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May 26 2007

Thyreocorid bug of the week

thyreocorid.jpg
Corimelaena sp. The Twisty Hemiptera Department, May 26, 2007.

I adjourned to the bug paddock to snap this foto after throwing a copy of Newsweek across the room. It’s the May 21 issue, the one with a picture of a baby on the front. The baby is wearing a half pink, half blue wunzy. “The Mystery of GENDER,” it says. “THE NEW VISIBILITY OF TRANSGENDER AMERICA IS SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE ANCIENT RIDDLE OF IDENTITY.”

That’s why I bought the magazine. This ‘ancient riddle of identity’? What the hell is that?

Alas. Like all Newsweek articles, this one sheds no light whatsover on anything, ancient riddles of identity or otherwise. Its several thousand words could have been boiled down to “There are transgender people around.”

Here’s a howler, though: “Actively expressing the feminine in me has helped me grow closer to God,” says some godbag who has been brainwashed by patriarchy to think long hair and bras are an “identity.”

Ay yi yi.

The rest of the piece pretty much deals with how weird it is for the binary-minded when people cross over to the dark side and want to play sports. It turns out that Renee Richards, famed 70′s-era trans pro tennis player, is no exception to the “all old people are bigots” rule. A septuagenarian, Richards opines “God didn’t put us on this earth to have gender diversity.”

Whereupon I threw the magazine.

NOTE: I shouldn’t have to say this, but that’s what I thought the last time, so: I will not admit bigoted anti-trans crap into the comments section.

478 comments

5 pings

  1. Pinko Punko

    Ah, Newsweek, a possibly not at all adulterated piece of crap.

    *THIS IS THE VOICE OF PATRIARCHY, TWO IS THE MOST OF ANYTHING THAT THERE CAN POSSIBLY BE. ONE OF THE TWO SHALL BE BEWIENERED THE OTHER OF THE TWO WILL BE DESCRIBED AS THE ABSENCE OF BEWIENERED*

    I don’t know what the voice of the patriarchy sounds like, probably like Darth Vader on the inside but some sort of folksy grampa on the outside.

  2. LouisaMayAlcott

    Does this website constitute a piece of bigoted anti-trans crap?

    http://www.questioningtransgender.org/

    Just wondering.

  3. thebewilderness

    Everything makes me think of Firestone, these days. I think nuclear families serve up bigotry with a childs first solid food, then they park the little ones in front of the teevee for a second helping.

  4. wren

    Oh, Newsweek. Always ready to feed into a fucked up system.

    My feelings on the existence of transgender people* is this. The fact that some individuals are transgendered is proof that the patriarchy sucks. Granted, it’s possible this understanding is incorrect, in which case please correct me, but in a post-revolution world everyone will be able to feel comfortable in their body, no matter where they fall on the gender continuum, because dual genders themselves will be a thing of the past.

    I guess this is born out of my impression that most transfolk have made the decision to transition because they feel that they do not “fit” as members of their birth gender, or because they feel more at home with the qualities of their non-birth gender. Please, please correct me if this is a wrong assumption. But if we didn’t force people to choose in that way–but choose ONLY WHAT YOU CAME OUT AS, dammit, so not a choice at all–then people wouldn’t feel like they needed to, you know, choose to become a different gender, they could just express themselves as they felt comfortable regardless of genitalia.

    So, in sum, IBTP for Newsweek.

    * Not that they asked for my opinion. I feel as though I might legitimately be offending and/or stepping on toes with this, so please understand that I have had limited opportunity to learn about this first-hand and am genuinely seeking correction if I’m just being a flat-out dumbass.

  5. LouisaMayAlcott

    If this thread is supposed to be about bigotry, then I wonder why people who question transgender are held up, apropos of nothing, as the primordial bigots.

  6. Chris Clarke

    This ‘ancient riddle of identity’? What the hell is that?

    I think it’s the one the Sphinx told about “I walk on four legs in the morning, two at noon and three at night, what am I?

  7. wren

    Louisa, the most recent (I think) post here on trans issues resulted in a rather surprising comment thread. A lot of people thought it was surprising in the not-so-good way. Twisty hadn’t been able to mod for a few days at that point, so I think she’s just making a preemptive strike this time.

  8. the opoponax

    wait. holdupasecond.

    you mean long hair and bras AREN’T an identity?

    crap.

    back to the drawing board…

    oh, yeah, wait. what about skirts?

    lipstick? SURELY lipstick must be the font of all identity. right?

    no, wait, i think it’s shoes. definitely. shoes. ok, c’mon, are you SURE it’s not bras?

  9. the opoponax

    on a more serious note, wren, totally.

    with the caveat that i don’t think there’s really any such thing as “the one you came out as”.

    if i dye my brown hair red, does that make me Transfolliculared?

  10. the opoponax

    what if i don’t actualy go through with the dye job, but i just “feel” like a redhead trapped in a brunet’s body? how does “dyeing the carpet to match” factor in?

    ok, in all seriousness, i’ll stop thread hogging now.

  11. Twisty

    That branch of transgender politics which seeks to reinforce binary sex roles is at odds with that branch of radical feminism which intersects with the Twistolution. It is the position of this blog that femininity and masculinity, as well as “woman” and “man,” for that matter, are synthetic constructs imposed by the dominant culture to bolster a class hierarchy that favors dudes. It is not the position of this blog that transgender people are subhuman. Everyone does what they gotta do to survive. It’s war.

  12. Pinko Punko

    I think Louisa might be familiar with that situation, but if not it was pretty bad. The link, though, that Louisa provides at least has a lot of info about the debate that was going on, and with which I think a number of commenters (myself, maybe others) had no idea had been raging for quite some time. So it was not clear until the very end of a horrible thread exactly where everyone was coming from. I don’t think this is an argument that anyone can win. One side demands inclusion and another demands space with which to be comfortable in light of patriarchy not providing said space. A definition of “no win”-

  13. the opoponax

    hm. i just realized that my above joke-ish-ness might be interpreted as being anti-trans. which i’m not, and in fact what i meant to convey was the opposite, that since i don’t see sex/gender as being an innate and rigid binary (or even rigidly connected to each other), and that i most certainly see gender as a completely social construct, i don’t think it should matter overmuch who decides to identify as what, how they do that, and what it should mean to both them and the world around them.

    and that goes for myself, too, woman identified person that i usually kinda sorta am. (i mean, what does that even mean?)

  14. H

    I don’t know what the voice of the patriarchy sounds like

    I like to imagine it sounds like a Vogon. You know, the kind of voice best suited for bellowing orders and issuing threats and that kind of thing.

  15. Twisty

    Precisely, Pinko. I don’t propose to become embroiled in another fucking referendum on transgender politics. This is not an argument, and it is not about winning. I don’t give a fuck who uses what bathroom. The condition of perpetual conflict among the oppressed is a central feature of patriarchy. My main point is that Newsweek is lame. It’s a whole magazine about nothing.

    Also, that thyreocorids are pretty. That bug is only 1/4″ long, but look how fabulous it is. Your garden is full of’em, but who can shed light on the ancient riddle of a burrower bug’s identity?

    What? There’s no burrower bug ancient riddle?

  16. Shakes

    “A septuagenarian, Ricahards [sic] opines ‘God didn’t put us on this earth to have gender diversity.’”

    I don’t know whether all godbaggery will be tossed to the heap from the get-go, but I’m going to go ahead and fight God with Rabbis.
    There is one Jewish mystical interpretation of Genesis that claims that the first earthling was in fact hermaphroditic. Sort of. It was an earthling with a penis and and earthling with a vagina that were attached back-to-back. This didn’t do very much good. While it is often interpreted that God took Adam’s rib and formed Eve, the word translated as “rib” can also mean “side.” In this interpretation, God just split the thing in half so they could face each other.
    If you regard all this as a bunch of baloney anyway, then I guess it’s not of much interest.

  17. Twisty

    I wonder if I might prevail upon you, the opoponax, to avail yourself of the shift key? As a favor to me? I don’t ask for much. And besides, all the other kids are doing it.

  18. Madeline

    Twisty, you got it right in one.

    A lot of the trans/queer activists I know aren’t interested in usurping women or anything like that, mostly not even interested in being a “woman” or a “man,” only interested in being comfortable in their own skins. Which is I think something we are all interested in.

    I can see why feminists might be angry at trans people for “defecting from femaleness” or “attempting to co-opt femaleness” when the focus is on externals and not internals. But it seems like the issue for the site linked above is that trans people can never truly transition, that is, once you have been raised as a man you have privilege and cannot ever understand women (or “be” a woman) and similarly with women — you are just masquerading into a man’s world slavishly, and will never be accepted as male.

    I do accept some of this way of thinking. I don’t think that the ultimate answer, the thing that will fix gender problems, is simply to enable trans people to switch genders and eliminate prejudice against them. More important is to eliminate the gender dichotomy all together. Have female sex organs, want to behave any way you please? Great. Just don’t be oppressive. Have a good time! Have male sex organs, want to behave any way you please? Great. Just don’t be oppressive. Have a good time!

    I don’t believe, of course, that even if the gender dichotomy were abolished there wouldn’t still be some people who felt they were wrongly sexed. I don’t see what’s wrong with those people attempting to alter their biological organs. It seems to me that at that stage, altering one’s genitalia and taking hormone therapy would be more of a cosmetic change than anything. It would be like choosing to get breast reductions because you are made uncomfortable by your large breasts, or like choosing to get a tattoo (though obviously more extreme than either). At this point the question wouldn’t be about gender identity; it would be about whether you think drastic elective surgery is okay (I think yes; there’s plenty of reasons people think no; it’s off-topic to argue right now).

    But ultimately all this boils down to is that trans people today are, as far as I can tell, caught in a difficult bind between male and female, possessing some of the privilege and some of the un-privilege and a whole lotta anger directed at them and a whole lotta anger coming from them. As you say, Twisty — we’re all just trying to get by.

  19. LouisaMayAlcott

    There’s an ancient riddle about how to tell the two sexes, genders, or whatever you call them, apart in the thyreocorids.

    Whenever you pick one up to try to inspect it, it leaps out of your hand and runs away.

    Wouldn’t you?

    Could a bug that has not been visually inspected be considered to have a gender? Is the gender of all thyreocorids then only a will o’ the wisp?

    Ahhhhhhhhh … sleeping pill kicking in. G’nite.

  20. al

    no exception to the “all old people are bigots” rule

    But old people are an oppressed class! That’s a gross generalisation! No different to hating on blacks or kids or gays!

    I kid. The straight white dudes who run this damn world are all fossils. Oppressed? My birkenstock! Not that I think the younger ones would do much better, mind (insert ellipses here)

    “God didn’t put us on this earth to have gender diversity.”

    Now make my miserable day and tell me she referred to God as “He.”

    But she’s right. Half of us were put on this earth to blow shit up and watch porn. The other half of us were put on this earth to be blow-up porn. What’s gender got to do with it? Oh, Everything.

  21. Pinko Punko

    TF,

    I was wondering if at some point you might recommend a bugly tome, perhaps a Field Guide as it were for the identification and perusal of bugly personae/entities.

    More on the topic, I think I understand the argument about women’s only spaces in terms of dealing with the existing environement of dudely encroachment on everything. With the patriarchy smashed we might easily imagine unisex restrooms. with the patriarchy in place, we might NOT imagine unisex restrooms as being a viable solution (forgetting for a moment that boiling down this issue to bathrooms is highly reductionist).

    Everything after this point are my thoughts trying to understand arguments/issues in this debate. I am not telling anyone how they feel, think or argue.

    Actually I can’t make myself clear enough to be understood, so I’ll save it to the clipboard.

  22. Eek

    And here I was thinking they’d actually done an article that talked about the not insignificant number of people who don’t fall into binary categories either chromosomally or anatomically. Facts that might lead one to think that division into two (or any other number of) gender roles is arbitrary in the first place, regardless of whether we allow people to switch? I suppose I have unreasonably high expectations.

  23. Twisty

    ““A septuagenarian, Ricahards [sic] opines’[...] ”

    Jesus fuck, I got [sic]ed! And here I was so smug about spelling ‘septuagenarian’ right.

    As for the ‘sort of’ hermaphroditery of the primal human earthling, Shakes, I find it extremely interesting, and in fact, much more compelling than the rib myth. If only God hadn’t clove them! Imagine the agonies we’d have been spared.

    On a related note, I heard on the radio today about the first documented case of parthenogenesis in sharks. The dude said that pretty much everybody except mammals has been seen to do this.

    But I guess that’s a whole nother post.

  24. rainie

    The child of one of my cousins is transgendered. It was obvious in photos of family events over the past few years, but the topic had never come up. I simply assumed that everyone was aware.

    So, recently, my mom comes to me in a concerned/whiny/tsk-tsk tone and tells me that our dear J was changing genders and everyone was so upset and that her sister, the grandmother, was just so upset and no one knew how handle it, or how to act around J now that J was D.

    I resisted the urge to call my mother a concern troll. When the tip of my tongue had stopped bleeding I told her that it wasn’t about her. I told her that since it wasn’t about her that there was nothing to handle and that she should act exactly the same way that she had always acted. Keep sending birthday and holiday cards, only now address them to D instead of J. Keep calling and shooting the family breeze, but now address my cousin as D instead of J.

    I don’t understand why this should cause such a ruckus.

  25. lawbitch

    Love the bug! More bugs like this, please!

    If only people could learn to be more accepting and treat each individual as a person. I really don’t understand why people are so threatened. Just let people be whatever they are.

  26. the opoponax

    But, Twisty, m’dear, that would be succumbing to peer pressure, now wouldn’t it?

    Though I agree, and in my heart I’m ready to make nice with the world of capitalization and just play it by the book, already (like I already do, by the way, in my professional life, of course). but oooh, it’s just so much faster this way.

    Also, I happen to like the way all-small looks in typewriter fonts (a la your ‘Blame the patriarchy here’ box).

    But for you, Twisty, I will see what I can do.

    (what if I started using the german Method of capitalizing all Nouns, instead?)

  27. the opoponax

    Oh, and Shakes:

    When the earth was still flat
    and the clouds made of fire
    and mountains stretched up to the sky,
    sometimes higher,
    folks roamed the Earth, like big rolling kegs.
    They had two sets of arms,
    two sets of legs.
    They had two faces peering out of one giant head,
    so they could watch all around them
    as they talked,
    while they read.
    And they never knew
    nothing of love.
    It was befo-oh-orrrrr…

  28. Virago

    Turkeys also engage in parthenogenesis, I believe. How cool is that?

    There’s an interesting article in this month’s Scientific American on the genetics behind sex determination and the politics of and prejudices against “intersex diagnoses.” Scientists and medical researchers are working to eliminate the popular misconception that intersex individuals are unusual or bizarre. I think the larger implication of this kind of work is the eventual eradication of prejudices against all “non-traditional” genders.

    Screw Newsweek. If you’ve let your subscription to SA lapse, at least pick up this month’s issue.

  29. alphabitch

    bugs are pretty.

  30. Shakes

    I remember a conversation I had with a friend when it came out a classmate of ours in high school who was born a woman and had a girlfriend was transgender. My friend asked if the classmate and her girlfriendi were still lesbians, or if this made them heterosexual. I was so frustrated because I didn’t know how to explain to her what the problem with that question was. I still can’t seem to put it into words. The question just doesn’t make sense to me.

  31. Shakes

    girlfriendi = girlfriend
    But it won’t let me edit it.

  32. Virago

    Pinko Punko, if I may: I use Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Insects. It’s an affordable, basic guide with gorgeous photos and lots of information. It’s not particularly useful for species identication, though it ha been a good introduction for a beginner interested in entomology.

    Oh, and Pinko Punko, your comments often make me want to do a little jig of delight. So, thanks for that.

  33. Spit The Dummy

    wtf has left us a pretty little goodbye note on “The (new) page of consent” thread, with a special message for cathy and LYMC.

  34. SusanM

    That bug is only 1/4″ long, but look how fabulous it is.

    It most certainly is. I love bugs, too, and your photos are gorgeous. I know I read as a child that something like 98% of all insects are female, so I’ve always felt sympatico towards them– especially spiders, who are always led gently outside at my house. Mosquitos, however, get squished. Also, the fleas on my cats die horrible deaths. (Probably. I’m not sure how that stuff works.)

  35. the opoponax

    Much agreed. Twisty, this blog makes me pine for a macro lens more than anybody’s Flickr photo set ever has.

  36. magickitty

    Tangentially, I have a gorgeous 3-yr old son. He has longish hair and fine features, so he looks really androgynous. I’ve found that people have no problem in asking if he’s a girl or a boy – a societal shift of the past ten years (when I worked as a nanny) from people assuming a child was one or the other, and addressing them accordingly.

    (But I always want to ask them, “Why does it matter?”)

  37. slythwolf

    I hate that myth about the hermaphroditic people being split apart; it seems to me to promote the idea that women are dying to have any given man shove his dick in them and see if it fits.

  38. slythwolf

    Ah, skimmed. We were talking about a different sort-of-hermaphroditic-double-human.

  39. the opoponax

    “That myth” also includes a man/man being and a woman/woman being, in the Platonic version, anyway (and in the song). Also, at least in the cartoon sequence from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, they were back to back. It has nothing to do with anyone penis fitting in anyone’s vagina.

    It’s a metaphorical “fitting together”, not a physical one.

    Though I always sorta had issues with it because it doesn’t really find room for either bisexuality or non-monogamy. I love the idea that there is some other half of me out there, but unfortunatly no matter how lovely an idea, that doesn’t make it true. Also, am I a woman/woman, or a woman/man? How will I know? Or are bisexual people just not sure of which they are until they find who they’re looking for?

    I try to console myself with the fact that it’s just a story, for goddess’ sake. And a relatively nice one from a feminist standpoint, when you compare it to all the other creation myths.

  40. CafeSiren

    I saw the cover of the Newsweek in question, and decided not to open it, because I knew that it would piss me off. Last year, Newsweek sent me 6 months of unsolicited free issues, one of which dealt with how “feminized” education wasn’t responding to boys’ needs to jump up and down every three minutes and “unfairly rewarded” girls for being more studious.

    At one point in my life, I did subscribe to Newsweek. Of course, that was the point in my life when I also susbscribed to Cosmo. I’m feeling much better now, honest.

  41. the opoponax

    I have a post in moderation which probably will be irrelevant by the time it clears.

  42. Rebecca

    Gah. I read the same article this morning, got about a third away through, and gave up in disgust.

    It seems so often that the only time we appear in this sort of press is to give some hack the chance to espouse Louann Brizendine-ish garbage about how innate gendering supposedly is. But then again, if they actually gave trans activists a voice, they might just have to confront this nonsense for what it is.

  43. KMTberry

    Binary sex assumptions are scientifically incorrect. There are QUITE A FEW people born on this planet whose sexual “identity” has to be “assigned” at birth by, for lack of a better word, authorities.

    Silly me (seriously) I had thought that hermaphrodites born nowadays were left that way. Sadly, no: they assign a sex to these children and socialize them as the sex that the doctor or whoever picked. They usually pick whatever sex is easiest for them to surgically fake.

    Often, this assignment does not “take”, and the child grows up more or less completely freaked out. (I read of a very sad case where a young boy had his weiner chopped off in a BOTCHED CIRCUMCISION. Figuring that he would be a total loss as a MALE if he didn’t have an enormous cock, they assigned him to the female sex and surgically created girl parts for him. Because he was still genetically male, this did not work out well. THis young man is now an activist trying to get doctors and hospitals to quit assigning sexes to babies, and quit performing surgery on them when they are too young to consent.)

    There is nothing at all new about there being individuals who do not fit the binary sex model AT ALL.I don’t mean to imply that any transsexuals are more transsexual than others, or more deserving of sympathy or anything. I only offer this as evidence that gender is NOT a binary and never has been.

  44. the opoponax

    Actually, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes in that particular case — the decision to raise him as a girl wasn’t actually made until he was about 2 (an age when most toddlers are already acutely aware of which team they’re supposed to be playing on and what that means), and the doctor in charge of the whole thing was massively insane, and, well, a ton more completely outrageous stuff was also going on. People paint that case as a sort of proof that obviously our minds know our true gender which cannot be altered by surgery and is thus totally innate. in reality the whole thing is much more complex. The only obvious truth is that the surgery should never have been performed.

    Also, the man in question died a few years ago, either from psychological trauma related suicide, or from some completely unrelated and very unfortunate other thing (cancer, car accident, I forget).

  45. Rebecca

    the opoponax: It was suicide. The man you’re talking about was David Reimer.

  46. Ruth

    “I read of a very sad case where a young boy had his weiner chopped off in a BOTCHED CIRCUMCISION.”

    25 years ago some white/right wing neo-nazi group sent me a news-clipping of this or a similar story in an effort to keep me from having my son circumcised. I was so disgusted I almost had him cut.

  47. Pinko Punko

    V- thanks, that is really very sweet. That book sounds like a good start.

    I see it listed on this bibliography page from “Field Guide to Field Guides”

    I hope that link works, it is from a Google book search. I see that spiders got the shaft from Simon and Schuster. I used to have the Audubon guide to North American Butterflies, which was quite good. I just noticed they have a field guide to weather, which for some reason is cracking me up.

  48. Catherine Martell

    In a world where gender is prescribed according to a whip-strict and arbitrary binary division of humans, and that the practice of “masculinity” or, even more emphatically, “femininity” requires a considerable and sustained performance, all that surprises me is that more people don’t consider themselves transgendered.

    All femininity is drag. The cisgendered woman who practices the art of femininity – blonde extensions, boob implants, mascara, lip-plumping injections, whatever else you can think of – is fundamentally not that different to the transgendered woman anyway, as far as I’m concerned. I practice a fair few aspects of femininity myself, and would feel very hypocritical having a go at transfolk for indulging in the same. We’re all on the losing end of the patriarchy stick.

    Madeline:

    I don’t believe, of course, that even if the gender dichotomy were abolished there wouldn’t still be some people who felt they were wrongly sexed.

    I do. Because there wouldn’t be a “wrong”. There might be people who decided to modify their genitals or other features, but that would have nothing to do with conforming to a “correct” identity as Man or Woman. It is quite different to change your body because a whim to do so strikes you, versus changing your body because society has shamed and intimidated you into doing so. It is for this reason that I am not bothered when my friends get tattoos. I would be bothered if they got plastic tits.

    This is exactly the reason why so many women have learnt to parrot the “It’s my choice!” line: because it would be possible, were there no patriarchy, to modify yourself in any way you choose freely and without political implications. At the moment, it is not – and so all of us, trans and cis, are stuck in the same crap boat.

  49. therealUK

    One side demands inclusion and another demands space with which to be comfortable in light of patriarchy not providing said space. A definition of “no win”

    One of the important things here is to be clear about what is meant by inclusion (or exclusion) and space, and also to recognise that if two people or sets of people have conflicting demands then some precedence must be given to those wanting to be left alone as opposed to those *not* wanting to leave others alone.

    The inclusion/exclusion thing is important because there is a big, big difference between

    1) I want some occasional escape and chill-out space with other people that share [whatever defined characteristic]*

    and

    2) Because of your NOT-[whatever defined characteristic] I want to see you discriminated against in wider society in terms of education, healthcare, legal protection, and so on.

    People, women, who are saying 1) get accused of saying 2) even though their beliefs are the opposite to 2). And the accusers say that in order to prove that those women are not saying 2) they must not be allowed to create their own space as in 1).

    So the discussion becomes impossible, because even though in theory it should not have to be a no-win situation, in practice it turns quite nasty.

    * [whatever defined characteristic] can get tricky though, because the question is: defined by who ? If everything we are is only a social construct then why not all muck-in together all the time ?

  50. RadFemHedonist

    “25 years ago some white/right wing neo-nazi group sent me a news-clipping of this or a similar story in an effort to keep me from having my son circumcised. I was so disgusted I almost had him cut.”

    The kid isn’t to blame for the psychos. I’m strongly anti-circ and strongly anti-nazi. I feel sorry for that kid with the botched circ, it clearly didn’t occur to them that the problems were caused by having your genitals cut up and the attempted gender binary.

  51. delphyne

    “Binary sex assumptions are scientifically incorrect. There are QUITE A FEW people born on this planet whose sexual “identity” has to be “assigned” at birth by, for lack of a better word, authorities.”

    It’s a tiny percentage, about 1 in 1500. Binary sex does exist. Every human being on this planet has two biological parents, one female and one male. It’s fundamental to our initial existence as humans.

    Intersex doesn’t really have anything to do with the trans debate however and some intersex people are offended by their circumstances being brought into an argument that really has nothing to do them or their experiences.

  52. erin ambrose

    all this makes me think of a news story i overheard a few days ago about a great new test they’ve concocted where at 6 wks into a pregnancy you can know the sex of the fetus. Human rights folk are worried that this will cause a rise in the aborting of “girl” babies since most want “boys”…
    on a lighter note, they joked that this test will allow parents plenty of time to paint the babies room pink or blue.

    holy crap…theres so many problems with this my head starts to spin.

    but its a sobering example of the very real dangers of this ridiculous gender binary crap as well as the assumption/dictation that our sex organs predetermine our gender expression.

    sad sad humans.

  53. Virago

    delphyn, I agree that intersex and transgender are distinct issues, but I also think that they exist on a continuum related to gender and are considered by many to be “unnatural” (I hate that term by the way), which is why they are, rightly or wrongly, lumped together. I think it shouldn’t be a matter of shame to relate one to the other (or to any discussion of gender)–but that may just be wishful thinking.

    (As an aside, the Scientific American article says that 1 in 4500 births are intersex and that 5 sex reassignment surgeries are performed daily in the U.S. (not all on infants I assume).

  54. pheeno

    “God didn’t put us on this earth to have gender diversity.”

    What??

    That would seem to imply the invisible sky pilot only intended for there to be 1 gender.

    So, ok..fine. I can deal with that. There was only 1 intended gender. We all start out as female….so male would be the fuck up, right?

  55. delphyne

    I disagree Virago. Intersex is a physical experience related to sex, it doesn’t have anything to do with gender (gender meaning the artifical cultural constructs that our society has created around male and female). The intersex people that I have heard objecting to (not being ashamed of) having their experiences co-opted in arguments about transsexualism, are objecting to two quite different experiences being seen as similar or as part of a continuum, as you are doing here.

    Once patriarchy is smashed gender will no longer exist. Women, men and intersexed people will however.

  56. Virago

    I think that, as a physical manifestation of sex, no, intersex doesn’t have anything to do with the social construct of gender. But I have also read accounts of individuals who have undergone an arbitrary assignment of sex as infants who must later deal with the psychological ramifications of that physical manifestation (which we all do really), and that does have to do with gender. When the physical doesn’t “match” the psychological in these individuals, it is related to gender issues.

    Yes, it’s true that gender will no longer matter one day, but to get to that day, we must necessarily begin examine how and why we (and others) conflate sex with gender. I believe that it means examining how and where sex and gender interact on all levels.

    I hope it’s not a matter of co-opting arguments, but rather relating one to the other. (But again, that might be wishful thinking.)

  57. delphyne

    “When the physical doesn’t “match” the psychological in these individuals, it is related to gender issues.”

    The problem with relating that argument to trans is that with intersex people there is a physical manifestation of why the physical may not “match” the psychological. In trans there is no such pathology (if that’s the right word, not sure if it is).

    I don’t think it’s possible to extrapolate from the experience of intersex people that sex must at its root be psychological and thus if someone “feels” they are the wrong sex they must be correct and it is their bodies that are mistaken.

  58. nightgigjo

    I wrote a lot before I realized I was getting off track. All that schtuff will be posted here shortly.

    Now for some random replies to this thread:

    Shakes:

    girlfriendi = girlfriend
    But it won’t let me edit it.

    And I just read girlfriendi as something from Old Norse, and parsed it [masc nom sg]. Ye gads I’m a geek.

    AND:

    pheeno, I just had a vision of an old, bearded, slightly transparent dude with no teeth in 1920s flying goggles riding astride an antiquated, dilapidated, likewise slightly transparent biplane. He was having a hot old time, I can tell you.

    Now for the actual comment.

    I let my adventurous nature out for a romp yesterday morning when I told a 16-yr-old male that I was baiting sexists on YouTube. It was a good exercise in Feminism 101, of course. It was an actual conversation, which surprised me to no end, during which the other conversant kept trying to justify things he’d been socialized into believing AND integrate them into the thing that I had said was so contraversial, saying “women are equal to men”. We got into the issue of gender politics, and this little tidbit came up:

    Me: if gender ceases to be important
    Me: I mean, important as a classification system
    Me: there’s biological sex (male, female) and then there’s gender
    Me: gender’s this mixed up concept thing, where we think there’s just the two, based on biology
    Me: but there’s more out there than just hetero male and hetero female
    Me: so if gender isn’t an issue anymore, meaning people just don’t care if you’re hetero- or homosexual, transsexual or whatever
    Me: then it’d be like having no gender
    Me: :)
    Me: effectively

    Him:probably but you’d have to have somebody brainwashed to achive that
    Me: I’m trying to train myself to think that way

    And the light bulb that went off, just now, was that gender socialization == brainwashing. We’re being brainwashed now, and have been for centuries. What I was describing was not brainwashing, but allowing people to be who and how they are, with no outside interference from *anyone*.

    That, of course, is utopia, no place in the world as it is.

    And what I’m actually doing is trying to un-learn the brainwashing I’ve already experienced, the things that I was taught that deluded me about the things I am privileged to, the way I ‘should’ be, the ‘fact’ that I ‘am’ a ‘woman’. I am Me. I am Human. But beyond that, I deny anyone else the delusion that they have some sort of say in who or how I am.

    For it not being that easy, IBTP.

  59. nightgigjo

    And I get the prize for Jumping the Gun: Forgot to post the link to the rest of my ruminations. Here it is, in case you’re interested.

  60. exangelena

    Delphyne and Virago -
    Just a few thoughts to add:
    1.) virtually all intersexed people are raised within a gender binary and probably identify as an “intersexed man” or an “intersexed woman”, rather than an “intersexual”. Some of them don’t find out they are intersexed for years – for example, a woman with androgen insensitivity syndrome may be raised as female and find out when she’s a teenager that she has XY chromosomes and no uterus.
    2.) A lot of intersexed disorders are mostly “cosmetic”, like being born with non-patriarchy approved (ambiguous) genitalia, and many intersexed people are able to have children. AFAIK, the odds for some of the chromosomal disorders are not as good (XXY or XO for example), but then again there are non-intersexed people who also can’t have children.
    3.) I think it’s actually kind of hard to draw the line when assigning sex, because there’s even a lot of variation of hormone levels, shape/size of genitalia, etc. within the non-intersexed population. I read that baby boys (and I think this was mentioned upthread) will be assigned as girls if their penis is not x length and if that’s the only criteria, why not make it x-1 or x 2 length?
    So I avoid derailing the thread, isna.org has a lot of info about intersex issues.

  61. sterna

    Nightgigjo:

    I like “girlfriendi” as a masc. sg. nom., but it’s too bad it’s (grammatically) weak.

    I wonder how much of the day-to-day binary-enforcing silliness we could avoid if we spoke a language that didn’t have gendered personal pronouns, like maybe Finnish.

  62. PhysioProf

    http://www.earthlife.net/insects/classtax.html

    This Web site has a lot of great information about insects, including a pretty comprehensive set of links to other sources on the Web. For anyone interested in insect biology–anatomy and physiology–the classic text is “The Insects: Structure and Function”, by R.F. Chapman. The book is beautifully written and illustrated. (I would provide an Amazon link, but I think a second URL will get this post spam-filtered.)

    And just to indulge my pedantic compulsions: spiders are not insects. Spiders, like insects, are in the phylum arthropoda, but they are arachnids (as are scorpions, ticks, and mites).

  63. Morag

    pheeno wrote
    >….so male would be the fuck up, right?

    Genetically that’s right. As we all know from watching too much CSI females are XX and males are XY. The Y is an X chromosome with 1/4 of it genetic information missing. The male is actually an evolutionary derivative of the female organism. That rib story reversed it because prehistoric males needed some way to justify their arrogance and domination of females.

  64. Virago

    Not to continue to interject science, but the XX = female and the XY = male is being questioned by researchers even as we speak. Turns out that it may be certain genes–not whole chromosomes–that determine sex. The manipulation of these genes produces XX males and XY females.

    There may be more to the function of these genes than just the formation of sex-related organs, as many are expressed in the brain long before gonads begin to form. The implications of this are: Yikes.

  65. Madeline

    I do. Because there wouldn’t be a “wrong”. There might be people who decided to modify their genitals or other features, but that would have nothing to do with conforming to a “correct” identity as Man or Woman. It is quite different to change your body because a whim to do so strikes you, versus changing your body because society has shamed and intimidated you into doing so. It is for this reason that I am not bothered when my friends get tattoos. I would be bothered if they got plastic tits.

    Catherine, you said what I meant much better than I did. Thank you for replying – I slipped into terminology that is often used now, but which would not then be appropriate or applicable.

  66. Ledasmom

    Of course, in birds it’s the females who have heterozygous sex chromosomes and males who have homozygous ones; males are ZZ and females are ZW. It just gets weirder from there. I love science.
    I also love that photo: the beetle as cabochon.

  67. su

    I think it’s interesting that we have here a recurrence of the category versus dimension debate that seems to go on in every field of study. Categories are too restrictive and don’t acknoweledge the fuzziness of the boundaries (there is no such thing as an absolute category) while dimensions can account for lots of variation but don’t give us that neat sensation of knowing that a certain group share similar traits and therefore ‘belong’ together. It is a very big debate in mental health at the moment where the categories that exist just don’t match the science. For some reason the instinct to categorize persists though.

  68. Mar Iguana

    Thank you for that website, LouisaMayAlcott. Very interesting stuff. But then, I’m considered a piece of bigoted, anti-trans crap in some circles.

  69. magickitty

    Mar said,

    Thank you for that website, LouisaMayAlcott. Very interesting stuff. But then, I’m considered a piece of bigoted, anti-trans crap in some circles.

    So am I, I suspect. There was some discussion of that old thread at Pandagon recently, and I went back and reread my posts. I still think that knitting and crochet are separate, distinct, equal, and able to live together in peace an harmony. IBTP that we’re fighting.

  70. LouisaMayAlcott

    Hey, Mar

    So am I

    :-)

  71. Pinko Punko

    I know spiders are distincto from bugaboos, but I can’t as well try to identify a generally creepy crawly without nature’s full palette illustrated, and at my fingertips, and somehow portable. I presume this imaginary field guide will need to be carried in Twisty’s unobtainable or Platonic ideal of a bag, because 100,000 or so crunchy critters are not gonna fit in a slim, revolutionary pamphlet of bug Blame.

  72. Virago

    Su writes: I think it’s interesting that we have here a recurrence of the category versus dimension debate that seems to go on in every field of study.

    I’ve never heard the argument framed this way. Can you elaborate on this idea?

    In my experience, the “hard” sciences support both categorizing and dimension modes of thinking. In fact, good science requires both. But “hard” science has little to say about gender, really.

  73. Virago

    In re: the identification of spiders, insects, bugs, et cetera.

    I recently saw a commercial for a cellular phone that one can point in the direction of an unknown piece of music and the phone will identify the song. (I need this feature, why?)

    And: We don’t have this kind of technology for insect identification, why? Oh, right, probably because we’re in the midst of a mass extinction event and the technology couldn’t possibly keep up with all the disappearing species.

