work in a HEAVILY male dominated field, and I run circles around almost all of them. The only ones that have a leg up are the ones that have been doing it for longer than I’ve been alive, and most of them are older than my grandparents. The idea that a woman cannot excel at a scientific, mathematical, automotive, logical, or any other endeavor is insulting, asinine. It at best rampant unrepentent sexism, and blatant hatred and sex warfare fueled by insecurity and a drive to opress at worst. My partner (a Genetic Girl, born a woman both in mind and body) has a head for numbers that makes my head spin. It is but one of her many gifts. My biggest assets are logic, an analytical mind, and passion. Neither one of us fit any of the preconceived notions of what ‘girls’ are supposed to be. I am a feminist through and through.

    However I reject your assertion that there is no biological difference in the brain when it comes to comparing male vs female. You said it yourself, physically there are differences between men and women. Your brain is a part of your physical makeup. It is well known and documented that deformities in the brain are the root cause, or at the very least, large contributors to a plethora of really horrible things. Now for just a moment, consider that for some reason, rather than a brain developing deformities, it follows a fairly predictable, relatively common development path. The only thing, is that the path it is following, is normally that of a biological (that is to say 2 X chromosomes) female’s brain, however there *IS* a ‘Y’ chromosome present.

    Thus, the brain is built, PHYSICALLY like a female brain. The blueprints are there, they are clear, but whoever installed the plumbing didn’t bother looking at them.

    The basis of who you are is NOT your vagina. Thusly, the basis of who *I* am is not my penis. In fact, genetalia is not a basis of who you are at all. WHO you are comes from your brain, and is a mixture of genetic predispositions, and environmental influences.

    I’ve had people tell me to shutup, couldn’t possible know what I was talking about, silly girl. I promise you it infuriates me just as much as it does you. I normally follow such ridiculous comments with a long and detailed smack down of exactly why I’m right, and why the little man telling me to shutup needs to get his head straight before someone who is not as kind as I am decides to forcefully straighten it.

    You want awkward? Try growing up in a small town in southern America, where people think feminism is some kind of weird devil worshiping satanic cult determined to turn women into lesbian witches. The catch? You’re a boy, and you’re a pretty hardcore feminist.

    The differences between men and women are purely biological. The difference between a man, and a woman as far as gender is concerned, is in the brain. This bullshit that society tries to shovel down our throats about women belonging here, and men belonging there is just socially constructed B.S.

    You can reject my claim on being a woman if you like, but every time a new study on Transsexuality comes out, it just further proves my point. As for your comments about Harry Benjamin and his assignment of behavioral characteristics, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s total horse crap. Me personally, yea I was shy, and I was an introvert for the most part. Not because that’s how women are, but because I didn’t understand anything around me. Life was like some kind of cruel nightmare that I woke up to every morning. I wasn’t introverted and shy because I’m a woman. I was introverted and shy because I felt like a freak since everyone said I was a boy. To say nothing of the sometimes daily beatings I sometimes endured because I was VERY quick to speak up anytime someone tried to say that girls couldn’t do something because they were girls.

    I’m Trans. I’m also a feminist. I see no reason why these two can’t co-exist. Now if you want to talk about people that just play with the socially constructed gender lines as a game, be my guest, I’ll even help you aim the shots. But be careful how general you make your sweeping comments.

    But then, who am I? Just some weirdo on the internet posting to a board that I’ll probably never visit again.

    ciao

  132. m Andrea Says:

    1. I am sorry, but I notice that the justification for the validity of transgenderism has shifted from “I feel like a girl” to “my brain feels like a girl”. There’s not much difference between them, and both justifications are refuted with the exact same procedure:

    The validity of transgenderism can be determined simply by asking whether or not humans require the body of a female in order to express traditionally girly traits. The following are either true statements or false statements, you decide. They are exactly the same, except for biological sex, which should help you along in your reasoning process.

    “A female body is neccessary in order to express traditionally girly attributes.”

    “A male body is neccessary in order to express traditionally boyish attributes.”

    Transfolk are confusing “wanting to express traditionally girlish traits” with “If I feel like expressing girly traits, then I couldn’t possibly be a boy who wants to express girly traits (because we all know boys never want to express icky girly traits), so therefore I must be a girl”.

    2. You are not a feminist. We know this because one of the primary tenents of feminism is that under normal circumstances one’s birth body is capable of expressing any and all emotional attributes and character traits that one may wish to express. That’s not even an exclusively radical position as I previously asserted, it’s basic feminism. That is the underlying premise of the whole “women are human and can do anything men can do” rhetoric of which perhaps you’re familiar…

    Anyone can label themselves anything, because talk is cheap. Suppose we could change the definition of feminist to include “anyone who calls themselves a feminist” but that method of defining things is not acceptable for any other subject. Normally, we have this thing called “criteria”…

  133. stormy Says:

    My “brain biology” tells me I am a giraffe.
    I still have my human bits intact, I don’t have a long neck or orange and black markings, but dammit, I am a giraffe.

    Physically, I was born a man. I have a penis.

    By the tense of the sentence, you still have a penis. That makes you as much of a woman as I am a giraffe.

  134. Polly Styrene Says:

    Read ‘sexing the body’ by Anne Fausto Sterling. There is no such thing as a female brain. And there is no proof that variations in the brains of transwomen exist from birth – the brain is plastic and changes throughout life. Oh and the differences between ‘female’ and ‘male’ bodies are minimal.

