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Feb 09 2011

Spinster aunt gets translucent

EMERGENCY MOBILE PHONE UPDATE: the Andrea Dworkin post to which I allude in this post was misattributed to Renee Martin. It was actually written by Daisy Deadhead. I Blame the Patriarchy regrets the error.

Well, it’s happened again. There’s a goddam “trans debate” thing roiling in the comments of yesterday’s post. My blogging chops are obviously rustier than I thought; back in the day I would have nipped the whole thing in the bud with one of my snappy little aphorisms and a couple of judicious deletions. That’s what I get for going on sabbatical. Use it or lose it, right?

Previously, on I Blame the Patriarchy

I announced that IBTP is going dudeless. The Blametariat threw me a parade. Then somebody wondered if the dude-ban includes transwomen or not. A little red light flashed on my Patri-O-Meter, but because I am dull-witted I ignored it. All I said was that the ban only includes persons who post as dudes. And sure enough, another poster took advantage of my inattention to opine, “well, transwomen are men after all.” Whereupon the kimchi taco I had for lunch began to form a wad of napalm in the pit of my stomach. “NOOOOOOOOOO,” I wrote, even as I sensed the crushing futility of my appeal, “I’m putting my foot down, we’re not having this horrible stupid argument again!” That’s all it took. It was on.

So today I am going to — albeit briefly and somewhat abstractly, because as much as I’d like to bloot out a New Yorker-sized article on gender politics, my assistant Phil (who, by the way, is a trans man) says I gotta motor in about 15 — I’m going to splain a couple things and link a couple things and then it’s on to some nice heartwarming nature crap.

There are three aspects of this “debate” that particularly chap the spinster hide. One is that it is even considered a debate. Is there anything more demeaning than a bunch of people with higher status than you sitting around debating the degree to which they find you human? I don’t think so.

The second is the main anti-trans “argument.” It goes:

Unless you were born a woman, how can you really know what women’s oppression means? You benefited from male privilege once; how can we trust you? You mock us with your femininity. You’re not authentic.

This argument is phobic and dumb. It proceeds from, among other things like fear and internalized misogyny, the premise that there exists a standard or authentic “woman’s experience” of oppression that derives entirely from childhood indoctrination and imbues the experiencer with some kinda moral authority. The premise is false. An experience of womanhood is not the experience of womanhood. For example:

Some women have a little privilege. Some women have a shit-ton of privilege. Some women have a shit-ton of privilege and then lose it. Some women have zippo privilege and then get some later. Some women only ever have zippo, period. Some women are atheists, have short brown hair, drive red Fords, have scars where their boobs used to be, eat only vegetables and shave their mustaches.

Thus we see that there are many manifestations of womanity, both in terms of privilege and otherwise, each topped with its own unique little dollop of oppression. Of the gazillion factors that comprise female awareness, the condition of having been born female is but e pluribus unum. How do your personal woman-factors compare to, I dunno, mine? How about to Nadya Suleman (“Octomom”)? Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani? Susan Boyle? Candida Royalle? Aung San Suu Kyi? Aileen Wuornos? Carolin Berger (“Sexy Cora”)? My assistant Phil?

Not only is there no “standard” women’s experience of oppression, but a primary experience of womanhood is in fact inessential to the understanding of oppression. It is not necessary, in order for the oppressed to unite behind the common cause of liberation, that every oppressed person should share the background experiences of every other oppressed person. It is not only not necessary; it is not possible. The imposition of such jingoistic strictures precludes all possibility of revolution.

Oppression is oppression. Race, ethnicity, religion, pigmentation, sex, gender, health, education, class, caste, age, weight, ableness, mental health, marital status, employment status, diet, IQ, internet access — any combination of these or a thousand other arbitrary markers may be used by the powerful to justify oppression, but the net result is always the same: discrimination, disenfranchisement, degradation, dehumanization. It’s the Four Ds! The Four Ds make all oppressed persons identical enough.

My third point strikes a somewhat different and theoretical note. It has long been the contention of all expert spinster aunts that the notion of gender is itself a fiction promoted by the usual hegemonic patriarchal forces as an instrument of oppression. A person can only be “trans” if there are rigidly enforced gender roles from which and to which one might transition. Obviously, post-revolutionary society will not be burdened by tiresome gender constructs at all; nobody will have to become anything because everyone will just be whatever they are. Meanwhile, we gotta stop slapping the Four Ds on anyone who fails to fit the stupid misogynist gender binary.

I would love to delve into this at greater length, but the aforementioned time constraints compel me to put a sock in it. Fortunately, yesterday blamers Nails and AlienNumber were kind enough to link to Renee Martin’s excellent essay on Savage Death Island’s executive director Andrea Dworkin and her remarks on transgender politics. The remarks, excerpted by Martin from Woman Hating (1974), are sensible and kind and radical and a breath of fresh 70′s air. And they pretty precisely express the Savage Death Island doxa. Essentially, Dworkin’s saying that everyone has a right to exist on her/his own terms. Duh, right?

Transsexuality* is currently considered a gender disorder, that is, a person learns a gender role which contradicts his/her visible sex. It is a “disease” with a cure: a sex-change operation will change the person’s visible sex and make it consonant with the person’s felt identity.

Since we know very little about sex identity, and since psychiatrists are committed to the propagation of the cultural structure as it is, it would be premature and not very intelligent to accept the psychiatric judgement that transsexuality is caused by a faulty socialization. More probably, transsexuality is caused by a faulty society. Transsexuality can be defined as one particular formation of our general multisexuality which is unable to achieve its natural development because of extremely adverse social conditions.

There is no doubt that in the culture of male-female discreteness, transsexuality is a disaster for the individual transsexual. Every transsexual, white, black, man, woman, rich, poor, is in a state of primary emergency as a transsexual. There are 3 crucial points here.

One, every transsexual has the right to survival on his/her own terms. That means every transsexual is entitled to a sex-change operation, and it should be provided by the community as one of its functions. This is an emergency measure for an emergency condition.

Two, by changing our premises about men and women, role-playing and polarity, the social situation of transsexuals will be transformed, and transsexuals will be integrated into community, no longer persecuted and despised.

Three, community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it. Either the transsexual will be able to expand his/her sexuality into a fluid androgyny, or, as roles disppear, the phenomenon of transsexuality will disappear and that energy will be transformed into new modes of sexual identity and behavior.

I recommend reading Martin’s essay for a bit more context. Nails has a new post on the topic too.

______________________
* In 1974, “transsexual” was what we now call “transgender”

772 comments

6 pings

  1. evie

    Thank you for that beautiful take-down of the ‘main anti-trans “argument”‘. Having suffered from transphobic lecturers and classmates for a while I’m definitely going to be quoting it.

    Just wanted to quibble with your third point. It’s fantastic that awesome people like you and Dworkin can be pro-trans whilst believing transsexuaity to be always entirely the product of society, but it’s not.

    In the utopian post-oppression society, lots of the current dissatisfaction with gender roles will be eliminated. However, one factor of many trans people’s suffering is a sheer physical dysphoria or dissonance with the sexed aspects of their bodies. The (plentiful) existence of trans people who are totally happy to transgress the norms of their self-defined gender (e.g. really dykey trans women, really campy trans men) surely show that their desire to transition had nothing to do with social norms. They went from looking straight to looking gay. From looking ‘normal’ to looking queer.

    C.f. in a society that is totally free from racial division and oppression, no-one will want to change their bodies based on racial norms and prejudices; but there will still be a skin condition called psoriasis which will still be relieved by tanning.

    (P.S. Anyone doubting the realness of physical dysphoria, read Julia Serano or Genderbitch, and maybe consider the role privilege plays in that view.)

  2. Sarah

    Is it wrong that when I read “Previously, on I Blame the Patriarchy,” I heard Katee Sackhoff’s voice in my head?

  3. ginger

    If it wasn’t so damn long, I’d have this tattooed on my belly:
    “Oppression is oppression. Race, ethnicity, religion, pigmentation, sex, gender, health, education, class, caste, age, weight, ableness, mental health, marital status, employment status, diet, IQ, internet access — any combination of these or a thousand other arbitrary markers may be used by the powerful to justify oppression, but the net result is always the same: discrimination, disenfranchisement, degradation, dehumanization. It’s the Four Ds! The Four Ds make all oppressed persons identical enough.”

  4. Sarah

    You could either a) shorten it to “Oppression is oppression,” or do like I’m doing, and stuff your face with chocolate chips because you’re too damned lazy to make cookies out of them, in an attempt to grow a belly large enough to fit the rest on there. My vote’s for the latter.

  5. Darragh Murphy

    You forgot the fifth word in the first sentence of the 12th paragraph of your post, slash, I love you.

    I’m gonna go be whatever I am. Thank you.

  6. Comrade PhysioProf

    Kimchi tacos sound fucken delish! What else was in them? Mung bean noodles?

  7. Jill

    “one factor of many trans people’s suffering is a sheer physical dysphoria or dissonance with the sexed aspects of their bodies.”

    Well, yeah, there’s that, but in the future postfeminist utopia it would not cause suffering of any description.

  8. smaller

    My deepest, most heartfelt thanks for this post.

  9. Cimorene

    “However, one factor of many trans people’s suffering is a sheer physical dysphoria or dissonance with the sexed aspects of their bodies”

    But that wouldn’t be transexuality, right? Because there wouldn’t be any sex boundary (-sexuality) across which one would have to cross (trans-).

  10. miska

    Saying that there is no standard experience of oppression for women is similar to how funfems claim there is no such thing as women as a class, because we are all individuals experiencing our individual oppressions individually. Incidentally it’s also why their brand of feminism has been so ineffective.