    For useless technological advances and mass extinction, IBTP.

  74. thebewilderness

    Pinko,
    One of the bug vs insect dealios is does it or does it not have a thorax. Most county extension offices have tons of info on your friendly neighborhood crawlies. Sometimes they can refer you to an ent. that gives intro talks for the local gardeners.

  75. KMTberry

    And: We don’t have this kind of technology for insect identification, why?

    I bet they have that technology in STAR TREK WORLD

  76. Mar Iguana

    “…i don’t think it should matter overmuch who decides to identify as what, how they do that, and what it should mean to both them and the world around them.

    and that goes for myself, too, woman identified person that i usually kinda sorta am. (i mean, what does that even mean?)” opoponox

    I know, I know. You were born with a womb. This does seem to matter overmuch on this planet and you will be treated accordingly whether you chose to use it or not, or even identify with it.

  77. PhysioProf

    “I know spiders are distincto from bugaboos, but I can’t as well try to identify a generally creepy crawly without nature’s full palette illustrated, and at my fingertips, and somehow portable.”

    Arachnids have eight legs, insects six.

    –ttcc

  78. Virago

    A few months old, but still relevant to the issue of transgender issues in the press. From AngryBrownButch:

    An important victory was recently won in the struggle for trans rights, specifically around health care [...T]he City of New York is obligated to pay for the sexual reassignment surgery of Mariah Lopez, a young trans woman of color who was denied this important and necessary medical care while in the care of the NYC foster system. The City is constitutionally required to provide adequate medical coverage for all children in its care, and SRS is a medically approved procedure, one that is often necessary for trans people.

    The links to the articles are amazing; talk about transphobia in the press.

  79. Cassidy

    When I teach biology at the local community college in this conservative town, I particularly enjoy introducing topics like intersex phenotypes and sex chromosome trisomy in my usual low-key monotone. Someone usually pretzelizes their brain trying to fit the biological reality into the grotesque confines of their definition of normal. Fun to watch! And I take it as evidence that I have planted a seed that may help open a mind.

    Not long ago, I read an article by a transgendered scientist who gave a talk shortly after his “she-to-he” transition. During the talk, a colleague, unaware of the situation, turned to another colleague in the audience and commented, “He is so much better than his sister.”

    IBTP. Long live the twistolution!

  80. su

    Hi virago- I was thinking about certain controversies in evolutionary biology like the Wallacian line/zone where there is a change of fauna types (marsupials below the line/zone). For years there was a to or fro about where the demarcation between the two fauna types was. People really wanted to pin it down to an exact grid reference but the harder they looked at the boundary the fuzzier it became. What happened was a lurching from one perspective to another. Science certainly supports both approaches I was just thinking that it seems very difficult for people to maintain both approaches in one concept simultaneously. This may be woolly thinking on my part but its been on my mind as the DSMV is likely going to undergo a radical shift to more dimensional approaches.

  81. Thalia

    Hmm. I may very well come off as transphobic, though I don’t think I am, but I have a transgendered sister (mtf) and the male privilege she retains drives me absolutely fucking crazy, to the point where most of the time I really, really, want to strangle her. She very much conforms to the sexbot stereotype (tall, very skinny, always in high heels, makeup, frilly sexy clothes) and will criticize me mercilessly because I don’t. She has no clue at all about feminism and probably doesn’t think there is any need for it, and will not listen when I try to explain. An example of her attitude: she thinks catcalls are complementary, and doesn’t get (though I have explained it) that they are actually threatening.

    I sometimes think that the Gods have given me the most deliberately annoying sibling to teach me some profound lesson or other, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.

    Oh did I mention she works in porn?

    No one I talk to gets why she drives me so crazy. They all assume I’m just uncomfortable with her because she’s trans. Which is not it at all. Please, someone out there tell me they understand what I’m talking about!

  82. Thalia

    (Apologies if I’ve “jacked the thread”; I’ve been quietly going crazy here for some time and this was the first relevant thread I’ve seen in a friendly forum, so it just kind of came blurting out.)

  83. the opoponax

    i’m guessing that all of the above are not because she is trans, but because she is clueless about feminism.

    there are many women in this world, born as women, who are equally clueless.

  84. su

    I should have said that I was thinking about categorisation as a necessary prerequisite for discrimination and that came up because I remembered that homosexuality was only removed from classification as a mental disorder in 1973. Psychiatry has a pretty murky history as a tool of oppression and genocide. Some eugenics laws, inspired by the desire to keep the population free of mental disorder existed right up until the 50′s and later in places like Denmark and Finland. I was wondering in my convoluted way whether the move away from a system of classification (the DSM) that emphasises discrete categories is partly inspired by realisation of how these categories and the process of categorisation in itself have been instrumental in causing great harm. The science itself has actually never given support to many of the categories that currently exist, and yet they have persisted for a century. Don’t want to derail the thread though- going back to lurking and learning.

  85. Thalia

    i’m guessing that all of the above are not because she is trans, but because she is clueless about feminism.

    there are many women in this world, born as women, who are equally clueless.

    Of course, I mean, that’s obvious, and yet, A-HA! –It is my assumptions about her that are driving me crazy. The assumption that if one is going to go through all that, and purposefully choose to be a woman, that one would naturally get a clue in the process. Alas, this is not necessarily true. So.

  86. BonneyAnne

    Someone (the address labels are coyly cut out) in the ecologically aware presumably progressive academic office I pass through routinely keeps leaving Newsweek among the reading material in the outer office. I usually bury it under the Indyweeks. After looking at that stupid pink and blue baby “Mystery of Gender” cover for a week, I snapped. I ripped the label off my “Texas Observer” and plunked it down on top of the pile (burying Newsweek as per usual).

    This morning the T.O. was gone, but so was that disgusting Newsweek. Hopefully one of those highly qualified academics took the T.O. home to ponder the difference between real journalism and regurgitated prejudice.

    (Thalia, intriguing anecdote – don’t mean to hijack your non-hijack!)

  87. pandapan

    http://www.logoonline.com/shows/dyn/gender_rebel/videos.jhtml

    Here’s a good documentary about people who don’t fit into the gender boxes.

    Most people just don’t “get” the concept of genderqueer. It’s like talking to a brick wall. The binary gender system is so deeply ingrained in them.

  88. Ada

    “I wonder how much of the day-to-day binary-enforcing silliness we could avoid if we spoke a language that didn’t have gendered personal pronouns, like maybe Finnish.”

    I wish. Oral Chinese has one singular human pronoun and no noun or verb genders whatsoever, but is full of spectacularly woman-hating expressions like “buy a chicken that can’t lay eggs” (marry an infertile woman). Gender binaries are just as just-so here in China as they are in the States.

  89. Layla

    Hi Thalia. My experience is probably not all that like yours but my dad is trans. I found it interesting the way you called your sibling your sister and talked about her using the word she whereas I haven’t been able to abandon the use of he so easily when talking about my dad, and consequently, still think of him as a man. I suppose it’s because you can’t swap the concept of father for mother quite so easily as brother for sister. Anyway, that’s beside the point. I just wanted to say I can relate to your position in certain ways. In my own experience, as a feminist I find my self questioning whether my attitude of indifference/tolerance towards his lack of feminism would be different if he were my mother, and concluding that I’d probably judge him more harshly or get more upset by it even though I know that’s bias against my mother, as a biological female. On the other hand, I question whether I might be biased against my father, as a mtf because there can be a feeling that this is a person who has deliberately opted to adopt the female role as opposed to being forced by society and has summarily begun upholding the very things I feel insult women such as myself. I really don’t know what I’m supposed to feel about this sort of thing as a feminist. It mixes up all my ideas about what it is to be a woman and I can no longer trust my own opinion or experience when it comes to this topic.

  90. the opoponax

    When, on the other hand, I have given up on the idea of either parent, but especially my mother, becoming a feminist. She of the “You look like a man when you don’t shave your legs”, as i step into the car in a skirt, tank top, ballet flats, and shoulder length hair.

    It’s interesting. I have 3 brothers, none of which are particularly pro-feminist. I wonder how I would feel about this fact if any of them turned out to be trans. One the one hand, intellectually I know that people are who they are, and you can’t change them or expect more from them just because you share some genes. On the other hand, I’ve wanted sisters my whole life, and it would be disappointing if we couldn’t share feminism. At least my stepsisters give lipservice to it, while generally being of the “empowerful” novice blamer type.

  91. Catherine Martell

    Thalia and Layla: fascinating stories, and I know a couple of people in very similar situations who would say very similar things. I also know some who wouldn’t, though. The opoponax hits the nail on the head when she notes that many cisgendered women are equally clueless about feminism. There’s sometimes an added layer of irritation for people in your position, though, because of the sense that surely someone who has thought about gender and identity deeply enough to start transitioning really ought to have encountered some feminist thinking on the subject?

    I think that’s true, and I think where a lot of anti-trans feeling among some feminists comes form is the sense that some transwomen can be incredibly conservative about gender issues and expend their political effort in propping up binary gender roles (which, as distinct from binary sex, presumably everyone here could agree don’t exist). Few feminists want the ranks of women swelled by yet more airheaded girly girls, perpetuating silly and outdated stereotypes.

    But, if we’re going to be charitable about it – and I think we should be – it’s important to remember that transwomen, like all women, gain acceptance and approval by conforming to socially prescribed femininity. And that, even if they start out accepting diversity, they are stuffed through a medical-industrial complex that sets out to brainwash them out of it. There’s a comparison to be made between the transwoman and the religious convert: those who are required to create and prove their new identity are always more likely to adopt extremist behaviour than those who have lived with it from birth. Transwomen have something to prove: hence, there’s a lot of eyelash-fluttering and rejection of feminism as a hairy-armpitted backslide. Again, transwomen are only a tiny minority of the very large number of women who behave like this anyway.

    Moreover, there are plenty of transwomen – just as there are plenty of ciswomen – who are more intellectually sophisticated than that. If you’re interested, have a read of this excerpt from Deirdre McCloskey’s memoir. She’s a transwoman and a distinguished economic historian. The excerpt makes plenty of thought-provoking points, but the section that is particularly relevant here is the bit where she was interviewed by a psychiatrist who was assessing her gender identity. She was pressured to lie so that her experience conformed to DSM guidelines on the definitions of gender identity, including claiming that she had “always felt like a woman in a man’s body” and “hated” her penis, neither of which statements reflected her real feelings. It’s an example of how transwomen are forced into a closely strictured performance of femininity by the medical and psychological system that deals with them. http://www.deirdremccloskey.com/pubs/gender/dee.php

  92. V.

    I strongly suspect that what irks Thalia is not only the lack of feminism and the blanket assumption that female=patriarchally feminine, but the unexamined male priviledge involved in trying to enforce ‘femininity’ on others.

    It’s understandable, as said before, no ‘winners’ in this. But I also suspect it’s harder to deal with when it’s “family” and therefore inescapably in your face.

  93. Theriomorph

    Chris Clarke stole my Sphinx joke. People have already picked up on Shakes’ ‘God didn’t put us on this earth to have gender diversity’ reference to the mystical interpretation of Genesis, and how neatly it mirrors Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium, which, among other things, describes what I call the happy ball-people (sexually integrated beings who were also, for some reason, round: hooray, opoponax, for the Hedwig verse*).

    See what happens when you leave town and computer access? All the good jokes are taken when you get back.

    One more tidbit from spirituality and religion, where this ‘riddle’ has long been explored better than Newsweek does it: many indigenous cultures have a completely blasé, or even particularly honoring, reaction to variations on ‘Two Spirit People’ who are neither/both male and female.

    Here, Twisty, have a parthenogenic dragon to go with the ants, bees, snakes and frogs, et cetera.

    * re: the opoponax’s “it doesn’t really find room for either bisexuality or non-monogamy” – I always thought Aristophanes’ speech including “Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them; because the sun, moon, and earth are three; and the man was originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon…” dealt directly with the children of the sun and earth (pining, reuniting, etc.), leaving the children of the moon without much explanation or direction, and therefore free to make up anything we wish.

    Nice bug.

  94. CannibalFemme

    There’s a great big icky ball of stuff here for me re: privilege and existing hierarchies and/or power disparities (the dominant paradigm, etc.)

    I have been acquainted with many trans folks who appear to have embraced the idea that the way to reinforce their trans nature is by emulating the very worst parts of the gender binary. Similarly, I’ve had many queer acquaintances who basically have accepted heteronormativity as their personal savior, and put all of their time and attention into reinforcing those roles.

    Thankfully, however, I do have trans friends and queer friends who *don’t* do any of that. Those are the folks I choose to spend time with, as life is too short to hang out with people who make me even crazier than usual.

    This has been a long road. From ‘you don’t do feminism the way that I do’ or ‘you don’t do queer the way that I do’ and figuring out where I’m at with all that, yeah, it’s a mess, and having to sit down and mull over whether this means that I’m transphobic or homophobic, and what I want to do about that–and in the end, what I’m left with is this: I don’t like it, and I’m never going to like it, when an oppressed class emulates the behavior of a privileged class in order to cope with their oppression. And there’s a whole other ball o’ resentment I’ve got going on here about mainstreaming, but I’m not going to rant that rant today.

    Basically, Thalia: I hear you and I feel your pain. I’m glad you love your sister, and I’m sorry she chose to be a femmebot. That sucks big-time.

  95. LouisaMayAlcott

    Layla,

    There are lots of reasons why you feel that way, having everything to do with the relative power of male and female voices, and what even females are allowed to perceive as feminism.

    Compare the relative powers, for instance, of pro-porn “feminist” vs. anti-porn feminists in public discourse.

    You have to be able to think things through for yourself, and realize whose interests are benefitted by the pressures you feel to silence yourself and your instincts.

    Much of the work of 1960′s and 1970′s feminism has been undone by males having re-written the definition of feminism to serve (very effectively) their interests. They have done this with pornography and abortion and classism and just possibly (you will have to figure this out for yourself) the issue under constrained discussion here.

  96. SusanM

    Virago:

    I recently saw a commercial for a cellular phone that one can point in the direction of an unknown piece of music and the phone will identify the song. (I need this feature, why?)

    I know people who love this idea, because they are often driven mad trying to remember the name of a song. I saw a commercial the other day touting how great it is to have access to the internet over your phone, because you can identify man-eating plants before it is too late. I presume the same handy technology could be used to identify insects– although it’s not quite as simple as that music feature.

    I haven’t read the Newsweek article, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t mention a sports columnist in the LA Times, Mike Penner, who is very publicly transgendering to Christine Daniels. He introduced the process, here:
    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-oldmike26apr26,0,2709943.story?coll=la-home-headlines

    And she is maintaining a blog about it, here:
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/womaninprogress/

  97. Catherine Martell

    Hmm. There is a growing atmosphere of mutiny on this thread. I wrote a trans-friendly comment, but it’s stuck in moderation.

    The idea that there is a clear binary sex division is codswallop; exangelena’s comment above is spot on. I would also dispute the idea that the proportion of intersexed people is one in 1500. The research (eg Anne Fausto-Sterling et al, “How sexually dimorphic are we?” American Journal of Human Biology 12 (2000)) suggests it’s more like 1 in 100, and a friend of mine who is a paediatrician and spends her life delivering babies concurs. If it’s 1 in 1500, we’re talking about 4.4 million people. If it’s 1 in 100, we’re talking about 66 million people. That’s about the same number of people that are redheads, and in their case we have realised that their existence proves that hair colour is not set on a linear scale from platinum to black, and that they are not weird genetic freaks but a perfectly normal variety of human.

    If your model of how sex differentiation works excludes millions of people, it’s obviously faulty. The results are not wrong if they don’t fit the model. The model is wrong if it doesn’t fit the results.

    And the issues of intersex and transgender are linked, not least because the mutilation so often foisted upon the intersexed in infancy creates traumatic gender identity problems for them later in life. Furthermore, while the existence of intersexuality proves that the binary sex model does not work, it has not yet been shown whether gender dysphoria or transsexualism is another dimension of this, i.e. something “inbuilt” but invisible, or whether it is a response to one’s environment. Until there is more evidence available, it is judgemental to assume that transgender people are merely making some sort of frivolous lifestyle choice rather than embarking on a sincere search for belonging. Some of us may find some transpeople’s conservatism difficult and unpleasant, but then again I find anyone’s conservatism difficult and unpleasant. There are plenty of transpeople who aren’t prescriptive about gender.

    Finally, I do not for a minute think that the fact that I have been, by most available definitions, a woman since birth, means that I get to decide who joins the group “woman” and who does not, and who gets to use the pronouns “she” or “her”. If we’re going to start laying down membership rules for the female sex, there are all sorts of people I’d rather not share it with. Funnily enough, though, I don’t get to make the rules, and nor does anyone else.

  98. delphyne

    How come I keep ending up in moderation? Not accepting the transsexual model is a legitimate radical feminist position.

  99. Mireille

    What is the transsexual model? Why are some of you lumping all transwomen into this assumption that they are all either trying to undermine feminism or patriarchs trying to invade woman-only spaces? It is so ironic to hear this kind of blatant stereotyping in a forum like this. I’ve been through the surgery. Since I was able to form my own coherent world view, I have been a feminist, though I may not have known the word at the time. And I haven’t become some girly-girl wearing skirts and heels and tons of makeup trying to seduce men into taking care of me because I’m so feminine and weak that I just need a big strong man to think for me. I have met transwomen like that and it’s annoying as hell. I have no idea what “trans-politics” are, but what I’m reading here sounds alot like the alarmist bullshit republicans love to spout about the gay agenda. Patriarchy exists and it loves nothing more than to instigate in-fighting among people who should be working together. And they do it because it works. I was hesitant to post any reply in this thread, because I’m not usually very outspoken and I don’t like to talk about transsexualism because I don’t want to pretend to speak for anyone else, and I don’t really understand my own feelings about why I am what I am and have little confidence I could express them if I did. But after some of the comments I read, I finally had to. My two cents…

  100. lawbitch

    Thanks for your input, Mireille. Well said!

  101. delphyne

    “What is the transsexual model?”

    The idea that it is possible to change a man into a woman or vice versa and that sex resides in someone’s thoughts or beliefs about themselves rather than in their bodies.

  102. curiousgyrl

    Mar Iguana;

    I dont know who else agrees with me, but it seems that many here share your opinion of “transpolitics,” but none of them sound as bitter and nasty as you. I think your attitude clearly crosses a line into “hate.”

  103. Mireille

    “The idea that it is possible to change a man into a woman or vice versa and that sex resides in someone’s thoughts or beliefs about themselves rather than in their bodies.”

    Umm… isn’t that kind of the same as the feminist idea that gender is a societal construct? Wouldn’t those two theories seem to support each other?

    And as far as “change” goes… Well, I don’t know how much I’ve changed as much as just become more comfortable in my own skin. Could I have done that without the surgery? Maybe…

    But If someone is born with 6 fingers on their hand and get it removed, is that wrong? Should they be proud of their six fingers and keep them all to prove a point even though they’ll have to special order gloves or wear mittens the rest of their lives when their hands get cold? Should they still have to use the 6-fingered person’s restroom? I was born with two heads. The second was extraneous and wrong, so I had it fixed. The surgery isn’t what made me a woman, that was already there, but it makes life a lot easier.

    But some people just need something to hate on, so keep on keepin’ on.

  104. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I even quit giving money to NPR because every time I sent them a check they sent me a year of Newsweek whether I wanted it or not.

  105. the baboon

    I’m totally blown away by the degree of anti-trans sentiment. Putting to the side the caricatures and hyperbole over the legions of MTFs currently descending upon your beautiful, sacred toilets, doesn’t anyone identify with these poor women and men? What they are doing is extraordinarily transgressive in the eyes of just about everyone they know, are related to, or come across in their day to day lives and because they feel the need to change their gender so deeply, they do it anyway. My uncle, a depressed beer-drinking couch potato for most of his life, came out as TG in his late 50s and went on to have “gender reassignment” surgery. By doing this, she used up all of her pension, lost pretty much any chance she had at a steady job in her field, lost her romantic relationship, nearly lost her relationship with her daughters, has one brother who won’t speak with her and one who will only do so when his wife makes him. Plus, of course, she willingly gave up the male privilege of _being_ a beer-drinking couch potato that nonetheless seemed to make her so miserable.

    Yet she is clearly so much happier than she ever was as a man. Although she destroyed of all of these things in life that society tells you to value in order to do something that pretty much no one will support, she’s happy. At an abstract and philosophical level there’s nothing especially positive about what she’s done; she’s unquestionably a victim of patriarchal programming (though probably not solely, I definitely agree with Catherine Martell on that); but does she beat people up? No. Is anyone particularly likely to be oppressed by her? Certainly less so than when she was male. Does interacting with her make people more likely to work their brains a bit more and possibly shift their ingrained thinking about the immutability of gender and sex? Yes. So if she’s not hurting anyone and is made happy by her difficult, anti-socially-determined choice, why pick on her and people like her?

  106. Thalia

    It’s true, I chose to call my sister “she” in this forum, and in reality I usually call her both “she” and “he” depending on the circumstances, but that’s because of the situation in reality, where she’s not out in some crowds and to some friends, and will often come home to do say yard work or work on a car as a male, or visit my dad as male, since he’s in a nursing home and barely remembers our names as it is and she doesn’t want to confuse him any more than he already is. I don’t know that this is a phase, either, since she’s been like this for years. The everyday situation is that I have to keep track of my pronouns depending on who I’m talking to, and if I mess up around the wrong person oh my gawd am I in trouble. I’m sure this is a part of what I find particularly annoying about her, as it feels (rightly or wrongly) that she’s getting the best of both worlds, and gosh, that just doesn’t seem fair. And yeah, I’ll admit to calling her “him” in front of her, but I like to think that I’m just doing that to annoy her, (since she annoys me so damned much), and that as a big sister it’s my right to pick on my little sister; I don’t think it’s prejudice on my part (though who knows, since we’re all conditioned into it under the patriarchy). I know several other transwomen, though they are acquaintances and I don’t know them very well, and I would never in a million years use anything other than their chosen pronoun. It’s just disrespectful. But with my sister? I have such a bad reaction to her most of the time that I’ll take being disrespectful towards her over strangling her. And besides, she’s so disrespectful towards me most of the time it’s hard not to react in a similar way. Should some things be off-limits? I don’t know.

    Alas, CannibalFemme, I can’t choose not to be around my sister, since we’re always stuck with family. I’m glad, though, that even through my ranting you did pick up that I love my sister.

    And oh, Layla, your last two sentences: I so hear you, sister.

  107. Patti

    Isn’t the real issue the lumping of people into groups? That you can’t really say anything true of “transgenders” that will be true of all of them, or of “the Chinese” based on that example of language that Ada gave, or of “people with Asperger’s” based on the one you know that picked on your child? There are fucked up people in any group that will do anything for power over others, or who manipulate whatever system they’re in – we know we can’t say “women are whatever” and have it be true for a group that contains Twisty and Ann Coulter.

  108. curiousgyrl

    I think you can think that transgenderism is not a political movement that has the capacity to smash gender, but that doesnt really explain the hatred and bitterness toward transpeople. Even if you dont think trans is resistance, so what–lots of feminists are heterosexual. thats not resistant, and its buying into male power and its not a feminist act, but ive never seen a thread here that was just straight up hate on heterosexuals the way that can happen to trans people in radfem spaces. And yes I read the blowjob blowup.

  109. Thalia

    I hope it’s clear that I am not making any assumptions or lumping all transwomen together based on my sister’s behavior.

    I guess my question is this: are we not most of the time making the assumption that in this patriarchy all males have unearned privilege of some sort? Why, then, should we not assume that someone who spent a good part of their life as a male before becoming female would also carry some of that privilege over? (Or rather, the attitude of being privileged; the privilege itself one would assume goes when they transition). Is that not a legitimate question?

    I would emphasize that this of course is not saying that transwomen aren’t women; after all, plenty of women have unearned privilege like white, hetero, or class privilege.

  110. LouisaMayAlcott

    Thalia,

    What you are saying about privilege carrying over is correct. But to say that on this blog is considered hatespeech.

    I don’t think a truthful analysis of this matter is possible on this blog.

    Heart has done that brilliant and thorough analysis on her blog.

    http://tinyurl.com/3bs2wm

    It’s a long thread, but towards the end is her detailed analysis.

  111. Virago

    Did the spamulator eat my post? If not, I apologize for the double post. If so, here it is again:

    Thank you, Catherine Martell, for once again being the voice of reason. I am also trans-friendly.

    But when I think about how many people aren’t, I wonder why this is. The only explanation I can come up with is that when faced with something they don’t understand, many people react with fear. If that fear is not alleviated, it often turns to hatred. Those types of people will stop at nothing to destroy what they don’t understand. Hatred is the end of the road for them.

    For some, a lack of understanding doesn’t lead to fear and hate, but to a desire for understanding. Understanding is not an end to the road, but a beginning.

    Transgender (or any non-binary gender designation) is not an understood phenomenon. It throws a monkey wrench into our ideas about gender and sex and, by extension, our ideas about feminism. (And frankly, I think it is a very weak kind of feminism that can’t accept the (eventual) inclusion of everyone.) Some people try to understand and some people cling to fear.

    Mireille, thank you for speaking out here, in what should be a safe place for you to express your opinions (and isn’t always). You are very brave.

  112. curiousgyrl

    Louisa, obviously you can say it. You’ve said it twice and nobody stopped you.

    I think you are wrong, even though I am also no adherent to so-called “transgender politics.”

  113. Virago

    Hee-hee! Good catch, curiousgyrl.

    Tha’s some funny scheisse right there.

  114. delphyne

    “It throws a monkey wrench into our ideas about gender and sex and, by extension, our ideas about feminism”

    I really disagree with this. First of all why would we need a monkey wrench in our ideas about feminism? Radical feminism seems pretty well thought through to me – it certainly provides an excellent analysis of how men hold power over women and the mechanisms they have used to maintain that power.

    I don’t think transsexualism actually says anything useful about gender. It was feminist analysis that uncovered that gender is a social construct rather than an immutable state of affairs, a construct we need to get rid of. I don’t see any transsexual analysis doing that.

    As for changing our ideas about sex, all the transsexual model says about sex is that it is a feeling rather than the physical reality of a person’s body. I suppose that’s a different approach to take but I don’t think it’s a correct one.

    But then why would a male-led, male-created institution have anything useful to tell women or feminists about sex, gender or feminism?

  115. Paris

    I bought the Newsweek issue because I feel it behooves me to keep track of what the media is telling my parents to think about me. Its only redeeming value is it didn’t suggest that any of it was their fault, so in my weakened state of resistance I gave it a pass (plus flinging things in airplanes can get you in trouble these days).

    Just to toss a spanner in the works concerning the ‘tranny agenda’ and the place actually transgender folks fit into that agenda, here’s a link to an article I read a few days back about an Iranian transgendered. It could be summarized with Twisty’s comment above: You do what you gotta do to survive.

    http://www.irqo.net/IRQO/English/pages/064.htm

  116. Virago

    Thalia, your problem is 1% this:

    Why, then, should we not assume that someone who spent a good part of their life as a male before becoming female would also carry some of that privilege over?

    and 99% this:

    [...W]hat I find particularly annoying about her [is] she’s getting the best of both worlds, and gosh, that just doesn’t seem fair. [...] I’m just doing that to annoy her, (since she annoys me so damned much)[...] I have such a bad reaction to her most of the time that I’ll take being disrespectful towards her over strangling her [...]

    and

    It is my assumptions about her that are driving me crazy.

    and

    No one I talk to gets why she drives me so crazy. They all assume I’m just uncomfortable with her because she’s trans. Which is not it at all. Please, someone out there tell me they understand what I’m talking about!

    I think you are being purposefully obtuse.

    Your problem is with your sister–not with transgendered individuals or with the politics and problems associated with trans-folks–and you are looking for approval of your disrespect for her from a bunch of strangers on an internet board about the subject of transgender issues in Newsweek.

    In this case, you might try looking at the personal before you look at the political.

  117. Catherine Martell

    Delphyne, you seem very confident about the “physical reality” of sex. Could you enlighten me as to exactly what your definition of a woman is?

    I don’t mean to be facetious; I’m genuinely interested as to whether anyone can do this. Medical science currently can’t. Sex is determined in humans by the balance of between six or eight indicators, none of which is decisive. Even the IOC – one of the few organizations in the world that actually has an interest in ascertaining whether grown adults are male or female according to a binary division – has abandoned gender testing as being pseudoscientific, unverifiable and an affront to human dignity.

  118. Mar Iguana

    curiousgyrl, clearly you need to think further. With that, I’m gonna break out the chocolate chex and watch this latest boyo show.

    Over and out of Thyreocorid buggin’.

  119. Mireille

    Oh, yes, I am just swimming in privilege… Let’s see, because of my transition I lost my job, was ostracized by my family, spent my life savings on a surgery that very few people will ever see the results of, am losing my house, have to constantly work harder than the people around me at my current job just to stay where I am. If that’s privilege, then all I can say is… Take my privilege, please. I don’t want it anymore. But even if I had known the eventual outcome, I would still have done everything pretty much the same.

    We can all unzip our pants, whip out our oppression and compare sizes, but I really don’t see the point. I’m sorry some people are always going to think that the choices I’ve made for myself are somehow undermining everything they believe in. It would just be nice if they would see how very republican it all is. Absolutely sure that they’re interpretation of my experiences is more valid than my own. George W would probably want to go bowling with you.

  120. Virago

    delphyn, no one needs a monkey wrench. That’s kind of the idea of a monkey wrench.

    If the issues surrounding transsexualism were such a given (along the lines of, say, old white honkeys are at the top of the patriarchy), were so easy to dismiss by feminists, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

    I simply can’t dismiss transsexualism as having nothing of importance to offer in our examination of gender. To me, it is worth examining how and why some people don’t feel as though they fit into the traditional binary system of gender. I mean, I don’t feel I fit into that system, but I am still at the mercy of it, just as trans-folks are. Since I think examining my situation in regards to gender is a worthwhile pursuit–a pursuit that will ultimately help to topple the patriarchal hierarchy, gender division–I extend that willingness to engage and examine gender in all its manifestations, transgender/transsexualism included.

    Anyway, I think we both agree that gender is going to eventually be a useless designation. Thank the lard.

  121. NicoleGW

    I feel quite strongly that true equality between the sexes will only occur when societally constructed gender has been obliterated. Therefore, anyone who feels the calling and has the bravery to publicly challenge the gender binary are totally in line with the sort of feminism that I try to practice. As Twisty pointed out early in this thread, transpeople who end up reinforcing the gender binary aren’t completely in line with this idea, but just as I would never begrudge a female-bodied woman using societally approved drag to get by, neither would I begrudge a transperson from doing the same.
    Partially because I view the gender binary as a fallacy, I’ve never quite understood how to define a women only space. Sure, I understrand and appreciate the intention. I think that women only spaces are vital. I just don’t see how it’s possible to dictate who exactly falls into the category of “women,” since it’s nothing more than a construction to begin with.

    As for the feeling that some transpeople are threatening the feminist movement through trans politics. Well. The only suitable response I can come up with to this idea is that there are loads of assholes in this world, and it would therefore follow that some assholes are women, some assholes are feminists, and some assholes are transpeople, but it’s asinine to point fingers at groups, rather than individuals. One you start doing that, it’s bigotry.

  122. curiousgyrl

    well, I read the heart thread and the “questioning transgender” site, and didnt find much convincing therein. The positions on FTM vs MFT are contradictory, and the psychoanalysis essay was bizarre. Heart’s post would have been improved with specific history and examples–wihout them, there is no way to assess the point.

    Even if I allow that transwomen retain some privledges of their upbringing, I have to see the massive increase in violence and discrimination that they recieve as a result of violating gender norms as oppression under the patriarchy.

    I understand more clearly why radfem and political lesbianas would object to FTM transition as opposed to butch or androgynous identity, but I hope that there be political objection to this as a political strategy without hating people for doing what they feel they need to do to get by in a nasty and impossible world. I would also point out that not all or even most trans folks view thier transition as part of some strategy of “transgender politics” (the reality of is, byt the way, pretty grossly mischaracterized on Louisa’s reccommended link). And, in my experience, its wrong to think that all FTM’s would have been lesbians if FTM was never invented.

    Trans folks are not the enemy and if anything they show that gender is socially and biosocially constructed, but you cant individually choose your way out of oppression under the gender regime.

    Transfolks need the long history of feminism and feminist analysis, but unfortunately ill-concieved assessments, and worse, nastiness seem like they could keep a lot of people away.

  123. delphyne

    “Delphyne, you seem very confident about the “physical reality” of sex. Could you enlighten me as to exactly what your definition of a woman is?”

    I’ve seen that question so many times in discussion about transsexuality, and it seems that as soon as one answer is given, reams of nitpicking and accusations of “policing” what a woman is start getting thrown out.

    In the end I realised the answer is quite simple, it’s someone who hasn’t been born with a penis, testes and a Y chromosome.

    Do you think I shouldn’t be confident of the physical reality of sex, Catherine, when it’s actually the reason why every single one of us is here? Didn’t you have a biologically female parent and a biologically male parent?

    “To me, it is worth examining how and why some people don’t feel as though they fit into the traditional binary system of gender.”

    Women have been doing this for years using feminism but now somehow transsexuality that gets the credit? I don’t fit into the binary system of gender because it’s a patriarchal fantasy that has nothing to do with me as a woman. Feminism helped me realise that.

  124. Thalia

    It’s true, I am only really an intermediate blamer; maybe my question was naïve, or coming from a place of prejudice. I don’t know. I just know that my sister has male privilege in spades and that it drives me crazy.

    I’m not being deliberately obtuse; I’m figuring this out as I go along. I’ve only come to feminism consciously in the last couple of years so I’m still learning to deal with my anger, and my relationship with my sister has sort of (fairly or unfairly) been a focus for me. I did not think it was inappropriate to post about that relationship here, as I’ve seen others post personal stuff; I apologize if it was.

    No, I should not be disrespectful of my sister, in the same way that, for example, if I had a gay brother who was an asshole I should not call him a “fag”. I suppose I should just call him an “asshole”. Okay, I get it now.

    I’ve just been so angry around my sister lately that I can’t see straight.

  125. Virago

    Thalia, sorry that my post was silencing. I did not intend for that to be the case.

    Yes, personal information is posted ’round here all the time, and others don’t immediately discount the validity of that aspect of discussion in a feminist venue.

    However, I was a bit dismayed to see that your posts were feeding an anti-trans faction who were obliquely warping your frustration with your sister into the kind of anti-trans platform (what Twisty calls “bigoted anti-trans crap”) that, besides being inadmissable on this forum, is not relevant to the discussion at hand.

  126. V.

    Will somebody please point out where on this thread “hatespeech” has taken place?

    Because I’m confused.

    Some(and definitely not all) trans people, like Thalia’s sister, as she has shared, trade on their previous priviledged status, quite unconsciously, while simultaneously trying to enforce “feminity.”

    That this happens,ever, is clearly nobody’s fault, and the only thing to blame is the patriarchy.

    I thought Thalia shared quite eloquently her own struggle to untangle her personal issues with her sister from what she clearly sees as the ethical stance of treating transgendered folk with respect and acceptance.

    I’m not seeing any hate, here.

    I certainly intended my previous comment to be directed only at the situation discussed.

    And I’m really not being rhetorical in my request for examples to be pointed out to me.

    What am I missing?

  127. Thalia

    Thank you Virago.