    ‘female’ and ‘male’ are real categories in terms of human sexual reproduction. Everything else is a construct.

  135. J. Aiden Says:

    If you have a headache, will you take medicine? If you feel sick, but you have no direct physical symptoms, are you lying to yourself?

    If a man is castrated, is he not “really” a man (and if not, what is he)? If he finds out he has two X chromosomes, should he start living as a woman, even though he appears to be a man? How does this fit into your argument?

    How do you, as a feminist, defend your choice to tell anyone what their body and their brain are and aren’t? Isn’t this what men did to you?

    Do you actually know anyone who is transgender (and have you talked about your theories with them)?

    If you…. were paralyzed and couldn’t see your body (and no one could describe it to you), how would you know you’re a woman? I’m very interested, because you seem very invested in being a woman, but you don’t think there are differences between your brain and a man’s brain.

    How would you feel if you woke up one morning and your body was male? Every day, your body was male (but *you* remained the same). Would you tell yourself, this is my lot; I must be lying to myself, I have to be a man, because my body is male?

    You need to think about being transgender beyond your own theory. Stop thinking about us as “them” and start thinking about us as yourself. If it didn’t bother you that we’re making positive changes in our lives, for OURSELVES, you wouldn’t be blogging about it. It’s disappointing that people spend so much time trying to prove to themselves that I’m not really a man. I don’t happen to care what you think about me or my body. I’m taking medicine for a problem that is incredibly real- ask anyone who has known someone before and after hormones and surgery.

  136. m Andrea Says:

    If a man is castrated, is he not “really” a man (and if not, what is he)?

    Only if you consider that a body part contains the ability to express specific character traits, would a penis be a man. What character trait resides within your left ear? Because if a penis possesses the trait to be good at math, then the left ear should be good at something. Perhaps fear?

    How do you, as a feminist, defend your choice to tell anyone what their body and their brain are and aren’t?

    Excellent question J. It deserves, nay requires, some nuance. There is a difference between saying, “I feel like expressing the accepted behaviors of the opposite sex because doing so makes me happy” and saying, “I feel like expressing the accepted behaviors of the opposite sex because I really am the opposite sex“. The first is based on the right to do whatever makes oneself feel happy, and the second is based on something else.

    The second reason has to do with the expectation that “girls have these qualities and boys have those qualities, and boys are not like girls at all”. But is that really true? Are only boys assertive, good at math, enjoy working with tools and wearing pants? Are only girls empathetic, good at raising children, enjoy cooking and wearing dresses? The idea seems very old-fashioned, and well… sexist.

    One doesn’t hurt anybody, and the second one upholds sexist dogma. One can’t really be argued with (except by religious nutcases whose arguments are themselves easy to invalidate) and the second hurts women by reinforcing sexist stereotypes. Remember the old adage which has been codified into various laws? Anyone can do anything they want, as long as they are not hurting themselves or anybody else.

    It’s the hateful sexist culture in which we all live that declares males can’t be squeezably soft. Reality is, there’s nothing stopping you but you. But if transfolk don’t feel up to challenging our sexist culture, then at least don’t hurt women in the process. Use the right reason, which is “hey this makes me happy”. Nothing wrong with that one, at all.

    J dear, transgenderism is not a postive ideology for women, in it’s current form. It’s not even neutral, as is. But I do see that my being all antagonistic hasn’t been helping, either.

    Yanno, my brother inadvertently taught me a long time ago that there is alway a third option, and most people don’t bother to look for it once they identify their first two choices. I have never liked to just come right out and tell people the third way; to really get it, and to own it, you have to discover it for yourself. Thorry, but this is taking too long, and watching people flounder is getting on my nerves. It makes you happy. That is enough.

  137. J. Aiden Says:

    If a transsexual man gets phalloplasty, is he a “real” man in your eyes, or does his penis need to be “natural”? And you haven’t answered the heart of this question- what do you call a man who has no phallus?

    Not all trans people prescribe to gender-normative lifestyles. There are masculine trans women and feminine trans men, just like non trans people. Being trans doesn’t mean that we want or try to be at the extremes of masculinity and femininity.

    Feminism is often bad for trans people. We aren’t hurting women by being ourselves. I think this is where you are confused. If you are saying that freedom for women would be feeling able to be who and what you really are, regardless of the body and gender you’re born, than you should embrace trans people for having courage to stand up to the world and be happy. You’re right- your antagonism isn’t helping, although I do admire you for taking on all the comments.

    It’s unfortunate that you’re lumping trans people in with our hateful sexist culture. Trans people deal with hate and sexism as much if not more often than women. The reality is that much of the medical world makes us jump through sexist hoops, and that many trans people are painfully aware of sexism; it doesn’t mean we abide by it. You are conflating two differing terms- gender (inner sense of being male, female, both or neither) and gender presentation (grooming and clothing choices, mannerisms, social interaction, activities, types of play and speech patterns). What is sexist is saying that only people who present in masculine ways are men or are man enough to transition. I know a trans guy who is gay and effeminate. This is where sexism can hurt- because people feel that he has to “prove” he is a man, while men who are born with penises don’t have to.