    There is such thing as a standard of oppression for women. That standard is being raised without male privilege.
    This is universal among female-assigned-at-birth people. No matter how privileged a woman is relative to other women, the one thing we all have in common is that we are still lower down on the hierarchy compared to the equivalent male, in the same way.

    It means that all women, everywhere, are raised to believe that we must prioritize male needs, opinions, voices and experiences before our own, and those of our fellow women. We are raised to believe that our role in life is to nurture and provide care-giving to males. And be sexually pleasing and available to them. And that our ultimate fulfillment must be found in these things. We are also raised with an onslaught of messages that will prepare us for what lies in store for us when we reach maturity – that our uteri belong not to us but to our future husbands, the government and the religious institution down the street. That our vagina belongs to our future husbands or indeed any man that happens to buy us dinner or gets us drunk. And that men can buy and sell our vaginas. Males on the other hand, get raised to believe in their inherent humanity, bodily integrity and entitlement to women’s bodies, servitude and prioritization.

    All of this gets hammered into us from the day we are born. It will be reinforced by thousands of interactions that occur during every school day and every family gathering, and in every TV narrative. By 8 years old this has already created two very different classes of people who experience the world and their place within it in very different ways.

    This shit matters. It’s significant. It’s why we’re all feminists, right?

    And re oppression is oppression is oppression. That may be true. But there are still oppressors and the oppressed. No oppressed person is obligated to accept a member of the oppressor class as one of their own, nor does an oppressed person owe their oppressor anything.

    And with that, I guess I’ll stop now. I’m a long-time reader but first time commenter. Frankly, I know how irritating it is when a first-timer introduces themselves to a blog by arguing about trans.

  11. Pinko Punko

    Sarah, it is wrong, but I did it too!

    I had some “I” stuff on this, but I will leave it- I think the post is wonderful. Four “I”s. Going out with a blaze of shame while trying to blame.

  12. buttercup

    This post is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Thank you.

  13. justpassingthrough

    @Miska

    *standing ovation* I was going to say essentially the same thing (womanhood = trial by fire in the P *minus* the insulating buffer of male privilege), but you did a much better job. And bravo to you for having the courage to express yourself here.

  14. justpassingthrough

    In the utopian post-oppression society, lots of the current dissatisfaction with gender roles will be eliminated. However, one factor of many trans people’s suffering is a sheer physical dysphoria or dissonance with the sexed aspects of their bodies.

    It’s understandable that Body Dysphoria (or GID, or whatever terminology is preferable) would cause considerable distress, but why should this particular condition be treated differently than other disorders where there is a significant disconnect between psyche and physical appearance? Take Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which I’ll use as an example since I have personal experience with BDD, having suffered from it most of my life (and still suffer symptoms occasionally). To keep things short and sweet, BDD lead me to view my perfectly normal, average weight body with physical revulsion, which lead to anorexia, which lead to a host of other health issues, which lead to therapeutic intervention. At no point in time did anyone suggest surgical intervention as a “cure”. No one ever told me it would be beneficial to have liposuction or bariatric surgery, e.g., though I promise you these interventions would indeed have assisted in mitigating the disorder. My outside would finally have matched my inside, so to speak. I did it the old-fashioned way, through starvation and compulsive exercise, *but*, if a professional had suggested surgery, it could’ve prevented the development of a host of physical ailments that were the direct result of malnourishment and physical stress. Fortunately, it was decided I was suffering from a psychological disorder, I received treatment, I got better.

    There are many other physical dysphoria/dysmorphic conditions that cause a person’s psyche to revolt against their body. In every one of these cases, they’re treated as psychiatric conditions. Why should gender dysphoria be any different? I’m genuinely curious about the rationale behind surgical intervention as a treatment as opposed to psychiatric/therapeutic intervention. Is it well documented that therapy and/or medication simply doesn’t work?

  15. TotallyDorkin

    @Miska: “It will be reinforced by thousands of interactions that occur during every school day and every family gathering, and in every TV narrative.”

    Despite your attempt to universalize your statements, you betray your first-world centrism by using examples that are specific to first-world countries.

    The patriarchy is a system of oppression that does not only oppress women. As Twisty said above, there are a myriad of reasons that might be used to justify oppression. When you talk about male-privilege you completely neglect the idea that being male might not be enough to protect you from a violent hate-crime or exploitation by the upper class because someone doesn’t like your skin color or bank account balance.

    When you talk about oppressors and the oppressed, you frame it as thought there are two teams, the oppressors and the oppressed. Presumably you consider yourself a member of the latter group.

    You might want to take a look at your clothing, or shoes, or kitchen appliances, or food, or electronics. Are they made in China? That makes you a party to human rights violations. Who harvested your food? Was it all happy fully-paid nonexploited workers? In this day and age, that is doubtful.

  16. Solveig

    Awesome post, as always. I had not idea that Dworkin was so sensible way about trans-people. Pretty cool.

    You know, for all he got wrong, Freud got a lot of this. That is he early on figured out that what “normal” society calls “perversion” is not perverted at all but totally natural. It’s not the human individual that is perverted but rather the society in which he or she grow up, and one day, in the future, when we are all way more enlightened than we are now, people will simply accept their sexuality, however it happens to develop, and we will no longer stigmatize sexuality by understanding it as the necessary domination of repressed heterosexual men over the rest of us.

    Your argument, ” Meanwhile, we gotta stop slapping the Four Ds on anyone who fails to fit the stupid misogynist gender binary” is right on.

  17. Solveig

    Awesome post, as always. I had no idea that Dworkin was so sensible way about trans-people. Pretty cool.

    You know, for all he got wrong, Freud got a lot of this. That is, he early on figured out that what “normal” society calls “perversion” is not perverted at all but totally natural. It’s not the human individual that is perverted but rather the society in which he or she grows up. What Freud did not say, but Dworkin does say, is something like this:

    One day, in the future, when we are all way more enlightened than we are now, people will simply accept their sexuality, however it happens to develop, and we will no longer stigmatize sexuality by understanding it as the necessary domination of repressed heterosexual men over the rest of us.

    Your argument, ” Meanwhile, we gotta stop slapping the Four Ds on anyone who fails to fit the stupid misogynist gender binary” is right on.

  18. Treefinger

    Thank you Twisty, fabulous post. Sorry for contributing to the derail yesterday, but because I rarely see radical feminists (as opposed to liberals) with a thoughtful perspective on how trans people experience privilege, but I respect the radical position on most things more, I had to go blabbin’ in the hope some of the commenters might consider thinking differently.

  19. justpassingthrough

    @TotallyDorkin

    You’re confusing Patriarchy with Kyriarchy. Patriarchy is a societal paradigm of male domination/female subjugation. Kyriarchy is the paradigm that addresses intersecting oppressions.

    Miska never denied the existence of kyriarchy in her response, FWIW.

  20. yttik

    There is a bit of conflict there with the idea that gender identity is an entirely socially created fiction and those who have felt from a very young age that they were born into the wrong body.

    I agree with miska. There is such thing as a standard of oppression for women. There is a standard of oppression for people of color, for gays, for the poor, why would women suddenly be simply a collection of individual oppressions all with varying degrees of privilege?

    Jill said, “The imposition of such jingoistic strictures precludes all possibility of revolution.” My idea is that our failure to unite over this one simple standard, women’s oppression, is why there has been no revolution.

  21. Adrienne in CA

    Applauding the Oppression is Oppression list and adding one more: species. In which case the fourth Four D might change from dehumanization to, say, denaturalization.

  22. justpassingthrough

    My idea is that our failure to unite over this one simple standard, women’s oppression, is why there has been no revolution.

    Since “oppression is oppression is oppression”, I guess it’s time to change the name of this blog to I Blame The Kyriarchy. The focus on patriarchy has, apparently, become irrelevant. Feminism, the movement with the primary goal of elevating women as a class to the same level of men as a class, seems to have lost its place here on IBTK.

    Freedom from oppression for *everyone* is a grand goal, but if feminists lose sight of their primary objective, we may as well kiss the movement goodbye. Because you know which oppressed group will descend rapidly to the bottom of the priority heap if feminists throw in with everyone else. It’s kind of why feminism was necessary in the first place.

  23. LarnBarn

    What’s important, is that we listen to the voices of those in question, and accept their viewpoints as truth because no one knows what it’s like to be trans in the patriarchy except for trans people.

    It’s akin to mansplainers’ deplorable attempts to correct women on their interpretations of their experiences as women. It’s regarded as privileged, condescending, and just doesn’t fly. (It’s the reason that dudes were banned from IBTP.)

    Not allowing trans people to define their own oppression the way they perceive it and correcting their interpretations of their experiences as a cis, is not only insulting to their agency as human beings, but it’s also the very same act that induces so much derision from the radical feminist community.

    For example, it is a complete violation of autonomy for rape to be defined by oppressors/males/patriarchy rather than be defined by women/oppressed. This is akin to cisgendered people defining transgender oppression, rather than trans people defining it. It is a method utilized by the oppressor to maintain domination over its subordinates.

    With that, the least oppressive course of action for cis people is to listen and learn about the trans experience of oppression in the patriarchy, from the mouths of trans people themselves.

  24. AlienNumber

    justpassingthrough, I want to be your friend (but I’m a little terrified at the idea of posting my email address here (the menz, the haterz, you know) and I’m also too lazy to get a new email address right now. Please let me know if you have any alternative ideas)

    – thank you, Twisty, for allowing the birth of female-female alliances on your blog, even though that was a comment somewhat misaligned with the Guidelines –

    In the meantime, I guess what I meant to share on the topic is this: in the Twistian analysis above, although brilliant as usual, what is not considered is this slight little problem: the only way for MtF transgenderism to happen is through a very heavy process of feminization (I’m not even referring to the penis-chopping bit here)- more like, how can the radical feminist, in good faith, ever support the purchase of lipstick, make-up, high heels and other uncomfortable and unnecessary female-attire (but apparently essential to transitioning), even if it is for the purposes of helping out in an emergency?