    I guess I thought that we (the commenters here) were starting on the same page and that some things were so obvious they didn’t need to be stated, but to clarify, I will:

    When I asked about transwomen retaining male privilege it was from the point of view that it was something I’d seen in my sister, and that it was annoying. Minor, and annoying. It in no way compares to or makes up for the prejudice and violence transpeople face in this stupid world. I certainly did not mean to dismiss those experiences.

    If those catcalling men were to find out my sister is trans (she passes quite well), they would beat the living light out of her. And that is way the fuck not right.

    And I want to make it clear that I was not extrapolating all transwomen’s experiences based on how my sister acts. And that also, ticked off as I am at her choices, I don’t blame her for doing her best to get along any more than I’d blame a genetic girl (my sister’s term) for wearing lipstick and dieting. It’s all individual choices, and we all do the best we can. Obviously.

  128. Thalia

    Whoa, bad tags. Only “Minor” should be in bold. Where’s that edit button?

  129. NicoleGW

    Thalia, I was by no means singling you out, or trying to discount your experiences with your sister. You were careful to distinguish between your own situation and transpeople in general. My apologies if you felt that I was picking on you.

  130. Thalia

    Oh, no, NicoleGW I didn’t think that. I’m in perfect agreement with you, actually.

  131. Virago

    V., There were carom shots against trans-folks and their supporters, which don’t, I believe belong in honest discourse. For the use of this tactic, IBTP, natch.

    Thalia, I think you show a lot of insight into the kind of oppression and discrimination that transgendered individuals face. Because you have this kind of understanding, your sister is lucky to have you. I’m sorry she doesn’t recognize it.

  132. Patti

    You know, I forgot to mention, I totally love that photo of the bug, and want to again bring up the idea of Twisty selling prints – please? And, there’s a bug paddock??!! Wow.

  133. curiousgyrl

    I agree, thalia, that you’re experience with your sister doesnt constitute anti-trans hate speech, but I’m going out on a limb to suggest that mars stuff DOES constitute that and that lousia’s attitude is strangely bitter if not explicitly hateful, and that her analysis is myopically focused on teh trans as teh enemey when that is a stupid anti-trans attitude to take.

  134. Thalia

    Virago:

    your sister is lucky to have you.

    Thanks. Now if only we could convince her of that. :)

  135. Raven

    [Note on name: changed to Raven from Artemis now that I see that there is a blogger by that name who also posts here.]

    LousieMayAlcott – despite the constrained circumstances here, you have made beautiful work of explaining these ideas. Mar Iguana, please don’t leave this conversation. I read your comments on the December ’06 thread – you and others made these points so cogently I saved the whole thread to remember your points for future conversations.

    As for what’s going on here: Who but a man could say the following?
    “We can all unzip our pants, whip out our oppression and compare sizes” – this is courtesy of Mireille.

    You reek of male privilege, Mireille, and for those of you on this thread who wonder why some of us are angry, Mireille’s words are all you need to read to figure out why. Mireille sounds just like a liberal dewd – here to tell us silly girls what’s what.

    Yet again there is an assumption that feminists don’t know what they’re talking about. This attitude is one major reason we are angry. We get it. We’re the ones who deconstructed gender decades ago. We don’t need johnny-come-lately MTFs or their defenders to tell us about oppression.

    I’ve lived with MTFs and I’ve also had a good friend transition from male to female. My friend spent years with lesbians, quietly listening and earnestly asking questions and learning. As a person she has always loved women and that comes through loud and clear. She has worked to listen to what women say about their experiences and has transitioned with respect for what she was transitioning into. As a woman she is no different from the rest of my lesbian crowd – we love her and accept her as one of us because she is one of us. My friend is not on the front lines demanding womanhood from feminists – she is living her life coherently and consistently.

    On the other hand, the men I lived with transitioned to some version of womanhood they had in their heads. They were not interested in what real women thought because they knew better. They are dismissive of my experience as a woman – a lesbian – because now they are straight women, determined to meet the high-femininity standard they learned from reading Cosmo. There is not a feminist bone in their bodies.

    There are a few people on this thread who are attempting to dismiss us as having knee-jerk prejudices, but that is just another way of dismissing women’s experience of the world. This is a blog for advanced blamers. We get it. We’ve heard it, we’ve read it, we’ve discussed it, we’ve lived it. We don’t need lectures from you any more than we need lectures from liberal dewds.

    Way up at the top of the thread LouisaMayAlcott posted a URL – if you want to have a meaningful conversation with advanced feminists about gender, reading all the posts at that URL is a place to start. It’s just like Twisty’s -whataboutthemenz page– – if you haven’t read it, you’re missing a big part of the base from which we’re arguing.

  136. Virago

    Yes, I suggest that all who share the viewpoint of Raven/Artemis, Mar Iguana, and LMA pack up their opinions and head on over to the suggested forum.

    Raven/Artemis is right: Twisty’s certainly made it clear that bigoted, anti-trans crap is not welcome here.

  137. Raven

    Are you attempting to silence women, Virago?

    You answered my post within seconds. Why is that? What person would attempt to silence women? I wonder. Is this your space to determine who can speak? Is it your place to stand in for Twisty? You’ve shouted down various women on this blog on various threads since you showed up. Why is that? Who would want to do that? I wonder.

    Don’t speak for me, Virago. Don’t re-interpret my words. Don’t tell us when and where we can speak. Don’t re-interpret any of our words.

  138. SyntheticGenius

    This is a really hard post for me to make. I did all the radfem things right. I’m biologically female, pursue women as my romantic interests, went to a womens college, and may even (making me a bad feminist) have a touch of “women are naturally superior but equality is the right thing to do.”

    BUT. (And it just about killed me when I figured it out.)

    There was always this nagging feeling that inside I was a boy. I don’t know how to describe it. I would look in the mirror and it was wrong. A lot of you on this seem to feel in the ideal femtopia, where our current societal construct of gender would be abolished and it would truly be the Land of Do-As-You-Please, would solve the “problem” of being trans. A number of you have indicated this. I think it’s wrong and I find it personally insulting. I do already do nearly exactly as I please and it doesn’t take away the feeling of mismatch and void. Even if I did do exactly as I pleased (like I did while I was at my women’s college) it would not make me feel right and whole. For me personally, I don’t think surgery would even help because it would still be wrong. It would be man-made. A helpful analogy: Putting a BMW engine into a Ford doesn’t make that Ford a BMW. That’s how I feel about surgery. Something about knowing the truth about it all would still bug me, I think. But I digress from the point.

    I think a lot of feminists (hardcore and not) along with a lot in the queer movement have a lot of animosity towards the trans community. Yeah, there are those few that stick out and behave in ways that brings the community down but every community has those. Maybe because you think it’s all in our heads (which I strongly dispute — as a scientist and having lived in this body for as long as I can remember). Maybe it’s because you don’t “understand.” All I know is that we’re here, it’s real and we need the whole fem/queer community to have our backs. How can we expect equality when we are not even fully accepting of each other within our own movements?

  139. Virago

    Oh, Raven. You needn’t be threatened by me. I’m perfectly harmless. I answered in seconds because answering your “argument” required no thinking or in-depth analysis or interpretation (much less “re-interpretation”?) whatsoever.

    Of course I would never presume to speak for Twisty (or for you or for anyone). It is only my opinion that you should take what Twisty calls “bigoted anti-trans crap” elsewhere.

    See, I was merely quoting her (if you don’t trust me, you can read it for yourself if you scroll up to her post). I trust she will correct me if I have overstepped my boundaries.

  140. Virago

    Thank you, SyntheticGenius, for your post.

    When someone who is oppressed and discriminated against (as transgendered and transsexual individuals are) asks in sincerity for support from a feminist community, I believe we should offer our sisterhood.

  141. Mireille

    Holy crap, some people need to take irony classes. I said “We can all unzip our pants, whip out our oppression and compare sizes” because it was ironic… Jesus christ, it was not literal. Y’all just sound like you want to say your oppression is greater than anyone else’s. If you took me literally, I’m sorry. It was meant ironically. But it is telling that you jumped to the conclusion you did. Don’t let the oppression you’ve experienced make you think it’s ok to oppress a weaker minority, because honestly, that’s what you’re doing.

  142. Mireille

    Let me be completely literal. I never tried to oppress women. I never felt any privilege. I was never rich. My core belief is, no war but a class war. Sure, women are an easy target because they are not men. And in America, anyone that is not what is an easy target. And even among white men, anyone that is not rich is an easy target. So, bottom line, anyone that is not male, white and rich is pretty much fucked. That women here want to exclude me, that’s your right. You can hate on me all you want, but I will still fight for the rights of non-male, non-white, non-rich people. If you want to fight for some part of the male, white, rich partiarchy, that’s your right. Have fun!

  143. Claire

    “She very much conforms to the sexbot stereotype (tall, very skinny, always in high heels, makeup, frilly sexy clothes) and will criticize me mercilessly because I don’t. She has no clue at all about feminism and probably doesn’t think there is any need for it, and will not listen when I try to explain. An example of her attitude: she thinks catcalls are complementary, and doesn’t get (though I have explained it) that they are actually threatening.”

    Thalia, your sister sounds like a lot of women I know. Try not to let it get under your skin, that kind of misunderstanding from relatives can be very irksome.

  144. delphyne

    “Yes, I suggest that all who share the viewpoint of Raven/Artemis, Mar Iguana, and LMA pack up their opinions and head on over to the suggested forum.”

    Well that’s a problem isn’t it? Advanced patriarchy blaming goes on at this blog and the radical feminist analysis of transexualism is advanced patriarchy blaming. Which is not to say that all radical feminists share that particular viewpoint, but it does exist and it is a legitimate one.

    I took a look back and the last debacle about transsexualism started on a post inspired by Sheila Jeffreys “Beauty and Misogyny” which contains a whole chapter on transfeminity and crticism of the same. So Sheila would be welcomed by blamers for her views on lipstick but her views on transsexualism would have her marked out as a bigot and she would be told to go elsewhere.

  145. Mar Iguana

    curiousgyrl, you can call me Mar Iguana. Thanks.

    And, sorry, Raven, but I’m not exposing myself to the lynching I get everytime I point out women have these little things called wombs that kinda sets us apart from those who do not. Crazy, huh?

    Back to my choco chex.

  146. curiousgyrl

    sorry mar iguana, I dont know what happened there. however, disagreement does not equal lynching. Maia has a great post on that point at Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty right now.

  147. Heart

    Raven: Are you attempting to silence women, Virago?

    You answered my post within seconds. Why is that? What person would attempt to silence women? I wonder. Is this your space to determine who can speak? Is it your place to stand in for Twisty? You’ve shouted down various women on this blog on various threads since you showed up. Why is that? Who would want to do that? I wonder.

    Well, quite a number of transpersons and people who consider themselves to be allies do attempt to silence women quite often, as the recent Gendercator debacle evidences. An acclaimed lesbian filmmaker, Catherine Crouch, makes a satirical film about body modification and gender, postulating a future in which no one may do his or her own thing, genderwise, in which, courtesy of the Religious Right, everyone must choose a gender and will then be accommodated by all sorts of surgeons and pharmaceutical types.

    A couple of hundred transpersons, most of them online, as I understand — without having seen the film — sent a petition to Frameline declaring the film transphobic and insisting that it not be shown.

    Frameline caved. The film will not be shown. Note: all or by far most of the people who circulated and signed the petition had NOT seen the film.

    And so, yes, all sorts of silencing going on, and in feminist/lesbian circles, it is not transgendered persons or their allies who are being silenced, it is advanced patriarchy blamers, beat about the head and neck with a vast array of thought-stopping cliches — which “transphobe” is.

    Hey, Louisa May Alcott, thanks. :)

    Heart

  148. curiousgyrl

    A few things:

    1)Nobody has been silenced so far. Only Twisty can say “go away”, and Twisty either a) thinks nothing posted here so far is anti-trans crap, or b)is drinking margaritas elsewhere or c) is super annoyed/amused that we went this way with it when we werent kinda supposed to and is riding the silliness out. Either way, you’ve all been free to post your points. And I’ve been free to post mine. Several tiems I’ve made the same substantive point, but so far nobody’s chosen to take me up on it.

    2 The point: I’m not saying people should go elsewhere. I’m not even disagreeing that transgenderism is un- or possibly anti-feminist. I just dont think there’s been any legitimate explanation for why transgederism is seen as a direct attack on feminism and calls for extremely tense and bitter responses in way that other individualist, un or anti-feminist behaviors don’t.

    3) Another point I’ll bring up for the first time: I’m not sure you can have it both ways. Either MTF’s are “really” men invading womens spaces or FTM’s are abandoning women and accessing male power, but how can it be both?

  149. curiousgyrl

    I point out women have these little things called wombs that kinda sets us apart from those who do not

    Wait, but gender is a social construct? Twisty and my mother don’t have wombs, but whatever.

  150. Mar Iguana

    curiosgyrl, that would be Mar Iguana, capital “M,” capital “I.” Clue: You have to hold down that thingy called a “shift” key at the same time you’re pressing a letter key.

    Interesting that you’ve gone from calling me hateful, bitter and bigoted to now merely disagreeing with me. Eeeyeah. Carry on.

  151. Rebecca

    I’d like to thank SyntheticGenius for her thoughtful, open, honest post about her experience. SG doesn’t jump to any conclusions about what her experience means, or what she ought to do about it if anything — she just says “here’s how it is for me and has been for a long time.” We’re then left to think about what it would be like to have that experience and those feelings, and (for me anyway) about what it would be like to take the experience seriously, not jump down her throat to tell her whether it’s right or wrong, or what it means she “really” is or isn’t, etc.

    Anyway, just wanted to give SG a shoutout as her post seemed to have gotten lost in the din.

  152. curiousgyrl

    rad fem argument: merely wrong
    tone and emphasis: hateful and bigoted

  153. curiousgyrl

    and PS to Mar Iguana: hateful and bigoted happens. People pointing it out when they think they see it is the only way that ever changes. you know, like the principle that being called racist (rightly or wrongly) is not nearly as bad as being the subject of racism. you’re case is particularly bad because you haven’t made any actual arguments, and you only have your nasty tone going for you. I’m happy that at least now its directed at me and therefore no longer constitues bigoted anti-trans crap.

    Heart: as for your story about the movie, sounds to me like politics. Possibly bad politics. I dont know, I haven’t seen the movie.

    Right now there are thousands of women across the country who claim to be advocates for women and teaching school-age children that life begins at conception and abortion is wrong. (using weird little plastic fetuses as a visual aid, but that’s netiher here nor there.)

    These women have bad politics and I think they are not the advocates they believe they are. I think they are doing women children and feminism a disservice. But theat doesnt make me think that all women or all women who dont have abortions or who dont believe in abortion are outside of feminism or enemies of feminism. Why dont transfolk get that distinction?

  154. curiousgyrl

    oh, and by “get” I meant “deserve” not “understand.”

  155. delphyne

    “The point: I’m not saying people should go elsewhere. I’m not even disagreeing that transgenderism is un- or possibly anti-feminist. I just dont think there’s been any legitimate explanation for why transgederism is seen as a direct attack on feminism and calls for extremely tense and bitter responses in way that other individualist, un or anti-feminist behaviors don’t.”

    Transgenderism/transsexualism enforces gender binaries it doesn’t overthrow them the way feminism wants to. It essentialises sex i.e. the idea that sex is an essence that exists inside us rather than simply a physical aspect of our bodies.

    I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that postmodernism and transgender have arisen alongside this latest wave of feminism. The whole concept of “woman” is now under attack as never before. When we were safely second class citizens under the power of men there wasn’t much debate, now when we say we are fighting for women’s freedom, we are told there is no such thing as a woman or that if we use the definition of woman that has always existed (a female human being) we are suddenly being essentialist or policing the boundaries of womanhood. You might as well tell someone who calls a tree a tree essentialist, because the logic is pretty much the same.

    “Another point I’ll bring up for the first time: I’m not sure you can have it both ways. Either MTF’s are “really” men invading womens spaces or FTM’s are abandoning women and accessing male power, but how can it be both?”

    Why can’t it be both? It’s possible to invade women’s space without being a woman, just as it’s possible to access male privilege without being a man, I don’t follow.

  156. SyntheticGenius

    One more little thing. Maybe it’s because I don’t pass (I’m very small and baby-faced so I look like a 14 year old boy) as a grown up man, but I am not accessing any male power. Quite the opposite. Truth be told, society barely knows what to do with me, let alone grant me power.

  157. V.

    Delphyne, your argument does not compute.

    You say: Transgenderism/transsexualism enforces gender binaries it doesn’t overthrow them the way feminism wants them to.

    her you seem to be arguing against what I think folks are saying is the idea that gender resides primarily in our bodies and is not a societal construct. Your objection here as stated is that you think trans folk are saying that gender is about bodies.

    Yet you also ,in the same post, argue against trans MTF in “womenspace.”

    Is this not also saying that gender is about bodies, the very same thing you object to so stridently, above?

  158. curiousgyrl

    ”

    Transgenderism/transsexualism enforces gender binaries it doesn’t overthrow them the way feminism wants to. It essentialises sex i.e. the idea that sex is an essence that exists inside us rather than simply a physical aspect of our bodies.

    In my experience, some trans people view and use gender in ways that do this and some dont, just like some women do and some don’t. In any case, it can’t get worse on the gender bianary/essentialism front than the womb quote up there from presumable non-trans Mars Iguana.

    I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that postmodernism and transgender have arisen alongside this latest wave of feminism. The whole concept of “woman” is now under attack as never before. When we were safely second class citizens under the power of men there wasn’t much debate, now when we say we are fighting for women’s freedom, we are told there is no such thing as a woman or that if we use the definition of woman that has always existed (a female human being) we are suddenly being essentialist or policing the boundaries of womanhood. You might as well tell someone who calls a tree a tree essentialist, because the logic is pretty much the same.

    maybe so, but this is a political argument about transpolitics not about trans people. Even if transgenderism is an obviously historical development, that doesn’t make it less socially real for the people that are feeling it. Feminism needs to come up with a politics that responds to the individualism and easy “smash gender!”-ism of some transpolitics and includes the experience of trans folks in a deeper way than simply saying “please stop existing.”

    Why can’t it be both? It’s possible to invade women’s space without being a woman, just as it’s possible to access male privilege without being a man, I don’t follow.

    Well perhaps I was being a little intentionally obtuse. Some passing transmen probably do access male power, and a lot who don’t (many of whom dont want to) dont. Transwomen who pass face the violence that women face, if not the same childhood development and treatment. Transwomen who dont pass face more. If you have a radfem analysis of pronstitution as slavery, please explain how all these people who are “really” privledged men end up as sex slaves at such high rates?

    Transwomen are not exactly the same as people who’ve been women thier whole lives, but I’d like to see a feminism with enough smarts to deal.

    Finally, if you really believe that transgenderism rather than some versions of trans politics are the problem, when does transgenderism become a problem? When its just on the inside like SG who was doing rad fem stuff and feeling trans? or is it the surgeries, clothing etc that is the problem–eg someone like Twisty who had to have a mastectomy and sometimes wears “men’s”clothes and who thus might occasionally get treated like a man, despite not adhereing to transgendered politics?

    I’m not saying there’s an easy solution, and am sympathetic to your anti-pomo stance, but I think we can come up with a feminism that fights for all of us that are oppressed by bianary gender and misogyny. Even if not, transgendered folks are just about the least of feminisms problems. We should start with men, and then with the infinitely more massive “I’m not a feminist but” women’s crowd.

  159. delphyne

    “her you seem to be arguing against what I think folks are saying is the idea that gender resides primarily in our bodies and is not a societal construct. Your objection here as stated is that you think trans folk are saying that gender is about bodies.”

    I think people are confusing sex and gender. Sex is an immutable physical reality that can’t be changed even with the addition of hormones or surgery. Gender is a social construct, a system of power relations designed to keep men dominant over women.

  160. exangelena

    Re: sex and gender
    Biological sex is a continuum of variation, but we tend to base it on whether someone “looks” male or female, mostly whether or not that person has a phallus – which is why there are some people assigned as males who have XX chromosomes and some people assigned as females who have XY chromosomes.
    Gender is a social category and something that virtually everyone, regardless of where they lie on the continuum, is categorized into. If gender is a social construct, I would hope that within the category of a woman born woman (leaving aside for the purposes of conciseness transwomen), radical feminists would accept people raised as women regardless of their chromosomes, gonads, hormone levels, etc.

  161. curiousgyrl

    as for the idea that the category of “woman” is under attack–I disagree. Either trans politics will work or it wont. If it will smash gender great! lets go!

    But it won’t. Most people are either a man or a woman. We remain safely trapped inside our category and will continue to be oppressed as such. nothing to worry about!

    I think people are confusing sex and gender. Sex is an immutable physical reality that can’t be changed even with the addition of hormones or surgery. Gender is a social construct, a system of power relations designed to keep men dominant over women.

    I dont think i am confused about this. this is an okay model for somethings, and works fine wiht my previous arguemnt, but what you think is the immutable physical reality of sex is is not clear from your statement. is it chromosomes?

  162. V.

    So, essentially, Delphyne, you are saying that a MTF trans is not, and cannot ever be considered a ‘woman,’ and has no place in feminism, am I right?

    According to you, the minimum requirement for a place at the feminist table is being born of the female sex?

    Not seeing the difference here between your position and gender essentialism.

    And I thought advanced blaming was about overthrowing the societal constructs.

  163. delphyne

    I don’t know how many times I have to say it but gender is a social construct and sex isn’t. Sex exists. It exists in a whole lot of other animals apart from human beings. It is the mechanism that nature created for a whole lot of species to reproduce. It’s something that people and animals are born with and it can’t be changed.

    I haven’t said anything about trans people in feminism, it’s up to them whether they take part in it or not.

    Gender essentialism is the idea that there are specific characteristics and behaviours attached to a particular sex. That has nothing to do with my position.

  164. Branjor

    Women’s liberation, aka feminism, was created by and for those born female back when “woman” and “female” were one and the same. Now some born male, formerly known as “men”, want to get in on women’s liberation, aka feminism, by calling themselves “women.” For me, “that dog don’t hunt.” I am not fooled.

  165. curiousgyrl

    yes! if we keep all the liberation for ourselves we’ll have the MOST liberation! bwahaahaaaa! Because as we all know there are some people that DESERVE to be kept out of the job market and prostituted, and those people are transwomen! no liberation for you!

    holy jeez. I thought the fact female and woman being automatically the same thing was part of the problem. Why are we even talking about sex if gender is the socially meaningful part? Who cares if you cant really change sex (whatever that means)? So what? relevant how?

  166. delphyne

    Well there’s the small fact that a whole lot of men think they can change sex, undergo something called sexual reassignment surgery (as if sex could be reassigned), then start demanding entrance to women only spaces like MichFest or Newnham College Cambridge and also demanding that other women treat them as women rather than the men they are. I’m a separatist so I don’t view women and men in the same way.

    Then there’s the other group of men who don’t bother even going as far as surgery but still think they can claim to be women and demand that women treat them accordingly.

  167. delphyne

    “I thought the fact female and woman being automatically the same thing was part of the problem.”

    No the problem is that women are regarded as being inferior to men and are treated as such. Attitudes are the problem, not physiology or semantics.

  168. Branjor

    “Woman” and “female” being the same was NEVER part of the problem as the definition of “woman” is (was?) simply “an adult human female.” No problem. The *problem* was that “woman” and “FEMININE” were considered the same. THAT was the oppression. “Woman” and “female” as the same was *never* the oppression.

    Female born humans making a movement for themselves was women (female ones) TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for ourselves and our status in the world, something I was always told I should do.

    As for transfolks having NO LIBERATION unless women do it for them, that is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS.

  169. Tigs

    I don’t think it’s that easy to say gender=social construct, sex=reality. We were talking the other day about intersex issues (and I’m not asserting anything about intersex and transexuals, or any relationship between them, I mean to add to the conversation about the category of sex here),and with growing awareness of the commonality of people being born intersex, I think there is a growing recognition that the immutability of sex is at the very least informed by social constructions.

    Sure, most people are male or female. Their exterior bodies match their chromosomes, and that’s nice and easy for them. But if 1 in 1000 people are born with this not being the case, it seems that the binary category of sex is not so easily asserted as material fact. 2 2=4, but male female does not equal all of humanity– unless you are willing to give a social construction to what a male or a female is in these grayer areas (Is it chromosomes? Physical features? The presence of a hyster and the ensuing hysteria?).

    Given this difficulty, it seems like it might only be political to insist upon a static nature of sex and a fluid nature of gender.

  170. curiousgyrl

    delphyne, that is semantics. “woman” is an inferior social category the characteristics of which are commonly believed to derive inherent qualities of female people. As feminists, we know that inferiority does not, in fact, derive from female sex, but from social relations of power.

  171. curiousgyrl

    women dont have to do liberation for transpeople, but we shouldn’t shit on them or tell them they are “really” men or all the crap that you just did. And since we all need liberation from the patriarchy, we should find a way to work together. the patriarchy is big and bad bad and really hard to get rid of.

  172. SusanM

    delphyne:

    Well there’s the small fact that a whole lot of men think they can change sex, undergo something called sexual reassignment surgery (as if sex could be reassigned), then start demanding entrance to women only spaces like MichFest

    A bunch of men are undergoing surgery so they can attend a music festival?! I heard the bands are really good, but that’s some mad fandom, that is.

  173. curiousgyrl

    delphyne, many people who agree with your sex/gender distinciton call themselve transGENDER for that reason. Whether or not there is some immutable sex that exists, who cares? what significance does that have if gender is the socially meaningful category? Clearly, gender is mutable, and changes over time anywya, whether you want it to or not.

    As for women-only spaces, If I was a transwomen, I would tell you to keep your spaces, they sound really bad. In fact, I feel that way anyway. I mean, seriously? This is the reason that trans people–rather than men with all their male privledge in tact, who run the country, make sexist law, are women’s bosses, ec—are the enemy of feminism?

    Seriously. And none of you have responded to the prostitution question. Why is it ok for transwomen to be subject to that? Can you really argue that women and transwomen have no oppression in common? Give me a break.

  174. curiousgyrl

    SusanM :)

  175. delphyne

    “I think there is a growing recognition that the immutability of sex is at the very least informed by social constructions.”

    Immutable means unchanging. If someone is born male, their sex cannot be changed, if someone is born female their sex cannot be changed and if someone is born intersex their sex cannot be changed. That has nothing to do with society and everything to do with physical reality.

  176. delphyne

    “A bunch of men are undergoing surgery so they can attend a music festival?! I heard the bands are really good, but that’s some mad fandom, that is.”

    You know fine well I didn’t argue that.

  177. curiousgyrl

    delphyne, seriously, what physical reality? are you talking about chromosomes?

  178. Mireille

    It just doesn’t matter. I guess there is really nothing left to say. (Though, Delphyne, just replace “nature” with “god” in your argument and you could pass for James Dobson. Way to go!) People who are against “trans-politics” are going to keep arguing against trans-people, keeping up the binary gender system, how very feminist! And somehow, whether you know me or not, I am seeking to reinforce it too! And here I thought I wasn’t. Thanks for pointing that out! I’ll go out and buy some more skirts and makeup. I’d hate to disappoint the haters here.

    Here’s an idea… don’t stereotype people.

  179. curiousgyrl

    I mean I assume I am xx, but I’ve never checked.

  180. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    That’s one beautiful bug.

  181. delphyne

    I’m not keeping up any binary gender system. The whole of my radical feminism is about ending gender.

  182. Virago

    delphyn, I don’t think anyone is dismissing your argument out of hand. You’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it, and if “sex” is at the crux of the matter for you, I’m interested as to how you define it. If you do so, we might better understand your position.

    Catherine Martell wrote above: Delphyne, you seem very confident about the “physical reality” of sex. Could you enlighten me as to exactly what your definition of a woman is? I don’t mean to be facetious; I’m genuinely interested as to whether anyone can do this. Medical science currently can’t. Sex is determined in humans by the balance of between six or eight indicators, none of which is decisive.

    I really hope that the point of feminism is not to prevent people from calling themselves women. I really hope that the goal of feminism is to liberate people who suffer from violence and oppression. Transgendered individuals are subject to sexualized violence and oppression; they too deserve liberation from that violence.

    When I hear feminists protesting that transwomen aren’t “real women” I always think of Sojourner Truth and why she had to make her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech in 1851.

  183. delphyne

    For all the people who don’t think sex exists, ask yourself this – how did you get here? You didn’t have two male parents or two female parents, or two parents with no sex at all did you?

    We could talk ourselves out of anything. I mean how do we know the world exists, how do we know we’re not all just a figment of our imaginations? How do you know a tree is a tree, I mean a lot of trees look like bushes, how can you be sure?

    The fact that transsexualism/transgender has been created wholly around the fact that two sexes exists and people are trying to put themselves into one box or the other, doesn’t seem to be a problem, but mentioning that those sexes have a prior physical reality, does.

  184. Heart

    I just dont think there’s been any legitimate explanation for why transgederism is seen as a direct attack on feminism and calls for extremely tense and bitter responses in way that other individualist, un or anti-feminist behaviors don’t.

    One reason transgenderism is seen as a direct attack on feminism is, many transgendered persons — online in particular — relentlessly attack feminists, that is, individual feminists, personally, and feminist thought, work, herstory and activism as well.

    Nobody transitions to attend Michfest or any music festival. But Michfest has become a site of contention because people like those in the paragraph above this one — who are not part of the Michfest community, know nothing about it, and are not vested in it — have attacked it in every conceivable way, including with egregious, destructive and really hateful lies about it online, for years now.

    Beyond that, Michfest is not a “music festival.” It is what remains of lesbian feminist women’s culture, and in particular, lesbian separatist women’s culture. Music is one part of that, and not at all what is most central to it.

    I don’t get the comparison someone up there a ways made of transgender folks insisting that Frameline boycott the work of a brilliant lesbian feminist playwright (an endangered and struggling-to-survive group of feminist women) — and being successful in that endeavor — with anti-reproductive choice teachers, other than that both groups, in my opinion, stand opposed to the liberation of women in their behaviors.

    What I am saying is, a very vocal group of mostly-online transgender activists successfully petitioned Frameline to drop the showing of a film, without having even seen the film, because a few people shouted, “Transphobe” loudly enough. I recently read commentary by a woman who was IN the film. She says this is in no way a transphobic film, and she is in no way a transphobe. My response here went to this issue of silencing which boycotting, or demanding that a film not be shown, as I’ve just described is. Raven asked how it was that Virago was there within seconds to rhetorically clobber her in a silencing way. I responded that silencing is the order of the day in my experience when it comes to being female-centered, and viewing all of life, and all of political activism in a female-centered way.

    Heart

  185. Virago

    “Yes, I suggest that all who share the viewpoint of Raven/Artemis, Mar Iguana, and LMA pack up their opinions and head on over to the suggested forum.”

    Well that’s a problem isn’t it? Advanced patriarchy blaming goes on at this blog and the radical feminist analysis of transexualism is advanced patriarchy blaming.-delphyn

    I have seen precious little “radical feminist analysis” coming from that source, delphyn.

    One of the reasons I’m interested in your point of view is that I think you are engaging in radical feminist analysis and I am keenly interested in why and how you come to your conclusions because we are so opposed on this issue. Because I respect your views on many, many other subjects, and the effort you put into your analyis, I’m willing to listen and engage. But I don’t think that anyone who comes in flying a radfem banner gets a free pass to spout bigoted, anti-trans crap.

  186. curiousgyrl

    nobody is denying the reality of sexual reproduction. sexual reproduction does not, however, soley define female sex (those who are intentionally or unintentionally infertile, post-meopausal, prepubescent or post-surgical femmale people who for example make up most female people and most women at any given time). Interestingly, sexual reproduction IS at the heart of traditionally defined femininity.

  187. delphyne

    If we didn’t have reproduction, we wouldn’t have sex, that’s what those organs are for. Well, apart from the clitoris which is for fun. :)

  188. Layla

    I have some questions one of which maybe I ought to ask my dad but I hesitate to for a number of reasons, one of which is that my understanding of transsexuality/transgenderism is not as important to me as my dad knowing that he doesn’t need to justify himself to me, so I’ll put them to you instead. Hopefully, seeing as we have people here who are both better educated than me and who are coming from a lot different positions someone will be able to answer them for me.
    Number one, when a person says they have always felt they were a man/boy/woman/girl, what do they mean? Perhaps that’s best answered by someone who has felt that way. Number two, in my own use and understanding of the language, I consider woman to mean a female human, man to mean a male human, so I use man and woman to describe sex rather than gender, unless, that is, I know the other person doesn’t use them that way. My dad uses them to describe gender. That’s a matter of words. The question I want to ask is about the nature of sex. Are all people either XX or XY including inter-sexed people? Is XX or XY the only thing that decides a person’s sex (in terms of their body)? The other thing I want to ask is to do with inter-sexed people (I hope that’s the right word). Is it that it’s a case of an accident in their development in the womb? I mean, someone said that sex is not binary, is it fair to say that humans are meant to be male or female biologically but sometimes things don’t go to plan, or does that simply reveal my ignorance? I don’t intend to be offensive, I’m asking in the hope that someone who knows a bit more can help me to understand better. Sorry if this is derailing.

  189. curiousgyrl

    heart, my point up there was that the trans people you dont like, whatever else they are, are a tiny minority of transpeople that most transpeople have never heard of. Go ahead and dont like them, but leave the rest of transpeople out of it.

  190. B. Dagger Lee

    I actually feel enormous gushy admiration and pride for Virago, curiousgyrl, Catherine Martell, Mireille, V, SyntheticGenius and quite a few others, but I am constrained by the B. Dagger code of repression to the big dyke chin nod.

  191. Heart

    Virago, the point of feminism is not to “prevent anyone from calling themselves a woman,” — and I think that and the reference to Michfest, whoever made it — were cheap shots and really unproductive. But that issue, the issue of “preventing someone from calling themselves a woman” seems to be near and dear to the heart of those who are who are transgendered-person-centered, as opposed to female-centered. Note: I don’t condemn anybody for being transgendered-person-centered. We all gotta do what we gotta do. But I WILL condemn anyone who tells me female-centered persons are wrong to be female-centered and we ought to be somebody-else-centered. Because as females, we gotta do what we gotta do,too.

    You know what? I could care less who calls themselves whatever they call themselves, whatever, I could not care less, I will call you whatever you (rhetorical “you”) say. But this one thing I know: so long as females are born second-class citizens, so long as we are the class which from the moment of our birth grows up knowing, being forced to know, that we are expected to sexually, ritually, slavishly serve those born male, we will need words which adequately and accurately describe the class we are talking about. “Woman” is such a word, though it has nearly successfully been gutted of meaning. “Female” is also such a word; that word still means something so far.

    If you were born male — not talking about intersex, that is a tiny tiny tiny percentage of people and everybody here knows it — but if the doctor said, when you were born, “it’s a boy,” then you did not come into the world, as females have, expecting to, for example, experience FGM, expecting to be murdered because you refused the male partner your community was forcing on you, expecting to be sold into marriage at the age of 13 to someone 50 or 60, expected to prostitute yourself, whether by selling yourself to one man or hundreds of men, expecting to see visual representations of you in media which amount to hate speech, expecting to spend all of your life having to fear rape at the hands of males, knowing if you are raped, you won’t be believed, taught to fear male deities and view yourself as dirty because you bleed and aren’t male, taught that your body is revolting and disgusting to the degree it does not conform to the imagery which amounts to hate speech which surrounds you all of your life, expecting to be paid half or three-fourths as much as men, expecting to do most of the caregiving the world requires, needing to protect yourself against unwanted pregnancy and forced childbirth, and a host of other oppressions which are visited on those people born female, and by female I mean, when you were born, the person who caught you said, “It’s a girl.”