    In my own art work, I make it my priority to challenge people’s conception of gender. I work primarily on masculinity/ what it means to be a man, but I’m trying to broaden everyone’s horizons.

    You’re also still confused about what it means to be transgender. I’m a transgender man- I’m also an artist, a quiet, even tempered person, a good friend, a man who hugs other men, etc. etc. I’m not a gym rat, not a mathematician or a scientist or a sexist ass. I didn’t transition because I wanted to join a fraternity. I was never “butch”. However, I feel like a man. I know that, intrinsically. I never had the option of living in between being a man and a women. I know that such people exist, and that that is what’s right for them, but it would be no more right for me than it would be for the majority of non-trans people.

    While I understand that you’re getting frustrated answering all these comments, that’s the choice you made when you posted this article. The good, bad, and the ugly of self publishing is that there is no editor- that you’re the only one responsible for your words. I encourage you to continue to think about what people have said in their responses and to educate yourself with resources that aren’t blogs, or television shows.

  138. Elly Says:

    It makes you happy. That is enough.

    Well, mAndrea, I suspect that you’re not trans’, because if you would, you probably would have realized that when you say that, people usually ask “but why does that make you happy?”.

    And, while I’m all for not justifying myself and answers which aren’t really answers, I think it’s hard to have a really serious answer without mentioning gender and its effects on how you perceive yourself, your body and so on.

    And I don’t think you can reduce transitionning to “expressing girly traits”. E.g., (but I am no good example of transgenderism, I must say) I probably express much more “boyly” traits than before transitionning, so if the matter of transitionning is only expressing girly traits, I probably am doing it wrong (it’s also true if the matter is being happy, by the way. On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t have participated on all those heated threads if I wasn’t trans, so I don’t regret it.).

    You are not a feminist. We know this because one of the primary tenents of feminism is that under normal circumstances one’s birth body is capable of expressing any and all emotional attributes and character traits that one may wish to express.

    Well, in all honesty I think quite a lot of feminists I know don’t fulfill your requirement. Now, I might have disagreements with them and admit that we are usually quite incompatible, but on the other hand, they still do their share in defending women’s rights, one way or the other, which, for me, is the base for feminism.

  139. Elly Says:

    Now, I must say that I am, too, quite pissed off by the explanations of some trans people (like the female soul in the male body).

    On the other hand, I think that e.g. Stormy’s assumption:

    By the tense of the sentence, you still have a penis. That makes you as much of a woman as I am a giraffe.

    is no less dangerous to feminism, as it justify the patriarcal pretext to the division between a category “man” and “woman”.

    The thing is, a man doesn’t have suddenly his salary cut 30% because he has a accident with his penis, nor a woman have a raise because she has an hysterectomia.

    I think “woman” and “man” are social classes which has little to do with biology, except that biology is a good excuse to justify a domination system.

    Saying that this excuse is a valid one is just as reinforcing patriarchy as trans women saying that it’s mandatory that they get SRS because they are women “deep inside”.

  140. m Andrea Says:

    what do you call a man who has no phallus?

    Er, that’s a leading question yanno. Have you stopped beating your wife?

    Being trans doesn’t mean that we want or try to be at the extremes of masculinity and femininity.

    Of course. One’s position on the gender spectrum isn’t the criteria for determining transgenderism — if that were to be the criteria, then we’d all be trans. So we need another spectrum to compare any dichotomies, which is found by using the body part spectrum: how comfortable does one feel with one’s body parts.

    You are conflating two differing terms- gender (inner sense of being male, female, both or neither) and gender presentation (grooming and clothing choices, mannerisms, social interaction, activities, types of play and speech patterns).

    In order to conflate internal character traits with external presentation, one must presume that an emotion is the same as a piece of clothing.

    Let’s back up. One’s internal character is assumed by society to be limited to a specific set of traits which neatly corresponds to each biological sex. I don’t believe that, society does. I believe gender is a made up social construct and I also believe that under normal circumstances one’s birth body is capable of expressing any and all internal character traits that one may possess.

    But it is interesting that we all keep going round and round that little confusion, and continually accuse each other of not understanding that what is inside does not depend on what is outside. I think we all understand the italicized part. Where the problem arises, if I may be so bold, is that scruffy bit in the middle. That’s the part where many transfolk exclaim, “one thing is dependent upon another” and I wonder what Twilight episode I wandered into.

    I already gave you a frickin reason, one that is actually VALID. In case you missed it. It will stand up to anything anybody cares to throw at it. But go too far (by declaring that “I am the opposite sex”), and it invalidates itself… I think it’s kinda perfect, although it still needs the approval of a few other radfems…

  141. m Andrea Says:

    Hi Elly!

    “It makes me happy” is the justification for all sorts of things which don’t hurt anyone else. Ask them why they want you to be unhappy, and then cry and whine about what big meanies they are. You can do this, lol. Mention the suicide rate for transgendered folks, which is supposedly one out of three. Do they really want you to kill yourself?! Gosh they rilly are mean…

    The thing is, a man doesn’t have suddenly his salary cut 30% because he has a accident with his penis, nor a woman have a raise because she has an hysterectomia.

    Some MtF did have her salary cut, it went around the blogs a few times.

  142. Elly Says:

    Some MtF did have her salary cut, it went around the blogs a few times.

    Yes, but that’s because they are categorised as women, not because of vaginoplasty.