    Can’t see how one would support that in good faith (and also can’t see a way for the MtF to transition without access to the feminizing accouterments). That is the dilemma. (This is of course, perfectly aligned with the radical feminist opposition to feminine enpornulation in all its insidious forms.)

  25. AlienNumber

    yttik, and this is why bonobos are an ideal species: they form female-female alliances like their survival depends on it (and the annihilation of the patriarchy, which does not exist in bonobo land).
    Love their lesbian bonobo hearts, goodness bless them.

  26. Cimorene

    “Feminism, the movement with the primary goal of elevating women as a class to the same level of men as a class”

    But not all women, nor all men, are of the same class in other ways. You seem to be saying that women as a group need to be equal to men as a group, even if within that newly minted equality things like race, socio-economic status, access to clean water, and so on, are left as variously unequal as they are within each gender as a discrete group.

    I don’t want to be equal to white men but more equal than women of color, who are only going to get elevated to be equal to men of color (since your proposed system would only right the wrong of gender-based oppression but no others). That’s not proper liberation.

    If a woman was raised as a boy (even though she had a vagina) but then “came out” as actually a girl when she got big boobs at age 16, would she have male privilege because she was treated like a boy her whole life?

    “collection of individual oppressions all with varying degrees of privilege”

    How is that not exactly what the real-life experience of women is, though? I have privileges that other women don’t have, other women have privileges that I don’t have. So we have varying degrees of privilege. In some places women are at greater risk than they are in other places, which really changes the status even of their own gendered non-privilege. That is, in some places the fact of one’s woman-ness puts her at a greater risk and allows her far less agency or freedom than it does in other places. For example, a girl who’s raised to believe that her virginity is only for her husband to take, and a girl who’s raised by a feminist who gives her a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves on her 10th birthday: their experiences of gender socialization will be very different. Within the differences experienced by women who have vaginas from birth, it seems to me that the span of these differences is wide enough to include the experiences of women who don’t have vaginas from birth. My experience as a white American cis-woman in terms of gender is probably far more similar to a white American transwoman than it is to a non-white, non-American cis-woman.

    I guess I just don’t understand the resistance and hostility these conversations take. Is it just semantics? Because it really seems like semantics. Is there really a threat that considering transwomen just straightup women is going to dilute the movement and put other ciswomen’s concerns about liberation at the bottom of the priority heap? I just cannot believe that transwomen (or transmen) present an actual threat to feminism and risk refocusing the entire movement to focus on their own issues…which are probably similar in many ways to ciswomen’s issues. So it seems like this resistance is just a semantic one, in which ciswomen feminists want the recognition that they’ve had to deal with male privilege their whole lives, while transwomen haven’t? Or something?

  27. joy

    My insides don’t match my outsides, either.

    Inside, I’m a human being. Outside, I’m a woman.

    In a world with no gender, there would be no dysphoria. Does it thus make more sense to instigate radical feminist revolt?

  28. Miska

    @totallydworkin

    All cultures have family gatherings, yes? All have some method for educating their children, and all have some form of storytelling.

    Also, I am quite aware that people aside from women experience oppression. The post wasn’t about oppression in general though. It was about whether women in particular experience a common standard of oppression (at least the part of the post which I addressed was about this).

  29. Katherine

    Like someone said above, I can’t recommend enough reading Julia Serano on this. It seems wrong to me to have a conversation about trans people without including their own voices. The theorising should include the voices of those who have actually lived the trans experience.

  30. sonia

    I never thought I would say this to you…but that’s lame. For the first time, I completely disagree with you.

    Really? You have no snark for men who want to get operated on to be considered women by having their genitals cut off and a hole cut into them, which is supposed to be the same thing as female reproductive organs? that says nothing to you about gender oppression on a conceptual level?

    Twisty.

  31. Zoe Brain

    Justpassingthrough asked some good questions:

    “There are many other physical dysphoria/dysmorphic conditions that cause a person’s psyche to revolt against their body. In every one of these cases, they’re treated as psychiatric conditions. Why should gender dysphoria be any different? I’m genuinely curious about the rationale behind surgical intervention as a treatment as opposed to psychiatric/therapeutic intervention. Is it well documented that therapy and/or medication simply doesn’t work?”

    There are no studies that show that “therapy and/or medication” have any effect, long-term. A 0.000% success rate in fact. Also Lobotomy, Leucotomy, Gestalt Therapy, Cognitive therapy, Psychoanalysis, Aversive therapy using beatings, electric shocks, nausea-inducing drugs and burns, spirit release therapy, exorcism, in fact, every single tool in the psychiatric arsenal. The aversive therapy *does* work for several months, especially if it involves electric shocks to eyeballs and genitalia causing permanent damage, but wears off. The patients also have a distressing tendency to die.

    The Hormone/Surgery route has a 98% success rate. Not 100% – some get misdiagnosed. But a better success rate than most therapies, those for broken bones, appendicitis etc.

    OK, so why? How come what looks like a Psychiatric problem doesn’t get better from Psychiatric treatment?

    Because it’s an anatomical problem. It’s an Intersex condition, with parts of the body male, other parts female.

    We’ve known this since 1996, and suspected it since the 60′s.

    See “A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality.” by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70.

    “Our study is the first to show a female brain structure in genetically male transsexuals and supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones”

    That’s the over-simplified version. In fact, there’s no such thing as a “male brain” or “female brain”. Just brains that conform to a greater or lesser degree in various areas to a male or female stereotype. Much of the brain isn’t sexually differentiated; that that is might be 70% F in one area, 95% F in another, but only 40% F in another.

    Even that’s not the whole story: we must exclude the parts that are neuroplastic, changeable by experience. However, those bits aren’t noticably sexually differentiated.

    Now WHY having certain parts (the lymbic nucleus the right frontal gyrus and a few others) conforming strongly to a female stereotype leads to a female “gender identity”, we can’t be sure. We have a good theory, but no way of testing it ethically.

    See
    “Biased-Interaction Theory of Psychosexual Development: “How Does One Know if One is Male or Female?”” M.Diamond Sex Roles (2006) 55:589–600

    “A theory of gender development is presented that incorporates early biological factors that organize predispositions in temperament and attitudes. With activation of these factors a person interacts in society and comes to identify as male or female. The predispositions establish preferences and aversions the growing child compares with those of others. All individuals compare themselves with others deciding who they are like (same) and with whom are they different. These experiences and interpretations can then be said to determine how one comes to identify as male or female, man or woman. In retrospect, one can say the person has a gendered brain since it is the brain that structures the individual’s basic personality; first with inherent tendencies then with interactions coming from experience.”

    Basically, a feminised brain leads to certain instincts, emotional responses, sense of smell and hearing, etc. When a child with these characteristics socialises with others, children or adults, a feminine gender identity crystallises because the child thinks, feels, smells, hears, perceives, emotes, moves etc as do other females. Even if they themselves look male.

    You can no more change the BSTc layer of the Hypothalamus (for example) by psychotherapy than you can cure a congenitally missing limb.

  32. Zoe Brain

    Oh yes – no more than 20% of “gendered behaviour” has a biological basis. Most is socially constructed, differing from place to place and time to time.

    That that *does* have a biological basis has some overlap. For example, “Men are taller than women” is true statistically. No-one says that’s sexist, or denies it. But no-one would replace a 6′ 4″ tall woman on a mixed basketball team with a 5′ 1″ tall man because “men are taller”, yet we see exactly that kind of discrimination in many professions, just because “men are better at X” or “women are better at Y”. That may be true statistically, but people are individuals, and should be judged as such.

  33. flaps

    Yes, because growing up transgender is really such a privilege, being born with a penis really makes up for the gender binary system denying your existence or reacting with extreme prejudice and often violence if you can find the will to assert that you do in fact exist.

  34. Claire K.

    The mainstream trans rights movement props up conservative and anti-feminist views of gender, but that’s a problem with the movement, not with the people themselves. The mainstream gay rights movement is actually very similar in that it heavily promotes the idea that sexual preferences are genetic or otherwise biologically determined, basically bargaining away the rights of its female members by normalizing their oppression in order to make things easier for gay men, but one doesn’t see the same anger towards gay people from radical feminists, maybe because it’s obvious that even the politest, most patriarchy-compliant lesbians have something of an automatic affinity with radical feminism in that we refuse to have sex with men (something our society will not let women get away with and an option liberal/fun fems are reluctant to acknowledge). Most radical feminists, including the lesbian ones, don’t accept the mainstream view that homosexuality is genetic, but we have no problem accepting that gay people exist and that gay women have a place in feminism. It shouldn’t be so difficult to extend the same understanding to trans women.

    The popularity of the mainstream trans rights movement in liberal feminist circles should alarm us: it gives anti-feminists an opportunity to dismiss any analysis of how gender roles are socially constructed as “transphobic.” (I’m talking here about the people who say gender –not sex, brain maps of the body, etc– is genetic/natural.) Pointing to trans women who feel that they’ve “always” been drawn to stereotypically feminine behavior more effectively hides the violence done to women, both trans and cis, through those gender roles than does pointing to cis women who feel they’re naturally inclined towards stereotypically feminine behaviors and that radical feminists are oppressing them by denying that, because unlike patriarchy-compliant cis women, trans women (whether patriarchy-compliant or not) really do suffer more violence than do cis radical feminists, making it easier to use them to stir up sympathy and to guilt radfems into shutting up. However, this is an appropriation of trans people’s experiences, not something inherent in the existence of trans people. It pressures trans people to conform to gender stereotypes and thereby sacrifices trans women just as the mainstream gay rights movement sacrifices gay women, insofar as gender stereotypes harm women more than they harm men. That many trans women currently accept this line, sometimes trying to mitigate it by insisting that there can be gendered identities without gender stereotypes (how that would work I have no idea), should not be surprising given that a) cis women too are more likely to buy gender essentialism than to be radfems and b) radical feminists, the only feminists who reject biological essentialism entirely, have made radical feminist spaces inhospitable to trans women. I get wanting to keep men out of women’s spaces, but to me that’s an incentive to support acknowledgement of mtf women as women and ftm men as men: I don’t need a bunch of dudes hanging around in my feminist spaces just because our society tries to tell them they’re women.