    Those of us born into this class remain an oppressed and subordinated people group. We must retain the rights to language which identifies us and by way of which we communicate the facts of our subordination until our subordination ends.

    Heart

  192. curiousgyrl

    I have some questions one of which maybe I ought to ask my dad but I hesitate to for a number of reasons, one of which is that my understanding of transsexuality/transgenderism is not as important to me as my dad knowing that he doesn’t need to justify himself to me, so I’ll put them to you instead. Hopefully, seeing as we have people here who are both better educated than me and who are coming from a lot different positions someone will be able to answer them for me.
    Number one, when a person says they have always felt they were a man/boy/woman/girl, what do they mean? Perhaps that’s best answered by someone who has felt that way. Number two, in my own use and understanding of the language, I consider woman to mean a female human, man to mean a male human, so I use man and woman to describe sex rather than gender, unless, that is, I know the other person doesn’t use them that way. My dad uses them to describe gender. That’s a matter of words.

    actually, if you think about it, for most oft he people you call men or woemn, you most likely dont know what their sex is. You believe you do because of their gender. I’m not saying you’re necessarily drawing the wrong conclusions, just making an epistemological point.

    The question I want to ask is about the nature of sex. Are all people either XX or XY including inter-sexed people? Is XX or XY the only thing that decides a person’s sex (in terms of their body)?

    no, there are other possibilities like XXY and apparently now they’ve found some folks with combinations of four, eg XXYY XXXY. These are pretty rare.

    The other thing I want to ask is to do with inter-sexed people (I hope that’s the right word). Is it that it’s a case of an accident in their development in the womb? I mean, someone said that sex is not binary, is it fair to say that humans are meant to be male or female biologically but sometimes things don’t go to plan, or does that simply reveal my ignorance? I don’t intend to be offensive, I’m asking in the hope that someone who knows a bit more can help me to understand better. Sorry if this is derailing.

    This is a matter of interepretation. In one kind of intersex, Some fetuses with XY chromosomes never become “masculinized” (due to lack of the right hormone bath or lack of sensitivity to hormones) in the womb, so are born wiht “female” genitals, but will infertile. People wiht XY or XX can be born wiht “ambiguous” genitals, with something between a clit and a penis size-wise. Or undescended testicles. Or a phallus and a vaginal opening.

    Sorry if that was too graphic. But the possibilites are endless. I imagine that a lot of people do not want to consideres the possibilties “mistakes” on the way to being a man or a woman but that some do think of it that way.

  193. Heart

    Interestingly, sexual reproduction IS at the heart of traditionally defined femininity.

    At the heart of traditionally defined femininity is, each man gets to own hisself a woman, “woman” being those people who have the babies.

    It isn’t sexual reproduction which is at the heart of traditionally defined femininity, it is male heterosupremacy. Male heterosupremacists created the subordinating sexual binary under which we now labor; male control of sexual reproduction is an important part of that but it is only one part.

    Heart

  194. curiousgyrl

    batting my eyes in your general direction b.dagger :)

  195. Patti

    Layla – when my son was 3, he had a friend, a boy, who felt he was a girl. It was fascinating – his mother was very calm about it, and accepted that part of him really gracefully, which really endeared her to me. It wasn’t like he was playing at being a girl, it obviously came right from his heart, and I felt that he would probably have surgery, etc., when he got old enough. They moved away when he was 4. I’m sure the rest of his childhood has not been easy – I’m sure his male “peers” do not consider him one of them, the ruling class. It would be sad if he were an outcast no matter where he went.

  196. curiousgyrl

    “woman” being those people who have the babies.

    That women are defined this way and required to fulfill this definition is at the heart of womens oppression, aka femininity which is, as you say a result of male heterosupremacy or the patriarchy or whatever you want to call it.

    women being defined by sexual reproduction is part of the problem.

    not sure that we’re disagreeing, but you can go ahead and try again :)

  197. curiousgyrl

    layla I responded at length to you, but bad words got me held up in mod

  198. Heart

    heart, my point up there was that the trans people you dont like, whatever else they are, are a tiny minority of transpeople that most transpeople have never heard of. Go ahead and dont like them, but leave the rest of transpeople out of it.

    And this isn’t about who I do or don’t “like”, curious gyrl. This has nothing to do with who “likes” whomever. (And I think most transpeople who have any political consciousness at all *have* probably heard of Susan Stryker, who was front and center in the drive to silence Catherine Crouch and those who were in her play and supported her.)

    This “tiny minority” of transpeople most transpeople have never heard of has managed to keep hundreds, maybe thousands of people, from enjoying the work of a brilliant feminist filmmaker. That’s big. That’s huge.

    And in my opinion, it is really low. If a “tiny minority” of people acts in ways which have damaging repercussions for brilliant feminist lesbian playwrights, for lesbian feminists, for feminist women in general, and for a film-watching public, then that’s going to get called out by some of us, at least, because we are feminists. That has nothing to do with who we do or do not “like.” That has to do with caring about female people.

    Heart

  199. curiousgyrl

    Ok, Heart. Call Susan Stryker out. Be my guest. I dont care. But I dotn see how this situation is relevant to the question of whether the EXISTENCE of trans people is an assault on feminism. All you’ve demonstrated if your’re right, is what we already knew and was in Twisty’s oringinal post: Some trans people are anti-feminist. So what? Way more women are anti-feminist, certainly in numbers and probably in percentage as well.

  200. V.

    Well, Heart, I agree with you as far as your eloquent description of the pervasiveness and extremity of the oppression involved in being born female.

    BUT it’s cornerstone of my personal ethics to, as much as possible, avoid contributing to the hurts piled on to any individual member of an oppressed class.

    So if taking a political stand, no matter how outwardly righteous (in the best sense of the term) involves my adding to oppression (the targeting for destruction or subordination) of a person ,then I don’t see how I can do that.

  201. delphyne

    How come you don’t address anybody’s points curiousgyrl but keep trying to make people justify themselves to you?

    I’d like you to address this -

    “The fact that transsexualism/transgender has been created wholly around the fact that two sexes exists and people are trying to put themselves into one box or the other, doesn’t seem to be a problem, but mentioning that those sexes have a prior physical reality, does.”

    Why does sex cease to exist when radical feminists are discussing it, but as soon as a man says he feels like he is the “wrong” sex, sex becomes real again? How can he be the “wrong” sex when the right one according to you, doesn’t exist? Why aren’t you interogating him as to what he means by sex?

  202. Heart

    Curiousgyrl, I don’t think we are going to end male dominance and female subordination by redefining the word “woman.” You don’t, as someone else I respect said, deconstruct power relations by shifting the markers around in your head.

    Consider this in the context of any other subordinated group: do we broaden the meaning of the word “disabled” to include non-disabled people, then call that somehow subversive, as though to change the meaning of the word “disabled” actually changes anything so far as the difficulties deaf people face in a hearing world? Do we broaden the meaning of the word “elderly” to include the young, as though changing the meaning of the word “elderly” changes anything so far as the elderly’s actual, material difficulties in an ageist world? Do we broaden the meaning of the word “poor” to include the wealthy, as though including the wealthy among the poor changes anything at all for the poor? In fact, broadening the word in this way makes the difficulties of those who are actually subordinated less visible and less easy to identify and name. It’s no different with the words women use to define and describe our own lived reality in the world.

    Heart

  203. Heart

    Sorry, typo, I meant to write:

    Do we broaden the meaning of the word “disabled” to include non-disabled people, then call that somehow subversive, as though to change the meaning of the word “disabled” actually changes anything so far as the difficulties disabled people face in an ableist world? Do we broaden the meaning of the word “deaf” to include the hearing, then call that somehow subversive, as though to change the meaning of the word “deaf” atually changes anything so far as the difficulties deaf people face in a hearing world.

    Heart

  204. Alaina

    You know, frankly, I’m a little tired of the gender-privileged holding forth on the issue of what constitutes a valid, ethical and responsible gender (specifically, trans) experience. While I know of a few non-trans people who get it, they are few and far between, and most aren’t qualified to make any judgements. To me this is very much like straight people talking about what it’s like to be queer: until you’ve experienced it, you can’t understand it.

    While I do appreciate and agree with the critique of some trans people who fall into the stereotypical behaviours they feel are expected of them, I think we all need to remember where that comes from. If you’ve spent your whole life not fitting in, and desperately wanting to find a place to belong, I think it’s understandable that you might go a little overboard when you finally get a chance to fill the spot. I’m not justifying it, because I think we all need to look critically at our own actions, but can’t we be a little more sympathetic? When there are non-trans straight women who don’t “get” feminism, we try to educate them. Why would we not do the same for trans women?

    I’m also tired of people who point at trans activism or outspokenness and scream “male privilege!” I’m not sure the last time you experienced what it was like to live as a trans woman, but privilege of any kind is about the last thing on the shopping list that you take to the local social market. Besides, I know a lot of flaming jerks who are non-trans women. Arseholiness knows no gender boundaries.

  205. curiousgyrl

    Heart, as I’ve said several times above, I agree, in part. I dont think transgenderism is a strategy for ending patriarchy. Lots of other things that people do also aren’t strategies for ending patriarchy. Lots of things I do aren’t. I dont think attending Michigan or getting manicures will help take down women’s oppression either. The fact that someone is a transgendered person isnt a reason to be hostile and attacking.

    The fact that we do them doesn’t mean we cant ALSO pursues strategies to combat sexualized violence, the wage gap, free childcare, stopping DV,etc etc.

    I belive that keeping transgendered women out of the club is ALSO not a strategy for ending patriarchal oppression. Noticing the sexualized violence against transwomen doesnt preclude recognizing the same when its happend to me. I’m not saying that transwomen have exactly the same experiences as I’ve had, but then again I’m white and so I have a different experience of sexism and oppression than a lot of women who aren’t. I’m fairly young, so my experience is different than women who are older. But there’s room for all of us in, say, stopping rape.

  206. Layla

    Patti, thanks for sharing your story of the child you knew who felt he was a girl. I hope you don’t think I would want to add to his suffering or exclusion. I guess my question is, if there were no word for boy or girl, what would he be saying he felt?

  207. V.

    But, Heart, definitions of varying classes have shifted with changing conditions, in ways that are completely rational.

    A century ago, 55-60 was considered ‘elderly.” Now, due to improved health care and longer life expectancies, it no longer is.

    30 years ago, “autism” was synonymous with extremely limited verbal abilities, cognitive deficits (with the exceptions of savant abilities), and nearly no ability to interact or demonstrate affection. Now the class has expanded to include a broader spectrum of social/interactive/sensory/linguistic deficits and differences.

    And though I am neurotypical, I can spot a person with an autistic spectrum disorder a mile off–in other words, broadening the category hasn’t lessened my ability to distinguish ASD from nerotypical.

    Which doesn’t mean that I am like any of those folk from the breastbeating/antivaccine/prochelation organization. Gawd forbid! It means I am more aware and sensitive to my interactions.

    So the argument that broading a class means eliminating categories doesn’t hold water for me.

  208. curiousgyrl

    “The fact that transsexualism/transgender has been created wholly around the fact that two sexes exists and people are trying to put themselves into one box or the other, doesn’t seem to be a problem, but mentioning that those sexes have a prior physical reality, does.”

    I have addressed this several times. To quote myself:

    In my experience, some trans people view and use gender in ways that do this and some dont, just like some women do and some don’t. In any case, it can’t get worse on the gender bianary/essentialism front than the womb quote up there from presumable non-trans Mars Iguana.

    and

    delphyne, many people who agree with your sex/gender distinciton call themselve transGENDER for that reason.

    To restate: is my position that some transgendered people understand sex and gender in the reactionary, binary way that you describe. Many, including the folks who’ve commented here, don’t. I dont think that transgenderism as a practice is always predicated on bianary reactionary understandings of gender.

    In addition, many women (including some here) have a reactionary bianary understanding of sex and gender. Some women don’t share that understanding

    The fact that some women have crappy analysis of gender is not a reason to deny their existence. Similarly, that some trans people have crappy politics is also not a reason to ask them not to exist.

  209. mAndrea

    Thalia, I believe I know exactly what you are talking about, and it drives me stark raving annoyed. I spend much time with them, nuff said.

    When/if they get sexually assaulted, they assume it’s because their tranni slip was showing, and they’re offended because “tg’s are once again being discriminated against”. It never fucking occurs to them that they were assualted because they are female living under patriarchy.

    You would think that coming from a male priviledged background that they would more easily discern the unequal power dynamics of gender, but it works just the opposite. Patriarchy is just a word in a dictionary to them. Does.Not.Compute.

    It is for this reason alone that I am in favor of excluding them from women-only space. While I’m sure there are “natural-born” women who are unaware of the more subtle effects of gender expectations and discriminations, the mtf seem to miss it all. What’s the point of including them, when they don’t get the point of exclusion in the first place?

    From the link Catherine Martell posted:

    You become a woman by being treated as one of the tribe. Nothing else is essential.

    If gender constructs didn’t exist, then they wouldn’t have need to hack off body parts or wear gender uniforms. But instead of deconstructing the substance of patriarchy, they construct superficial solutions.

    Sorry, Twisty. Support of the oppressed shouldn’t be conditional, but neither should it be free of critical analysis. There’s a fine line in there somewhere.

    They are very fine people, and I wish them peace and all good things.

  210. Liss

    Gah.

    I’d argue that the nature(sex)/culture(gender) distinction is itself an artificial creation, subject to perpetual redefinition. I realise that isn’t the point of view of most commenters here, though I believe Twisty wrote something similar at 6.27pm.

    Nonetheless, I don’t think you have to agree with me on that to see comments such as

    some born male, formerly known as “men”, want to get in on women’s liberation, aka feminism, by calling themselves “women.”

    as incredibly insulting and reductive to the motives of transpeople. Sufficiently insulting and reductive to qualify as ‘bigoted anti-trans crap’, in fact. How on earth can you object to rude generalisations about class:woman and think that the same rhetorical strategy applied to another group of people is reasonable?

  211. Mireille

    “if the doctor said, when you were born, “it’s a boy,” then you did not come into the world, as females have, expecting to, for example, experience FGM, expecting to be murdered because you refused the male partner your community was forcing on you, expecting to be sold into marriage at the age of 13 to someone 50 or 60, expected to prostitute yourself, whether by selling yourself to one man or hundreds of men…”

    Ok, true enough. I was never forced to marry anyone. However, IU doubt you ever were either. In fact, I would guess very few American women ever had to worry about being sold into marriage. So are non-American women more feminist because they face harsher oppression? Should women who have faced those things exclude you because you didn’t? I am not trying to discount the all too real issues that women face that I never did. But just because I was not directly subjected to them does not mean I can’t fight them.

    I know that this site focuses on blaming the patriarchy and the goal is smashing that oppression. Trans issues are not the point of this site, and honestly, I avoid trans issues personally. (It’s complicated…) But I think the point is still to oppose oppression, and not redirect it.

    I read about the Catherine Crouch issue at Pandagon. I didn’t personally understand the uproar. The film was obviously not aimed at trans issues and I think it’s sort of selfish and ridiculous for someone to latch onto something that was obviously making a point for women and lesbians and turn it into a trans issue. It wasn’t right.

    Anyway…

  212. Liss

    Sorry for serial posting – just realised I forgot to say thank you to curiousgyrl for her posts.

  213. curiousgyrl

    liss, I’m actually with you on that nature:culture thing, but thought better of getting into it.

    mAndrea: I know what you mean! I hate it when rape victims just dont respond correctly to their rape! stupid bitches.

  214. delphyne

    “To restate: is my position that some transgendered people understand sex and gender in the reactionary, binary way that you describe. Many, including the folks who’ve commented here, don’t. I dont think that transgenderism as a practice is always predicated on bianary reactionary understandings of gender.

    In addition, many women (including some here) have a reactionary bianary understanding of sex and gender. Some women don’t share that understanding

    The fact that some women have crappy analysis of gender is not a reason to deny their existence. Similarly, that some trans people have crappy politics is also not a reason to ask them not to exist.”

    I think you are still mixing up sex and gender. I don’t know if it’s because you don’t understand the difference or whether it’s just becasue it suits your arguments at various points to do so.

    MTF trans are demanding to be treated as women and called women. Correct me if I’m wrong about this. They are expecting to join the sex they weren’t born into and can’t become. This isn’t about gender it’s about sex. That’s why they undertake so-called sex change surgery – http://www.srsmiami.com/ (look at the lovely graphic they’ve got going on there).

    If it were about gender, MTF trans would actually stay M and simply take on the accoutrements of feminity that they feel suit them. That would indeed undermine gender as it would highlight it very strongly for the social construction that it is.

  215. delphyne

    “liss, I’m actually with you on that nature:culture thing, but thought better of getting into it.”

    Postmodernism has got a lot to answer for.

  216. Heart

    A century ago, 55-60 was considered ‘elderly.” Now, due to improved health care and longer life expectancies, it no longer is.

    When women’s status in the world has similarly improved, I think it might make sense to think about broadening the class. I don’t think that day has come. Do you?

    30 years ago, “autism” was synonymous with extremely limited verbal abilities, cognitive deficits (with the exceptions of savant abilities), and nearly no ability to interact or demonstrate affection. Now the class has expanded to include a broader spectrum of social/interactive/sensory/linguistic deficits and differences.

    And though I am neurotypical, I can spot a person with an autistic spectrum disorder a mile off–in other words, broadening the category hasn’t lessened my ability to distinguish ASD from nerotypical.

    V., the point is not to “distinguish” women from men on the basis of how people look or present. The point is the OPPOSITE of that. There are lots of females that are read as male all of the time, and that is just FINE. There is no reason to be concerned about that, from the standpoint of politics. It is of no concern how someone is or is not “read”. Again, the issues are opposite of that.

    What is of concern is so redefining the category “woman” that subordinated people (females) do not have words with which to mount a challenge to those specifically subordinating them *because* they are females (males.)

    So the argument that broading a class means eliminating categories doesn’t hold water for me.

    There’s no problem with broadening a class if the class is no longer being subordinated. In fact, you’ve got the cart before the horse there. As subordination lessens and finally ends, the class will unavoidably broaden and ultimately there will be no class at all. In other words, if a male, a female, can live, do, be whatever, present, however, if there is no subordination on the basis of sex, then there will be no more gender binary– no “woman”, no “man.” But this isn’t a revolution that is going to happen by fiat, by people broadening the definition while gender subordination continues to exist. That would be like, say, 100 years ago, moving the marker for “elderly” from 55-80, even though, in fact, lots of people got sick and died at 55. It would obscure the realities of being 55.

    What is missing in your analysis of the state of women is,I think, the fact females are STILL SUBORDINATED to males, right now, this moment. We haven’t made all that much progress, especially on a global scale.

    Heart

  217. delphyne

    I don’t see why the categories of men and women won’t exist after the revolution. Female and male already exist in animals without any social constructions imposed upon them. Whilst reproduction in its present form exists, sex will exist.

  218. Heart

    Mireille, the issue (for the purposes of this discussion anyway) is not who is “more oppressed” than whom so far as females worldwide. The issue is that all of those oppressions I named in the comment you quoted are oppressions female people suffer at the hands of male people/institutions/laws. Males do not suffer any of those oppressions at the hands of females. It’s this reality that gets obscured when people start moving the markers around in their heads, as though that solves the problem of sexist oppression.

    Heart

  219. Mireille

    Delphyne, you keep taking individual examples and broadening them to a whole group of people. I’ve never see the srsmiami site before. And on the site itself it refers to the surgery as “gender reassignment surgery”. Just a semantic argument, but thought I’d put it out there.

    And as far as the surgery itself… Why did I get it? It wasn’t to be more feminine. It wasn’t a whim or some sort of desire for deviant sexual experiences. The surgery did not change who I essentially am. But I did it because it was the right thing for me to do. I had a growth that I was not comfortable with. You assume that the only reason to have the surgery is to become a woman… Whereas personally, I feel, and I only speak of my own personal experience and nobody else’s, it was akin to having a non-cancerous tumor removed, or a superfluous nipple or an extra finger. If there is any negative attribute to connect to it, it would be personal vanity, not oppression or co-opting.

  220. Heart

    delphyne, I think the categories “female” and “male” will exist post-revolution, but not the categories “man” and “woman,” which I believe are socially constructed categories, “man” equalling dominant, “woman” equalling subordinate.

    Heart

  221. curiousgyrl

    its actually not postmodernism but 70s feminist anthropology that put the squash on the patriarchal nature:culture distinction. But its really not that relevant.

    There is physical reality, sexual reproduction exists, people have chromosomes, hormones and genitals. I’m not a postmoderninst, its just that the world is complex. These things interact in different ways, and noe of them explain why women are oppressed by men in the ways that we are.

    That said, think sex/gender is a fine model for alot things. I wil use it the way you’ve described (sex=physical reality, gender==social reality) from here on out. Your position is that MTF’s are always and forever ‘sexed’ male, regardless of surgery hormones etc–if thats true, they have changed gender, not sex in your analysis. My question is, who cares if they are always and forever ‘sexed’ male? What relevance does that have?

    In reality, of course, some people get surgery and some don’t. Some people udnerstand themselves as transsexual, some people see themselves as transgendered. I of course have positions on which of these are the ‘best’ understandings that are compatible with feminism, but consideration of these is not my task at the moment.

  222. Virago

    B Dagger Lee, Your comment made my tiny, little, bitter-as-black-coffee heart flutter a bit. Thought it might be a cardiac infarction–but, no, it was pure B Dagger Lee.

    I see above that Heart has called me “transgendered-person-centered” (as opposed, apparently, to “female-centered”). Good one. Kind of reminds me of back in the day when whites fighting for civil rights were called “n***** lovers.”

    And yet, I am still trans-friendly. Go figure.

  223. curiousgyrl

    Heart: a lot of the experiences you describe are also experienced by transwomen, transmen, and male children at the hands of men. nothing about trans suggests that women are the oppressive class.

    For example:
    expecting to be sold … at the age of 13 to someone 50 or 60, expected to prostitute yourself, whether by selling yourself to one man or hundreds of men, expecting to see visual representations of you in media which amount to hate speech, expecting to spend all of your life having to fear rape at the hands of males, knowing if you are raped, you won’t be believed, taught to fear male deities and view yourself as dirty, expecting to be paid half or three-fourths as much as men..

    IBTP and want it to stop.

  224. V.

    Heart, I am totally in agreement with you insofar as the the oppression and the subordination of woment worldwide. I agree with you about the state of the revolution.

    But I suppose I see most MTF trans folk as wanting to ‘trade down,’–that is move from a priviledged status (male) to being a member of an oppressed class.

    I figure anyone who is willing to do that is scoring points with me.

    If you can show me ( other than the few situations you cited earlier) how the very small number of mtf transwomen are endangering feminism, you’ll have a more persuasive argument. At least with me.

  225. delphyne

    “Your position is that MTF’s are always and forever ’sexed’ male, regardless of surgery hormones etc–if thats true, they have changed gender, not sex in your analysis.”

    How could I think that someone could change gender when I don’t believe gender actually exists? SRS and hormones have effects on someone’s body, they don’t change what that body actually is. If someone gave a bull surgery and fed it some hormones would you believe it had beome a cow? And if not why do you believe it about human beings?

    “My question is, who cares if they are always and forever ’sexed’ male? What relevance does that have?”

    Well the fact that men have been oppressing women for millenia now might have something to do with it. Radical feminism and all that.

    “In reality, of course, some people get surgery and some don’t. Some people udnerstand themselves as transsexual, some people see themselves as transgendered. I of course have positions on which of these are the ‘best’ understandings that are compatible with feminism, but consideration of these is not my task at the moment.”

    Which completely avoids my point regarding men deciding that because they feel that they are women that they therefore must be and demanding that the world ought to agree with them.

    I’d better leave it there as I’ve probably said more than enough. It’s quite clear that there can be no agreement as we don’t even seem to be using fundamental terms in the same way.

  226. curiousgyrl

    I’m going to get a life in a minute I swear, but one analogy:

    I think the gay marriage movment reinforces messed up, antifeminist institutions of marriage and monogamy. But I dont think that means that all lesbians and gays should get the hell out of feminism or constitute an attack on feminism.

  227. curiousgyrl

    yeah, we dont seem to be using terms in the same way. Socially constructed things like gender arent non-existant things in my book. The fact that i’m stuck as a woman is social construct and central to myh lived experience.

    I love the cattle analogy. that always says feminist to me! I can assure you, though, that if a bull tells me he is really a cow, I will take a moment to listen to what he has to say!

  228. Mireille

    Heart,

    My point wasn’t to compare the egregiousness of the oppression different groups face. The point was, just because an individual does not face a particular form of oppression doesn’t mean that that individual cannot recognize it as such and work against it. I may not be able to understand what it is like to face a particular issue, but I can empathize, and I can do what is in my power to do to fight it.

    I am not trying to insert myself into a group that does not want me. I consider myself feminist, and there are feminists that will embrace me and there are feminists that will exclude me. I’ll do what I can with those that want me to help. For those who don’t, I’m sorry they don’t think I can help them, but I won’t out of spite do anything to hurt their cause. I will still help where I can whether they want to recognize it or not.

    I don’t often give my opinions in this forum, particularly when I know I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I read, I learn, I hope to become a better human being. And with this thread in particular I feel my contributions are valid and on point. I have given up on trying to change anyone’s mind, but there are transsexual women out there that are not about bringing attention on themselves and trying to assert they have experienced the same things as cisgendered women.

    Personally, I don’t think much about trans issues except when they intersect with my life, and that doesn’t really happen much any more. But I do try to keep involved in feminist issues. I am still learning; I will always be learning. But why do my opinions have to be ignored or disregarded? I have not had the same life experience as other women, but women have had different experiences from other women, too.

  229. V.

    According to Delphyne, we are “interrogating the text from the wrong perspective.”

    Well, Delphyne, I daresay we understand your terms well enough. I would say that most of us disagree with your premise that sex is binary, while others of us don’t see that your argument logically proceed from your use of your terms.

  230. V.

    I should state that the quote in my jprevious post is not Delphyn’s abut stems from a rather well-known (in some circles) internet argument.

  231. Heart

    V. If you can show me ( other than the few situations you cited earlier) how the very small number of mtf transwomen are endangering feminism

    V, I can’t do that, because I don’t believe the very small number of mtf transwomen ARE endangering feminism.

    I believe it is the gigantic, rich, overwhelmingly white male heterosupremacist institutions of medicine, psychology, pharmacology, academia, law, media, entertainment, and fundamentalist religion which are responsible for the creation of the theories and mechanisms by way of which men view theoretically “trading down” via various presentations/surgeries/body modifications as a legitimate and rational response to the suffocations of an oppressive gender binary, and by way of which women see theoretically “trading up” surgically as a legitimate and rational response to the suffocations of that same oppressive binary, as endangering — to women, to men, to males, to females, to feminism. Beyond that, the trading down and trading up don’t “work.” All of this “trading up and down” just creates a new category of human beings to be oppressed in ever new and improved ways by the system which provided the mechanisms by way of which the category was created in the first place, because it’s all about subordination. The creation of the category “man” is about dominance. The creation of the category “woman” is about subordination. The creation of the category “transgender” is also about subordination– again, to men.

    Transgendered persons are not my enemy. They’re doing the best they can, just like we all are. Male heterosupremacy and its institutions as I’ve listed them, which prescribe life-threatening, life-changing, obscenely-exorbitantly-priced surgeries, drugs, and body modifications as an answer to the discomforts and oppressions of the gender binary: these are my enemy.

    As to males/boys being oppressed in some of the ways I listed in which females are oppressed, this is true, but it isn’t relevant. The oppressors are not females whether the oppressed are females (which they overwhelmingly are) or males. The oppressors are males and their institutions.

    Heart

  232. Alaina

    “If gender constructs didn’t exist, then they wouldn’t have need to hack off body parts or wear gender uniforms. But instead of deconstructing the substance of patriarchy, they construct superficial solutions.”

    Interesting. I think that this raises the possibility that identity has at least some biological component. I realize it might shape up to be an inconvenient truth (sorry), but I think it’s probably better to deal with evidence than to dismiss it because it doesn’t fit our current model.

    For the record, I am very far from a biological essentialist, but any hypothesis we have about the origin of gender has to explain all of the data.

  233. Heart

    V, I can’t do that, because I don’t believe the very small number of mtf transwomen ARE endangering feminism.

    I will say this, though: feminism, particularly radical feminism, is the target of ALL of the groups I’ve listed in my post above, AND of visible, vocal, MTF transwomen as well. We are easy to target. We are easy to attack. Much easier than all of those powerful institutions I’ve listed, much easier than male heterosupremacy itself. In fact, it’s male heterosupremacy, patriarchy, which is to be blamed for the strife between radical feminists and transgendered anti-radfems and their allies.

    Heart

  234. Mireille

    A thought suddenly came to me. If I can’t help feminists because I was born male (per the birth certificate, at least), then I assume that cisgendered males cannot either. And if that’s the case, you will never overcome patriarchy. The only solution is segregation of the sexes. I mean, if men cannot recognize their oppression for what it is, it will never end. If you don’t want my help, it’s your right to refuse it, but then all you can do is preach to the converted and you will never exert any influence outside of your inner circle. If you want to ever effect any sort of meaningful change, you will have to accept the base of support for your cause is going to have to expand.

  235. Yeny

    Virago – I see above that Heart has called me “transgendered-person-centered” (as opposed, apparently, to “female-centered”). Good one. Kind of reminds me of back in the day when whites fighting for civil rights were called “n***** lovers.”

    It’s not anything like that, I am tired of feminists bringing racism into a discussion that does not compare nor have anything to do with it. How you can put them on the same level is beyond me.

  236. WishfulThinking

    To me, the problem isn’t that transwomen or transmen endanger feminism through their individual choices to transition–the problem is more that the idelogy around transgender politics suggests that the experience of being supremely unhappy in one’s gender role is the result of a biological mismatch (between one’s bio sex and one’s “true” gender). The theory is that nontransgender people feel a match between their sex and our gender and have no problems arising from gender issues. It seems to me instead that LOTS of people are unhappy in their gender roles, but many choose another way, such as feminist work to change narrow prescriptions about what one should or should not do based on one’s sex. And many just feel quietly unhappy and live their lives.

    In an analogy, lots of women feel unhappy with their breast size and go so far as to get surgery to augment their breasts, but does that mean they are really large-breasted women in a small-breasted body? Of course, in this instance we can clearly see how the larger socio-cultural milieu shapes an individual’s desire to alter her own body. Yet the very women getting breast implants would not describe their problem as one of society (men) rewarding large breasts and devaluing small- or no-breasted women. They tend to say things like they are “happier” that way, it feels more “natural,” that is the “real me.”

    So to my mind, the problem is with the ideas that surround transgender expression–those ideas siphon off real dissatisfaction with gender roles, explaining it as a disjuncture between bio-sex and gender, rather than fomenting consciousness-raising about the very real problems women and men have living within the gender roles we are all handed. Instead of fomenting collective action, transitioning, to varying extents, is seen as the solution.

  237. Mireille

    And actually, since I’m white, I guess I can’t fight racism. I can’t possibly understand what minorities face, so I must be personally oppressing them. I hope none of you white radfems ever try to fight racism, because you couldn’t possibly understand so any contribution you attempt to make is worthless and only reinforcing racist oppression.

    Yes, some white people are racists. Racism exists. But not all whites are racists and not all racists are white.

    Yes, some males are oppressors. Patriarchy exists. But not all males are anti-feminist and not all anti-feminists are male.

    Why turn away allies just because they aren’t just like you?

  238. Layla

    Mireille, feminism doesn’t become a waste of time if only women are involved. Men and the transgendered can help feminism. If feminism is right, it’s right no matter who doesn’t want your help.

  239. curiousgyrl

    heart, you finally made some sense! I agree with everthying in your second to last post.

    Unfortuantely, seperatism doesnt work either.

    So my question to you–actually Mireille’s– is now what? how can “this not be relevant?” We all share the same oppressor and face related oppressions. Why would we not want everybody in one big union? How else could we possibly win?

  240. V.

    Heart, I wasn’t making the “men are oppressed too!” argument.

    Again, although I take your political point, I can’t agree with colluding in/piling more rejection on transgender folk.

    And for those who are truly suffering the extreme discomfort of the patriarchy, barring the overthrow of the patriarchy, transitioning to another sex may be their best interim option.

    And really, until we are much further along in our ability to help each other withstand the predations of the patriarchy, I can’t argue with the existence of the transgender response.

    How can I argue with the relief of suffering? What else do we have to offer?

    Perhaps it’s a theory versus practice approach.

  241. Heart

    Who is turning away allies? Since when is it necessary to be part of an oppressed group, or to “identify” as a member of an oppressed group in order to act as an ally to the members of that group?

    Males can be, and ought to be, allies to females, in every possible and conceivable way. It is in their best interests to be our allies, because the truth is, patriarchy really does hurt males, too. The sooner it ends, the better for all of us. But as to who our allies actually are, as to the way males can serve as our allies, that’s our call. There, we need to drive.

    Heart

  242. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    “The definition of woman is under attack.”

    (HPS raises hand)

    I’m going to border on invoking another True Scotsman Fallacy, but I’m baffled as to why ANY feminist would have a problem with this.

    OK, now that I’ve thought about it for a minute: Martyrs DO cling to their oppressed minority status as though it were some kind of badge of honor, so perhaps this is the part of this argument that really bothers me. I just don’t get it.

    Let me throw something else into the pot: The racial category of “white” has changed several times during the last few centuries. For instance, Italians weren’t “white” until just a few decades ago. We’ve moved the markers with race, so why not with the categories “women” and “men?”

    Another thing that baffles me: Our geekiest blamers (luv ya, mwah) have already informed the Blaming community that, genetically speaking, we can’t define “sex” any better than we can define “gender.” We’ve got XX and XY and XXY and YYX and XYZ and CBS and – - OK I made those last few up because I’m not a science geek, but you get my point. Or perhaps the anti-trans camp DOESN’T get the point? Or the camp gets it but prefers to put their fingers in their ears going LALALALALA?

    We define “sex” by the presence or absence of a penis at birth. We do a visual, same as we do with race. It all strikes me as another dick obsession: Humanity gets to shit on anyone who wasn’t born with the Magic Dick of Oppression, you can’t give up your Magic Dick, and the Dickless can do nothing about their status but wallow in their oppression, consoling themselves that at least the oppressed are – I dunno – morally superior nicer or something. Why? Because it’s all about the Dick!

    Shit, I come to IBTP to get away from that mess.

  243. Mireille

    But how am I, as transsexual, hurting the cause? Why does my wanting you to see me as, if not female, at least not male, or just accept me as I see myself, such anathema? Why does my support become less valuable? Why do genetic arguments have to come up? I am not trying to assert gender binaries or trying to keep men and women in traditional roles.

    Yes, it seems contradictory that I would fight against gender distinctions when I had gender reassignment surgery. I can’t fully explain that myself. But it was not a political statement, it was a personal choice. It has helped me in my life… Not economically, of course, but in much more important ways. I don’t know why I keep arguing… I know I’m wasting my time and just contributing to the inevitable onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. I should just be happy that I believe the majority of comments here tend towards inclusion rather than exclusion. But I’ll probably post again anyway.