    (Except in pornography, i guess, but that’s quite an exception)

    “It makes me happy” is the justification for all sorts of thing

    Yes, and “Why not?” too, but it doesn’t explain much. Which might not be necessary for answering to a guy in the street, but some explanations might be interesting for understanding how gender “works” (or, sometimes, doesn’t work quite well).

  143. thebewilderness Says:

    “what do you call a man who has no phallus?”

    A person.

  144. m Andrea Says:

    Been wondering how you are TBW, don’t see you around much and I miss those perceptive observations.

    Elly, if “figuring out how gender works” is the goal, then what specific questions would a reasonable person ask?

    It seems to me that the very first question would be “what is gender”. Next I’d ask, “is gender real and what is my evidence”. Then, “is there any conflicting evidence and how do I account for that”. But most transfolk skip to question number 99 in the queue and pretend that’s the starting point.

  145. stormy Says:

    Breaking down one paragraph from J. Aiden:
    Feminism is often bad for trans people.
    There is nothing stopping you from starting Transism, instead of trying to co-opt feminsm to fit the trans agenda.

    We aren’t hurting women by being ourselves. I think this is where you are confused.

    Not as such, however, the transagenda works against feminist goals in many ways, primarily with the assertion that “anybody can be a woman, with or without a penis”. What that does is infringe on the boundaries of FAB women, who may need female-only services such as rape counselling. For example, TransFeminist above uses the present tense with “I have a penis”, if you could wear your Sensitivity Hat for just a moment, and think of others other than yourself, you would realise that the last thing that most rape victims want to see is someone who even resembles a male. That is our main objection, we want to define “woman” and to exclude biological males, primarily those who still look male, even in a dress, from woman-only spaces. Do you not get that, or is just All About You, and tuff-luck trampling over others’ needs?

    Elly said:
    On the other hand, I think that e.g. Stormy’s assumption:

    By the tense of the sentence, you still have a penis. That makes you as much of a woman as I am a giraffe.

    is no less dangerous to feminism, as it justify the patriarcal pretext to the division between a category “man” and “woman”.

    That was a specific dismissal to the claim that anyone can claim to “be a woman”, even those with penises, even those who don’t even live full time as a woman. And primarily for the reasons listed above. What you do to yourself is no business of mine. However, when you start interferring with feminist goals, then it becomes my business.

    Furthermore, the vocal transactivists wish to take over feminism, and redefine it to fit them, as well as wanting to be regarded as “more special” women, deserving MORE of feminism’s time. Again I object. Feminism has hardly achieved much in the way of freedom for females to live their lives to their fullest potential or without male violence. If and when that happens, will there be benefits for transwomen and men dressing up as women? Absolutely. Collatoral benefits.

    Either get on board with the main programme, or get out of the way. And stop trying to redefine what feminism is, what female is, and all the other POMO bullshit.

  146. atheistwoman Says:

    Hmm. I would say that a man with no phallus is still a man…

  147. m Andrea Says:

    It was a leading question, AW. It assumes the person was a male to begin with. J.Aiden was born female…

    If “a person without a penis is a man”, then all people without a penis are men.

  148. J. Aiden Says:

    I was talking about a man who was identified as male at birth, who lost his penis due to health, or an accident, or whatever.

    How do you identify a man? In your opinion, is a man only someone male identified, with an unambiguous penis at birth?

    How do you account for people who are intersex and identify as men?

  149. J. Aiden Says:

    Stormy,
    As a survivor of sexual abuse, I am offended by your thinking that a woman with a penis can not be a rape counselor, and that trans women are not raped. Should men not be allowed to counsel rape victims? There are female sexual abusers, although it isn’t often reported (and when it is, it is often the young male student who supposedly seduced the older female teacher) it does happen.
    Should women who were identified as female at birth but look like men in dresses not be allowed to counsel women who have been raped? The reason I think this idea is so degrading is because rape and sexual abuse are about power and OBJECTIFICATION. You are objectifying women by saying A WOMAN IS, AND ONLY IS HER VAGINA, rape is about vaginas, only people with vaginas are raped, etc. Isn’t this what feminism is fighting? And if not, what is it fighting?
    Also, you are assuming that only women can be feminists. There are men who are feminists, too. I count myself as one, believe it or not. Trans people don’t want to take over feminism- we want to broaden the scope, and to help people realize that women’s rights should be for every woman, regardless of what she looks like naked. As someone who keeps track of domestic violence/ violence against women and children, I’m surprised you could care so little about rights for trans women. Violence against ANY woman is horrible- trans or not. Trans women are not trying to get special rights, just like all women are not trying to get special rights- just equal rights. I think it’s awful that men excluded you from their spaces, and now you are excluding trans women.

  150. m Andrea Says:

    How do you identify a man? In your opinion, is a man only someone male identified, with an unambiguous penis at birth?

    How do you account for people who are intersex and identify as men?

    J, why does it matter to you what I believe? It only matters that you are happy with the person you have become, and that you are not hurting anyone else in the process.

    But if you really want an answer, here is the short answer: No doctor can describe you as male, for that would be using biological criteria. A doctor might describe you as a man, but only if that doctor is using the criteria for gender, which is quite different from the markers for biological sex.