  35. Dialectical Spin

    “There is such thing as a standard of oppression for women. There is a standard of oppression for people of color, for gays, for the poor, why would women suddenly be simply a collection of individual oppressions all with varying degrees of privilege?”
    Great point. This individualism is the basis of fun feminism. and a main obstacle to *women’s* liberation–to a revolutionary feminism.
    The idea that women are a sex-caste does not deny the existence of other caste systems, and that women are vastly differentiated in terms of interests/privilege. But as long as we talk about specific vectors of oppression like race, class, empire, etc, then why suddenly (and on a radical feminist site?) exempt *women’s* oppression from this discussion?

    My own critique of transgendering is not of individuals but of the power structures that feed off of the angst, desires, pain of living in a gender binary system. (btw, Andrea Dworkin revised that early opinion about transsexuals). I talk here of the medical professions which goes a long way to constructing the “need” to for people to “transition”…But we can talk about a variety of institutions that contribute to this, and is it a coincidence that transgendering is *hot* at the moment when feminism has been most coopted, and in the vacuum where there is no movement? A society in the midst of revolutionary feminist foment would create different forms of life (for example lesbian feminism, fairy gays- that once emerged from a movement context) than a society completely re-absorbed by individualism, and no sense of politics outside of life-style and identity (not politics at all). The existence of feminism as a primarily a life-style choice rather than a political movement allows for an individualist approach to “oppression”..

    btw, I do not think there is an “authentic female experience” either. But I think there’s a context –and it’s reactionary with respect to capitalism, gender and feminism- in which transgenderism is embraced as a positive phenomenon.

    I also agree that this discussion creates a painful conundrum for people like me who in many cases want to respect and even at times embrace the individuals (as with transgendered students I’ve had) but critique trans as an institution of sorts.

  36. toxiiiii

    a couple of points.

    first of all the version of “radical feminism” that you promote here can be studied in advanced-level courses at every western and western-style university. Thats right, the very same University system that has ever been a bastion of patriarchy, war-philosophy, and generalized woman-hating. thus, the “radical feminism” that you demand your readers study is in fact, very much patriarchy-approved. The man gets what he pays for, a fact that white intellectuals never fail to ignore.

    secondly, you tend to muddle your rants about patriarchy with complaints about men (football, porn, etc.) Men are hard-wired for aggression, violence and visual stimulation (porn). Perhaps your beef isnt so much with the patriarchy as it is with mother nature herself.

  37. Lurker Lyn

    Joy said:

    “Inside, I’m a human being. Outside, I’m a woman.”

    Thanks. I’m saving this one, maybe for a t-shirt, maybe to paint on a wall in eight feet high letters.

  38. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Transgals are my sisters.

  39. Feminizzle

    Wonderful article, Jill! Bravo! Call me naive, but I really am horrified to see so much vile being written in the comments regarding transpeople. As a member of an oppressed group, the last thing I want to do is purposely oppress another group. I think that’s one reason black rights/women’s rights had previously worked so well together. Two oppressed groups fighting together because they were experiencing the same phobias, hatred, and mistreatment. In saying that only men are our enemies and want to keep us down, we are forgetting that many women are doing just that for them. In saying that a man who becomes a woman has more privilege and thus doesn’t belong in the feminist community is like saying that women who were born rich, beautiful, and happy can’t be feminists. Every race has a different variation of privilege (or lack thereof) which is probably why so many minority women feel that they aren’t welcome in the feminist community. They are dealing with racism and sexism, whereas white women want all the focus on sexism. Why can’t our community be more welcoming to people from different backgrounds, be it male, black, hispanic, or white? This nitpicking over details about background just serves to shatter our unity and prevent progress. bell hooks has written some excellent books on this subject.

  40. Solveig

    It’s not women, as defined in a masculinist culture, alone who are oppressed, but rather all beings who count as “feminine” or “inferior” because they don’t fit into the category “man” that has been set up as the ideal in this culture. In short, we’re talking not just about patriarchy, the rule of the fathers, but also about masculinism, which is a culture based on the arbitrary myth that masculine beings are superior to feminine beings. All trans people, like all gay people, and, in a white racist culture, all darker-skinned people, count as “feminine.”

  41. speedbudget

    justpassingthrough, it’s an interesting thought you bring up. There is a version of BDD in which the sufferer feels that their leg or hand or arm doesn’t “belong” to them and needs to be removed. Surgeons don’t do the removal for them. They are refused surgery, and so many of these sufferers try to remove the offending limb themselves, some in some pretty radical ways.

    I can see both sides of this argument, but I also see how women have been largely let down in the past by their supposed supporters in the fight against oppression. As for lesbians supporting the feminist movement, I know many conservative lesbians who couldn’t give two farts about women’s rights. They don’t have to worry about accidentally getting pregnant, so what do they care about abortion rights? They don’t have to worry about their partner sabotaging their birth control, so what do they care? In fact, they don’t have to worry about birth control, so what do they care about access? These are things that have been said to me in the middle of discussions about solidarity and fighting together. It worries me about how fast the trans* folk will dump us when OUR needs fail to intersect with THEIR needs. Meanwhile, due to our socialization, we are all falling all over ourselves to play nice with everyone.

    This is NOT to say that I am transphobic or in anyway ANTI trans* folk. I just question the loyalty of any group whose needs don’t intersect immediately. Because really, once they get theirs, what do they care about ours?

  42. smaller

    Sonia, before you make another post laden with ignorance about transpeople’s experiences, do yourself the favor of going out and researching it a bit.

  43. Cimorene

    “I just question the loyalty of any group whose needs don’t intersect immediately. Because really, once they get theirs, what do they care about ours?”

    But can’t that be said of all women? Aren’t women as a group likely to have various priorities within that group?

    I mean just because you know some lesbians who don’t care about reproductive rights, that doesn’t mean all lesbians are indifferent. And your criteria are worrisome: are American feminists less feminist, or less woman-ish (which is what the argument is–who gets to be a woman) than women in developed countries? Are only the absolutely most oppressed allowed to be women? Poor women have different priorities than rich women: that doesn’t make one group more or less woman, nor does it make the groups as a whole incompatible. Why does there need to be one totalizing perspective that makes up woman?

  44. speedbudget

    I thought this was a discussion about American feminists, period. Did I get that wrong?

  45. miska

    @toxiiiii

    “secondly, you tend to muddle your rants about patriarchy with complaints about men (football, porn, etc.) Men are hard-wired for aggression, violence and visual stimulation (porn). Perhaps your beef isnt so much with the patriarchy as it is with mother nature herself.”

    hahaha! This is hilarious. I come for the trans debate. I stay for the stupidity.

  46. evie

    AlienNumber: “the only way for MtF transgenderism to happen is through a very heavy process of feminization”

    Unfortunately, in many medical contexts, this is still the case; but it is changing. Julia Serano, for instance, wore exclusively gender-neutral clothes during her physical transition. Here in the UK the NHS doesn’t require you to ‘femme up’ at all. For some trans women a bit of lipstick etc is needed so they aren’t read as trans, so it helps them avoid harassment. But heavy feminisation is by no means always required.

    Cimorene: “But that wouldn’t be transexuality, right? Because there wouldn’t be any sex boundary (-sexuality) across which one would have to cross (trans-)”

    Maybe. I guess if there were no such thing as the gender or sex binaries anymore, then it wouldn’t be seen as ‘crossing over’ but simply a fixing of the specific things you can’t cope with. Which would make it much easier for those trans folk who need to fix some of the sexed aspects of their bodies but not others – e.g. genitals but not voice.

    Jill: “Well, yeah, there’s that, but in the future postfeminist utopia it would not cause suffering of any description.”

    Trans people often experience a visceral un-ease with their bodies that no amount of liberal/hippy/queer parenting can prevent, and no amount of acceptance or talking therapy can cure. I get that a perfect society where it was ok to be trans would prevent any spin-off suffering of self-hate, shame, internalised trans-misogyny etc, but there’s no evidence to suggest that the physical squick could also be prevented.

    miska: “By 8 years old this has already created two very different classes of people who experience the world and their place within it in very different ways.”
    If you talk to trans folks about their experiences growing up, you find out all sorts of interesting things about how socialisation can work covertly. If you think you ‘should be’ a little girl, it makes complete sense to internalise the messages that your sisters are getting, and many trans women experience this (and vice versa for trans men). E.g. plenty of trans women have totally internalised the whole ‘you’ve got to be thin’ thing in western cultures, and similarly the ‘responsibility’ to care for and pander to men. Just ask them.

  47. evie

    Dialectical Spin: “the medical professions which goes a long way to constructing the “need” to for people to “transition””

    In no country did the medical profession create trans people’s need to transition – trans people came to them, asking for hormones and surgery. They *way* they’ve dealt with it – reinforcing conservative gender norms by refusing treatment to non-conforming trans people – is deeply problematic, I agree. But trans people have been cutting themsleves up in many cultures round the world for millennia. Even today in most contexts it is excruciatingly difficult to persuade doctors to treat you, and even harder to get anyone to fund it, and almost impossible to get society to recognise it. Transsexuality is ‘hot’ only in the sense that our culture pornifies trans women even more than cis women – it is certainly not socially acceptable let alone desireable.