  244. V.

    Mireille, I believe that Delphyne stated that she is a seperatist.

    She is not inconsistent in that regard.

  245. V.

    Oh, forgive my spelling, Twisty! I am so hot under the collar that I keep forgetting to spellcheck.

    I heartily apologize.

  246. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Damn: I’m stuck in moderation. FWIW I threw in my 5 cents, you’ll find it upthread later if you’re interested.

  247. Jezebella

    Alaina, you said:

    “You know, frankly, I’m a little tired of the gender-privileged holding forth on the issue of what constitutes a valid, ethical and responsible gender (specifically, trans) experience. While I know of a few non-trans people who get it, they are few and far between, and most aren’t qualified to make any judgements. To me this is very much like straight people talking about what it’s like to be queer: until you’ve experienced it, you can’t understand it.”

    This is EXACTLY the point I would like to make to Mireille, who seems to believe that she is no different than a woman who was raised female, now that she has transitioned. But, no matter how much she may hate to admit it, she has not experienced a lifetime of female-ness under patriarchy and therefore cannot Get It. Yes, the transgendered experience another kind of oppression, but for most M-t-F folk, they probably “passed” as male for many years until their transition, and therefore were automatically granted male privilege, whether they asked for it or not. (just as I am granted white privilege even though I certainly don’t ask for it, for example).

    I am not hating on you, Mireille, but I would like to suggest that you are a novice blamer and might want to brush up on feminism now that you have joined the category “woman,” and are subject to its caprices. You may wish to start by acknowledging the fact that you were indeed granted male privilege at any time in your life that you presented as male. It’ll be a hard habit to break.

  248. Heart

    V., I am feeling frustrated because it seems to me you are arguing with positions I have not taken. I have said at least twice in this thread that I don’t fault transgender persons for doing whatever they have to do to be okay in this male heterosupremacist world. I am not blaming transgender persons, in other words, for availing themselves of the remedies patriarchy provides for their discomforts, any more than I blame women for doing the same thing in a million ways.

    I am *blaming the patriarchy*.

    If so far as “colluding in/piling on” rejection, you are saying that lesbians don’t have a right to our own communities and to defining the boundaries of our communities, as with Michfest — which is, again, lesbian-run-and-driven community, not just a festival — or that females, in general, have no right to female-only space from time to time, then I will have to disagree with you that this constitutes any sort of “rejection” of anyone. So long as females remain oppressed and marginalized, we will benefit from having our own spaces, as with all oppressed and marginalized groups. Our allies will recognize this and support us in it.

    Heart

  249. curiousgyrl

    V–this is v. good:

    Again, although I take your political point, I can’t agree with colluding in/piling more rejection on transgender folk.

    And for those who are truly suffering the extreme discomfort of the patriarchy, barring the overthrow of the patriarchy, transitioning to another sex may be their best interim option.

    And really, until we are much further along in our ability to help each other withstand the predations of the patriarchy, I can’t argue with the existence of the transgender response.

    How can I argue with the relief of suffering? What else do we have to offer?

    Perhaps it’s a theory versus practice approach.

    Heart: transwomen exist. They are oppressed. The question is not whether they should exist but since they do, how can they relate to feminism and how feminists should relate to them.

  250. R. Mildred

    I believe it is the gigantic, rich, overwhelmingly white male heterosupremacist institutions of medicine, psychology, pharmacology, academia, law, media, entertainment, and fundamentalist religion which are responsible for the creation of the theories and mechanisms by way of which men view theoretically “trading down” via various presentations/surgeries/body modifications as a legitimate and rational response to the suffocations of an oppressive gender binary

    Aren’t you rather adding a whole load of non-sensical and theoretically dubious baggage to transgenderism, which you are then conflating with transexuality?

    Is this gonna turn out to be one of those things where there’s been all these blogwars that end with both sides realising that they weren’t quite speaking the same language on an issue?

  251. V.

    Heart, if I am misinterpreting your responses it is not intentional or passive-agressively meant.

    I appreciate that it is frustrating to feel/be misunderstood.

    And I deeply appreciate your work on behalf of feminism.

    There are definitely parts of your argument I do disagree with.

    Out of respect for you and your longevity and dedication to women and feminism, I’ll take a time-out from commenting to review the last series of posts, and see if I can pinpointmore clearly where I think we diverge, and to see if I am misinterpeting some of your positions.

  252. Mireille

    I fully recognize that I was raised male. I fully realize that I did not live your experiences. I don’t claim to understand it all. And I know I’m late to the revolution. It’s why I don’t often comment, but mostly just read and learn and grow. And most all the comments here have not been anti-trans crap, and I haven’t taken them as such. I guess maybe it’s a matter that much of my life has dealt with feeling excluded and it’s hard to deal with the fact that the exclusion will always be there. And I realize that most everyone feels the same way about being excluded, I’m not special. I suppose I’m just worse at dealing with it.

  253. Heart

    Curiousgyrl, I see no reason why transwomen cannot be profeminist and allies to females, just as females can be allies to transwomen. Why can’t they be? We be?

    Honestly, it becomes sort of absurd. What if someone insisted that in order to be an ally, they had a right to, say, call themselves disabled, even if they were not disabled? Or if someone insisted that in order to be an ally to the poor, they had a right to call themselves poor, even if they were rich? And along those same lines, what if these same people insisted that in order to be an ally, they had a right to be present wherever the disabled or poor were gathering, and if the disabled or poor objected, the response was, “Well, then, how can I be your ally?”

    In some groups, if you attempted to identify as a member when you weren’t one, you’d be metaphorically folded, spindled and mutilated in a heartbeat, let alone inserting yourself into gatherings to which you were not invited.

    Heart

  254. Raven

    Mireille = Liberal Dewd. Every one of his comments identify him more clearly. If I had the energy to read all that nonsense, I’m sure I could have BINGO by now. He’s now into the dismissive “good luck with that!” portion of his long-winded boy tantrum. But rather than see this behavior as the one we see all the time on IBTP, all he had to do was say he was trans and he’s being taken seriously instead of being seen for what he is. Substitute Robert for his name and look! Liberal Dewd here to school us ignorant wimmins – this from the wisdom he has gained from minutes of deep thought. This is precisely why feminists like me are angry about transpeople like him. Rather than being off fighting the patriarchy where it actually lives and works, he’s here refuting and dismissing women’s ideas. Imagine that.

  255. mAndrea

    Delphyne, that was helpful. Thank you.

    But you still ended up saying TG folks are not happy with their biological sex, so they change it.

    I’m saying that there is no reason to be unhappy with one’s biological sex, unless society has placed restrictions on that particular sex. It is the restrictions and expectations which make the person unhappy.

    Even a 3 year old is aware of gender, so relying on that as proof is circular logic.

    “If gender constructs didn’t exist, then they wouldn’t have need to hack off body parts or wear gender uniforms. But instead of deconstructing the substance of patriarchy, they construct superficial solutions.”

    In some ways, I think they exhibit the worst traits of blind male entitlement. They want to be more “feminine” – whatever that means. So instead of being more expressive, more caring, more empathetic, they wear frilly dresses.

    They miss the point completely. By saying that they can only express themselves by external change, they fail to realize that inside, they are the same fucking person.

    Do they mean, instead, for society to treat them as if they are more compassionate, more caring – rather than as a predatory, competitive man?

    curiousgyrl: comparing someone’s immediate reaction to a sudden trauma is a tad different that someone’s measured contemplation over a long period.

  256. curiousgyrl

    am not hating on you, Mireille, but I would like to suggest that you are a novice blamer and might want to brush up on feminism now that you have joined the category “woman,” and are subject to its caprices. You may wish to start by acknowledging the fact that you were indeed granted male privilege at any time in your life that you presented as male. It’ll be a hard habit to break.

    Uh, mireille aknowledged this. I’d like to suggest that you are a novice reader and that you should brush up on your reading comprehension.

    quoting Mireille from uptrhead:

    The point was, just because an individual does not face a particular form of oppression doesn’t mean that that individual cannot recognize it as such and work against it. I may not be able to understand what it is like to face a particular issue, but I can empathize, and I can do what is in my power to do to fight it.

  257. Mireille

    Wow Raven. Let out the hate. Congratulations, I give up.

  258. Raven

    Heart – thank you for all your patience, clear thinking, beautifully-written responses, and hard work on this thread.

  259. Charles G. Koch

    The simplest explanation for the existence of transgender people is that gender IS NOT a social construction.

    If gender were a conspiracy whereby all people with testes are brainwashed to have one set of tendencies, and all people with ovaries are brainwashed to have another set of tendencies, then how could a person ever adopt tendencies that where the exact opposite of his or her brainwashing?

    On the other hand, if gender differences occur in the brain as well as in the pants, then it is easy to imagine that a mismatch could occur biologically between the two.

    Radical feminists have to believe that trans people choose their gender for the same reason that fundamentalists have to believe that homosexuals choose their orientation: neither wants to believe that something they disapprove of could be a part of human nature.

  260. curiousgyrl

    Raven:

    if that isn’t transhating crap, I kind of dont know what is.

    Heart:
    I guess i’m not that interested in the women-born-women only space question, because I’ts not central to my definition of feminism and it seems kind of low on the list of oppressions faced by trans people. I think exclusion is bad politics, but its not the main thing that got me so exercised. It took me most of the thread to realize that this seems to be the main issue for lots of radfems.

    I think that if we are goign to build a feminist movement in which transwomen and women-born-women are allies, feminists can run around telling people they are “really” men or “really” women. Thats what I would mostly like to see stop. Whatever you think of transpolitics, its polite to address people as they’ve asked to be addressed. It seems some folks (not you as far as I can tell) cannot manage that simple thing.

    upthread I inadvertently did the same thing to Mars Iguana. I apolgized, fixed it and moved on. I think feminists would benefit from that strategy w/r/t to transpeople.

  261. Alaina

    Hey, Jezebella,

    Thanks for your comment! When I talked about having to experience it to get it, you said:

    “This is EXACTLY the point I would like to make to Mireille, who seems to believe that she is no different than a woman who was raised female, now that she has transitioned. But, no matter how much she may hate to admit it, she has not experienced a lifetime of female-ness under patriarchy and therefore cannot Get It.”

    I don’t think that any trans person would make the claim that they are “no different”.

    Also, I don’t see any evidence that it requires a lifetime of femaleness to “get it”, especially given that “it” is elusive and contextually different. I’m white, lesbian, Anglophone, educated, relatively affluent, and an urbanite in the socially and economically leftist city of Toronto. My experienced “it” is very different than the experience of a refugee straight woman from Rwanda who piled her kids on a boat and ran away from an abusive husband, and I’ll never know what that’s like, but I know some of the same things she’s experienced because we’re both women.

    Lots of women go through life without recognizing that they are being shat upon by the system, and we all had that moment where we were, like, “holy geez, this is MESSED UP”. Sometimes that moment comes at age 12; sometimes it comes at age 50. Does the age 12 moment become less valid because it is 38 years less than the age 50 moment? Or is the age 50 moment the less valid one, because that woman spent a lifetime justifying and supporting the patriarchy, thereby enabling the oppression of many, many other women?

  262. Layla

    Charles G. Koch, that would make sense if all non trans men actually had all the same tendencies. There have been so many different ideas of what constitutes the masculine and feminine from the societies of different times and places, just what exactly is genetic? Only those tendencies that your own culture presently promotes? Why then did all the other people throughout time end up displaying different tendencies?

  263. curiousgyrl

    Charles– i know this might be hard to grasp, but the world is not always simple! thanks for trying to set us straight, though really

  264. Raven

    Yes, that too is the liberal dewd response: “I give up” (instead of: I guess I’ll go fight the patriarchy among men now). It’s another liberal dewd tactic to claim that I hate you. Nope, I don’t hate you. Don’t even know you. Know what I hate? Being talked down to by men. That’s why I’m here, so I don’t have to experience that on a minute to minute basis.

    When a group of people are telling you of their experiences in an advanced forum of a topic they know much more about, and you can’t get your head around it, the thoughtful and honest (and admittedly difficult) response is to wonder whether you have any gaps in knowledge and then go about fixing that. It’s not our problem that you don’t get it.

    “Advanced” for me means that I’ve read feminist literature covering every side of this issue. I’ve read Leslie Feinberg, been to a half-dozen of her speeches (which are brilliantly constructed, by the way) and those of other trans activists. I’ve had long discussions with transpeople and intersex people. I’ve been doing this for years and years; my position on this isn’t a knee-jerk response.

    No one gets to call me a hater because the analysis is going over your head. That’s your problem.

  265. PhysioProf

    “I may not be able to understand what it is like to face a particular issue, but I can empathize, and I can do what is in my power to do to fight it.”

    I think what some posters are trying to say is that insistence on redefining oneself as part of a particular oppressed class of people can, in and of itself, constitute lack of empathy for the members of that class.

  266. M

    As several people have noted, the transgender argument is always an interesting one because it puts a segment of the radical feminist population in the position of decrying transgenderism as an affirmation of gender qua social construct while simultaneously invoking gender essentialism to exclude transgender people from the category of women. Far be it from me to challenge anyone’s consistency in holding to both positions simultaneously – one contains multitudes, after all – but what is the feminist rationale behind the latter statement? If one doesn’t deconstruct power relationships by shifting the patriarchically-mandated markers of binary gender around, what does one accomplish by preserving and policing them?

  267. Virago

    Yeny writes: [...] I am tired of feminists bringing racism into a discussion that does not compare nor have anything to do with it.

    As a radical woman of color feminist, race has to do with everydamnthing in my life. If we radical women of color feminists are screwing with the nice, neat, transphobe argument by comparing it to the anti-civil rights movement well, that’s just too damned bad.

    We’re here. We’re women of color and some of us are transgendered. Get used to it.

    Wait. That doesn’t really work as a rallying chant. I gotta think of something snappier.

    Mireille, don’t worry about the attempt to silence you because you are a “newbie.” That’s what they resort to when they got nothing else. (That, and name-calling.) Hang in there, my friend.

    And, jeez o pete, I’d answer some of Heart’s postings if she could, like, get them to 25,000 words or less.

    curiousgyrl, you rock.

  268. Mireille

    Raven, I can’t argue with you. What you wrote was meant to be hurtful and congratulations, you succeeded.

    Heart, I see what you’re saying. You aren’t turning away anyone. You’re not saying I can’t contribute, but I can only contribute as a man. I respect that and can’t say you’re wrong. It’s just personally disappointing. But that’s my issue, not yours and not relevant to feminism.

    I am not trying to be right. I’m not trying to tell anyone they’re wrong. I don’t claim that I have anything to teach anyone. I’m trying to learn and find a place for myself. If I came across as “liberal dewd,” I’m sorry. Like I’ve said before, I mostly just try to read and learn, but this thread touches on my experiences directly, so I thought I could add something valuable. I’m sorry if it wasn’t.

  269. Heart

    Curiousgyrl, I don’t think it will work to minimize the significance of woman-only space issue, for reasons along the lines of what PhysioProf just commented (which was imo really good). I agree with you that woman-only space ought to be low on the list of “oppressions” transwomen face. But the fact is, it isn’t. It is high enough on their list that in the one venue in which woman-only space is actually defended, an entire organization sprang up to dispute its validity and the right of females to have the space in the first place.

    In any movement, if you want to know what the issues actually are, and what is actually at stake, beyond all the rhetoric and posturing and so on, find the watersheds. Woman-only space is a watershed. It’s the issues that are raised, themselves, in any watershed scenario which are important and significant, not the actual arena or venue in which the issues are being negotiated.

    The issue of woman-only space is also important to radfems because how and whether women’s spaces are or are not respected tells us whether or not specific males or transpersons are, in fact, our allies. And it is very important for us to know who our allies are.

    Heart

  270. buggle

    I’m still confused about where these bigoted hateful comments are? IT seems like people have different thoughts and opinions, but I really didn’t see anyone saying anything “bad” about any trans issue. Can someone point it out, if I missed it?

    It does feel to me, on many blogs/feminist websites, that if you have ANY questions about transexuality, you are immediately labeled a troll or a trans-hater or whatever. I don’t get this. I’ve never seen a single feminist online say that people should NOT have surgeries, or should NOT be allowed to. Not at all. Only analysis of it.

    I thought Thalia had excellent points, and was being honest about her own experience, and yet she got jumped on by some posters. And called trans-phobic!? What? Why?

    Personally, I’m pretty ignorant about all of it. I just don’t get it. And that’s fine, I don’t have to get it, and I’d never tell anyone what they could or couldn’t do with their body. But, I just don’t get it. What does it mean to “not feel like a girl?” What does it mean to “feel like a woman?” It’s as if there is some essential experience or feeling that ALL girls or ALL boys have, and if you don’t have that experience, you are somehow “not feeling like a girl.” I just don’t get this. And when I express the not-getting-it, I’m called trans-phobic. Grr. I’m not afraid, I just don’t understand it. I still don’t get the “why.” I can understand not fitting in with other woman, or men. I can understand not wanting to conform to the social roles and refusing to be “ladylike” or “macho.” But why surgery? Why chemicals? Why does that make a person feel so much better-to be called a woman or a man? To have the “right” genitals. Why does that feel so much better? How does having different genitals make a person feel that they are the “right” sex?

  271. curiousgyrl

    Raven, your analysis isnt going over my head. And I reserve the right to think you are a hater. You’re being a hater.

    I dont know if you believe that transpeople face oppression, but lets assume that you do for the moment. Whether or not you think trans people are really women or men, you should at least recognize that transpeople have had experiences of oppression that you haven’t, and that you’ve had experiences a transperson hasn’t. You can talk to Leslie Feinberg all day long and that will still be true.

    A little consideration is in order. You’re being really nasty and condescending. At various times people didnt believe lesbianism was real or legitimate, but polite people who thougth that still didnt call people “friends” who’d been introduced as lovers, life-partners or wives. Its incredibly rude.

  272. curiousgyrl

    The exclusion thing is kind of funny though–how are we gonna keep the trannies out? Blood tests and medical exams at the door? That would be great. Probably a few people would find out that they are “really” men too.

  273. B. Dagger Lee

    I point out that within my lifetime, there were attempted purges of lesbians from the ranks of feminism–hello lavender menace!

    As for being raised in male privilege: I don’t pass as heterosexual now, because I’m a nine-foot tall B. Dagger, but as a wee B. Dagger, I was assumed to be heterosexual; I didn’t like it, and it marked me and negated me. I also didn’t avail myself of the privilege of passing as heterosexual. Most of the transgendered people I know were marked out as different as small children and beaten within an inch of their lives for it. I question how much privilege they were accorded.

    Back to Audre Lorde’s “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” The main master’s tool she is talking about in that essay — and what makes it a richer, more supple and more useful essay tool — is the non-recognition of difference.

    The hatred and non-recognition of difference (and valorization of purity) are the main master’s tools.

  274. curiousgyrl

    thats B. I bet you were a cute wee b.dagger.

  275. Rozasharn

    For light relief:

    There is a short story called “X: A Fabulous Child’s Story”, by Lois Gould, about a child raised as gender-undefined, and how that turned out. Sample line of advice to the parents: “X ought to be strong and sweet and active. Forget about dainty altogether.”

    You can read it online at http://www.trans-man.org/baby_x.html

  276. Mireille

    Buggle, if I had the answers to your questions, I’d… Well, I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t get it either, and I’m living it. You can read the books and hear the personal stories, and many of them go “I knew I was a girl from the age of two. I always wanted to play with dolls. I wore my mother’s makeup. I crossdressed. Now, after the surgery, I feel like me.” That’s not me. I was sort of behind the curve. I didn’t really understand the difference between boys and girls (and not the genital thing) until I was, I’m not even sure how old. I never felt like a girl, but then I never felt like a boy. I’m sure I had some stereotypically male behaviors, but I probably had some stereotypically female behaviors. I think most people that aren’t trying to put on a show of themselves or forcing themselves into a particular gender role are the same way. So why did I get the surgery? Why do I identify as female rather than male? I don’t know. It just makes me feel better about myself. I can’t help people understand it because I just don’t understand it myself, but it worked for me.

    I don’t believe that there were any posts I would call anti-trans until Raven’s, and that was just due to her insistence on referring to me as “he” and “him”. The posts that maybe some have considered anti-trans were more just about non-inclusion. Not anti-trans per se, but just saying, “fine, be who you are, but you are not us. We can respect you, and value your input, but you are not us.” Which I can’t argue. Some people feel that way and some people don’t. Obviously, I prefer the more inclusive arguments. But both points of view are valid and neither are wrong. Every person has the right to decide who they do and don’t identify with.

  277. curiousgyrl

    Heart, i didnt mean to minimize. I know that its important to you. I really just didn’t see that as central and it took me a while to figure out that that is where people are coming from. I know that a small number of trans activists agree with you that the Mich women’s festival is cenrral to the struggles of trans rights. that seems strange to me.

    Hnnestly, if I ran the world I would say ok transwomen, let the radfems and sepratists have their own space, you can be in my feminist group and hopefully we can work with those people on specific issues, assuming they stop calling you “he” first because that really blows. Also transmen, you’ve been pretty much ignored in this disucssion, but if you want to be in a group that doesnt thin you’re really a women you can join my organization too.

  278. Heart

    The exclusion thing is kind of funny though–how are we gonna keep the trannies out? Blood tests and medical exams at the door? That would be great. Probably a few people would find out that they are “really” men too.

    I think as females we are deserving of respect –from males/men/transgendered persons. The issue, for us, is not keeping males/men/transpersons “out.” The issue is insisting that we be respected female persons. So far, and for millennia, we have experienced not only ongoing disrespect in the form of ignoring what we ask for, but ongoing challenges to our right to ask for what we need and want in the first place.

    Heart

  279. curiousgyrl

    i know obviously, I was being tounge-in-cheek. sorry.

  280. buggle

    Thanks Mireille,
    That’s so interesting-that you don’t get it either! Makes me feel better :)

    I for one, really appreciated your comment about feeling excluded. I think this is a crucial point-that requiring each of us to subscribe to “male” or “female” means that a LOT Of us get left out in the cold-not being a good enough man, or a good enough woman. This is one trans issue that I can definitely get, at the gut level. It stinks to never fit it, to be excluded from all groups. To have to make your own way as an individual. It’s hard, and it hurts.

  281. Jezebella

    Physioprof, you said:

    “I think what some posters are trying to say is that insistence on redefining oneself as part of a particular oppressed class of people can, in and of itself, constitute lack of empathy for the members of that class.”

    BINGO.

    [Note the use of "can" in this case, not "does always."]

  282. Jezebella

    Curiousgyrl, you’ve been a bit nasty and condescending your own self.

    Pot, meet kettle.

  283. curiousgyrl

    “pot meet kettle”

    well its true. Trying not to, though.

    For instance, I didn’t tell Raven that I figured she was really a man and a right-wing conservative, becuase I think she said she was a women and a radical feminist. I figured that would be mean.

  284. eggbert

    I am a longtime lurker who rarely comments in the blog-o-sphere, so hello everyone. I would like to echo all of curiousgyrls’s great comments.

    Also: How many of us have not enjoyed some kind of privilege that might exclude us from movements we want to support or be a part of? If you used to be wealthy and then became poor, does that exclude you from considering yourself “poor” and working with other poor people towards social justice? Does that exclude you from identifying and hanging out with people of your current economic standing? I know that is not a terribly accurate comparison, but I do think it’s worth considering in light of all the exclusionary comments on here.

    I can’t think of a single reason that inviting more women into a “women’s space” is a bad thing. Shouldn’t radical feminists stand up for the rights of transpeople instead of adding to their exclusion and subjugation by slamming the door in their faces? One of the basic tenets of feminism (as I understand it) is discontinuing the system of domination and submission, which would (I hope) make a radical feminist think twice before deeming someone else not “woman enough” to seek refuge in a “women’s space”.

  285. Branjor

    ***redefining oneself as part of a particular oppressed class of people can, in and of itself, constitute lack of empathy for members of that class.***

    Worse than that, it seems downright IMPERIALISTIC and takes colonization of an oppressed people to a whole new level.

  286. ComradeComrade

    I liked what Catherine Martell wrote about femininity being drag. As I understand it, MTFs have to “live as a woman” for a while before they can get the operations. This doesn’t mean that they can just put on a T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops. They have to dress up to satisfy the Patriarchal Gender-Construct Fascists. Getting Laser hair removal isn’t enough. The process takes years, and the idea that they walk into a doctor’s office, get their wiener hacked off, and then start making demands of feminists is not really the case. That’s just transphobia. I have no idea how this process works with FTMs, but then they’re even more marginalized than MTFs. IBTP. Of course, I could be full of crap about this, and it wouldn’t be the first time.

    I also want to applaud Thalia. Especially for acknowledging that you have some pre- determined assumptions about how your sister should act, and that they drive you crazy. Internalized Patriarchy is a major problem in fighting it. Critical introspection is absolutely necessary.

  287. Layla

    I just got the chance to read Curiousgyrl’s response to me above. Thankyou for taking the time. I think it’s fascinating. This has just raised so many more questions for me.

  288. Twisty

    Mireille: “But not all whites are racists”

    This is not strictly true. All whites benefit from racism, which, if you’re not white, has the net effect of racism, whether it is intended or not.

  289. curiousgyrl

    Turns out the leatherfags are having the same debate:

    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/search/label/IML

    http://stivalineri.livejournal.com/14727.html

    Frameline is mentioned.

  290. curiousgyrl

    I’m in mod for saying f*g. I meant it nicelike.

  291. Mireille

    Twisty, I guess I knew that but I didn’t really know it. It’s something that this thread has shown me and that does not really come up in a trans-life. I may not ever oppress anyone, but the social benefits of being in the class of power (more or less) for much of my life did affect me in ways I probably don’t even realize. In trans circles, it’s so focused on reinforcing and supporting that we are what we think we are. It’s easy to expect everyone to feel the same way. It took a while for me to shift my point of view on things that Heart and others were saying. That some women feel that they need a space reserved strictly for those who have gone through an entire life of oppression, that is their right and it’s only right that I respect that. It was actually Raven’s post that shook me up a little. I think she was needlessly cruel, but that’s the reason it hit me so hard and it sure made me stop and think about how I was approaching things. So in a way, I guess I have to thank you, Raven. I’m a novice blamer, no doubt about it, I have a lot to learn. And I’m going to probably say stupid things sometimes, but hopefully the stupid things will get fewer and further between.

    I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to participate in the discussion. There are so many smart people here, I feel like my IQ has been boosted by osmosis, just basking in the aura of so many great comments. I’d thank individuals for their great posts, but I’m sure I’d forget someone and that would be terrible.

  292. Heart

    ComradeComrade: One of the basic tenets of feminism (as I understand it) is discontinuing the system of domination and submission, which would (I hope) make a radical feminist think twice before deeming someone else not “woman enough” to seek refuge in a “women’s space”.

    It might, if this were what, as radical feminists, we have any interest doing.

    But we don’t. I refer you back to this thread for a re-reading.

    Heart

  293. Heart

    One more thing. The reason radical feminists tend to get into it at times with transgendered persons and their allies, besides the reasons already mentioned in this thread, is, for us it’s about analysis and critique of the things for which patriarchy is to blame. We don’t blame the women who get sucked in to patriarchal bullshit (or we try not to), because we’ve been sucked into it, too, it’s unavoidable. We don’t blame transgendered persons for getting sucked in to patriarchal bullshit, because we’ve been sucked into it, too. We blame the patriarchy. We blame The Man, The System.

    Where things go sideways is where women begin to defend what they got sucked into as some sort of valid “choice” for women, as “transgressive,” or “empowerful” (tx. Twisty), or “subversive,” or “liberatory”, when in fact, it’s SSDD patriarchal bullshit they got sucked into. We don’t want to see women, iow, rah-rahing for patriarchal bullshit.

    In the same way, radfems take issue with transgendered persons defending what they got sucked into as empowerful, liberatory, transgressive, or subversive and as some sort of valid “choice”. It’s one thing to do whatever you are going to do. You (rhetorical “you”) should not be blamed for that. It’s another thing to rah rah the patriarchal b.s. you felt you needed to get into, because that aligns you solidly with patriarchy, instead of with those of us who are opposing patriarchy.

    Our challenging the rah-rah-ing is meant to get people to take a deeper and closer look at who really is to blame. Too often, though, patriarchal bullshit is what gets defended and we get blamed for calling it out.

    Heart

  294. PhysioProf

    “We blame the patriarchy. We blame The Man, The System.”

    Do you also blame each individual man, individually?

  295. curiousgyrl

    Heart, but I dont really seey anyone here saying that trans-ition is empowerful or even a “choice”. So I’m not sure why that is what you are arguing against.

  296. Shabnam

    I’ve often thought about the phenomenon of transexuality, and at until recently agreed with the perspective on the “Questioning Transgender” website. However recently, I have come up with a new conjecture – transexuality might have nothing to do with gender or sex. Sounds crazy? Please bear with me.
    /
    We all have our unique (unless a twin) genotypes (DNA, chromosomes), and phenotypes (structure of our bodies). Genotypes to a large extent dictate our phenotypes (but of course there are non-trivial effects caused by the environment). Ok, so following Twisty, we can now call everyone a taqueau. Common flavours of taqueau include XX-taqeaux(?) with wombs, vaginas, breasts, then there these are XY taqeaux with penises gallivanting around claiming they own the world, less common are XX taqueaux with penises, XXY taqeaux with androgen deficiency who have breasts, vagina but testicular tissue. There are also taqeaux who have both testicular and ovarian tissue, such as the famous Italian sculptor Fiore de Henriquez (who is by the way fascinating to read about:
    http://www.gallerygertrudestein.com/more_fiore.htm).
    /
    Anyway, taqeaux exist in various states of happiness and pain, but most do not feel “wrong in their own skin”.Phrases like that seems ubiquitous among people who choose to undergo a sex-change. However there are intersex people(brought up in the female gender) such as Fiore who are reasonably happy within their own skin, indeed in one of the articles I linked to above Fiore recounts:
    /
    “My mother used to call me a monster. She said to Margot Fonteyn’s mother, ‘Why have you such a beautiful daughter and I have this?’ But I didn’t feel like a monster. A third sex, yes; but I was quite honoured: I felt I was part of the Greek legends.”
    So Fiore, I would say, is definitely not transexual, in that she does not want to change to anything. Can I say she is a “cis-gendered hermaphrodite”?
    /
    Transexual people, however, are unhappy. At first I thought it was because they cared too much about the social construct of gender, but then I heard about Body Integrity Identity Disorder, this is according to Wikipedia:
    /
    ‘also known as Amputee Identity Disorder or Apotemnophilia (from Greek αποτέμνειν “to cut off”, and φιλία “love of”) is the overwhelming desire to amputate one or more healthy limbs or other parts of the body. Sometimes its sufferers take it upon themselves to amputate their own limbs and/or penis. Although it most commonly refers to people who wish to amputate limbs, the term BIID also applies to those who wish to alter their bodily integrity in general.’
    /

    I found out about this after I read an article in the Guardian about a women who was not happy until she self-amputated both her legs! Unfortuntely this article has been removed from the web due to copyright issues or sth. She was much happier with her life afterwards despite no longer being able to walk. I conjecture that transexuals suffer from a form of this disorder. It is not inconceivable that perhaps a particular brain can be wired to believe, for example, that it ought to have a vagina, but has this annoying penis instead. There are studies that the brains of some transexuals seem to have similar structures to those typical for their chosen sex. Some amputees (not those with BIID) suffer from “phantom limb syndrome” where they feel sensation/pain from their missing limb even though it is no longer there. I think transexualism probably has more in common with these physical conditions than with intersex, gender and society.

    This all led me to think that at the moment there doesn’t really seem to be any very good solutions for transexuals. I have heard that transexuals have a very high rate of suicide. As SyntheticGenius remarked above:
    /
    ” For me personally, I don’t think surgery would even help because it would still be wrong. It would be man-made.”
    /
    It might be a question of altering circuits in the brain to match one’s own physique. Perhaps surgery can help, if eventually, the neurons can be happy with the new body, but I think at the moment the surgery is not sophisticated enough to achieve mind-body harmony.

    Finallly – how on earth do I get paragraphs to come out? I have tried everything!

  297. Heart

    Curiousgyrl, I’m not arguing against anything. I am commenting on why it is (one reason among others) that radical feminists sometimes get into it with transgendered persons or their allies, even though we do not blame them for doing whatever they did.

    Having said that, I do think commenters on this thread have argued that transitioning is subversive, although not necessarily using that word. But my comment was more general.

    Heart

  298. Shabnam

    Oh how bizarre – this time the practice of “leaving a line” seemed to produce a paragraph. Although, my comment is in moderation, 50% of my paragraph spacing might come out! I am pleased.

  299. SyntheticGenius

    Okay. I haven’t finished reading the thread yet but I do want to respond to Layla about what it feels like (for me at least).

    I won’t get into the nitty gritty of it all, but essentially it’s that When I look at my body it’s never what I expect to see. I mean I look at my hands and they’re still hands but I look at my breasts and they’re foreign. I feel the absence (and sometimes a little bit of phantom limb) where my phallus should be. The phantom limb thing freaks me out a bit sometimes, I must admit. It’s literally the sensation of being in the wrong body for me. It also carries over into others’ perception of me lately as well. People who spend a lot of time with me would generally describe me as almost perfectly androgynous. I have my more boyish times and since I have not altered my body chemistry at all so far [and my female hormones fall like sledgehammers (Yeah, SG, guy with the strongest cycle in the universe)] I also have moments of slight girlishness. But I am definitely a boy. It’s not there there is anything physically wrong either. Everything I have still “works” to put it mildly, just the sensations are all just a bit off. I know most of it is in my head but with the physical symptoms, I often wonder if there isn’t some kind of physical part as well. I’m still young though so I have a long time to think about it.

  300. Twisty

    Shabnam, whyfore the compulsion to pathologize insignificant variances in taqueau-ness as “deficiencies” and “disorders’?

  301. Shabnam

    Quoting Twisty:

    ‘Shabnam, whyfore the compulsion to pathologize insignificant variances in taqueau-ness as “deficiencies” and “disorders’?’

    Oh damn! When I wrote ‘androgen deficiency’ I meant ‘androgen insensitivity’, that is the medical term. It just means that the body completely ignores all androgens, not just testosterone. So I did not mean to use the word ‘deficiency’ at all! (My subconscious patriarchal conditioning must have momentarily taken over and produced such a horrendous Freudian slip).

    I admit that have pathologized transexualism but not intersex. Maybe this is problematic, but at the moment, it’s the best my poor brain can come up with. Body Integrity Identity Disorder is the term used by the people researching the condition. Perhaps it should be called Body Integrity Identity Discomfort, but I think for now it would be useful to give the commonly used name.

  302. Shabnam

    Quoting SyntheticGenius:
    ” I feel the absence (and sometimes a little bit of phantom limb) where my phallus should be. The phantom limb thing freaks me out a bit sometimes, I must admit. It’s literally the sensation of being in the wrong body for me.”

    I certainly do not wish to pathologize insignificant variances in taqeaux. I only wanted to theorize that transexualism is related to “phantom limb” syndrome. It is exciting that SyntheticGenius seems to confirm my theory. I hope I have not offended anyone by clumsy wording.

  303. Jezebella

    ” “We blame the patriarchy. We blame The Man, The System.”

    Do you also blame each individual man, individually?”