    Unlike biological markers, gender is not stable across culture or time — which is how we know that gender is an every-changing illusion. If we are french, gender is a label that we apply to furniture. If we are german, people are referred to as “it”. If we are in ancient rome or the modern middle east, men wear dresses and women wear tents. If we are in 1950 usa, women have poor math ability and men have poor communication ability.

    The cultural agreement entailing what a particular gender is capable of expressing changes over time. It is not stable. It transitions from one expectation to another.

    There is a fundamental and profound difference between saying “A is like B” and saying “A is B”. When we discuss math, it is easy to see. When we discuss existentialism, it becomes more difficult. But just because some particular subject contains more nuances and is more difficult to understand does not mean that the basic underlying principles have suddenly vanished.

    So a person’s biological is fixed at birth, their perception of their gender is an illusion, and an intersex individual isn’t even in the same ballpark as a transgendered. One is physical, one is mental.

  151. m Andrea Says:

    J, let’s consider this logically, shall we? But first: are we discussing human rights, women’s rights or transgendered rights? Pick one. Pick one to place above all else.

    Okay. We have a bunch of tramatized people in a shelter, the vast majority of whom are females who have been raped by men. Do we tell all those women that they must be counceled by: a female, a male, or a transgendered?

    Do you think that we should: take the preference of very recently traumatized people under consideration, or do you think we should give them a lecture on how “this man has the right to councel you” and “this transgendered person has the right to councel you”?

    Why do I have the feeling that your response will center on trangendered rights? Seems as if the most important consideration should be given to the person who is in immediate crisis, not some dingaling trying to feel accepted and validated as a councelor.

    The problem that most transgfolk want to ignore is that transgenderism really does qualify as a slippery slope argument. Any heterosexual man can claim to be transgendered. Any male, no matter how much of a dominating asshole he is, no matter how badly he passes as a woman, no matter how much he hates women, can claim to be transgendered — which guarantees him admittance into women only space.

    Now, J. Explain to me why protecting the rights of one group extends so far as to impinge upon the rights of another group.

  152. J. Aiden Says:

    I’m not trying to say that intersex people and transgender people are similar, I was asking you how you would classify someone who is intersex, according to your logic that gender is an illusion. I don’t care about what objects we gender according to what language we speak. I’m aware- however, I was speaking about people’s gender, which is quite different.

    I’m interested in your opinion because your article is your opinion- and if you’re putting it out into the world you should be able to defend it. I’m interested because you say that what my doctor and I have deemed appropriate for me “will eventually come back to bite real women in the ass in a few years.” By the way, what is a “real” woman, if “gender is an illusion,” and “one is physical [sex] and one is mental [gender],” how are you so sure that you are really a woman? Or are you? I’m really not trying to be a jerk, but I’d like you to tell me what makes you sure you are (besides the fact that you have a vagina, because that’s physical sex, not mental gender. You take for granted that your mother and your teachers told you you were a woman so you never had to question it, and therefore have never come up with a consistent definition for what gender is.

    Actually, my doctors do describe me, and look at my medical history, as male. I have the same rate for heart disease and stroke as men do, as well as many other biologically male health problems. However, if I was interested in a doctor’s opinion, I wouldn’t be discussing this with you. As far as I can tell, you’re a theorist, not a scientist.

  153. J. Aiden Says:

    I think the quality of the counselor is the most important factor, not what’s in the counselor’s pants. Additionally, people have the right to choose their own counselor, and decide if the counselor is helping them or not. Yes, I believe that men and women- trans or not- have the right to become counselors. Whether or not a specific patient chooses to work with that person is up to them. No one is forced to see a counselor, but no one should be fired for what’s in their pants. Again, you’ve failed to answer my questions- you’re just reiterating your own. Should masculine appearling female women be able to counsel rape victims? Would you prefer a competent, well trained rape counselor who was transgender or an incompetent, impatient counselor who had a vagina?

    Heterosexual man can’t just claim to be women and enter women’s spaces. Trans people have to jump through a lot of hoops to be able to transition. We have to see therapists who get to decide if we’re “really” men or women, or if we’re crazy. And honestly, I don’t think that any heterosexual man who has it out for women would feel that it was necessary to wear a dress in order to harm someone. If a person wants to hurt someone else, they will. I don’t think that most “women hating men” would stoop to wearing a dress in order to hurt a woman.

    Why are you so afraid of men, and penises, anyway? That really seems to be the heart of the matter.

  154. m Andrea Says:

    J, you are acting like a jerk whether you realize it or not. You come over here demanding that I answer your questions but fail to return the courtesy. You do not address the criticisms which have been put to you but instead demand new answers to more questions.

    Hello!

    I have to admit that I tend to be a sarcastic ass, but guess what? I’m actually not out to hurt transpeople. I would however, like it if the claims and insinuations they put forth do not result in more sexism. That is not a lot to ask from people who believe themselves to be women or who were born female.

    Why are you so afraid of men?

    But many of the comments above seem to be based on some prurient hatred of sex instead, which is disturbing.
    This is a cheap transparent trick to change the subject from the behavior of men, to the feelings of women. Every time you hear the term hate used in this fashion it is always a cheapass way to change the subject. Serious people do not like to be manipulated in the style of political operatives.

    Men rape women.
    Why do you hate men.

    Porn hurts women.
    Why do you hate sex.

    Do you see the shift from the behavior of the perp to the feelings of the victim? You can see it any time you like on the cable news networks, where that crap passes for discussion.
    It does not pass here.