    Medics didn’t create transsexuality – they were dragged into treating it kicking and screaming, and the rest of the establishment is following a long way behind.

  48. yttik

    I don’t understand how claiming there is a women’s standard of oppression and wanting to focus on women’s rights as the first priority, gets translated into hostility and resistance, oppression of transpeople, and not letting them define their own experience?? It kind of reminds me of a woman choosing to not do a man’s laundry and getting accused of abuse. It’s not abuse of others to take care of your own needs first.

    Putting women’s rights before all other forms of oppression is going to eventually lead to a better system for transpeople, for all people. When half the human race is viewed as fully human, that ripples out to every body. There is nothing selfish or oppressive about focusing on the rights of women first. I haven’t heard anybody suggest that we oppress and reject us some transpeople in the process. Focusing on women’s rights is not a snub or a slight against other oppressions. You can’t save the whole world until you’ve saved yourself.

  49. Bushfire

    It is really heartbreaking to see the transphobia in this comment thread. Normally this blog is a breath of fresh air, but for the first time, I feel sickened by what I’m reading.

    After the revolution, there will still be men and women. Women born in a body with a penis will still need surgery to correct nature’s mistake.

    Women who are born into men’s bodies do not experience privilege, they experience severe oppression. They are many, many times more likely to commmit suicide than any other group, and they are many, many times more likely to be victims of violence, murder, etc. “Male privilege” my ass.

  50. msdeezee

    When one frames MtFs’ experience (and even those initials as an abbreviation are problematic) as a MAN trying to become a woman, rather than a woman (or let’s say person) attempting to express their identity as woman and suffering under patriarchy, are they not essentially completely undermining the person in question’s own understanding of their experience? In effect misgendering?

    That seems to be a view seen frequently in radfem circles. If you frame transgender…ism(?) and gender nonconformity as insidious men trying to fake like they’re women (and why would they, really? I hope people aren’t suggesting that the trans woman population is an army of spies dead set on keeping power from women), you are also denying the reality that everyone, regardless of genital anatomy and secondary sex characteristics, suffers under patriarchy.

    The trans woman that was forced to grow up as an imperfect boy due to not conforming to the strictures of masculinity is suffering under the P. This is not the same as a vast oppression of women generally, but, in discord with some of the above commenters, there is no standard form that oppression takes other than one dominant group decreasing the quality of life and taking things away from a “lesser” group (within which exists diversity).

    That individual may even be able at times to pass as masculine enough and access some of the privileges afforded to men, but they are still being oppressed by bad faith generalizations, supported by the P, of what it means to be a man vs. a woman.

  51. Sargassosea

    What the fuck is going on here? Did everyone forget that we were NOT talking about *transwomen* before we were?

    Gee, I wonder how this keeps happening. Rusty blogular skillz, my ass.

    IBTK, indeed.

  52. Angel H.

    yttik
    February 10, 2011 at 9:40 am
    I don’t understand how claiming there is a women’s standard of oppression and wanting to focus on women’s rights as the first priority, gets translated into hostility and resistance, oppression of transpeople, and not letting them define their own experience??

    There is not a women’s standard of oppression because there is no standard woman. The standard or default has come to mean white, able-bodied, heterosexual, cis-gendered, and middle-class. Those women do not experience the same oppressions as Black/Asia/Latina, disabled, and LGBT women, and to claim that your standard oppression trumps all others reeks of privilege.

  53. Le Chat Noir

    Sorry, I can’t align with all transwomen. I just can’t and this is person is one of (many other) reasons why, this is not a WOMAN, this is a STEREOTYPE of a woman:

    http://www.papermag.com/freeformimages/2007/nightlife_awards/nightlife2007_02.jpg
    http://cceblog.clickclickexpose.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/amanda-lepore.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Lepore

    My politics are definately NOT aligned with this transwomans.

  54. allhellsloose

    @yittik +1

  55. Rachel

    Bring back Luckynkl.

  56. Noanodyne

    I’m confused. How is it radical to support an activist model that says it’s not just understandable to assume and perform a gender, but is absolutely necessary for one’s survival and happiness? I thought being radical meant that one called out all those gender empowerfulments and addressed them for what they are: kowtowing to the patriarchy.

    Jill and several commenters here are using the usual “phobia” gambit. This has been addressed widely by many radical feminists, so if you want to actual engage us, you might at least be up-to-date with the conversation, rather than using this very trite shaming and silencing tactic (“dumb” isn’t a particularly articulate way to address our legitimate ideas, either). Our fear and loathing of the patriarchy and all its tactics (gender-conformity being a big one) are anything but irrational.

    Remember the conversation we were having before the derail to this? Oh yeah, it was about primary sex discrimination – females being enslaved by the patriarchy through their sex and reproductive organs from the time they are born. (Do you really want to stand by your comment in the other thread, Jill?) That there are people who take on and/or tout their status as the empowerfulized subjects of that slavery (funfems and trans women alike) reinforces the world order that creates that slavery in the first place and is therefore anti-radical. That there are people who want to escape that slavery is completely understandable, but when they do it by taking on the oppressor’s gender, that is as anti-revolutionary as being pro-porn.

  57. CassieC

    What Antoinette N. said, as usual:

    Transgals are my sisters.

  58. CassieC

    One more thing.

    The “transwomen are not like me, they have experienced male privilege and are just performing my gender for shits and giggles [Editor's note: what.the.hell?]” crowd are not seeing one crucial difference between cis-gender and transgender people. We, ciswomen, have one type of privilege over transfolk. We are more or less comfortable with our birth body’s gender: more or less, because obviously as women we get all kinds of hateful body messages (I hated my boobs for a while, still kinda do, etc). But we don’t have the horrible feeling that we are in the wrong body that someone who is transgender has. We don’t know that feeling. We have NO idea how much it sucks. And, friends and blamers, is a form of privilege. So before you go shit on women who were born with one type or another of male-identified body (lots of different non-binaries out there), rembember that you have no idea what it was or is like for them, because you are cis: you are comfortable (much more comfortable than them) with your birth body.

  59. lalala

    you making a big thing about your assistant’s gender identity seems to be a scream for street cred.

    beyond that i am down with a lot of what you said. but that felt like a cheap shot to me.

  60. Bluetraveler

    I agree with everything No Anodyne said. Gender / sex identity is fictional and a result of patriarchy. Why should we honor this delusion that kills us and our complete humanity? I don’t think this is a transphobic stance either. I am not scared of transpeople, though I think they are logically wrong and I’m saddened by the mutilation they believe is right to “align body & mind”

  61. Jodie

    Antoinette, Joy, & Cassie — y’all make my heart happy.

  62. Sargassosea

    “Our fear and loathing of the patriarchy and all its tactics (gender-conformity being a big one) are anything but irrational.”

    Yes. I was of the mind that such things were taken-for-granted in radical feminism and that our discussions were supposed to rise above and beyond the basics.

    And here I thought the joynt was for “advanced blamers”.

  63. Noanodyne

    And brought to you by Zoe Brain, the trans activist version of sex/gender essentialism:
    “Basically, a feminised brain leads to certain instincts, emotional responses, sense of smell and hearing, etc. When a child with these characteristics socialises with others, children or adults, a feminine gender identity crystallises because the child thinks, feels, smells, hears, perceives, emotes, moves etc as do other females. Even if they themselves look male.”

    I couldn’t have illustrated better the problem radical feminists have with this typical trans argument.

    Wasn’t it right here on IBTP that I read that the whole “female intuition” thing is bunk? Yeah, I thought so. I seem to remember the skeptic particularly being upset about that one. You dismissed it when women said it, but it’s ok when this person says it?

    Radical feminists who are questioning trans activism and trans politics are not gender/woman/female essentialists – and claiming that we are is just another red herring. None of us is saying all women are alike. What we are addressing is that the patriarchy treats us as if we are and uses that as a means to keep us from being just human. Any activism or politics that claims that there is such a thing as a “feminized brain” is a collaborator in female misery.

  64. AlienNumber

    Read and cry:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7259057.stm

    Transphobia is not phobia of transsexuals, but more like phobia of homophobia (and also phobia of the beauty-industrial complex) in my case.

  65. TwissB

    @yttik (Now that I have finally looked twice at the name, I’ll have to revise the interesting Nordic identity I had assumed for it.)

    “My idea is that our failure to unite over this one simple standard, women’s oppression, is why there has been no revolution.”

    Yttik demonstrates awareness of the “divide and conquer” ploy that is always used to splinter and defeat revolutionary movements. Who needs goons with clubs when we’ve got a well-infiltrated Women’s Studies program or law school faculty?

    At the risk of being dismissed as academic by someone kind enough to read my words at all, I direct the attention of any American women in the room to the much revered 14th Amendment – men guaranteed equal protection of the law for themseves and continue to deny it to women. They seem to be able to declare a comprehensive difference and act on it.

  66. Undercover Punk

    On an intellectual level, I knew that I would sometimes he dismissed or harassed once I started living as female, but I underestimated just how frustrating and hurtful each one of those instances would be.

    Direct quotation from chapter 10, page 223 of Whipping Girl by oft-cited trans woman Julia Serrano (also credited with coining “transmisogyny”). I UNDERESTIMATED, Serrano says. Such underestimation would not be possible if she had respectfully heeded FAABs’ “lived experiences” of female CHILDHOOD. FORMATIVE years (years that FORM, go that?) filled with innumerable instances of this “frustrating, hurtful” treatment. It’s not THE SAME. Obviously. Or there would be no underestimation. Especially from trans women as “enlightened” and well-versed in gender politics as Serrano supposedly is.