    Certainly not. If you’d read the FAQ, you’d know that.

  304. Layla

    SyntheticGenius, I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. To my suprise I found myself being able to relate to the feeling you described in parts, although I have no sense of not being a woman. Thankyou.

  305. ComradeComrade

    Thanks, SG! That was an incredibly eloquent and personal thing to write.

  306. ComradeComrade

    Heart,
    Huh? I guess I’m missing what that had to do with my post. I think my point was that trans-itioning is a long process that contains more of an imperative than just being a choice made to empower the trans-itioner. But SG did a much better job of talking about that than I ever will.

    Also, I didn’t understand your last comment. We don’t want to end the system of domination and submission, or we don’t want to examine if someone is woman enough? And who is this we you claim to be speaking for? Radical feminists? Blog commenters? Might I suggest that you speak for yourself?

  307. Branjor

    Shabnam – really interesting hypothesis there about the “body integrity disorder”, phantom limbs and such. It stimulates my natural curiosity. I also notice that SG seems to confirm the theory, but not until after she read it put forth by you.

  308. mAndrea

    Shabnam, I cut all references to Body Integrity Identity Disorder out of my previous post, because I figured I’d get slammed for it. Plus, I couldn’t remember the name, heh.

    Been thinking for awhile that there’s something intrinsically problematic with the intersection of TG and feminism. Logically, one of them MUST be wrong.

    • Feminism states that gender is a social construct.

    • TG states that gender is biological.

    I know you all like to nuance ideas to death and I’m a leetle slow sometimes, but come on!

    The only way those two things can both be true is if neither one of them are true: it’s a continuum of some sort.

    And then of course since biology is relatively stable I get to drag out my evil pet theory that men are freaking evil domineering pigs from conception. Yay!

  309. Shabnam

    Thanks Branjor. I think SG posted before reading my comment because I was in still in moderation when I first read her comment.

  310. PhysioProf

    “” “We blame the patriarchy. We blame The Man, The System.”

    Do you also blame each individual man, individually?”

    Certainly not. If you’d read the FAQ, you’d know that.”

    You are, of course, correct. Sorry for the time-wasting question.

  311. LouisaMayAlcott

    Wow! Excellent thread.

    Heart, you are the heart and soul of female intelligence.

    I am blessed to be on this planet with you.

  312. exangelena

    I noticed upthread that someone was asking about intersex/biological sex issues, and the best place for that is the Intersex Society of North America.

    It may have gotten buried, but maybe this would clear up the whole biological essentialism controversy – do radical feminists consider someone who is raised a woman but not “biologically female” (via chromosomes, atypical anatomy, etc) a woman born woman if she identifies as such?

  313. msxochitl

    buggle: “What does it mean to “not feel like a girl?”

    To not feel like a girl: It means that you think of yourself as a human being, you hate having to cater to men, you hate being forced into thee the trappings of femininity. You’re sick of being the gender that is harassed, raped, abused, and murdered by men. You know that you have been giving this label “female” that is supposed to be inferior and submissive, but you just don’t feel inferior and submissive. Perhaps you also like things that are stereotypically considered male, such as sports.

    So what’s the solution? For some women, the solution is to visit a psychologist, who might tell you that you have Gender Identity Disorder. She might suggest that you alter your genitals to conform to the gender stereotype that you most resemble. In other words, the problem is not the patriarchal society that defines us by such stereotypes. The problem lies within our own bodies. There is something wrong with our bodies. If we change them, our problems will be solved.

  314. pandapan

    msxochitl:

    That’s a good insight. It certainly describes how I feel pretty well. The problem rests squarely on the patriarchy, indeed, but what can we do to survive until the revolution? For some, the answer is to pass as male. I don’t want to be a man, but I don’t like being a woman either. I identify as genderqueer. Someday, genderqueer won’t be so queer anymore, and we can just call it ‘human’. No sex-class, no male-privilege, no need to divide people into groups based on irrelevant traits.

  315. Mau de Katt

    Wow. Heckuva comment thread here! I had a whole bunch of things I wanted to reply to on the transgender topic, but fortunately I held off until I read everything posted so far; most of what I wanted to say has already been said by many others.

    A few minor things remain for me, though:

    Shakes
    While it is often interpreted that God took Adam’s rib and formed Eve, the word translated as “rib” can also mean “side.” In this interpretation, God just split the thing in half so they could face each other.

    Another interesting idea I ran across recently stated that “rib” can also mean “supporting structure.” Most male mammals have what is called a “baculum,” which is a bone that supports the penis, allowing for ease of quick insertion. Male humans don’t have this bone. So the theory is that the whole “Adam’s rib” story is a folktale explanation for why male humans don’t have a baculum.

    Which could also be a good illustration of the typical male cultural fear that “women just want to castrate men.” To Men (as a caste and culture), their Penis = their Power. If Woman Herself was created from the very supporting structure of Men’s Inherent Power, then no wonder Men (as a caste and culture) view women as a threat. Funny, though, that they’d invent a story where their (Male) creator took this Sacred Bone to create woman, and then mutate it into the underlying belief that women themselves stole (or want to steal) it.

    If, in fact, this theory has any real basis to it.

    erin ambrose
    all this makes me think of a news story i overheard a few days ago about a great new test they’ve concocted where at 6 wks into a pregnancy you can know the sex of the fetus. Human rights folk are worried that this will cause a rise in the aborting of “girl” babies since most want “boys”…

    I’ve often thought that all the countries and cultures who want only boys should have only boys. Then they’d all die out, and the problem would thus be solved.

    But then I realized that what would most likely happen instead is there would be poor communities with no other saleable resources who would see girls as a new “cash crop” and would breed them to sell them as a commodity to the rest of the girl-less society. Because that already happens now; it would only become that much more blatant and out-in-the-open.

    Arachnids have eight legs, insects six.

    This categorization really had me confused when I first acquired my pet tarantula. The pedipalps on tarantulas (appendages that are part of the mouth structure) are big enough and long enough that they look like legs. In fact, tarantulas used their pedipalps to grab onto and manipulate prey, just as if they were legs, or at least “arms.” So it looked like tarantulas had ten legs, to me, at first.

  316. buggle

    msxochitl- did you mean this sarcastically? When you say “something is wrong with our bodies. If we change them, our problems will be solved.” I’m not sure if you are saying that there really is something wrong with a person’s body if they don’t “fit” into one gender or the other. Or, if you are being sarcastic, and saying that obviously it IS the patriarchy, not that there are things wrong with our bodies.

    Heart-that last post was just wonderful, and so clearly explained the difficulties I’m having with all of this stuff. It feels similar to me as when sex workers tell me how great prostitution is, and how empowered and in control they are, and how it’s their choice. Now, I don’t want to compare transitioning to sex work, but it feels the same way to me. The same argument. And like you said, Heart, I’m not mad at any trans person or anything (sorry if I’m getting the lingo wrong) but I do feel that they have been fooled by the system of patriarchy, just like sex workers, just like me and everyone else who has to live in this system. And when I hear all these defenses, I just don’t get it. People can do whatever they like, and that’s all fine and good, but I think the defensiveness comes from being asked to really examine one’s choices, and how they were influenced from patriarchy.

    It’s just silly that we are required to divide ourselves up based on our genitals. And that we are supposed to have certain feelings or thoughts based on our genitals. It’s just such nonsense.

  317. Heart

    Hey, Louisa May Alcott, thanks!

    ComradeComrade, sorry I wasn’t clear. I didn’t go back and look, but from memory, you said something like it was wrong to exclude transwomen from women’s space for not being “woman enough.”

    The issue of woman-only space has nothing to do with whether anyone is “woman enough.” Radical feminism has nothing to do with evaluating people as to whether they are “woman enough” or “man enough.” That’s what patriarchy does, that’s not what feminism does. If you read the comments, there is very careful, intelligent and thoughtful discussion of the issues you are questioning, which is why I referred you back to the comments.

    Curiousgyrrl: Heart, i didnt mean to minimize. I know that its important to you. I really just didn’t see that as central and it took me a while to figure out that that is where people are coming from. I know that a small number of trans activists agree with you that the Mich women’s festival is cenrral to the struggles of trans rights. that seems strange to me.

    What is clear to me is that you do not have any real knowledge of what you’re talking about here, Curiousgyrrl. Sorry, but you just don’t.

    Trans activists have made woman-only space a huge issue. Trans activists have done this. It is not a “small number.” It is *many* politically-minded trans activists.

    One evidence of this is, last year a bogus press release was circulated to all the big universities and GLBTQ publications/organizations stating that Fest had changed its female-only policy. This was *immediately* seized on and widely reported/published as, like, the most important news Ev. Er. All OVER the place.

    It was, again, a bogus, wrong, untrue, press release and it was immediately refuted by Michfest staff.

    What I am saying is, the issue of woman-only space is a watershed issue because trans activists have made it a watershed issue. It’s clearly important *to them*. And they have, hence, made it an issue *for us*. It is such an important issue that radical feminist organizations — shoestring, mostly-volunteer — have been sued over it, and some have been closed down, or nearly closed down, *by trans activists*. There are important reasons for this which are obvious to those of us who have actually been involved in the discussion. Based on what I’ve read that you’ve written, I don’t think you have *been* part of the discussion.

    Heart

  318. R. Mildred

    Honestly, it becomes sort of absurd. What if someone insisted that in order to be an ally, they had a right to, say, call themselves disabled, even if they were not disabled?

    What about if transwomen called themselves “political women”, instead of “women”, would that make it okay? Could they join your treehouse club then?

    What I am saying is, the issue of woman-only space is a watershed issue because trans activists have made it a watershed issue. It’s clearly important *to them*. And they have, hence, made it an issue *for us*. It is such an important issue that radical feminist organizations — shoestring, mostly-volunteer — have been sued over it, and some have been closed down, or nearly closed down, *by trans activists*. There are important reasons for this which are obvious to those of us who have actually been involved in the discussion. Based on what I’ve read that you’ve written, I don’t think you have *been* part of the discussion.

    umm… okay, but that still doesn’t actually explain anything really, I mean, why was it important enough in the first place to make enough of an issue about it to make them have an issue for you to then react to? And more to the point, if there isn’t an actual reason aside form a rather gender binary supporting definition of womanhood, that relies on some belief (and correct me if I’m wrong here) in everlasting spirit penii forever emprivelagemasizing people who, despite having once been born as men, and even socialised as men even as they themselves rejected that socialised masculinity to the degree that they fail to actually identify with at all, actually, as of the moment they’re going to a women’s only space as a fully transitioned woman, have to live as a woman does and also having to deal with a further level of oppression as a result of being transexual and having had the extra experience that neither cisgender women nor cisgender men have of being a transitioning transwoman, in a transphobic, homophobic, and misogynistic society that hates BOTH women and, for want of a better term, gender traitors such as femme men, gay men or transwomen, then what the hell is the overriding point of all this, exactly?

  319. Kali

    Shabnam, you are definitely onto something. I had exactly the same suspicions myself and was going to post about it and then read your post, where you have explained it much better than I could.

  320. Moira

    What then is someone who identifies as transsexual? They’re delusional? Maliciously deceptive? By using female pronouns to refer to female-to-male transsexuals or male pronouns to refer to male-to-female transsexuals, you willfully deny something central to those people’s identity. Personally, I find that hateful. Heart, delphyne, LouisaMayAlcott, Raven, y’all are bigots (if I’ve left anyone off that list who feels like they belong there, please understand that it was from a poor memory this deep in the thread and not from malice). Dress it up however you like, it’s bigotry. You’ve said that you get to decide what women are and what men are and that those categories are inviolable. The very category of ‘women’ in your view seems to be a women’s only space and you get to decide which people are women and which aren’t. By using patriarchal standards, I might add.

    I’m not saying that you need to change how you feel, or that you need to let transsexual women into MichFest, or even that all transfolk are feminists because clearly they’re not. I’m saying you should own your shit. You don’t like transsexuals, fine. Own that. But don’t say that you don’t dislike transfolk while deying that they exist.

  321. Heart

    Moira, pardon me, but what you’ve written there is complete and utter bullshit.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Who has used any pronoun other than the one any person wants used in their case? Not me. If you’d bothered to read, instead of troll and spew, you would note that I said way up there somewhere I don’t care what anyone calls himself or herself. I unfailingly use that pronoun to reference that person, regardless of sex at the time of birth.

    I have not even once said anyone, let alone me “gets to decide” “who a woman is”. I have said the opposite more than once. Maybe several times more than once. I have said that females are an oppressed and subordinated group and that all of the other prerogatives which belong to oppressed and subordinated groups belong to us.

    You should learn to read.

    Heart

  322. ComradeComrade

    Heart,
    Nope, not me, that was someone else. I’m the one that questions the application of an analysis that works well with pro-sex feminist strippers or hajib wearers or women that wear makeup and applying it to trans-gendered folk. Whereas the former may be empowered by actions that reinforce patriarchy, and may like doing them for that reason, it seems to me that trans-taqueaux have a qualitatively different motivation that requires a modification of the analysis.

  323. Moira

    I did read you, Heart. And no, you personally did not call anyone by a pronoun they don’t like. That was Raven (who absolutely did), and for spattering you with that particular paintbrush, I do apologize. But you did say:

    Curiousgyrl, I see no reason why transwomen cannot be profeminist and allies to females, just as females can be allies to transwomen. Why can’t they be? We be?

    Transwomen are not females. Am I reading that wrong? True, transwomen cannot menstruate, don’t have uteruses, and no, they did not experience the exact same oppression that most women did growing up under the patriarchy. You hold up Catherine Crouch as a model of lesbian feminism and say that her film Gendercator was unfairly labeled as transphobic by a small group of transsexual activists. I haven’t seen it, but I did read Ms. Crouch’s director’s notes.

    Things are getting very strange for women these days. More and more often we see young heterosexual women carving their bodies into porno Barbie dolls and lesbian women altering themselves into transmen. Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves, instead of working to change the world. This is one story, showing one possible scary future. I am hopeful that this story will foster discussion about female body modification and medical ethics.

    I’ve never said that anyone shouldn’t talk about female (or male) body modification or medical ethics. There’s a lot of material there to discuss, starting with the American/Western inhuman, unattainable standards of feminine (and even masculine) beauty. But stating that transmen are lesbian women denies their reality and adds to the oppression against them. Was it necessary to use transsexuals’ (and specifically transmen’s) experiences as a plot device in this way?

    You don’t like being called a bigot, which I completely understand. Nobody likes being called on their shit, including me. Am I trolling? Maybe I am a little. But your last sentence, where you state that “females are an oppressed and subordinated group and that all of the other prerogatives that belong to oppressed and subordinated groups belong to [you]” seems to me to deny that the concerns of other oppressed and subordinated people (because whatever transfolk are, they’re seriously oppressed and subordinate under the patriarchy) are even close to as important as those you claim for yourself, that transfolk do not get to claim the prerogatives of oppressed and subordinated groups. It’s a much more polite way to say much the same things that less polite folks were saying: Transmen are women. Transwomen are men.

    Are they? Are transmen females? Can they ever be anything else, or are they in the end delusional?

  324. ComradeComrade

    Oops! That should be “hijab.”

  325. justicewalks

    Honestly, where does anyone say that transfolk aren’t oppressed? Where does anyone say that concerns of transpeople aren’t important? All anyone has been saying is that there is a time and a place for addressing the concerns of transpeople, and women/female-only spaces aren’t it. This shouldn’t cause so much consternation; women/female-only spaces aren’t the appropriate milieu for lots of things.

    It really isn’t that hard. Aren’t white people who infringe upon black spaces rightly seen as the assholes they are? Even if they were raised in black families, or married black spouses, or even parented half-black children, no one would appreciate their usurping the discussion to talk about what it’s like to comb hair that’s only half-straight, or be stopped by the cops riding while white with a man who’s driving while black. While these things are relevant to blackness, the concerns of people who chose to embroil themselves in a battle they could have chosen to avoid aren’t as central to the problem as those of us who were born into it, and had no say in the matter, or in the matter of their own children’s involvement, no matter with whom they choose to procreate.

    There isn’t any amount of experience a white person can gain that will make her black. If she’s sincere, she’ll be accepted as an ally, but that’s the most she can ever hope for. Ever. She doesn’t get a brand new identity. She remains a white woman, although one vested in the interests of black people, and pretending she’s black in exchange for her support would be as insulting to a true ally as it would be to black people.

    I can’t even say that I feel too sorry about the predicament in which such allies find themselves, whether they are male allies of feminism, rich allies of the poor, white allies of blacks, etc. It is a necessary evil; the discomfort of our allies has always been the catalyst for change, for it is our allies who hold sway, if anyone does, with the dominant power structure. Pretending you don’t have (or never had) the privilege you actually do (or did), rather than using that privilege to further the cause of the people you claim to care about and identify with is, in my opinion, a shirking of responsibility, not a gesture of camaraderie.

  326. msxochitl

    pandapan: “The problem rests squarely on the patriarchy, indeed, but what can we do to survive until the revolution? For some, the answer is to pass as male.”

    Absolutely! We all have to do what we can to survive until the revolution. Nothing wrong with that. I am just trying to make the distinction between revolutionary acts (getting rid of gender and patriarchy) and the actions we take to conform to the gender binary and patriarchy.

    Buggle: “When you say “something is wrong with our bodies. If we change them, our problems will be solved.” I’m not sure if you are saying that there really is something wrong with a person’s body if they don’t “fit” into one gender or the other. Or, if you are being sarcastic, and saying that obviously it IS the patriarchy, not that there are things wrong with our bodies.”

    If you are female and you exhibit characteristics that don’t fit the stereotype of the gender that you have been assigned at birth, some psychiatrists will say that there is something wrong with your body. Your brain is male and you were born into the wrong body. The solution is to change your body.

    Now, I am not a psychiatrist. I am a radical feminist. If I don’t fit in with my gender, that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me, with my mind, or with my body. The problem is patriarchy, which imposes binary gender categories on us.

    A friend of mine wrote an interesting article on this topic, in case you are interested:

    http://www.questioningtransgender.org/personal.html

  327. Mar Iguana

    “…as of the moment they’re going to a women’s only space as a fully transitioned woman…” R. Mildred

    Define “fully,” please.

    (Note to self: Pick up more choco chex today.)

  328. Mar Iguana

    “…if I’ve left anyone off that list who feels like they belong there, please understand that it was from a poor memory this deep in the thread and not from malice…” Moira

    You can add me to your list. Thanks. Appreciate it.

  329. Smitty

    I’ve lurked on this blog for some time, reading everything and never commenting. This time I feel compelled. msxochitl-
    thank you for publishing the link to your friend’s essay on the questioning transgender site. I appretiate her experience. I don’t share it.

    The essay seems to make the assumption that drag kings and kinging are the opposite of exploring mysogyny? That exploring masculinity performance is avoiding internal exploration of cultural misogyny. Opposite of the personal growth she achieved by a feminist critique of patriarchy. Ok, that’s her experience. But it sets feminist analysis and enlightnement up as antithetical to masculine gender performance.

    I’m a drag king, and a feminist. I would not have come to feminism without being a king, and exploring masculinity. I found the deepest conversations occuring around gender performance. I actually was relieved to find a community of strong, anti-racist feminist women who accepted and celebrated me for my masculinity. I see myself as a process, as well. But I’m transgendered. I never made a choice to reject analysis and flee into the arms of masculinity. I never had anyone else tell me that I, read as butch woman, was in fact a man and had to transition.

    I quote:”Choosing to see myself as a lesbian radical feminist instead of transgendered means I have a political commitment to critique patriarchy and society, instead of making accommodations to society by altering my identity or my body.”

    Great, her experience. But is all trans exloration making accomodations to society? By still allowing people to label me as a woman, and not letting them know that I don’t identify as one, is me making accomodations to society, including feminist cultural expectations. Admitting that I am not a woman, but still (as of now) passing as female bodied does not invalidate my political commitments, my critique of patriarchy, my exploration of feminism. I am not altering my identity to suit the feminist discourse.
    To screw with everyone’s head, I have had no surgery or hormone treatments. You can say that my transition is linguistic- I’m a female man. I’m more keeping the female body out of accomodation to other people’s anxiety.

    For the record, I have been to Michigan. I cannot in good consicence go again. That’s my choice. I respect the right of womyn born womyn to have their own space. I won’t intrude on it.
    But I also think that transwomen are really women.

    Smitty

  330. Raven

    Moira (as with others on this thread who refuse to read things fully that they disagree with) has missed where I said I have a good friend who is a transwoman and have known and respected many others. That’s real life experience, not an idea or a theory.

    It would be terribly convenient for you to keep ignoring that, Moira, as have others, but the fact is that I do actually have real live people in my life who have transitioned. And you know what? They know exactly how I feel about male privilege dressed up in pretty skirts. We actually talk face to face about these things.

    The world is full of more colors than black and white. I can like my transwoman friend, wish her well on her difficult path, respect Leslie Feinberg and Loren Cameron a whole lot AND call transitioned MTFs on their shit when they start trying to take over space that does not belong to them. Which is precisely what a certain someone was doing.

    If you want to reduce your worldview down to two whole colors (your view/correct versus others’ views/incorrect, that’s on you, not on me.

  331. Tigs

    “Admitting that I am not a woman, but still (as of now) passing as female bodied does not invalidate my political commitments, my critique of patriarchy, my exploration of feminism.”

    Thanks Smitty, I think this really gets to the complexity of the issue. Just to add, as long as we’re relying on experience, we’re going to end up alienated.
    The experience of two women is never going to be the same, it may be close, but it is never going to be the same. The experience of some transwomen is most likely more close to the experience of some cisgender women than that of other cisgender women.

    Moving beyond experience to the ethical (cite=Drucilla Cornell, Wendy Brown), is really an incredibly liberating transformation of the feminist project.

  332. ComradeComrade

    I’m not an anti(x)- bigot because I have a friend that’s a (x)? I have no (x)phobic attitudes because I like and respect many (x)s? Ick! Where have I heard that before. FTM transfolk are really just poor confused lesbians that aren’t smart enough to see that they’re succumbing to the same type of patriarchal thought that we did before we adopted our superior analysis? Gimme a break. I applaud the people that have shared their honest concerns, confusions and experiences around this issue, but the failure of some folks on this thread to see transfolk as real people and not just aspects of their critique bugs me to death.

  333. curiousgyrl

    Heart:

    I know that the michfest issue is big for a certain group of feminists and a certain group of transfolk. My real-life experiences, however, are with a younger set where most transpeople I know are MTF and where the trans-activists I know are largely concerned with issues of police and welfare state procedures relating to transpeople in the state system, the rights of young, working class, and poc queer folks to public space, and when insurance covers transition and “same sex” partners. Thats my experience.

    I get that yours is different, and I dotn think you “dont know what you’re talking about for ignoring my experiences though, thats cool.

  334. curiousgyrl

    “ll anyone has been saying is that there is a time and a place for addressing the concerns of transpeople, and women/female-only spaces aren’t it. This shouldn’t cause so much consternation; women/female-only spaces aren’t the appropriate milieu for lots of things.”

    Actually, thats not true. I’ve been saying I more or less dont care about WBW spaces. Let wbw radfems have ‘em. I’ll go to the people-who-want-to-fuck-up-patriarchy meetings. I get that people have different ideas about this shit.

    My point: When introduced to somebody, its ignorant, dehumanizing and rude to call them Ms when they said Mr or tell them their not really women/men or check under the skirt.

    i especially think the questioning transgender site, which explains that FTM trans people are really confused victims of sexual abuse is insulting. Victims of sexual abuse are not necessarily confused–I’d have to say that last sentence is the at the core of my feminism, and part of why I get so riled about this stuff.

  335. curiousgyrl

    and the quotes not true because people have been saying a lot more than that. I dont expect you to read all 400 comments, but if you dont, please dont characterize them so generally. People have said a lot of things, and many go way way way beyond what you say.

  336. SyntheticGenius

    “FTM trans people are really confused victims of sexual abuse”

    Um. What? Now I need to go read the site so I can get all pissed off. So they’re trying to give me excuses for being what I am? But they’ve never me me! Curiousgyrl, I’m insulted too.

    Here’s an interesting tidbit of info on women-only spaces:

    I attended Bryn Mawr College (when i was applying I didn’t know what I was, or was at least not conscious of it). Bryn Mawr College, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is a women’s only institution. So I always wondered what the policy was on trans-anything. The word was that prospective students needed to be biologically not-male. I thought that was a cute way of putting it. However, if an MTF who’d been fully reassigned applied (likely as a McBride Scholar), I doubt that her Y chromosome would keep her from getting in if she was qualified. There were transmen around and generally they were tolerated pretty well. Apparently there was a case before my time where someone was trying to do his year of passing to be eligable for surgery and that created some friction, but generally speaking we were free to do and live as we liked. But then, Bryn Mawr College is pretty patriarchy-free. Seriously. I miss the freedom I had there.

  337. curiousgyrl

    SG–feel free, but I warn you that your sense of calm and well-being may be at stake.

  338. Mar Iguana

    OK, enough choco chex.

    “By using female pronouns to refer to female-to-male transsexuals or male pronouns to refer to male-to-female transsexuals, you willfully deny something central to those people’s identity.” Moira

    Boyos calling themselves women willfully deny something central to women’s identy.

    “You don’t like transsexuals, fine. Own that.” Moira

    I don’t like the greedy, woman-hating surgeons and chemists who are telling boyos they can magically be turned into women. I don’t hate the duped boyos, I feel sorry for them. But, as with all boyos, they would rather be hated than pitied.

    “Who has used any pronoun other than the one any person wants used in their case?” Heart

    Me. I refuse to use the term “male to female” too. This is supposed to be a radical feminist site for advanced blamers but it’s pretty obvious that many have never read Daly, Greer, Raymond, Jeffries, etc. Hell, they won’t even read the website provided by LouisaMayAlcott above. That’s plain mental laziness and/or willful ignorance. Ignoring facts would be all the rage now days though. Absurd.

  339. SyntheticGenius

    Mar Iguana, advanced blaming can come in many flavors. Really, honestly, truly, I felt the same way you do about sex and gender until I found out about what I am. I’m a scientist too so I cannot deny reality to fit philosophy. I don’t believe in that. Theory must explain reality and your theory does not explain reality. Otherwise I would not exist. I’ve realized over time that I must amend some of my advanced blaming philosophies to accomodate my reality. But, if you and your set have no room for change then I suppose I am no longer an advanced blamer.

  340. justicewalks

    I’ve been saying I more or less dont care about WBW spaces.

    OK, first of all, that phrase, “women-born-women,” is offensive to those of us who feel that all women were born AND raised into their condition. If you weren’t born AND (therefore) raised into the condition of womanhood, you’re not a woman. End of story.

    And I must ask, if you aren’t concerned about women-only spaces, why the insistence that transpeople be called women?

    What good does it do to call them women if they don’t want to be a part of women-only spaces, aren’t interested in being allies, and can’t relate to what it’s like to have or lack (because you can’t lack what you were never meant to have in the first place) a uterus? Why should we call them women when they’d be more useful to us as a group if they’d use the male privilege they have to further the cause of the women with whom they claim to identify so strongly? Why should we call them women when it does more to serve the anti-patriarchy cause to remind people that they are, in fact, men, and that they are proof that men don’t HAVE to be swaggering, hyper-masculine, chest-thumping brutes. Why should we call them women when our whole raison d’etre is to prove to people that males can be feminine and females can be masculine, without being seen as confused or requiring genital mutilation?

    If a wealthy person voluntarily abandons her riches, only to proclaim that being poor isn’t so bad, that wealthy people can’t do anything to improve conditions for the impoverished (and certainly not wealthy people who’ve abandoned their riches; they’re ENTIRELY off the hook), and that being voluntarily poor is the exact same thing as, if not worse than, being born that way, would you fault other poor people for denying the authenticity of her experience? Would you think it disingenuous for the voluntarily poor person to presume to speak for those born into destitution? If she presumed to do so, would you perhaps start getting the feeling that she relinquished her riches, not out of any sense of camaraderie with other poor people, but for her own selfish motives, motives that happen to be counterproductive to the aims of the genuinely poor?

  341. curiousgyrl

    And I must ask, if you aren’t concerned about women-only spaces, why the insistence that transpeople be called women?

    Transwomen aren’t asking to be called women primarily to get in to radical feminist meetings and concerts. They are, for the most part, from what I understand, asking to be called women because they are women and want to live their lives as women. I think its the bare minimum of humanity to refer to people by the names and pronouns which they use to introduce themselves to you.

    I’m sorry if woman-born-woman was offensive. I thought that was the term radical feminist use to distinguish between transwomen and “real” women. Is women-only the term i should use?

    Personally, I think of the spaces under discussion as radical lesbian feminist spaces. Womens spaces I encounter in my daily and political life are not threatened by transwomen.

  342. delphyne

    “They are, for the most part, from what I understand, asking to be called women because they are women and want to live their lives as women.”

    And then we’re back to the question, what is this thing they call woman? Because most of the women here have said it’s anybody who calls themself a woman being that there’s such thing (I say tell their mothers that). However transsexuals actually seem to think that hormones and surgery to construct *cosmetic* breasts and *cosmetic* vaginas somehow turn them into women and give them the “right” bodies. It seems like only transsexuals and radical feminists actually think that being a woman is physical experience. Of course the difference between the positions is that radical feminists observe that womanhood exists in the body whereas transsexuals and their supporters think it exists in the head and that a cosmetic body change can somehow turn a man into a woman.

  343. delphyne

    “there’s no such thing”

  344. Mireille

    I think that transgendered people just cannot exist in certain radfem points of view. Just like gay people cannot exist in some evangelical points of view. Maybe the parallel isn’t completely accurate, but in either case, our existence argues against some basic way of thinking. And that’s fine. Or maybe it just seems weird or wrong to you. That’s fine, too. I admit I can’t wrap my head around some of the radfem ideology that seeks to negate me. I suppose it’s just a small matter of self-preservation. But I’m happy to know that not all feminism is anti-trans (even some radfem), as even Twisty had stated in the post this whole thread started from that she didn’t want any anti-trans crap. And not all transpeople are anti-radfem. I would hope that the people at both extremes could just live and let live. Perhaps I shouldn’t exist in your ideal world, but I exist in this one. People wouldn’t hate me in my ideal world, but they do in this one, and all I can do is live with it and try to live my life as best I can hurting as few people as I can. We’re all wrong sometimes and none of us is perfect. And the first person I recognize that in is myself. Peace, sisters and brothers.

  345. delphyne

    “I admit I can’t wrap my head around some of the radfem ideology that seeks to negate me.”

    I can’t get my head around the patriarchal ideology that seeks to negate me and very often succeeds. The idea that I am nothing more than a man without a penis, the idea that although I am oppressed because of my femaleness that femaleness doesn’t actually exist. Or rather it only exists when transsexuals are trying to claim it, the rest of the time I should just STFU about it lest I be called a bigot.

  346. justicewalks

    I’m sorry if woman-born-woman was offensive. I thought that was the term radical feminist use to distinguish between transwomen and “real” women.

    It’s a phrase radical feminists have felt forced to adopt since men who’d like to be women usurped the term for themselves. I won’t speak for anyone else, but, in my opinion, ALL women are so-called wbw’s; there isn’t any need to draw this false distinction between women-born-women on one hand, and women who are really males who wish they were women on the other. Since only one of these groups of people is actually comprised of women, the WB part is gratuitous, and offensive. I won’t marginalize myself for the comfort of men who’d like to call themselves women.

    I’m similarly not going to call myself black-born-black, although I don’t know of any white people claiming, in all seriousness, to be black people trapped in white people’s bodies, who nevertheless never benefitted from the white privilege doled out solely on the basis of the physical manifestation whiteness.

  347. justicewalks

    …OF whiteness.

  348. buggle

    Justicewalks, I really appreciate the last several comments you posted. They really articulated my feelings well. Way better than I ever could!

    I think there are little white boys who try to play at being “black” -although to them this just means being a gansta and dressing a certain way, and talking a certain way. But can you imagine if one of these little dudes tried to tell a bunch of actual black men “hey, I’m one of you! I understand your oppression! We are brothers! Please don’t call me white-that’s offensive.” That would just be ridiculous. But when it’s male/female, somehow it makes sense to people? I don’t get it.

    The sad thing about this whole debate or argument, is that it keeps taking the responsibility off of the patriarchy. That’s what is causing all of this. This isn’t about blaming transpeople or radfems or any other group. It’s about how the patriarchy has screwed us all over-to the point where we actually have to argue about this stuff!

  349. Heart

    I try never to use the term “woman born women,” or WBW, and no radical feminist I know uses it voluntarily. We have used it in the past only for the sake of communicating clearly that we are referring to female-born people. I have moved on to referring to female-born people and to females because I refuse to be bullied into using terms which are at odds with the best interests of females.

    My opinion re what the word “woman” means: to me, that is a question and discussion that we, as women, shouldn’t be bothered with. It’s not our issue. It’s not our concern.

    All of the radical feminists I know are deeply involved in feminist work of all kinds, to include anti-racism work, anti-classism work, anti-ableism work, anti-colonialism work (including work against the colonizing of our own bodies, lives and spaces, as females). Woman-only space isn’t activism for us (and there are plenty of youngsters among us, all the way through teenagers); it is a retreat, a place for healing out from under the noses of our oppressors, a time to connect, strategize, and recharge our batteries. It is of central importance, imo, to our liberation, but it isn’t, in and of itself, activism (though activism results from the connections we make in woman-only space.)

    Everybody should always pay close attention to what JusticeWalks says.

    And thanks buggle for the nice thing you said to me up there somewhere. :)

    Heart

  350. Mireille

    Buggle, the race argument though… It seems to be assuming there is black OR white. There is a large population that is somewhere in between, and may in fact be more white, or more asian, or more black, but they can choose to associate themselves with whatever they feel closest to. I’m part Native American, but I identify as white. But there are many that may have less Native American blood that identify as Native American. Where is the line drawn? And why? And if the end goal is to erase racial divisions, should it matter? And are any of these arguments analagous to gender?

    It sort of feels like the children of U.S. soldiers and Vietnamese women, not white enough to be American or Asian enough to be Vietnamese. Maybe transgendered people are just the metaphorical children of the dust of gender. Just because we don’t have a scientific reason for why it exists now doesn’t mean it’s just in our heads. There seems to be an awful lot of assuming that. Maybe if doctors just drilled a hole in our heads and let out the evil spirits, we’d be ok. That’s what they used to think would cure “crazy” people, but we’ve learned a lot since then.

  351. buggle

    Mirielle-you are right, the race argument can only go so far in this analogy, just like you said.

    I have to say, I don’t think it’s “all in your head.” Just like I don’t think it’s all in my head that I’ve been freaking out about my 25 extra pounds I’m carrying right now. I wouldn’t even care about those pounds except for that I’ve been taught my whole life that being overweight is BAD BAD BAD! Just like we’ve been taught about our gender roles- you better fit in! Or there will be hell to pay! So of course people feel they have to fit into one gender or another. Or it’s like you said- you almost don’t exist.

    I just wish we could all just be who we are and not have to feel so pressured to live up to this or that, or to be more like this or that. Many times I’ve been called “sir” or referred to as male. It used to really upset me. I really developed a bit of a complex about it-not looking like a woman enough. I’m tall, with broad shoulders, and I never was a feminine girl at all. In the winter, I get called “sir” all the time, if I’m wearing a hat. Now I just find it funny, that we are required at all times to know the sex of whoever we are speaking to. But wow, did I have a complex about that.