    TheBewilderness said it better than I ever could. That is my all time favorite quote!

  155. m Andrea Says:

    Yanno, that question implies that someone needs a special reason to hate men. As if the massive amount of discrimination and violence which men inflict onto women isn’t enough.

    lol, it’s enough…

  156. Elly Says:

    Stormy:

    However, when you start interferring with feminist goals, then it becomes my business.

    Yeah, that’s what I though too, this is actually why I took the time to comment on those posts. But apparently, I shall not be able do discuss the way some feminism is implemented:

    Either get on board with the main programme, or get out of the way. And stop trying to redefine what feminism is, what female is, and all the other POMO bullshit.

    I mean, yeah, it’s true that there is one big united feminism that must not be discussed, and, well, the definition of female shall not be touched either, after all, it was made by serious men and it has proudly stood up for centuries, so it can’t be wrong.

    mAndrea:

    Seems as if the most important consideration should be given to the person who is in immediate crisis, not some dingaling trying to feel accepted and validated as a councelor.

    I agree with that, even if it’s politically incorrect (like, a person who doesn’t want to be counceled by a visibly lesbian woman). But then, that also includes the right for trans woman to have a place where they don’t have to face men.

    Any male, no matter how much of a dominating asshole he is, no matter how badly he passes as a woman, no matter how much he hates women, can claim to be transgendered — which guarantees him admittance into women only space.

    Yeah, I also saw this as the argument against trans inclusion (and also by straight people against the existence of lesbians-only spaces, actually, because, how can you tell someone is really lesbian, uh?)

    To begin with, I think the only difference that a “woman but not trans” policy concretely has (except if you want to look at genitals) is that the person has to roughly pass (it’s sad (for me) but I have some cis male friends who could pass much more easily than me as women and can still, for at least one of then, be quite a “dominating asshole” when he wants to.)

    Now, has this case actually already happened ? (I mean, a cis man gaining access to a woman-only space by claiming he’s trans, and the reaction of the people not being “yeah, right, fuck off?”) Because, I don’t claim I’ve had thousands of experience of xxx-only space, but I’ve been to some (that included trans, obviously), and I’ve seen cases where there were “intruders”. And I think that if one of thoses guys had claimed to be transgender, there would have been a smal discussion in order to verify that it was bullshit and he would have been politely pushed off.

    Now, I may be wrong, but I really have the intimate convition that this argument (cis man claiming to be trans) doesn’t really stand in concrete.

    So I think the real reason to have women-only spaces that exclude trans women isn’t to avoid this risk, but, quite straightforwardly, to avoid having trans women.

  157. J. Aiden Says:

    The problem is that not all men are bad, and not all pre-operative transwomen act like bad men do. I think people do need a special reason- or at least a justification- for hating half of the people in the world. You’re blankly stating that all men are rapists, that all men like or participate in porn, and that all women (even those who create porn) are hurt by it. You are also saying (through the quote from TheBewilderness) that all women are victims (also- “men inflict on women”). This just makes women sound helpless, and makes it sound like the situation will never change. Instead of hating men, and thinking that it’s just fine to go on living that way, couldn’t you work to educate men about rape and violence and their repercussions? If you truly believe that gender is a social construct, rape (being an action specific to men) would be a learned behavior.

    Challenging your hatred for men doesn’t lead to sexism. Believing that all men are inherently bad is sexist- sexism isn’t only towards women.

    I’m actually trying to answer your questions- perhaps not every single one directly, but nonetheless. As for your last comment, I don’t think that you can work for the rights of one group and actively put down another in the process, and feel that that’s a good thing. I am for equal rights, and don’t’ think that rights for trans people hurt women. On the contrary, I am for HR 2015, which would protect workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/ gender presentation. While you may see this as being forced to work with a male bodied person who identifies as a woman- and perhaps share a bathroom with her- I see it as a law that allows men, and women especially, the right to present their gender without being wrongly fired because of backwards ideas of what would be appropriate for a woman to wear or act in the workplace.

    I’m still commenting on your blog because it seems that a lot of the arguments that you’re making against trans people have been made by men against women, to keep them from receiving equality.

  158. thebewilderness Says:

    Why are you so afraid of men, and penises, anyway? That really seems to be the heart of the matter.

    I yelped when I read this. I was going to respond.
    Instead, in my best Emily Lytella voice, I shall say, “never mind.”

  159. Elly Says:

    J.Aiden:

    Heterosexual man can’t just claim to be women and enter women’s spaces. Trans people have to jump through a lot of hoops to be able to transition. We have to see therapists who get to decide if we’re “really” men or women, or if we’re crazy.

    On the other hand, I’ve never been asked a shrink’s certificate to enter a woman-only space or a lesbian-only space (that would be problematic for lesbian-spaces, actually, since many psychiatrists don’t want their trans patients to be homosexuals), so I don’t think this is an argument that can really stand.

    And honestly, I don’t think that any heterosexual man who has it out for women would feel that it was necessary to wear a dress in order to harm someone.

    I too have some trouble imagining a dominant man devirilizing himself by putting a dress or even claiming he’s transgender, in order to be violent.

    When I think about it, the only case of physical violence I heard in a woman’s space was a dominant man who “sent” a woman (his girlfriend, I think) to physically hit another woman he had had an altercation with.