    Further, all “oppression” is NOT alike. FEMALE oppression is and always has been specifically *dependent* on the assumption of our collective impregnability. IF women, as a class, were not capable of impregnation, female oppression (aka MISOGYNY) would look ENTIRELY different. There wouldn’t BE an overwhelmingly sexual aspect to it. So don’t TELL me that VAGINAL RAPE of FAABs by MAABs is no different than any or all other KINDS of physical violence used to keep oppressed groups under thumb. It is, in fact, WORSE because of female impregnability. PREGNANCY is our number one vulnerability. And it is unique. There is NO direct COMPARISON between female oppression and other forms of oppression. Get real, sisters.

  67. Jezebella

    Indeed, that article is heartbreaking: forcing a person to choose to perform strictly within one gender role is at the very heart of patriarchy. Forcing an “effeminate” gay man to choose sex-change surgery, rather than accepting him as a man who is gay? How can we, as radical feminists, consider this anything other than reprehensible? How many other genderqueer folks have opted to transition – to pick one of the two acceptable genders – since a person presenting as genderqueer looks very different to the world at large than a person who has picked one gender role to perform?

    Back to another comment about the medicalization of gender roles – it’s my understanding is that it’s difficult to get surgery if one does not perform the desired gender role of the end result. Yet many women – particularly feminists – reject the performance of femininity. I wonder, in this case, how many MTF folks would really want to perform femininity to the Nth degree if it wasn’t necessary for them to do so in order to convince their shrinks, surgeons, etc. that they really, truly, do want to live as a woman?

    I guess my questions are kind of unanswerable since I think the possibilities of living trans* or genderqueer would be very, very different without the patriarchal institutions constantly enforcing the gender binary, but have no way of knowing since we’re soaking in it.

    [Also, what are MAAB and FAAB?]

  68. dwp

    I don’t understand the reasons behind rejecting M2F or F2M as a gender identity.  Is it not a valid identity worthy of  embracing on its own merit? Does choosing one of the two dominant gender orientations speak to and reinforce M2F / F2M phobia, internalized or otherwise?   Does it provide others easy avoidance of wrapping their minds around transgender reality?

    When Caucasian / African American bi-racial people identify as “bi-racial” it is a shorthand intro, albeit a grossly generalized one, to their racial orientation and general experience. They are not required, nor do most choose to identify as solely black or white. Does rejecting a “bi-racial” identification speak to internalized racism?

    Anyone? Please. Thank you.

  69. Cyberwulf

    Aah. When we passed ‘goddamn trannies and trannie-lovers diluting our pure feminism’, I knew it was only a matter of time before we reached ‘backstabbing dykes and their privilege of not being attracted to men’. However, I had no idea the train would eventually pull in at ‘Only America Counts’. Kudos!

  70. Sasa

    So you are reasoning as you do with “feminine” women? That it is no wonder that many women practice femininity since doing anything else gets you in trouble in today’s society, and they can’t be blamed. Meaning you reason that it is understandable that trans people transition in a society where the genders are as differentiated as they are today? Is that it?

    If so, I can totally understand that. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to deal with all the situations that occur when people find out that a person does not completely fit into the impossible criteria of the partiarchal definition of “woman”. I do wish everyone could just be whoever they want to be and not put any shitty labels on themselves, but as the situation is, the safest and most practical and satisfying thing to do would be to transition, so that you can live the life you want to live.

    I think most of those who oppose this are right in theory, but the actual situation does not match the theory right now. Most likely, what they do not support are the trans people who argue that they are (e.g. mtf) a woman in a man’s body*, which suggests that being a woman feels a certain way (which in turn inevitably implies that women’s minds are different from men’s). And I agree that this particular statement is anti-feminist. But it is also the only anti-feminist part about (some) trans people.

    *note that I only disagree with this one argument and not with the act of transitioning, nor anything else for that matter.

  71. Darragh Murphy

    While it is probably boring and frustrating for Blamers more advanced than I am, it has been enormously educating for me to be able to read this discussion.

    The argument by noanodyne above, and others like it, are most persuasive to me, a person new to the underlying assumptions of radical feminism if not the explicit aim: feminist revolution for the creation of a gender-free, androgynous new society.
    It IS difficult to reconcile a rejection of gender essentialism with an acceptance of the belief that some men are born with a built in desire to wear lipstick and high heels.

    If the heart of feminism is the movement to free humans who are sexed as women from the constraints/oppressions of patriarchal gender enforcement, then the role of trans women
    In the movement becomes hard to justify.

    Do trans women dream of a post-gendered world in which the incredibly painful and expensive treatments they underwent in order to pass in a patriarchal society as gendered women suddenly become absurd on their face?

    And if so, why do trans women insist on being referred to as something other than women? Why carve out a special asterisked gender designation for yourself if you believe all gender designations are tools of the P?

    Feminism is for women. That’s a big enough tent as it is. If you say youre a woman, then great, you’re a woman. YTTK is exactly right: patriarchy’s success in its ongoing derailment of feminist revolution can be seen in our eternal unwillingness to be united as Women, first last and always.

    Perhaps a useful analogy might be that another rad fem assumption is that hetero marriage is a powerful tool of the P (arguably the most powerful), but pretty much every last rad feminist I’ve come across has no problem keeping her intellectual contempt for het marriage separate from her sense of solidarity with individual het married women.

    It’s only when hetero married women try to turn the feminist discussion into a defense of het marriage or try to argue the empowerfulling aspects of het marriage that rad fems cry bullshit.

  72. Jilla

    OH look how afraid FAB women are to speak up here, instead just putting in ! and such when they agree with the few who dare, hoping not to piss off the blog owner. Timorous. Kind of reminds me of no kind of feminism at all. Are ya proud Twisty?

  73. TotallyDorkin

    @Noanodyne “How is it radical to support an activist model that says it’s not just understandable to assume and perform a gender, but is absolutely necessary for one’s survival and happiness? I thought being radical meant that one called out all those gender empowerfulments and addressed them for what they are: kowtowing to the patriarchy.”

    Performing gender is often absolutely necessary for one’s survival and happiness. This is because we live in a patriarchy where we are swiftly punished for deviation from the norm. Therefore, while it is one matter to critique and address the harmful aspects of the socialization of patriarchy, it is quite a different matter to create prescriptions for behavior because everyone’s situation is different.

    Some people have the luxury to buy only local foods and make sure they are not participating in the oppression of laborers, and some people cannot. Some women can choose to not perform femininity as is expected of them and still keep their job and friends, and some women cannot. You don’t get to be the one to tell people how to deal with their oppression.

  74. Darragh Murphy

    But this is Savage Death Island. On SDI no one has to gender perform, which means women who came by their sex designation with the help of modern medicine rather than in utero can stop performing as women and just BE women.

    My statement above about the role of trans women in the movement being hard to justify was stupid and stupidly insulting. What I meant was, it is difficult for me to understand why trans women would want or expect the movement to accommodate a separate designation for the gender ” trans women” when rad feminism is explicitly opposed to enforced gender performance. Trans women of course have a role, no different from any other woman’s role: as Women.

  75. AlienNumber

    Zoe Brain thank you so much for your posts. They have been very enlightening and useful in the radical feminist analysis and call for revolution.

    In a world in which the times of the gender binary will be remembered as the dark times of gender-based slavery (or the times when penis-bearers colonized without mercy the labia-bearers), people born with whatever genitalia will be allowed to grow up in peace, no things will be cut, no body dysphoria will exist, no patriarchal brainwashing will be perpetuated in schools and through the media.

    In the meantime, this discussion has helped me understand why it’s essential that right now we Fight for Intersex Rights- people who are born with ambiguous genitalia need to be allowed to grow up like that and choose their own ways (of course, while being discouraged from buying masculinizing and/or feminizing attire; we should encourage this in all children, in fact).

    Finally, on a very whiny very personal note, I cry for the times when transpolitics were not as mainstream, when lesbian bars were real lesbian bars (and little furry creatures from Alpha Centaury were real little furry creatures from Alpha Centauri) and when this very disturbing “boi” and “FtM” fad did not exist.

  76. AlienNumber

    (figured this out, finally:)
    Every single time I type the word p-e-n-i-s the comment goes straight into moderation. Which is hilarious.

    It also shows Twisty has exquisite taste.

  77. allhellsloose

    MAAB – Male assigned at birth
    FAAB – Female assigned at birth.

  78. evie

    Darragh Murphy: “it is difficult for me to understand why trans women would want or expect the movement to accommodate a separate designation for the gender ”trans women””

    Thanks for clarifying your comment. But I don’t think they do, or at least not the vast majority of them. If anyone’s ever asking for e.g. an explicit trans inclusion policy or similar, it’s probably just because they’ve learnt the hard way that lots of people don’t accept them as (just) women, and want to check they’re in friendly territory.

  79. Lovepug

    The declaration of this blog and accompanying Facebook page as “dude-free” certainly isn’t the innocent little housecleaning measure it was meant to be.

    Could we perhaps instead frame it as “this blog/Facebook page is DUDE LANGUAGE-free” because that would target how people communicate as the issue rather than the communicators themselves.

    I think the goal was just to avoid the tiresome bandwidth hogging that tends to go along with male privilege. If there’s a person of any gender (or no wish to identify with gender) posting and they’re using this forum not to advance the cause of toppling the patriarchy but to advance their own cause (be it what-about-the-men or feminists-have-no-sense-of-humor or, dare I say it, we’re-just-like-bonobos) then that bandwidth hogging shit has to go. If that person is trying to derail the conversations regarding the long arm of patriarchy, call them out.