    I don’t know if that made any sense :) It did in my head.

  352. Heart

    I’m part Native American, but I identify as white. But there are many that may have less Native American blood that identify as Native American. Where is the line drawn?

    I don’t know, but I do know that it is not drawn by white people for nonwhite people.

    Just as the same line should not be drawn for female people by male people. That’s our call, as females.

    Heart

  353. Zawadi

    Mireille,

    If it’s any consolation, I’ve never in real life, among feminist and queer communities, encountered this type of dialogue (that is, obsessive trans-denial). I’ve only seen it online, and it seems confined mostly to some groups of a (broadly) certain generation. You’re encountering a lot of those odd attitudes here and I admire you and SG for being here.

    All the real-life feminist and queer communities I know seem to realise, first, that we can’t know everything (whether we are trans or cis) and that we cannot deny the reality that transpeople are oppressed under the patriarchy (to put it simply). The reasons they’re oppressed are because of non-conformity with traditional gender and sex roles, and because of a combination of misogyny, homophobia, and fear. As such it’s evident most transpeople, by and large, have to deal with enough that their consciousness can be raised to a great extent re: patriarchy and the insiduousness of enforced gender roles.

    I don’t see the point in trying to create a battle as to whose oppression is greater than whose, or trying to say that trans issues are taking energy away from bio-women’s issues (because the real, day to day, culprit is not transpeople – it’s the over-arching, brutalising ideology that this blog is basically devoted to).

  354. Mireille

    Buggle, I agree with you. And Zawadi, thanks. These sorts of discussions always seem to eventually lose me (some sooner than later). Going in circles, getting more and more esoteric, full of analogies that apply only to certain extents… I start to feel like I started out chasing a mouse, but ended up catching my own tail. So now I’m just dizzy and have a sore tail!

  355. Mireille

    Heart,

    Yes, you’re right. But I guess some women draw that line in places different than you do.

  356. Shabnam

    Quoting Mireille:

    “I’m part Native American, but I identify as white. But there are many that may have less Native American blood that identify as Native American. Where is the line drawn?”

    Oh why does anyone have to ‘identify’ as anything? Why can’t people, for instance,just say, my great grandmother was part of such and such a Native American tribe, and my other forebears were from various parts of Europe. Why is it always a question of “but what ARE you?” Race and gender are both social constructs, but a striking difference between anti-racism and transexualism is that former would like to eliminate a social construct whereas the latter wants to be treated in a specific way according to the construct. Radical feminists would like to eliminate the construct of gender the same way as anti-racist activists would like to eliminate the concept of race.

  357. Shabnam

    So it is impossible to draw any lines. We can just use terms like “woman” and “black” in the interim, before the Twistolution, to describe life in the patriarchy.

  358. Mireille

    Shabnam, yes, I wrote it poorly… I should have said that Native American culture was never a part of my upbringing, so I default to whatever it is I am. “Identify” was a poor choice of words. (I hate semantics!) As far as being treated in a specific way conforming to gender norms, that’s an assumption. And until there is a gender neutral third person pronoun in English, it’s got to be one or the other, and I have a preference for one, or at least, a strong distaste for other. And I hope that people would respect that.

  359. Heart

    Zawadi, I think that’s the problem, though. Those of you who evidently do not have to encounter certain kinds of difficulties in your own community around lesbian/transgender issues keep telling those of us who do encounter these difficulties in real life — including, for example, being fucking sued, for instance — how we should deal with our own issues, in our own communities, which evidently you aren’t part of or you’d have encountered the difficulties! That’s called “colonizing.” That’s colonizing behavior.

    And please, with the ageist and other kinds of insults. There are PLENTY of young radical feminists, in real life, not just online, who are part of the communities I’m talking about. And there is nothing “obsessive” about confronting language and behaviors which continue to cause your own community harm. Again, if you aren’t seeing it, then you’re not part of the community, and you really have no business telling people who are part of the community how they ought to handle *their issues*. That’s true no matter who you are, woman, transwoman, man, transman.

    Heart

  360. ComradeComrade

    “I start to feel like I started out chasing a mouse, but ended up catching my own tail. So now I’m just dizzy and have a sore tail!”

    You’ve got a tail, too? The anti-trans-ers are going to have a field day with that!

  361. Shabnam

    Quoting Mireille:
    “And until there is a gender neutral third person pronoun in English, it’s got to be one or the other, and I have a preference for one, or at least, a strong distaste for other. And I hope that people would respect that.”

    Referring to people they way they wish to be referred to is politeness, and every human being should be afforded such respect. I agree we need a third person pronoun in English (and in many other languages) and a general snappier term for a human being, such as taqeau. In an ideal world, someone who wishes to restructure their body so that it resembles someone else’s ought to be free to so without harrassment and discrimination. However, I would like to live in a society where, we would also be able to acknowledge that, for instance “in the past, so and so did not have a vagina.” It would be like dying one’s hair, a trivial piece of information. Until then, I, personally have no strong feelings about which pronoun refers to me, to me it is a mere consequence of the language I happen to be speaking and the patriarchy which I am forced to live in.
    For the record, I would be called a “woman” by the patraichy and have been called “she all my life”, except a few instances when I have been called “Sir” or “him” by strangers because clearly I was not dressing feminine enough for them. After the first instance I decided to say “I am usually referred to as a ‘she’”. If a people everywhere would like to call me “he” for the rest of my life, I expect I’ll get used to it.

  362. Shabnam

    Sorry for the punctuation errors. What happened to preview. Maybe I sound too harsh in my last email. I wanted to articulate the fact that I, personally, don’t particularly wish to “live as a woman”, “live as a man” or anything. I just wish it did not matter.

  363. Zawadi

    Heart,

    You said: ‘That’s called “colonizing.” That’s colonizing behavior.’

    First, I don’t perceive this blog as an anti-trans radical feminist one, and so I feel free to write from a trans-ally perspective here. I’m not telling you what to think; just as you, presumably, are not telling me what to think. You’re explaining your position; so am I. However, I don’t go to anti-trans radical feminist blogs to try and tell people there that they’re wrong.

    Secondly, my heritage is one of *actual* colonisation (involving violence, slavery, labour camps, massive population displacement, and stealing of natural resources) by the British, until as recently as 1960 and with destructive after-effects until today. I’ve read your blog and do not believe it is right for someone of your background to appropriate the concept to attack people who disagree with you in a public domain.

    ‘And please, with the ageist and other kinds of insults. There are PLENTY of young radical feminists, in real life, not just online, who are part of the communities I’m talking about.’

    About the ageist comment, I’m sorry. I didn’t know how else to put across my perception about the demographics of feminists who have an anti-trans position. Just as you identify “young” radical feminists without any malice, I was not identifying people of a different generation than I with malice.

  364. justicewalks

    Thanks, buggle. Writing it all has actually helped me to solidify my position, so I’m glad it’s been useful for you too.

    Heart, that you would direct others to my words means more to me than you know. I feel nothing but the greatest respect and admiration for you.

    …the race argument though… It seems to be assuming there is black OR white.

    I’m not so sure why people want to make privilege out to be something that benefits one group of people only. Privilege, access to resources, is like champaign being poured onto a pyramid of glasses. Being at the top of the heap (the people for whom the privilege is named) means that you always get yours before anyone else gets theirs. It means getting pure, unadulterated privilege (access to resources), straight from the bottle, while being on a lower tier means getting run-off. The thing about run-off is that if there isn’t enough champaign for every glass to be filled to the brim (note, this is a separate issue from whether or not there might be enough champaign for every glass to be filled halfway, or 3 quarters of the way), the glasses on the bottom just don’t get any.

    If you view privilege in this way, white privilege, access to resources on the basis of whiteness, isn’t merely white people’s inheritance. One gains more access to white privilege the more closely one approximates whiteness. People with lighter complexions than the prototypical black person, or straighter hair, more closely approximate white phenotypes than the black prototype, and are treated accordingly. In such a system, even black people can get white privilege on the basis of having light skin or straight hair (or one of the other cultural signifiers of whiteness, like accent or education).

    I hope that I don’t have to spell out what this means for the hypothetical Asians, etc., I ostensibly neglected to consider, but I will anyway. In most cases, Asians will be situated, on the basis of phenotype alone*, higher up in the pyramid of glasses than the prototypical black person and, therefore, more likely to benefit from white privilege than said black prototype. With her likelihood of having benefitted indirectly from white privilege, the hypothetical black person trapped in an Asian body would be only slightly more tolerated (but certainly not welcome) than one trapped in a white body.

    * Please, no one point out to me that race intersects with other forms of oppression because Oprah’s better off than a lot of white people. I have purposely limited myself to one dimension of oppression for the sake of brevity. A champaign-flute pyramid is, however, a multi-dimensional figure; I’ll leave it to you [generic] to imagine how different facets of oppression might be represented in such a model.

  365. Mireille

    The internets are great things. This sort of communication would be nearly impossible without them. But solely written conversation sure leaves a great possibility of being misunderstood. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but a lot of times the arguments *for* one thing automatically seem like they’re *against* something else, when that’s not necessarily the case. And sometimes it seem like certain people think they’re own poo don’t stink. We’re around our own poo so often, we get used to the smell and assume it doesn’t. I smell my poo now, it stinks. I’m just trying to clean it up, so please be patient. Anyone else smell their own poo?

  366. Heart

    Zawadi, my references to colonizing behavior are only “appropriating” if:

    (1) You take the position that females are not a people group vis a vis males. I would remind you that since time immemorial females have been subjected to actual colonization “involving violence, slavery, labour camps, massive population displacement, and stealing of natural resources,” and a million other violences, at the hands of male colonizers, until as recently as this moment that you are reading this. We have also been, as a people, ripped from our womenfolk and homes, sold to men either directly or indirectly for marriage, taken against our will to foreign countries, deprived of the most basic civil and human rights, forced to bear children, forced to have sex, battered or murdered when we refused, prostituted and shipped all over the world, and a million other forms of colonization which I could name at the hands of males.

    I believe females ARE a people, vis a vis males, and we are as surely colonized as any people.

    (2) More on point, if you have no knowledge of, or do not count, lesbian, and in particular lesbian separatist community as a legitimate community subject to colonization from outsiders. That is what I was specifically referring to in response to the discussions around transgender issues.

    Again, though, I believe females are also a people which can be, and has been, colonized by males.

    Heart

  367. Heart

    Hey, Justice Walks, the feeling is completely mutual.

    Heart

  368. ComradeComrade

    First let me write that I looked up the word “trolling” and found that I was doing it. Please accept my apology. Also, I’ve been using the words “transphobe” and “anti-trans” a lot. I’m not trying to tar people that disagree with me with a negative label. I’m talking about specific beliefs and attitudes. -isms language frequently gets in the way of undestanding due to the negative connotations. That doesn’t mean the attitudes don’t exist, or that people don’t have them. I reread Heart’s posts and found that I completely agree with most of what she says. I also went to her site, yesterday. I don’t know if she would consider me an ally, but based on what I read, I consider her one of mine.

    SG writes,

    I’m a scientist too so I cannot deny reality to fit philosophy. I don’t believe in that. Theory must explain reality and your theory does not explain reality. Otherwise I would not exist. I’ve realized over time that I must amend some of my advanced blaming philosophies to accomodate my reality.

    Nice. This is my problem with the analysis of some of the people on this thread. Being pretty heavily cisgendered, I’m no expert on being transgendered. However, I figured out pretty quick that you, Mireille, Smitty and other TG folk are. When it comes to picking who knows more about actually being trans, I pick you. That also includes paying more attention to you than an editted sound bite from Renee Richards. Theory should follow evidence. Ignoring evidence because it would force analysis to change from an existing ideology is not something I like to do.

    Based on what I’ve read here, I’m tending to lean toward the stuff that Shabnam has been writing. Gender identity is culturally based. It is also individually based. I’m pretty sure that individual biologies are interrelated with thoughts and beliefs of the individual, but I have little idea how, so I could be wrong. Thoughts affect biology, biology affects thought. How this works with TG, or CG folks for that matter, needs a lot more investigation. So is Patriarchy to blame for the investigation or the lack of investigation, or both?

  369. Tigs

    I have been thinking hard how to word this, and I’m not sure I can do it well right now, but I think there’s a serious problematic in the race analogy here.

    Race is completely a social construct. Phenotype expression has no self-referential importance beyond that society gives it. If the world weren’t racist, no one would ‘feel’ black or white. The desire to categorize on the white-ness scale is all about relative position. Without people to compare oneself to, race doesn’t exist.

    The sexuit being, however, does exist. (I apologize profusely if this is unclear, I’m working really hard with this really challenging concept) Drucilla Cornell has developed the category of ‘sexuit being’ to describe a category that approaches sex and gender and ought to come with us behind the veil of ignorance (Rawlsian talk for categories for real justice).

    This essentially means that without other people, and without specific definitions for what these categories mean, every human being is still a sexed person. Even after patriarchy, humans will still have a means of thinking about themselves as sexed individuals, even if they dont have a categorized sexuality. That sex is not just about male and female and any specific chromosomal or physical expressions, rather it is a matter of how we will exist as human beings in a social and communicative location. Whether we choose to engage in physical relationships with other people or not, with whom we choose to have these relations, what our bodies actually mean to us, who we are when we make these choices, these are all decisions that human beings as sexuit beings will always make– even if sex itself is destroyed as a discrete category. Thus the necessity of a concept such as the sexuit being.

    I don’t want to get trolly on what I think the implications of this are, but I wanted to throw this out there.

  370. justicewalks

    No, no, no, no, Tigs. The point isn’t to eradicate difference. The point is to eradicate the champaign-flute pyramid hierarchy.

    When we stop distributing human rights, access to resources, acknowledgment of individuality and humanity, like it’s a limited amount of champaign flowing into a pyramid of flutes, then sex won’t matter. When people stop acting as if their entitlement to an overflowing glass is more important than someone else’s right to the basics, then gender won’t matter. When the pyramid is dismantled and every glass is filled equally, straight from the bottle, we can all be who we are without consequence.

  371. Heart

    Tigs, gender also a completely social construct. In fact, gender is a subordinating social construct, just as race is.

    Biological sex, skin color, etc., are physical/biological realities, but absent socially-constructed dominance hierarchies, dominance and subordination would attach to them.

    Justice Walks, I’m liking the champagne flute pyramid metaphor! However, it’s Friday night, so at the moment I would prefer to turn it upright and pour some good cabernet sauvignon into it. :)

    Heart

  372. Heart

    Ugh, typos. Let me try that again.

    Gender is also a completely social construct. In fact, gender is a subordinating social construct, just as race is.

    Biological sex, skin color, etc., are physical/biological realities, but absent socially-constructed dominance hierarchies, dominance and subordination would not attach to these or any other biological or physical characteristics.

    Heart

  373. msxochitl

    Comrade said: “[T]he failure of some folks on this thread to see transfolk as real people and not just aspects of their critique bugs me to death.”

    Of course we are all real people. But we are also products of our environment. If I don’t feel that I fit in with the notion of what my gender is supposed to be, where do I look for answers? Maybe I look to psychiatrists, to friends, to people who write about gender theory. And what kind of explanations are those sources likely to offer, to help me explain my situation? How familiar and sympathetic are these sources likely to be toward the notion of gender abolition and the critique of patriarchy?

    In a political climate where radical feminism flourishes, where calls for gender abolition are widespread, you might have more women who identify as lesbian, rather than transgender.

    In a climate where a more postmodern, sexual libertarian, individualist analysis of gender prevails, you might have more women who choose to transition to male, rather than claim a lesbian identity.

  374. msxochitl

    justicewalks: “When the pyramid is dismantled and every glass is filled equally, straight from the bottle, we can all be who we are without consequence.”

    This reminds me of a an issue I had with some White professors at my school. They were anthropologists, and therefore knew that race is a social construct, not a biological reality. So they decided, instead of writing “White” for their race on university forms, they would write “Black” or “Other.”

    Now, maybe that doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But think about it: The department can remain 100% Whites-only as long as the White professors don’t identify as White. They can discriminate against People of Color in hiring, and no one has to know. In their attempts to get rid of race, the profs did nothing about racism.

  375. Heart

    msxochitl, those professors who “identified” as white had to have been some pretty conservative and unenlightened professors.

    I think it’s a problem to view race and gender as “identities,” as something that happens in the head or psyche or spirit or something like that, when in fact, race and gender products of social coercion. Gender is something that is done to people without our consent. Race is something that is done to people, without our consent. It seems to me the goal ought not to be, as one writer says, to “dignify [our] indignity as [our] identity”, but to work for a world that is coercion- and subordination (and gender) free.

    Heart

  376. msxochitl

    “[T]hose professors who “identified” as white had to have been some pretty conservative and unenlightened professors.”

    Nope. This was their idea of radicalism. They had good intentions. It just wasn’t a very well thought-through idea. And if they really understood racism, if they really were Black or “Other,” they would have known this.

  377. justicewalks

    I think it’s a problem to view race and gender as “identities,” as something that happens in the head or psyche or spirit or something like that, when in fact, race and gender products of social coercion.

    YES. Race and gender aren’t things we feel. They are simply the markers of our place in the hierarchy. If there is no hierarchy, there is no race or gender.

    Until then, though, if we don’t acknowledge our true positions within it, we deny the existence of the hierarchy. If we deny that it exists, how can we work to end it?

  378. Marti Abernathey

    Did you not have enough of this debate in that last monster, anti-transathon, comment extravaganza? I’m rather tired of rad fem theory. Eradication of gender is about as likely to happen as Frosty the Snowman having margaritas with me in Bermuda. Gender variance, or sexual identity variance, whatever you want to call it… has a long history. St. Mary of Alexandria, Joan of Arc, Chevalier d’Eon, Billy Tipton were all transgender people. Transgenderism goes across different times and cultures.

    “Ignoring evidence because it would force analysis to change from an existing ideology is not something I like to do.”

    Like BST differences in M2F transsexuals? I don’t consider myself an essentialist (more of a suggestionalist ;))but rad fem theory doesn’t follow any kind of rational corresponding physiological or pathological theory. It’s the equvilent of arguing about the existence of Christ with a Christian. It’s a fruitless endeavor because their truth is based in faith, not fact.

  379. Gayle

    “Gender variance, or sexual identity variance, whatever you want to call it… has a long history.”

    So what? What does this have to do with anything at all?

    “Transgenderism goes across different times and cultures.”

    So does women-hating. You seem to want to argue that the existence of something in and of itself proves its rightness or validity. This is senseless reasoning. You’re willfully ignoring cross cultural and historical oppression, violence, war, etc.

    “rad fem theory doesn’t follow any kind of rational corresponding physiological or pathological theory. It’s the equvilent of arguing about the existence of Christ with a Christian. It’s a fruitless endeavor because their truth is based in faith, not fact.”

    Oh man, are you ever on the wrong blog. Run along now before you discredit yourself and your arguments even more.

  380. delphyne

    “I think it’s a problem to view race and gender as “identities,” as something that happens in the head or psyche or spirit or something like that, when in fact, race and gender products of social coercion.”

    I’ll just echo Justicewalk’s big YES to this. That was the point I was trying to make earlier – women can’t step out of womanhood just because we want to. We can’t suddenly say “I’m a man” when we are being raped, being physically abused, being paid less than men, being shackled whilst we are giving birth, being forcibly sterilised – all those acts happen to women as women, and it has *nothing* to do with what is going on in our heads at the time.

    It’s very worrying to hear feminists saying “there’s no such thing as a woman” when clearly there is and not only that but men oppress us because of what we are.

  381. delphyne

    “It’s the equvilent of arguing about the existence of Christ with a Christian. It’s a fruitless endeavor because their truth is based in faith, not fact.”

    And yet, for example, it is MTF transsexual people who are arguing that although they have male bodies they believe that they are female and that we must accept their belief at face value although the actual facts say otherwise. If that’s not a faith-based argument I don’t know what is.

    Sex may be complicated, but it exists in physical reality. There’s no scientific test that proves that someone’s brain is really female when their body is male.

  382. Mar Iguana

    “There’s no scientific test that proves that someone’s brain is really female when their body is male.” delphyne

    Nope, because the boyos cannot have a female brain in their skull anymore than they can have a womb in their belly. Scientific tests have shown important differences between the female and the male brain. It’s one of the major reasons I’m so thankful I’m a woman.

    “Did you not have enough of this debate in that last monster, anti-transathon, comment extravaganza? I’m rather tired of rad fem theory.” Marti Abernathy

    Awww, are all those radical feminists wearing him down to a widdle nub, Mr. Abernathy? Wah.

    And, no. I can’t get enough of this “debate” but I restrain myself here out of respect for our host. It does surprise me that more of you boys haven’t shown up here for this post. I even stocked up on the choco chex. Maybe your clarion caller is on the fritz. Or, you’re confident you have effectively silenced the women here and don’t need to call out the big guns.

  383. Heart

    Justice Walks: YES. Race and gender aren’t things we feel. They are simply the markers of our place in the hierarchy. If there is no hierarchy, there is no race or gender.

    Exactly. More ominously, it is in the best interests of men, and white people, to not have to acknowledge their true position within the gender or race hiearchy: ON TOP. That way they don’t have to acknowledge their privilege, their responsibility, the benefit they receive.

    As to these non-white-identifying professors, does the school have no Whiteness Studies programs? Theoretically radical professors in the U.S., at least, are going to certainly have some awareness of Whiteness Studies and will at least agree that simply not “identifying” as white on forms — if one is, indeed white — solves nothing and in fact, makes things worse. Of course, their insights would not likely extend to gender. There they would probably figure no problem! You are the identity you feel, write whatever!

    But maybe the professors had the same confusions around these issues that I see a lot of on the blogosphere lately.

    Certain theories I won’t name, because the naming gets in the way and causes other problems, posit, again, that people can “vault themselves out of power methodologically,” i.e., that ‘identifications” are about something that goes on in the head or the psyche somehow. So if a male person “identifies” as a woman, that ought to be sufficient, everyone should acknowledge and accept the “identity.” But manhood and womanhood and race are, again, something that is done TO people by the surrounding society and culture. They aren’t “identifications.” They exist in the myriad of externally-applied coercions of a surrounding dominance hierarchy.

    If race were not about dominance, “white” would not exist. Because nobody is “white.” “White” is not a race. We are German or Swiss or French or Scottish or whatever. White exists strictly as a marker of social dominance. That’s all it is. Whiteness studies people and others say, and I agree, that it is whiteness as a category of social dominance, i.e., as an oppressive system and institution, which must be deconstructed. That doesn’t happen because some white person says, “I’m not white!” The deconstruction happens via anti-racism work of all kinds, by working to end systems and institutions and beliefs that shore up the “white equals dominance/superiority” equation.

    In the same way, if gender were not about dominance, “man” and “woman” would not exist as categories. Because nobody is born a “man” or a “woman”. We are born male or female (or intersex in a tiny number of instances). Radical feminism posits that gender (manhood/womanhood) as a subordinating category must be deconstructed and abolished. That doesn’t happen because a male person says, “I’m a woman,” or a female person says, “I’m a man.” It happens via anti-sexism work of all kinds, by working to end systems and institutions, practices, beliefs which shore up the “man equals superior and dominant, woman equals inferior and submissive” equation.

    Where people get confused, I believe, and maybe this is true of the professors Msxochitl is talking about, is where they mix up this taking on of “identities” with “identity politics.” I see this confusion in various quarters lately, people getting this mixed up and being all over identity politics as a bad thing, because they think it means white people “identifying as” not white, or men “identifying as” women.

    That’s not what identity politics ever was or is. Identity politics has to do with, as Justice Walks wrote, “acknowledging our place within the existing hierarchy,” whether of race or sex, and then working to end the hierarchy.

    This other identity-schmidentity bologna is the opposite of that. It’s about individuals attempting to move themselves around inside the hierarchy by acts of will, or by fiat, without acknowledging that it IS a hierarchy which must be abolished, even suggesting that the hierarchy is somehow unavoidable and that some people just mytically “are” men or women, or “are” dominant/submissive, or “are” subordinator/subordinatee, by some sort of esoteric something-or-other, or thoughts in the head, or whatever (then usually hollering that it’s radical feminists who are “essentialist”. HA.).

    As marginalized people, we might occasionally decide to accept those who are outsiders, i.e., on a higher rung of the hierarchy, as one of our own. What matters there, I think, is that that’s our call, not the outsider’s. Actual identity politics (as opposed to this assuming identities thing) has always been about the right of oppressed people to self-definition, to define their own in-group/out-group boundaries, and to reject the control and intrusions of members of dominant groups who have unavoidable conflicts of interest.

    Heart

  384. R. Mildred

    And yet, for example, it is MTF transsexual people who are arguing that although they have male bodies they believe that they are female and that we must accept their belief at face value although the actual facts say otherwise. If that’s not a faith-based argument I don’t know what is.

    Well that’s how pretty much everything is diagnosed in psychological medicine actually – “I feel this” or “I feel that hordes of transwomen are spying on my toilet activities, because, well, look at me! Why the hell wouldn’t they?” or whatever it is actually valid evidence for a disorder because *shock* psychology is a science OF THE MIND,and modern neuroscience is barely even that.

    For instance, Heart and delphyne “feel” that transwomen are men who are enabling the patriarchy through a process of… having their body’s physically altered so that they can become women – a miracle then occurs – and this supports patriarchal constructions of sex and gender.

    Which is what phsychologists call a “neurotic delusion”, one which occurs as a result of their patriarchally conditioned personal insecurities about their (still very patriarchal) relationship with their identities and genders, let alone their bodies and sexuality in general.

    You see! Internet Diagnosis as an Arguement is fun!

  385. Heart

    R. Mildred: For instance, Heart and delphyne “feel” that transwomen are men who are enabling the patriarchy through a process of… having their body’s physically altered so that they can become women – a miracle then occurs – and this supports patriarchal constructions of sex and gender.

    And this is bullshit.

    I think that there are males and females and intersex persons born into the world. I think that males have instituted and perpetuated systems of dominance to subordinate and enslave females. I think they called the females “women” and themselves, males, “men.”

    Feminism aims to end this sexist bullshit, i.e., male dominance, in all of its expressions, including the expression which amounts to denying the having of male privilege. If you were born male you had it.

    Full stop.

    Heart

  386. delphyne

    “You see! Internet Diagnosis as an Arguement is fun!”

    It seems to be for you, but that isn’t what I was doing. I haven’t made any psychological diagnosis about MTF transsexual people, I’ve simply noted that their belief that they are really women isn’t backed up by physical reality.

    Why would you use patriarchal psychology to take a pop at women you disagree with? It’s not very feminist is it, R. Mildred.

  387. ComradeComrade

    Msxochitl writes:

    In a political climate where radical feminism flourishes, where calls for gender abolition are widespread, you might have more women who identify as lesbian, rather than transgender.

    In a climate where a more postmodern, sexual libertarian, individualist analysis of gender prevails, you might have more women who choose to transition to male, rather than claim a lesbian identity.

    Ok, I think I see your point. Your concern is that some lesbians might be identifying as transgendered and transtioning to male because of misogynist pressure. Personally, I think it would be silly to think that this has never happened. However, I haven’t seen any evidence of it. I’m not saying that the evidence doesn’t exist, I just haven’t seen it. The writings that I’ve read about this here and on questioningtransgender are speculative, not based on experience. I have seen evidence that some transfolk have identified as lesbians or gay men due to societal pressure; it’s in this thread. It seems incongruous to assert that this means that homosexuality is a threat to transgendereds, especially since some identify as gay or lesbian after transitioning, which is another fact that seems to be marginalized in the discussion. I’ll throw another bag of worms into the can by bringing up the issue of bi transes. Again, personally, I think the issue of transphobic attitudes in lesbians and gays is related to biphobia in lesbians and gays. However, the tendency to heap crap on bi-denying lesbians and gays, so let me write: THE PROBLEM IS PATRARCHY AND HETEROSEXISM IS PART OF IT!

  388. ComradeComrade

    msxochitl also writes:

    If I don’t feel that I fit in with the notion of what my gender is supposed to be, where do I look for answers? Maybe I look to psychiatrists, to friends, to people who write about gender theory. And what kind of explanations are those sources likely to offer, to help me explain my situation? How familiar and sympathetic are these sources likely to be toward the notion of gender abolition and the critique of patriarchy?

    It depends on the source. Fortunately, sympathetic and familiar sources exist. However, I don’t believe that sympathy and familiarity are enough. Empathy is also necessary. Finding empathic sources for women is easier than for transfolk. Roughly half the planet are women. For transgendered people it is much more difficult. And there are many unsympathetic, unfamiliar, and/or unempathetic sources for both. IBTP.

  389. nexy

    “Radical feminism posits that gender (manhood/womanhood) as a subordinating category must be deconstructed and abolished. That doesn’t happen because a male person says, “I’m a woman,” or a female person says, “I’m a man.” It happens via anti-sexism work of all kinds, by working to end systems and institutions, practices, beliefs which shore up the “man equals superior and dominant, woman equals inferior and submissive” equation.”

    So we are in agreement, Heart. But what do we do in the interim? How do we live our lives in a way that allows us some kind of reconciliation between how we feel, and how we fit into this gendered world of ours?

    It seems that some radical feminists, as an interim solution, have set up separate spaces for themselves, to heal, learn, grow, and so on. But these spaces, such as the MWMF, *also* do not deconstruct or abolish the subordinating category of gender, just as trans people through their transition do not, and for the same reasons. In fact, *both* systems enforce subordinating categories, by the same essential gender theory we both fight against. People allowed into women-only spaces are allowed in based *solely* on their sexed body parts, and only the ones they were born with, just as trans people alter their bodies in the context of sex characteristics.

    So in our attempts to live under the patriarchy, in the interum, while speaking out against the gender binary, we both act to support it, enforce it, and propagate it.

    Just as radical separatists enforce the patriarchy by identifying people based on their sexed bodies, trans transitions enforce the patriarchy by identifying ourselves based on our sexed bodies, pre- and post transition.

    All this infighting only serves the patriarchy as well – while we are fighting each other, we cannot work together towards an end to “systems and institutions, practices, beliefs which shore up the ‘man equals superior and dominant, woman equals inferior and submissive’”

    So, lets stop this destructive conflict, and start working together to end our common foes. What do you suggest we all do, specific actions and behaviors, in our everyday lives, that we all can do to meet our common goals?

  390. Mar Iguana

    nexy, you have just made my manometer pop a tube.

  391. Heart

    Nexy, I have a gigantic supply of suggestions for what we can all do on my blog. I write about that kind of thing all the time, day in, day out, practical, down-to-earth actions anybody can take right this moment to address our common foes. This week there are so many practical suggestions, mine and commenters’, it even blows my mind. For starters, check out the thread on how we can offer our practical support to Malalai Joya, the revolutionary Afghan woman parliamentarian who has been ousted because she criticized her misogynist male colleagues and whose life is more in danger now than it has ever been. Or check out the thread on offering support to Heather Khadejah Jones who has been awarded custody of her three children by an Oman court — the first American to ever be awarded full custody — but who is about to be deported because her abusive ex had friends where she worked who got her fired, meaning she has no work visa; i.e., he’s found a perfect way to get rid of her because if she’s deported, she can’t return to Oman.

    So anybody who is interested in doing what is practical and possible right now today in the interests of fighting patriarchy — please, check out those threads.

    In the meantime, as I’ve stated many times, as feminist women, we are not relegated to DOS; we can has Windowz. Attending to our intrafeminist conflicts — as we need to be doing, they aren’t going away anytime soon — does not keep us from simultaneously engaging in all sorts of feminist activism.

    Heart

  392. delphyne

    “It seems that some radical feminists, as an interim solution, have set up separate spaces for themselves, to heal, learn, grow, and so on. But these spaces, such as the MWMF, *also* do not deconstruct or abolish the subordinating category of gender, just as trans people through their transition do not, and for the same reasons. In fact, *both* systems enforce subordinating categories, by the same essential gender theory we both fight against.”

    Wrong. Radical feminist women-only spaces don’t reinforce gender, they subvert it. Women are supposed to make ourselves constantly available to men so by absenting ourselves from them and creating our own political spaces (and MWMF is definitely a political space) we challenge patriarchy and refuse to submit to its demands on us.

    It’s ridiculous to try and create some equivalence between the patriarchal construct of transsexualism and women reclaiming our space and our lives from men.

  393. nexy

    “It’s ridiculous to try and create some equivalence between the patriarchal construct of transsexualism and women reclaiming our space and our lives from men.”

    Claiming that woman-only space subverts gender does not make it so. I could claim that by transitioning as I have, that too subverts gender (as many trans people have), but i (and they) would be just as incorrect. Any time anyone classifies people by sex, as both woman-only space does, and transitioning does, it works against subversion, and enforces gender.

  394. Heart

    Good point, delphyne. Also, one humongous reason for Michfest is, it’s a place where gender nonconforming female persons can be fully themselves — fat, thin, tall, short, bearded, old, young, disabled, deaf, whatever — and be *celebrated* and *appreciated* and *valued* exactly as they are, for the women they are, without patriarchy’s fascist beauty standard being the standard, nobody questioning them, no problems using any of the facilities because they are read as male, etc. This certainly is subversive, offering female persons an entire week to experience living in a setting which does not privilege or approve patriarchy’s fascist beauty standards and in which the male gaze is not an issue, there are no males around ogling anyone. Yes, some of the females ogle, but female ogling is a whole different kettle of fish, given that females are not the ones randomly running around raping and sexually harrassing/assaulting women and girls in the world. As women, we are not sexually afraid of one another.

    Also, Michfest is an experiment in woman-centered, woman-created community. Females do it ALL at Michfest– they build it all each year and tear it all down, they set up and maintain all the plumbing, electricity, sound systems, stages, kitchen, disabled areas, haul everything in, perform all the security. Females do all of the entertaining, all of the leading, the planning, create all of the art, poetry, music, crafts, workshops, provide the alternative medical care, all of it is created by females. Male voices/male music are not allowed on women’s land; that is a revelation for every woman who attends the festival. Michfest is a cooperative venture; every woman who attends works at least one four-hour workshift. While there are religious gatherings for females of many backgrounds, central to Fest is the practice of woman-only, woman-centered spirituality. The community sets the expectations: all of the food served by Fest is vegetarian, all of the soap, etc., is expected to be biodegradable, everything is recycled, the forest is disturbed no more than is absolutely necessary to pitch tents or get from one place to another. In other words, this is an experiment in community living as females would design community if we had the power in the world to do so. It is human and it isn’t perfect, but it is certainly a laboratory in subverting the dominant and prevailing paradigms. Which is undoubtedly why some of us bend heaven and earth to get to womyn’s land each August.

    Anyway, of course Michfest is subversive.

    Heart

  395. nexy

    Just like transitioning is subversive by living, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in a way that no “real” man of the patriarchy would approve.

    no, i’m just not buying it.

  396. justicewalks

    Just like transitioning is subversive by living, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in a way that no “real” man of the patriarchy would approve.

    If they wanted to be subversive, they’d do this and still call themselves men, instead of proving the patriarchy right by calling themselves something else. Like women.

  397. nexy

    “If they wanted to be subversive, they’d do this and still call themselves men, instead of proving the patriarchy right by calling themselves something else. Like women.”

    Some do call themselves men. Some call themselves other. And some, like some women, prove the patriarchy right. Like all classes of peoples, trans people are quite diverse. Like all classes of people, trans people cannot be stereotyped into monolithic behaviors and/or beliefs.