    (But obviously since the guy was an anarchist there couldn’t have been a power dynamics between e.g. him and his girlfriend, so I guess she just did it without his inflluence or coercion and this has nothing to do with male domination, right?)

  160. m Andrea Says:

    Seems as if the most important consideration should be given to the person who is in immediate crisis, not some dingaling trying to feel accepted and validated as a councelor.

    I agree with that, even if it’s politically incorrect (like, a person who doesn’t want to be counceled by a visibly lesbian woman). But then, that also includes the right for trans woman to have a place where they don’t have to face men.

    lol One must first prove that two things are identical, before one may claim they are equal.

    The underlying principle is not the same. All other oppressed groups seek the full rights of the default human WITHOUT REGARD to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. Only transfolk seek the right to be perceived as a gender — which is less then “full humanity without regard to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc”.

    The case for transgenderism becomes a special pleading, which is automatically invalid. Is there something about that concept which is difficult?

    Any male, no matter how much of a dominating asshole he is, no matter how badly he passes as a woman, no matter how much he hates women, can claim to be transgendered — which guarantees him admittance into women only space.

    Yeah, I also saw this as the argument against trans inclusion (and also by straight people against the existence of lesbians-only spaces, actually, because, how can you tell someone is really lesbian, uh?)

    Oh I forgot there’s supposed to be a way to have threaded comments now. I’ll have to check. Anyway.

    A slippery slope argument is said to exist when no line of demarcation is possible. Transgenderism qualifies, and is therefore invalid. Thorry.

    Now, has this case actually already happened ? (I mean, a cis man gaining access to a woman-only space by claiming he’s trans, and the reaction of the people not being “yeah, right, fuck off?”)

    A male will claim he is trans in order to gain admittance as soon as the opportunity exists for his strategy to be effective. Right now that would not be an effective strategy, because there is too much controversy. It’s pleasant to believe that all males behave themselves at all times, but um, try reality for a change. Especially when so many of them excuse their behavior as “just having fun”.

  161. m Andrea Says:

    Jesus. I had some 120 year old fucker stalk me in a god damn wheelchair for weeks because I smiled at him, once. Some fruitcake tried to pull me out of my car at an intersection. The city cops all had to “check something” at least once a week. My next door neighbor would stand outside my window. The guys at work were atrocious, don’t even get me started. The fucking teachers made passes at me. A guy grabbed my ass as I was on my racing bike and he was in a car. Catcalls, yelling, screaming, grabbing me as I went past. It never fucking god damn stopped.

    The only place it stopped was in the bathroom, because they couldn’t quite rationalize following me in there. I understand I’m supposed to be concerned about the traumatize rape victim in the shelter – and I am – but the harrassment by “nice guys” went on every single day. Hell yes they’d follow me in the bathroom, do you not get it yet?

  162. Elly Says:

    The underlying principle is not the same. All other oppressed groups seek the full rights of the default human WITHOUT REGARD to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. Only transfolk seek the right to be perceived as a gender — which is less then “full humanity without regard to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc”.

    The case for transgenderism becomes a special pleading, which is automatically invalid. Is there something about that concept which is difficult?

    Oh, I have some feeling of déjà vu. Didn’t we have this discussion already?

    Anyway.

    I think I said more or less the same thing already elsewhere, but, well…

    1) Actually, a non-null part of the feminist movement is centered on revendicating being a woman and not just being “human”. Just like a non-null part of gays/lesbians feel important to claim that they are men/women when they are insulted of not being true ones. (Though on the other hand Wittig said that lesbians are not women, true.)
    2) But actually, the question is not even that, in this case, I don’t even know why you are putting this trope again. This is not a question of claiming an internal identity or saying you are a true woman , but to say that you are suffering oppression because you are categorised as such.

    Personally, I don’t think I have a deep gender identity of “woman” or anything like that. But I have some vague consciousness that if I am now more likely to be e.g. sexually assaulted than some years before, it’s not only because criminality is rising and it used to be better before, but also maybe because I am now more or less, whether I like it or not, categorised as a member of the “woman” class.

    Now it’s true that sometimes this is negated e.g., last time I was forcefully kissed on the mouth by a drunken man, he later explained to me that it wasn’t sexual at all, because actually I was a man and he was heterosexual, so I couldn’t have suffered oppression, agression, or anything like that.

    I guess he would agree with the argumentation to justify that a trans woman should be denied the access to women’s space and sent to a space where she will be able to be counceled by a guy who could have been his agressor.

    He must be a better feminist than me, I guess.

    A slippery slope argument is said to exist when no line of demarcation is possible. Transgenderism qualifies, and is therefore invalid. Thorry.

    Well, maybe you’re right. There might be no possiblity of straight line of demarcation. But then again, without looking at the genitals, I don’t always see the line of demarcation between a trans woman and a cis woman, or even between a “man disguised in a woman” and a cis woman. (And less again between a “lesbian” and a “straight woman”, in the cases of lesbians-only spaces)

    Anyway, I must admit that I suck at theory.

    On the other hand, in practice, slippery slope or not, demarcation line or not, I’ve never seen a real difficulty in telling between a trans woman and a cis man.

    It’s pleasant to believe that all males behave themselves at all times, but um, try reality for a change

    You know, I wouldn’t bother to go to women-only space/lesbians-only spaces if I though men were all nice and not oppressing and anything.