    Twisty (sorry, you’ll always be Twisty to me) stated that certain dudes who could behave themselves are allowed to post. That tells me that who one is, how one was raised, or how one identifies does not matter. You just need to speak in Blame.

    In a way all this is moot because fuzzy gender issues become even fuzzier when you have anonymous Internet postings. On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

    I say, If yer blamin’ yer stayin. Otherwise, get out and go post on slashdot or something.

  80. Mary Tracy9

    “The second is the main anti-trans “argument.” It goes:

    Unless you were born a woman, how can you really know what women’s oppression means?

    From my personal experience, that is not the main “anti-trans argument”, since most trans activists I’ve seen online are not all that interested in “women’s oppression” to begin with, but only oppression of transpeople. There are exceptions, of course. When transwomen oppose the oppression of all women, no one steps in to shut her down with claims that “she doesn’t know”. That would be dumb indeed. Like Jill said, of course it’s possible to understand and oppose the oppression of women without having experienced it. An ally is an ally.

    The main “anti-trans argument”, again, from what I’ve seen, goes like this: “you were not born a woman, you are not a woman”. This seems to be at the core of the “conflict” and I don’t think anyone will find a resolution to it anytime soon. It is true that only transwomen can define the experience of being transwomen, but by the same token, only women can define the experience of being women. And for every transwoman claiming that “she always felt like a woman”, there’s a woman claiming that she never felt like “anything”, she just “was”. The definition of “woman” cannot incorporate both perspectives.

    And so the argument goes on…

  81. kurukurushoujo

    Performing gender is often absolutely necessary for one’s survival and happiness. This is because we live in a patriarchy where we are swiftly punished for deviation from the norm. Therefore, while it is one matter to critique and address the harmful aspects of the socialization of patriarchy, it is quite a different matter to create prescriptions for behavior because everyone’s situation is different.

    Where are these precriptions and what do they entail? Asking because I’ve never seen them.

  82. kurukurushoujo

    And for every transwoman claiming that “she always felt like a woman”, there’s a woman claiming that she never felt like “anything”, she just “was”. The definition of “woman” cannot incorporate both perspectives.

    It’s impossible to feel like a woman without knowing what being a woman is supposed to feel like. And what being a woman is supposed to feel like is a social construct existing in the collective mind of a society. Without a society and its culture no one would ever know how being a human feels like, what a human is supposed to do and what s/he’s not supposed to do. So without prescriptive norms for gender roles or any role whatsoever you wouldn’t feel like anything.

  83. Cyberwulf

    When half the human race is viewed as fully human, that ripples out to every body.

    Isn’t that what we have now? Half the human race viewed as fully human? Guess all we have to do is wait for the ripples to reach us, then.

  84. Ayla

    I am a woman and I have no idea what “feeling like a woman” is.

  85. miska

    @ Mary Tracy9

    “The main “anti-trans argument”, again, from what I’ve seen, goes like this: “you were not born a woman, you are not a woman”.”

    It would be more accurate to describe the main radical feminist argument as a recognition that there are fundamental political differences between those who are raised with male privilege, and those who are not.

    It’s not semantics (as someone else suggested above). It’s politics.

  86. allhellsloose

    @ Ayla. I’ve no idea as a woman what ‘feeling like a woman is’ also. However more and more trans gender mtf women are being regender assinged at an earlier age because their parents listen to them and are alarmed at, maybe, a two year old MAAB saying “I’m a girl”. And repeating this assertion year after year. I’m all for this. I applaud the parents who do this pre puberty. I’m a parent of an autistic son who had the guts to get him statemented pre school. Despite patriarchial dad denying his difference.

    What I don’t like is trans women asserting that women be labelled cis and forgetting the males in this equation = cis male.

    What I don’t like is the accusation that there is transphobia on this site when this particular discussion arises. The arguments that follow are reasoned and well thought and intellectual. This is IBTP after all. And Twisty, contrary to what she might say, is ever vigilant.

  87. yttik

    Naturally I meant the other half of the human race, women. When women are no longer oppressed under this system, dozens of other social ills and oppressions will also fall away. Without hatred of women, there is no homophobia, because a big part of hating gay men is about viewing them as female-like. The same with transphobia and half a dozen other ills.

    The health and well being of a culture is directly linked to how much equality the women have. They’re half the human race, oppressing them is what leads to all other oppressions, as well as economic insecurity and political instability, and harm to the environment. We have evidence of this all over the world and all through history.

    I don’t understand what makes feminists of today so reluctant to simply focus on women’s rights. We’re half the human race, that means we’re people of color, of poverty, of transgender. Focusing on women’s equality is an incredibly inclusive thing to do because it encompasses so many people. If you can free half the world, the ripple out would be amazing.

  88. Angel H.

    “yttik:
    I don’t understand how claiming there is a women’s standard of oppression and wanting to focus on women’s rights as the first priority, gets translated into hostility and resistance, oppression of transpeople, and not letting them define their own experience??”

    There is not a women’s standard of oppression because there is no standard woman. The standard or default has come to mean white, able-bodied, heterosexual, cis-gendered, and middle-class. Those women do not experience the same oppressions as Black/Asia/Latina, disabled, and LGBT women, and to claim that your standard oppression trumps all others reeks of privilege.

  89. allhellsloose

    Oh and I don’t like male rapists imprisoned for manslaughter who demand that they get gender reassignment so that they can get into women only prisons. That particular scenario, all every woman can agree, is just sinister patriarchy at it’s worst.

  90. Foglet

    What about transmen or non-binary genderqueer folk? Are we going to have another Mich-fest debacle? Do transmen somehow lose their history when they transition? No.

    If you are going to have a post policy, please don’t reinforce a binary model of oppression. Would it be better to specify “cis-dude-free?” Better, but probably not. I understand the need for spaces where people can feel safe and comfortable, but that does not necessitate exclusion. For example, in a trans/genderqueer group I help facilitate, we have cis people who add a lot of insight to the discussion of gender variance, and we would not have it any other way.

    So why not make it a policy of on-topic posts, specifying that this is not a space for posts from a “dude’s” perspective, rather then assuming post topic-ness based on shitty hierarchies that are better broken down, not upheld. We can make spaces that are inclusive, but specific.

    I have seen some comments that completely erase the diverse experience of transwomen. I know some butch transwomen out there, so the idea that transwomen are all hyper-feminine is bullshit and simply re-inscribes the idea that to be a woman means to be feminine. Also bullshit, but I’m sure most would agree with that, but strategically use those same tools of oppression to oppress transwomen via standards of femininity. WTF.

    Also on a side note, the Dworkin essay is bullshit and actually does reinforce a social pathological model for trans people (“faulty socialization,” “emergency condition” wat) and objectifies trans people and reduces us to a symptom of a social ill that needs to be cured. The argument erases the already complex fluid existence of trans people and makes many identities “illegitimate” if they do not conform to another’s definition of fluid androgyny. This kind of argument about “transsexuals” displays an utter lack of knowledge about trans people’s identities, outside of a system of psychiatric power.

  91. Mary Tracy

    yttik I believe it is possible to make a very sound case arguing that all forms of oppression, indeed all hierarchies, stem from the oppression of women.

  92. Gum (formerly "Gumption, Nah?")

    Belatedly: thanks Jill!

    I shall probably retire from the commentariat (after two whole posts?!), but I will continue to be an enthusiastic reader without feeling too guilty.

    For fucking unbearably asinine and phobic comment threads, IBTP. (But I don’t blame the blog owner).

  93. Bushfire

    (figured this out, finally:)
    Every single time I type the word p-e-n-i-s the comment goes straight into moderation. Which is hilarious.

    It also shows Twisty has exquisite taste.

    I’m so glad you explained this! My last comment is still in moderation and I have a feelings its not coming. I checked and sure enough, it contains the word p*n*s.

    Point taken! I will refrain from using this word in the future.

  94. radishfem

    ” . . . a bunch of people with higher status than you sitting around debating the degree to which they find you human?”

    Really, Jill? How melodramatic is this? I’ve read through all the comments on this post, and the last, and there is not one person saying that transpeople of any variety are less than human. It is not like you to exaggerate a situation to a ridiculous degree like this. “not female assigned at birth” is very different from “less than human”

    I also question the “higher status” portion of that claim.

  95. Daisy Deadhead

    That piece is by me, not Renee. I am credited in the first sentence.

  96. Daisy Deadhead

    Here is the original post, along with the original comments:

    http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2009/08/andrea-dworkin-on-transgender.html

  97. Treefinger

    “Oh and I don’t like male rapists imprisoned for manslaughter who demand that they get gender reassignment so that they can get into women only prisons.”

    I understand why this would perturb you, but if the person is put in solitary confinement after that, or at least away from the other women, I don’t see the problem (given that I remember at least one case exactly like this, where the rapist had verifiably been trans before incarceration, so they weren’t just demanding this to get access to women). They should be treated like any other woman who is in jail for raping a woman: a threat to women, but due to their criminal actions, not the fact they once had a penis.

    With this, as with the whole toilet drama, though, I think people who are arguing about it are missing the point. We shouldn’t have gender-segregated public toilets or prisons… because we shouldn’t have multi-stall toilets or prisons. The best toilets I’ve ever seen were single stall (with solid doors so you couldn’t peek on anyone), accessible to the disabled, included baby-changing facilities and a convertable urinal/toilet. People of any gender, physical ability, with-or-without-child status, could use them, eliminating gender-policing of toilets, among other benefits. We should be encouraging more facilities such as those. With prisons, it’s a little more controversial, but I Blame The Patriarchy for prisons in the first place. We wouldn’t have them after the revolution, both because the institutions themselves are not ideal, and the idea of violent crime would become unthinkable. Obviously, the latter isn’t the case now, so we can’t just tear down all prisons and let rapists and murderers roam free. But a radical re-imagining of how we detain people needs to take place, because the current system stamps on the human rights of prisoners and encourages a culture in which detainees only become more adept at crime.