  398. thebewilderness

    nexy said: And some, like some women, prove the patriarchy right.

    This was the point at which I realized that some clarification and definition of terms are essential in conversations like this. That was a really creepy thing to say.

    Women are one of the oppressed classes in the patriarchy. It is not possible to consent to your own oppression. It is not possible for any woman to ever “prove the patriarchy right”.

  399. Heart

    If no real man of the patriarchy would approve some men living as women 24 hours a day, patriarchy wouldn’t go to the extreme lengths it goes to make it possible for men to do precisely that.

    Iow, what Justice Walks said. It’s the gender nonconforming females at Michfest who are transgressive. They are female, they are women, and they are presenting proudly exactly as they are.

    And definitely what the bewilderness said. To say that some females “prove patriarchy is right” is to say that some females get what we deserve, i.e., our own subordination. That’s just wrong.

    Heart

  400. nexy

    “If no real man of the patriarchy would approve some men living as women 24 hours a day, patriarchy wouldn’t go to the extreme lengths it goes to make it possible for men to do precisely that.”

    Extreme lengths such as surgery? Legal hoops? Not all, in fact most, trans people do not go to those extremes. Patriarchy tries, but many of us don’t buy into what they’re selling.

    “To say that some females “prove patriarchy is right” is to say that some females get what we deserve, i.e., our own subordination. That’s just wrong.”

    To put words into my mouth is what’s wrong here. I never said, nor implied that some females get what they deserve. Nice try though.

    For most trans people, transition is not an attempt to be subversive. It’s an attempt to survive. We *all* do what we feel we have to. Yet somehow, when women-born-women do what they have to, that’s ok. When trans people do what they have to, it’s not ok.

    And that, is at the heart of the issue I have with the direction to which these types of threads go.

  401. Artemisian

    I’ve been reading this thread with much interest and more sadness. For the record, and to get it out in the open first, I am an: intersexed, female-identified, male-assigned and raised, transitioning, biological father, mom, lesbian-leaning bissexual, feminist, liberal-libertaian among other things.

    For the better part of my 32 years I have experienced and been a victim of (as we all are in our own ways) the poisonous legacy of misogynistic socio-medical binary sexism. The determination that there are only two polar sexes and the gender roles assigned to and accepted by those who are divided into the female and male pigeonholes. The assignation of gender roles depends on the concept of biological determinism as described by the “Women are/do ‘X’, men are/do ‘y’” mindset.

    I’m pretty sure many feminists would consider that mode of thinking to be flawed and wrong. But then there are those of you who use the same basic logic to say that whatever you have in your diaper determines who you are for the rest of your life. Um, sound familiar? It’s the same argument, right? You see that?

    For all of you who are arguing for the exclusion of transwomen from the MWMF, I agree with you. Coming from Chicago, one of the most segregated cities in the world, I understand the desire for a cultural oasis in a society that seeks to stifle cultural identity. Major and minor ethnic groups (not race per se) self-segregate for sake of comfort and to preserve the traditions those people value. One positive result of this is the variety of excellent restaurants and markets serving the neighbourhoods’ ethnic foodstuffs. Anyone who has grown up there can tell you. But there is a downside, too. These ethnic islands, like the MWMF, themselves, can smother the identities of the individuals who participate in the separation. Individual identity, there is expected to conform to the “commonly” perceived values of the leaders of the community and those people who have formed their own ideas of Self are regarded as cultural traitors.

    To use biological determinism in any fashion is an inaccurate method for repairing the damage caused by the patriarchy. By adopting the binary as your basis for relating to sex and gender you are lending support to the oppression of the patriarchy.

    Biological sex is much more complex than whether or not a person has a vagina or a penis. Some, like myself were born with both features to varying degrees of usefulness. Sex is proven through biology to be a continuum, just as the identity of Gender is. To be sure, Gender Identity is something that is necessarily determined by cultural standards as it is how an individual identifies with the social roles assigned to the sexes in a particular culture based on that individual’s innate qualities and years of experience. Gender is fluid even if we choose a spot on the continuum in which to live our lives, our relationship to the ideals set forth for us by the patriarchal system is always in flux.

    Transmen and women and the rapidly growing population of genderqueer people are victims of the binary system as we all are, but there is another component at work here that cisgendered people will necessarily find difficult to understand. I’ve never been able to sufficiently describe the concept of an identity as an innate understanding of ones self. For the cisgendered, people born whose sex is congruent with their understanding of Self, they simply are who they are, and gender expression is largely a matter of choice. For trans and intersexed people, their sense of Self is at odds with the way they are treated by society (relationship with Gender) and by the way their bodies develop. This makes their relationship with Gender complicated, but their identification with a particular sex is not simply based on this relationship and understanding of Gender.

    For those of you who view anyone born with a vagina as forever being women and everyone born with a penis as forever being men. How wonderfully simple! How binary! How biologically unfounded. There may be over thirty genes that give us the framework for our Sex and Gender identity, then there is the dance of hormones over that, the possibility of conditions that change our relationships to our hormones, environmental contamination, and lesser-known determinants that account for cross-sex characteristics. Things get muddy now. Toss in the familial and prevailing culture’s destructive effects on a person’s identity and it’s a complete stew.

    Only we as individuals have the right to define who we are because only we can know who we are. We also have the right to associate with whom we wish, and not to associate with those we do not. The need to take this power away from another individual is a symptom of the disease of patriarchy even if it is only in reaction to it.

    Sorry if this is kinda disjointed, I wrote it over a couple of days while my daughter was napping.

  402. thebewilderness

    nexy, these are your words: And some, like some women, prove the patriarchy right.

    They sound like fighting words to me, perhaps you would like to explain what you meant.

    Further you said: Yet somehow, when women-born-women do what they have to, that’s ok. When trans people do what they have to, it’s not ok.

    Again, I do not understand you. Are you suggesting that your survival depends on the protection inherent in joining a group of women, so that when the predators come, your odds of survival are better?

  403. Artemisian

    “There’s no scientific test that proves that someone’s brain is really female when their body is male.”

    Actually, there are tests to run on the physical brains that study structure differences, but unfortunately they are only currently able to be done postmortem. because of the relative scarcity of transsexuals and the logistic difficulty of getting them to all donate their brains and die in a convenient manner for research purposes, there has only been one study so far comparing the physical brains of MTF transsexuals and natal males and females. The study showed that the brains of the MTFs and females were more similar in structure than those of the males and MTFs. Other studies before and since have shown that cross-hormonal therapy does not change the physical structures of the brain for those wondering.

    This in effect could be used to argue that transsexuals have a form of intersex condition.

    In fact, transsexuality is not a condition, Gender Identity Disorder is. The problem transsexuals have is with the way that society deals with them. Perhaps if there was no such thing as gender and everyone was able to act, dress, and interact with one another freely and without shame or judgement, then we wouldn’t know that men weren’t supposed to wear dresses, or that women weren’t supposed to be successful leaders. But you would still have the problem that is that the transsexual or the intersexed person still did not have the physical body that they feel they should have.

    I think the problem also lies in the misuse of the word “gender” as in: “transgender,” “Gender Identity Disorder,” or the horrid “Gender Reassignment Surgery.” For one thing, gender is a construct of the patriarchy, so is psychiatry. But the biggest problem is that the dysphoria lies in the physical sex, not the gender role of the person. Again, cisgendered (another problematic word as it refers to the sexed body) people, like the fish asked to describe water, has no idea what it is to be “wrongly bodied” for lack of a better term.

    Sex is not gender, though they are used against each other.

  404. nexy

    I don’t believe, at this point, that we are able to understand each other, thebewilderness. It’s as if we are speaking two different languages. Further, I don’t believe this blog is a venue through which we may come to a better understanding. Cop-out? Perhaps. But I’ve come to see that there’s a bit too much hostility, misunderstandings, and assumptions regarding the issues at this time and place. My words, from my perspective, are twisted and spun into meanings that, again, from my perspective, were never there.

    I don’t know what the answers are, I don’t know why you perceive my words as “fighting words”, and I don’t want to fight. I’d much prefer to come to some sort of mutual understanding. But after this, and other threads like it, I just don’t have the strength anymore to try.

    I haven’t joined any group of women that I know of, nor do I believe that joining a group of women would afford some kind of preotection for me. Nor do I see how my words could have been interpreted that way. Clearly, you are much more adept at this type of interaction than I am. I guess it’s time for me to go back from whence I came, and hone my conversation skills, such that I can be better understood, and make myself clear.

    Sorry for any misunderstandings cause by my words.

    Carry on.

  405. delphyne

    “Actually, there are tests to run on the physical brains that study structure differences, but unfortunately they are only currently able to be done postmortem.”

    I wasn’t aware that there was a test anywhere that could decide whether a brain was female or male without any reference to chromosomes or the sex organs of the body it came from.

  406. thebewilderness

    nexy,
    My adult sons and I spent years learning how to talk to each other without misunderstanding. It requires explaining terms, and exploring what we think they mean, and how they are emotionally loaded for each of us. That is why I asked you to explain what you meant by ‘prove the patriarchy right’.

    Artemesian said: But then there are those of you who use the same basic logic to say that whatever you have in your diaper determines who you are for the rest of your life. Um, sound familiar? It’s the same argument, right? You see that?

    You are mistaken. They are arguing that what you have in your diaper dictates how you are treated by others every moment of every day of your life. Do you see the difference?
    We are talking past each other because the words carry different emotional loads depending on our life experiences.

  407. msxochitl

    nexy: “So we are in agreement, Heart. But what do we do in the interim? How do we live our lives in a way that allows us some kind of reconciliation between how we feel, and how we fit into this gendered world of ours?”

    Good point! And I understand the desire to make our bodies conform to the gender stereotype that we most resemble. But I think it is important to keep in mind your insight, that when we do this, we are accomodating to patriarchal designations of gender. There is nothing radical about it.

    nexy: “It seems that some radical feminists, as an interim solution, have set up separate spaces for themselves, to heal, learn, grow, and so on.”

    Yes, and transfolks have also set up trans-only spaces, where they can heal, learn, and grow. I respect that.

    Artemesian: “The assignation of gender roles depends on the concept of biological determinism as described by the “Women are/do ‘X’, men are/do ‘y’” mindset.”

    Yep. And psychiatrists who buy into the idea of “Gender Identity Disorder” promote this view of gender. Here’s one example of how psychiatrists determine if someone has Gender Identity Disorder:

    “Girls with Gender Identity Disorder display intense negative reactions to parental expectations or attempts to have them wear dresses or other feminine attire. Some may refuse to attend school or social events where such clothes may be required. They prefer boy’s clothing and short hair, are often misidentified by strangers as boys, and may ask to be called a boy’s name. their fantasy heroes are most often powerful male figures, such as Batman or Superman. these girls prefer boys as playmates, with whom they share interests in contact sports, rough-and-tumble play and traditional boyhood games. they show little interest in dolls or any form of feminine dress up or role-play activity.”

    http://www.mhsanctuary.com/gender/dsm.htm

    In other words, if you are born with a vagina but act like a boy, there is something wrong with you, and your body should be altered so that you can be a boy–which is your “real” gender. Again, I don’t see what is so radical or patriarchy-smashing about this.

  408. Artemisian

    Sorry about those darned quotes within quotes getting all mucked up.

  409. Artemisian

    Okay, because the post prior to my last post kinda vanished (new to the wordpress thing – I may have edited it away instead of posting anew) I’ll try this again.

    “I wasn’t aware that there was a test anywhere that could decide whether a brain was female or male without any reference to chromosomes or the sex organs of the body it came from.”

    Yep, there are differences in the sizes of brain structures, and I was mistaken in saying that the only way to measure them was to dissect the brain postmortem as this study had done, whereas we now have sophisticated MRI scanning that can do much the same testing without all the being dead and all. The original study is copied all over the place, so I’ll post an address here (because the HTML I used may have also caused a conflict on the last post) –> http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtc0106.htm There are a whole slew of studies on the sex differences in specific brain structures.

    The true nature of a person’s sex cannot be measured by the presence of penis or vagina, the structures of the brain, or even the chromosomal layouts alone, but all of these are good indicators, just not infallible litmus tests. Life is not that simple, nor should it be. The fact that intersexed people exist in great numbers and varieties is enough to show that sex is not A or Z, but all the letters and then some in between. There are people who don’t identify as male or female though they may be physically one, the other, or both – what of them?

    “And psychiatrists who buy into the idea of ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ promote this view of gender.”

    I totally agree. Psychiatry and medicine in general is hopelessly lost in an archaic misogynistic worldview. But then, they are trying to get a handle on something outside their realm of understanding. “The Earth shakes because the Gods are angry!” is just as ridiculous as thinking that girls who wear pants and play rough all want to be boys. They are describing the shared childhood experiences of a few transsexual patients and a a few non-trans people as well. But then, they usually don’t hear about the same experiences from non-trans people because it’s not a defining part of everyone’s lives.

    Here’s the problem most people don’t understand, though:
    –>A transsexual’s problem lies first and foremost with their sex.

  410. justicewalks

    Here’s the problem most people don’t understand, though:
    –>A transsexual’s problem lies first and foremost with their sex.

    No, we all get that. Transsexuals are unhappy with their sex, and seek to change that (sometimes) through medical modification. What we’re saying is that you can’t switch sexes. Ever. No matter how unhappy you are, the best you can do is to change your physical and/or cultural manifestation in the world.

    What that means is that, while it may be possible for transpeople to adopt styles of dress or communication, or even genital presentation, that make them more comfortable in their own bodies, there is nothing they can do to change sex. What we are saying is that if the solutions currently offered to them – that they more fully adopt the appearance of the sex associated with their target GENDER – are satisfactory, it is because their problem is not actually with sex, despite all the protestations to the contrary; it is with gender. If, on the other hand, these solutions are, in fact, NOT satisfactory, then, yes, I might agree they are coping mechanisms which help them to live their lives affecting the mannerisms of their target gender without suffering the repercussions of belonging to the “wrong” sex, while at the same time acknowledging that transitioning is a paltry substitute for the impossible – actually changing sex.

    Either way, whether transsexuals’ “problem lies first and foremost with their sex” or with their gender, all of the current “medical solutions” (to include psychology) available support the dominant social order and are, therefore, anti-feminist. The difference is that a problem with gender can be mitigated with the dissolution of the patriarchy, while a problem with sex can never be solved, even after the revolution.

    So, here’s my conclusion. People who feel they were born into a body of the wrong sex will always be around. For now, they’re fed lies and empty promises about their affliction being curable with surgery and hormones. After the revolution, the permanence of their condition will be acknowledged and, while they might be offered the same hormonal/surgical options available now to make their bodies more aesthetically pleasing to inhabit, it will be with the full knowledge that treatment merely alleviates the symptoms and doesn’t cure the condition.

  411. LouisaMayAlcott

    Justicewalks,

    I’ve never heard this explained so lucidly.

    Bravo!

  412. delphyne

    “Yep, there are differences in the sizes of brain structures, and I was mistaken in saying that the only way to measure them was to dissect the brain postmortem as this study had done, whereas we now have sophisticated MRI scanning that can do much the same testing without all the being dead and all. The original study is copied all over the place, so I’ll post an address here (because the HTML I used may have also caused a conflict on the last post) –> http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtc0106.htm There are a whole slew of studies on the sex differences in specific brain structures.”

    But unlike sex, those differences exist along a continuum. It’s not possible for a scientist to examine a brain and say for certain that the brain is male or female. It’s not at all clear cut and it’s also not possible to say whether any of the differences between male and female brains are innate or are due to experiences after birth: as the brain is plastic and can develop throughout life.

    This kind of obfuscation is very annoying. I said that there isn’t a test for brains to prove whether they are male or female and there isn’t. I don’t know why you are trying to pretend otherwise.

  413. R. Mildred

    I think that there are males and females and intersex persons born into the world. I think that males have instituted and perpetuated systems of dominance to subordinate and enslave females. I think they called the females “women” and themselves, males, “men.”

    Did that system also invent genitalia and sexual reproduction? “men” meaning “penis owner” is also specifically a product of the post-renaissance puritan applications of patriarchy that was culminated linguistically and culturally in victorian england, Olde Englysh called men “wermen”, where “man” meant simply “person”, and “wer” or “were” meant, in modern english, “man”, which is why it’s “werewolf”, which translates as “man-wolf” in modern cis-puritanical english.

    Should they refer to themselves as maybe “wer-to-wyf” transsexuals? Would that help you grasp this incredibly simple concept?

    They call themselves “women” only because “post-gender vagina owners” isn’t A) english and B) an option on job applications.

    And they’re trying to have that last bit changed – then a miracle occurs – which makes them the tool of the patriarchy, where as going ON and ON about how penises are more immutable than the gorram atman and will always exist in a hyper-abstract-spiritual-psychological form if you happen to have been born with one, undoubtably haunting you and appearing at the end of your bed making “wooooo!” noises and rattling chains should you become a post-op M2F transwoman, in defense of the immutable super-womanhood of “women born and lived as women”, which bizarrely means that ann coulter is more welcome to frigging MWMF than a radical feminist transwoman, is of course totally “post” genderiffic, even though it involves alot of women going around calling themselves “women”, and in fact asserting that they’re more “woman” than those other penis haunted “women” who sillily imagine and assert, according to a fundamentalist interpretation of the talmud (or something), that they’re actually “just” as much “women” as the other “uberfraulein” even though they weren’t born to “woman”hood and in fact actively chose to become “women” in rejection of their “manliness” AKA their penii, testii and their hormonally masculine bodies.

  414. R. Mildred

    But unlike sex, those differences exist along a continuum. It’s not possible for a scientist to examine a brain and say for certain that the brain is male or female.

    Largely because no one has the slightest idea what the hell “a male/female brain” actually means in practical terms.

    It’s a big squishy grey blob, trying to sex it ain’t gonna be exactly easy.

  415. delphyne

    You’re telling me R. Mildred, but transsexual people keep insisting that sex exists in their heads (brains) and it is their physical bodies that are mistaken.

  416. Artemisian

    >>So, here’s my conclusion. People who feel they were born into a body of the wrong sex will always be around. For now, they’re fed lies and empty promises about their affliction being curable with surgery and hormones. After the revolution, the permanence of their condition will be acknowledged and, while they might be offered the same hormonal/surgical options available now to make their bodies more aesthetically pleasing to inhabit, it will be with the full knowledge that treatment merely alleviates the symptoms and doesn’t cure the condition.>But unlike sex, those [brain structure]differences exist along a continuum.

  417. Artemisian

    Okay, running into that posting bug, again. Maybe too many words, so I’ll split it up:

    Pt. I

    >>So, here’s my conclusion. People who feel they were born into a body of the wrong sex will always be around. For now, they’re fed lies and empty promises about their affliction being curable with surgery and hormones. After the revolution, the permanence of their condition will be acknowledged and, while they might be offered the same hormonal/surgical options available now to make their bodies more aesthetically pleasing to inhabit, it will be with the full knowledge that treatment merely alleviates the symptoms and doesn’t cure the condition.

  418. Artemisian

    One more try, sorry.

    “So, here’s my conclusion. People who feel they were born into a body of the wrong sex will always be around. For now, they’re fed lies and empty promises about their affliction being curable with surgery and hormones. After the revolution, the permanence of their condition will be acknowledged and, while they might be offered the same hormonal/surgical options available now to make their bodies more aesthetically pleasing to inhabit, it will be with the full knowledge that treatment merely alleviates the symptoms and doesn’t cure the condition.”

    Yes, and no. Brain sex AND gonadal/nether bits sex AND gender are ALL continuums. There is no such thing as a biological sex binary. No such thing. Not everyone is born female or male. So, yes there are ranges in the brain structure size differences between those considered male and those considered female, but the lack of a imaginary absolute thresholds do not invalidate the studies’ findings that the majority of females have this range and the majority of males have this range with the medians being rather far apart. You can argue that three people overlapped on a structure or two, but everybody else in all the other ranges fell outside of the “other” sex’s ranges. And what of the overlappers? How did they identify as a person of sex?

    Consider the example of an intersexed infant born with penis and vagina and undifferentiated ovatesties. The doctor for all the horrid reasons doctors dictate sex in such cases wants to make the child a girl because the gonadal tissue is undescended and the vaginal canal is complete thereby making the gutting of the child more dangerous than excising some clitoral length. The parents are told, as is the case around the Western world, to raise the child as a girl, and not to support or tolerate cross-gender expression. The child grows up female and is socialised as a girl, but has felt more male from earliest memory. In his 20s, after a lot of confusion and depression, he finally decides to transition to male in order that his body as closely resembles that of a male as it can.

    Do you consider this person male, because that was his choice. Female because he was made and raised female from the first week of life. Or is it None of the Above because this person will never be able to be one or the other.

    I agree that there is no cure for transsexuality. But why wait for the revolution? Every transsexual whom I have known via life or the internet knows this. There is no cure. Nobody is being fed lies by the patriarchy about this. No transwoman is dancing about waiting for menarche so they can start poppin’ out the babies. Likewise, no transman I have ever heard of thinks they have even a slim chance of procuring a functional penis and testes. Sex is in the mind, the only immutable thing about a person is their identity when it comes to the sex they are. Bodies are our brains’ avatars in the world that is all.

  419. Artemisian

    Okay that last one worked just fine so here’s the rest:

    “But unlike sex, those [brain structure]differences exist along a continuum.”

    See above, and please take reality into account. I was born with a penis and vagina and ovatesties, but my vaginal cavity was removed and the entrance sewn closed. I have a child with another woman that I sired, and since I was 12 I have had a period that comes roughly every other month when it decides to be “regular”. I was raised as a boy, but relegated to the queer section, and have identified since I was three as a female. So which slot do I fit into? A or B? Or do I get thrown away because there is no slot for you to push me through? Damn those hanging chads! Once again, the need to latch fervently onto outmoded (late 1970s!) thoughts for the sake of an faulty dogma blinds people to simple fact and open dialogue.

    And no, it would be more accurate to state that they occur within ranges, not along a continuum, for each structure that may or may not overlap between the males and females and transsexuals tested.

    Sorry to get so ragy, but speaking of obfuscation, the leaving out of relevant and obvious information smacks of it. And it makes me so flustered to have people who are otherwise so spot-on when it comes to feminist practice decide to invalidate or eradicate me as a person because it doesn’t fit what they have learned third party.

    Do I have a blame for the patriarchy here? Hell yes. I blame it for introducing the mindset of the binary for that is all it can control. There is no binary, it is an illusion of the oppressors, and some, even here embrace it as the truth. Now THAT’S insidious.

  420. Mar Iguana

    Are you sure scientists can’t ascertain whether a brain is male or female? Don’t have it all at my fingertips right now but I know I’ve read otherwise in several different places in the last few the years.

    http://www.zeenews.com/znnew/articles.asp?rep=2&aid=338717&ssid=204&sid=LIF

    And this, from “Psychology Today”:

    http://psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=pto-20030624-000003&page=1

  421. msxochitl

    justicewalks: “[W]hat that means is that, while it may be possible for transpeople to adopt styles of dress or communication, or even genital presentation, that make them more comfortable in their own bodies, there is nothing they can do to change sex.”

    But can they change gender? I think that’s the more relevant question. Can you, for example, change from the low caste gender (female) to the dominant caste (male)? Insofar as you can pass for a member of that caste, yes, I think you can change gender. (Similarly, some People of Color can change their names and appearnces, pass as White, and are afforded the privileges associated with Whiteness.)

    Artemesian: “The child grows up female and is socialised as a girl, but has felt more male from earliest memory. In his 20s, after a lot of confusion and depression, he finally decides to transition to male in order that his body as closely resembles that of a male as it can.”

    And when a female transitions to male, if he passes as male, he joins the dominant, ruling caste and is provided with that caste’s accompanying privileges, no?

    My point is that passing or transitioning from one race or gender to another is not simply a matter or switching from one social category to another, equally valued category. It’s about moving higher or lower in the hierarchy. It’s about reinforcing binaries (if I like sports and short hair then I need a penis and man-chemicals to go with it).

  422. LouisaMayAlcott

    Mar,

    Thanks for those links: the Psychology Today article is a keeper.

    Here’s just one quote from the article. Many other differences are noted:

    “The more testosterone the children had been exposed to in the womb, the less able they were to make eye contact at 1 year of age”

    Atemisia, there are lots of binaries occurring in nature, and not just in the human species. These, once again, being *statistical*.

    As far as male/female differences are concerned in our own species, and given the effect of patriarchy everywhere on the planet, it seems fair to me to talk about ** the extent to which ** a characteristic may be socially constructed in females and ** the extent to which ** it may be inherent, based on scientific findings.

    None of the above denies the facts of the existence of (the statistically few) people such as yourself. A feminist analysis will necessarily be extremely complex. It includes situations such as your own, as well as the facts of statistical observations.

    Hey, if it weren’t for statistical observations, where would medical science be? Lots of us would not be alive today if it weren’t for medical science.

    To me, this male / female difference isn’t a win / lose situation in the struggle between opposing ideologies. It is a *knowledge* situation which must be the basis for *any* ideology.

  423. curiousgyrl

    On the topic of ‘scientific’ Women vs men studies, I find that Twisty said it best (naturally):

    Whenever a new women vs. men sex study comes out it’s a banner day here at Twisty HQ, which means it’s always a banner day here at Twisty HQ. Women vs. men sex studies are extraordinarily popular. ‘Scientists’ just can’t seem to stop conducting them, and popular news media just can’t seem to stop pretending that they mean something.

    Also relevant, for starters are the following IBTP posts:

    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2006/10/05/study-of-the-week-foreplay-scientifically-proven-unneccessary/
    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2006/12/20/study-du-jour-the-calming-hand-of-patriarchy/
    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2007/02/24/ex-harvard-prez-gets-moment-named-after-him/

  424. Yeny

    NO NO NO NO! Dr Brizendine’s book has been shown to be a load of patriarchal shit!

    http://pandagon.net/2006/12/10/yeah-when-i-said-women-talk-more-i-really-meant-women-nod-more/

    Also, I can’t find it right now, but there is some site that shows that she gets her “statistics” from some misogynist guy’s self-help book, which reinforces the idea men=cavemen and woman just have to put up with all their shit because that’s just how men have been and always will be. He has no references for where he got his “statistics” from since he seems to have pulled them out of his arse.

    Anyway, Brizendine’s whole book is a joke with no real solid foundations, she’s a complete tool of the patriarchy.

  425. delphyne

    That Psychology Today article quotes bollock-brain (OK there is a male brain) Simon Baron-Cohen who talks all sorts of nonsense about “male” and “female” brains. Women are good at feeeeeeling apparently but can’t get our silly little heads around maps and technology. No sexism there, oh no indeed. It’s amazing the crap that’s allowed to be published as long as it supports sexual stereotypes.

  426. delphyne

    “I was born with a penis and vagina and ovatesties, but my vaginal cavity was removed and the entrance sewn closed. I have a child with another woman that I sired, and since I was 12 I have had a period that comes roughly every other month when it decides to be “regular” I was raised as a boy, but relegated to the queer section, and have identified since I was three as a female. So which slot do I fit into? A or B?”

    I’d have thought you’d have fitted into the medical miracle slot. A fertile male who also has periods. Even FTM trans people keep their vaginas.

    And I never said intersex people don’t exist so perhaps you need to read the thread again, just that there isn’t a test that proves definitively whether a brain is female or male, and that the existence of intersex people doesn’t disprove the existence of male and female (as has been argued quite vociferously here). So I’m not quite sure what you are arguing against. Intersex people aren’t the same as transsexual people.

  427. Yeny

    I found the link I was talking about :

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2006/09/24/sex_on_the_brain/

    Sorry, I can’t remember how to do all that fancy html stuff.

    Other claims in Brizendine’s book have been debunked as well, if you go to Language log and look her up.

  428. Yeny

    In case anyone’s confused as to what I’m going on about, I forgot to make clear that I was actually referring to the first link by Mar Iguana, which basically calls women a bunch of yibber yabbers that get high from talking so much.

  429. Heart

    R. Mildred, the issue is not in the words used to codify the fact of, or existence of, the patriarchal sort itself, i.e., the mechanisms by way of which persons were sorted into categories for the purpose of establishing a hierarchy (called “gender” (in English– I guess we’ve got to specify languages now)), then afterwards adjudged to be either superior or inferior (again, so as to justify the hierarchy known as gender), then named so as to codify both the hierarchy and the superiority of one group as compared with the inferiority of the other, (which, again, is what gender is all about — subordination).

    The issue is that some took the power to sort people out in the first place, then hierarchicalized those who had been sorted into categories, then named the members of both categories in ways which denoted superiority or inferiority. Voila. Patriarchy. Next came race, sorting people on the basis of skin color, then adjuding some superior, others inferior and deserving of the sort. Then came all the other sorts by way of which white heterosexual males have maintained dominance in the world.

    The issue, again, is not in the words or names, it is in the power to name and to create and maintain the hierarchies in the first place– something males have historically, since the beginning of patriarchy, had, something females have not had. You’ve parsed out certain words and names up there in what amounts to a handy non-response, which looks enough like a response to fool the naive and those new to the discussion, and in this way you participate in an ongoing project of attempting to shoehorn my (and others’) arguments and ideas into a transgender-is-oh-so-subversive framework which, in fact, once the ideas and concepts are unpacked, is anti-female to the ground.

    Did I say transgendered people, themselves, are anti-female to the ground? Hell no. I have been talking always — ALWAYS — about arguments, ideas, mechanisms, not individual human beings. I have been talking about patriarchy. Male heterosupremacy.

    In my response that you pasted there, this was the context. You had previously said:

    R. Mildred: For instance, Heart and delphyne “feel” that transwomen are men who are enabling the patriarchy through a process of… having their body’s physically altered so that they can become women – a miracle then occurs – and this supports patriarchal constructions of sex and gender.

    To which I replied (and still reply, with emphasis):

    And this is bullshit.

    I think that there are males and females and intersex persons born into the world. I think that males have instituted and perpetuated systems of dominance to subordinate and enslave females. I think they called the females “women” and themselves, males, “men.”

    My point went to who is doing, and has been doing, what to whom, something your framing — and your colleagues’ framing — always elides in sometimes-creative but always unpersuasive ways.

    The issue is not what happens when transpersons do whatever it is they do. The issue is that mechanisms have been created by way of which gender (not sex; sex and gender are not the same thing, no matter how often they are conflated when convenient in order to suit various specious arguments) may be policed by the patriarchs, such that men may remain soundly on top and females will remain soundly on the bottom. One of these mechanisms is the mechanism of transgender, which fantasizes and romanticizes gender as all about “identifications” and alterings of bodies and presentations and performances and mystical-ethereal-whatzits while steadfastly obscuring what is most important to those of us who are fighting for the lives and rights of female persons: that gender is what has been done, by those with the power to do it (males), to subordinate those with less power in the interests of making and keeping them powerless (females). Transitioning or presenting in a gender-nonconforming way does not change the supremely, centrally relevant and important, to some of us, issue, and that is that gender is all about subordination. Full stop. That it is something that is and has been done TO females BY males, something feminism therefore intends to abolish.

    Heart

  430. Heart

    Gah re all the stuff about “differences.” Yes, people are “different”. They are fat, slim, old, young, blue eyes, brown eyes, hairy, bald, penises, baby-making equipment, etc.

    It is not the ways human beings diverge from one another which is salient so far as (my and others’) feminism goes. It is that dominance hierarchies have been created by male people to enshrine specific physical characteristics as superior (their own) and other physical characteristics as inferior (females’) and has built a gigantic superstructure known as patriarchy on its various enshrinements, together with machinery that will make its system “work.”

    Absent the hierarchies, absent the subordinations of patriarchy, the fact, existence, of differences between human beings might be meaningful in various ways, but they would not be associated with power, with superiority, inferiority, dominance/submission or the right of some to control and abuse others, and then justify it in the name of “differences” in human beings. Dominance came first, then ideas about “differences” which were then used to justify the original dominance; what is most important to those of us concerned with the liberation of female people is, again, who is dominating whom, who has had to power to dominate, to designate the “differences” which matter to the patriarchs, to name, to define, in ways which have hurt female persons.

    Heart

  431. R. Mildred

    You’re telling me R. Mildred, but transsexual people keep insisting that sex exists in their heads (brains) and it is their physical bodies that are mistaken.

    Umm… trying to sex a lump of grey matter is very difficult, on account of how “sexing” is done via the process of looking for the right sort of genitalia (Whihc isn’t usually found encased inside the skull, at least mine isn’t), much as trying to find a neurological tell for sexuality is much harder than asking that kinda important question; “Do you fuck people of the same sex, of the opposite sex, or of both sexes, or not at all?” to find out what a person’s sexuality is.

    it is in the power to name and to create and maintain the hierarchies in the first place

    Somehow, I don’t think transsexuals created the heirarchies.

    Now Furries, furries are trouble makers, all that business about how men are really like monkeys and women are really like… some sort of knitting albatross or whatever it is the evopsych types go on about.

    Furries could have created the heirarchies, easily, transexuals, not so easily on account of having to both reject and reinforce the heirarchies as they created them (which would just confuse people really, more than oppress them).

    My point went to who is doing, and has been doing, what to whom, something your framing — and your colleagues’ framing — always elides in sometimes-creative but always unpersuasive ways.

    I’m not eliding, I’m asking a simple goddamn question: How the hell does a man who A) fails to identify with their gender and B) then has their sex changed while at the same time C) rejecting patriarchal definitions of sex and gender oppress women by supporting those definitions that she just rejected?

    The only possible method I could see, whereby Patriarchy comes into it, is if transexuals also played into patriarchal gendered behavior ontop of getting their sexes changed.

    Which brings me back to my first question: Aren’t you somewhat getting transgenderism confused with transexuality?

  432. Heart

    R. Mildred: Somehow, I don’t think transsexuals created the heirarchies.

    Today, Twisty blogged about a godbag member of the Church of England who is female. Did the female Twisty is blogging about create the hierarchy which spawned the Church of England? No. Is she to be called to account for her godbaggery? Twisty and most here believe so. Is the system she shills for to be called to account for its godbaggery? Twisty and most here believe so.

    This is my answer to your question.

    R. Mildred: How the hell does a man who A) fails to identify with their gender

    A man cannot “fail to identify with [his] gender.” “Man” is “male,” gendered. Gender is about subordination, not “identification.” “Man” is about gender. “Male” is about sex. A male can fail to identify as a man — and I wish all males would! And females, for that matter! Everybody needs to reject everything about manhood — but a man can’t fail to “identify” as a man, and a man is male. Gender isn’t about how someone “identifies.” It’s about, subordination, what is done to a person.

    and B) then has their sex changed

    This cannot be done. People can identify with other than the gender assigned to their sex, but their sex can’t be changed.

    while at the same time C) rejecting patriarchal definitions of sex and gender

    If the man rejected patriarchal definitions of sex and gender, the man would remain male, would reject and resist manhood and masculinity, and would present and behave any way he wanted to, while remaining male, thus subverting the subordinating function of gender under male heterosupremacy.

    oppress women by supporting those definitions that she just rejected?

    By participating in patriarchy’s insistence that “sex” can be changed and should be changed when a male is not “man” enough.

    The only possible method I could see, whereby Patriarchy comes into it, is if transexuals also played into patriarchal gendered behavior ontop of getting their sexes changed.

    Some do. Many do.

    And the rest I’ve already answered. But if you think I haven’t, the likely reason is, I refuse to participate in your framings. They are patriarchal, not feminist.

    Heart