    And concerning reality, well, I agree that I should probably be more active in the real world and less on quite virtual blogs having discussions on quite virtual things.

    A male will claim he is trans in order to gain admittance as soon as the opportunity exists for his strategy to be effective. Right now that would not be an effective strategy, because there is too much controversy.

    Well, in my reality (that is, the “milieu” I frequent in my country), no, there is not that much controversy. In my reality I’ve never seen controversy at all on whether I, for example, (or any other tranny) should be given access to women-only/lesbian-only feminist space.

    And yet, I’ve never seen a guy trying to “intrude” those spaces by claiming he was a trans woman. I’ve never even heard of that happening ever (despite of the many legends/anecdots concerning women/lesbian-only spaces that do exist), so, well, I’m, as you say, trying reality, and I didn’t see any of the weapon of mass destruction threatening feminism that is supposedly hidden in the barbarian country of “transgenderism”.

  163. Polly Styrene Says:

    J Aiden. Go and read something about what men do. Start with reading about the democratic republic of Congo, and what’s happening there. Then talk to some women who’ve been raped, nearly killed, abused as children by men (like at least half the commenters on this blog). And then talk to some women who’ve been fucked over in the workplace and expected to do more work than men for less pay, by men who promote men.

    And then come back and tell me men are lovely.

  164. Polly Styrene Says:

    And actually – counsellors ( should) behave by a code of ethics. And I do not know ANY rape crisis counsellor who would not be open with a client about being a (non visible) lesbian if the client said it was a problem (there could be very legitimate reasons why it might be). The clients of counsellors have every right to feel comfortable with their counsellor.

    HOWEVER I have never come across a case where this WAS a problem for a client.

  165. Anonymous Says:

    Wanted to voice my agreement with the above commenters’ suggestions that gender-identity is a choice and that many MtFs have (maybe unconsciously) adopted the “I have a woman’s brain” as their origin story.

    I support this reasoning through my reading of the following book: _Male Femaling: a grounded-theory approach to cross-dressing and sex-changing_ by Richard Ekins. This is a seventeen year study of cases of male femaling, or, biological males adopting stereotypical female roles/identities/etc.. (what we have been calling cross-dressing, transgender, etc…).

    One thing that struck me is that the researcher found that male-femalers who accepted a particular line of thought would tend towards that culture’s goal. I point out two “career-paths” (p.108/109) (a) the cross-dresser who adopts the idea that his tendencies are marks of unconscious fear of heterosexual intimacy and, as result, is disinclined to cross-dress and (b) the one who accepts the idea that he is actually a “woman in a man’s body” and builds a self-identity based on that. Both paths are laden with angst and self-reflection. The author seemed to imply that, where you choose to listen, you will go.

    This was in the book: Male femalers in TS communities were more likely to opt for a sex-change. Male femalers in private counseling were more likely to reduce their interest in dressing.

    This makes it unlikely there is a hard, ‘real’, truth about a person’s brain that can only be satisfied by a physical change in one’s genitals. Instead, the “women brain” argument is a social construct, meant to satisfy difficult questions of identity.

    One alternate interpretation of the statistics is to say that these “women in their brains” are real and they found their support community and eventually chose to become women. However, I don’t think this is likely – especially, when transexuals don’t seem to decide on their identity until after they’ve joined the community. After which, they revisit and reinterpret their personal history in light of the new ideology that they have adopted.

  166. Zoe Brain Says:

    The Annual American Psychiatric Association Meeting will be held in March May this year. From Psychiatric News February 20, 2009 Volume 44, Number 4, page 13:

    The remaining symposium, “In or Out? A Discussion About Gender Identity Diagnoses and the DSM,” will focus on diagnostic issues specific to gender identity disorder, particularly the issues of having gender identity disorder listed in DSM-V and the implications of removing it. Several leaders in the transgender community will speak at this symposium.

    And from the program:

    S6. “In or Out?”: A Discussion About Gender Identity Diagnoses and the DSM (DSM Track DM03)

    1. The DSM-V Revision Process: Principles and Progress William E. Narrow, M.D.
    2. Beyond Conundrum: Strategies for Diagnostic Harm Reduction Kelley Winters, Ph.D.
    3. Aligning Bodies With Minds: The Case for Medical and Surgical Treatment of Gender Dysphoria Rebecca Allison, M.D.
    4. The Role of Medical and Psychological Discourse in Legal and Policy Advocacy for Transgender Persons in the U.S. Shannon P. Minter, J.D.

    S10. The Neurobiological Evidence for Transgenderism

    1. Brain Gender Identity Sidney W. Ecker, M.D.
    2. Transsexuality as an Intersex Condition Milton Diamond, Ph.D.
    3. Novel Approaches to Endocrine Treatment of Transgender Adolescents and Adults Norman Spack, M.D.

    Whatever the situation, the facts will out in the end. It’s not about philosophy or ideology, but biology. I have my own ideas about that, but whether I’m right or wrong, unlike questions of sociology, there exists a definitive answer.

    Ekins’ book was first published in 1996, I believe, before 95% of the work on neurology had been done, and is based on the axioms of psychoanalytic theory. As such it makes a useful contrast with similar psychoanalytical works attempting to explain the psychological origins of stomach ulcers before the helicobacter bacillus was discovered.


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