    “What I don’t like is trans women asserting that women be labelled cis and forgetting the males in this equation = cis male.”

    I don’t think anyone is doing this, though. If you don’t feel the label “cis” describes you (because you don’t “feel like a woman”*, you only consider yourself one because you’ve been raised as one and suffered the oppression of the sex class), then don’t take personal offense when a person talks about “cis women”, because it’s not about you- FAAB women who do “feel like a woman” do demonstrably exist, as evidenced by the liberal feminists who cop to it and the reams of non-feminist women out there who feel no discomfort with saying nonsense about how gender roles are “hard-wired” because that statement doesn’t clash with their personal experience. But it’s perfectly possible to be a non-cis, non-trans person who considers herself a woman- and there is no need for you to make up your own term for it. Trans people may want you to cop to “passing privilege” (i.e.: the fact that you are statistically less likely to suffer physical violence due to the fact people assume you are a cis woman and not a “gender variant freak”) after that, but I think that’s fair.

    Also pretty much all trans people are aware that cis males are the most privileged people on the planet in terms of sex-based oppressions, and they very often discuss this on their own blogs and amongst themselves. If your only experience with trans feminists is on threads where they criticize cis feminists for transphobia, then no wonder you think that’s all they ever talk about, but it isn’t.

    *I define this as someone who feels an emotional kinship with any combination of factors associated with females and/or femininity. Not all trans or cis women feel the same kinship with the same set of physical characteristics or gender performances. It doesn’t matter whether these are all/partially socially constructed for the purpose of this definition, just that they are important to certain people in a way many commenters on this blog feel they are not.

  98. Citizen Jane

    This thread is heartbreaking. If dudely commenters aren’t allowed, why is transmisogyny allowed?

    Okay, perhaps you could make an argument that MtF transwomen got some privilege over the rest of us in that they had some male privilege early in life. That privilege still pales in comparison to the cis privilege that we cisgendered folks have over transpeople.

    If anything, transpeople should be the ones getting spaces safe from us. When you claim that we are the ones needing spaces without them, you sound exactly like White Power groups whining that people of colour get their own spaces, so White people need spaces safe from people of colour too. Or MRAs whining that women get safe spaces without men, so men should have their old boys’ clubs safe from women. It is the same exact bloody thing.

    How dare you abuse your cis privilege in order to exclude transpeople from a community whose purpose is to fight oppression? How dare you?

  99. evie

    AlienNumber: “the only way for MtF transgenderism to happen is through a very heavy process of feminization”

    Unfortunately, in many medical contexts, this is still the case; but it is changing. Julia Serano, for instance, wore exclusively gender-neutral clothes during her physical transition. Here in the UK the NHS doesn’t require you to ‘femme up’ at all. For some trans women a bit of lipstick etc is needed so they aren’t read as trans, so it helps them avoid harassment. But heavy feminisation is by no means always required.

  100. evie

    Cimorene: “But that wouldn’t be transexuality, right? Because there wouldn’t be any sex boundary (-sexuality) across which one would have to cross (trans-)”

    Maybe. I guess if there were no such thing as the gender or sex binaries anymore, then it wouldn’t be seen as ‘crossing over’ but simply a fixing of the specific things you can’t cope with. Which would make it much easier for those trans folk who need to fix some of the sexed aspects of their bodies but not others – e.g. genitals but not voice.

  101. justpassingthrough

    Hooray for all the profound, intellectual, beautifully articulated critiques! This is how feminism is supposed to work. Women standing in solidarity, claiming ownhership (a spelling error, but too apt to correct) of their history, their experiences, their future. You see, the word “woman” is the most important word in a feminist’s lexicon. Like it or not, it’s a word imbued with political, anthropological, sociological, psychological, historical, and, lastly, medical meaning. It is not so much a physical descriptor as it is a biography of half the human race. It says something about where we’ve been, what sorts of issues we’ve faced, what obstacles we’ve had to overcome. It means that when we look into the eyes of another woman, we will always see part of ourselves reflected back to us. That connection doesn’t happen arbitrarily; it doesn’t happen because we share, or have shared, reproductive organs; it doesn’t happen because we share “female brain” and love gossiping, shoe shopping and “chick flicks” (ew, ew and eww). That connection is borne of a lifetime of understanding what it means to be a woman, which is to say, the shared rituals, traditions, hopes, fears, trials and tribulations experienced exclusively by girl children raised in a patriarchy. Which sounds, understandably, like the manifesto of the She-Woman Trans Hater’s Club to those former boy children whose personalties did not lend themselves to easy assimilation into the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club of patriarchy. They wanted to jump the fence and hang out with us, they wanted membership in our club because, of the only two clubs in town, it was the club they felt most at home in.

    Understandable. How could any empathetic former female child of patriarchy deny the necessity of banding together with those you most closely relate to? It’s a logical, if not psychologically expedient, endeavor. So here’s the deal. A person cannot become something they are not, anymore than a scientist can transmute lead into gold. The best that can be achieved is a semblance of the thing they aspire to be. Breast implants, hormone therapy and reconstructed genitalia create the facsimile of a woman – not *a* woman. To argue that womanhood can be procured through scalpels, silicone, and a somewhat chemically altered physiology is reductionist at best and a great whopping insult to those of us who take our womanhood way damn seriously. We’ve fucking earned it. All our lives we’ve been told to make concessions for others, we’ve been told we haven’t got the right to ownership of our own bodies, for goodness sake, and now we’re being told we have to sacrifice ownership of womanhood – and, yes, that is exactly what it would be, a sacrificial knife to the heart of the biography of half the human race – and all because some members of the opposite sex covet it? How fucking codependent. How fucking typical. Let’s fucking transcend this idiocy already.

    The intitiation into the club happens at birth, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grant honorary memberships to those transwomen who are willing to stand in solidarity with us and fight the good fight. So long as no one argues that you can turn lead into gold, or that transwomen don’t at least deserve to know the secret handshake. (I, for one, dream of the day radical feminists can identify one another with a secret handshake. Preferably something that would make any men in the vicinity highly uncomfortable.)

  102. justpassingthrough

    @AlienNumber
    Gosh, that was such an unexpected compliment! I seem to spend all my time on feminist blogs these days either lurking or blowing off steam, so it’s really cool to think my blatherings made such an impression on someone. I have a throwaway email addy you can contact me at initially: M8R-c6rld01 “at” mailinator “dot” com. I’ve never needed a discreet way for someone to contact me, so hopefully that’ll work.

    @Cimorene
    You’re giving me a headache. You seem to lack a fundamental grasp of Feminism 101, so it’s understandable that the advanced stuff is going waaaay over your head. If you can’t list at least three ways women are oppressed as a class, you need to go back to Feminism Kindgergarten. I don’t have the time nor the energy to teach you this stuff.
    If a woman was raised as a boy (even though she had a vagina) but then “came out” as actually a girl when she got big boobs at age 16, would she have male privilege because she was treated like a boy her whole life?
    The scenario doesn’t work because *she* would know she’s a girl. She would be passively absorbing cultural messages about girls and women that would negatively impact her self-image, regardless of how well she “passed”. She’d be well aware of the shitstorm she’d be facing if/when she came out.

    @Joy
    Inside, I’m a human being. Outside, I’m a woman.
    T-shirts! Bumperstickers! Keyrings! Tampon boxes! I think I want this on everything!

    @Zoe Brain
    I shouldn’t have been so lazy and should’ve just looked up GID. I appreciate all the info you’ve posted; it is very intriguing. I was really surprised to discover GID is still in the DSM, and that the only recommended treatment is reassignment surgery. If that’s the most effective treatment, then I can get behind that. I certainly don’t believe in unnecessary suffering. Of course, whether or not a female identified male person should be permitted to undergo reassignment surgery was never being debated. I hope you, and others of like mind, understand that no one wants to take away trans rights or see the transgendered community persecuted in any way.

    @speedbudget
    I hear you on the subject of loyalty. It’s my understanding that the majority of the MTF population *doesn’t* identify as feminist (I’d love to be proven wrong on that point), and so it’s more than a little ironic that there is a huge feminist contingent arguing for full inclusion of transwomen in the women’s club. I think there is a lot of socially ingrained codependent “I’ll be everyone’s hero and put my needs last” crap going on here.

    @Noanodyne
    Props to you for an incredibly lucid response. You said everything I wish I had.

  103. justpassingthrough

    @AlienNumber

    Gosh, that was such an unexpected compliment! I seem to spend all my time on feminist blogs these days either lurking or blowing off steam, so it’s really cool to think my blatherings made such an impression on someone. I have a throwaway email addy you can contact me at initially: M8R-c6rld01 [at] mailinator [dot] com. I’ve never needed a discreet way for someone to contact me, so hopefully that’ll work.

    @Cimorene

    You’re giving me a headache. You seem to lack a fundamental grasp of Feminism 101, so it’s understandable that the advanced stuff is going waaaay over your head. If you can’t list at least three ways women are oppressed as a class, you need to go back to Feminism Kindgergarten. I don’t have the time nor the energy to teach you this stuff.

    If a woman was raised as a boy (even though she had a vagina) but then “came out” as actually a girl when she got big boobs at age 16, would she have male privilege because she was treated like a boy her whole life?

    The scenario doesn’t work because *she* would know she’s a girl. She would be passively absorbing cultural messages about girls and women that would negatively impact her self-image, regardless of how well she “passed”. She’d be well aware of the shitstorm she’d be facing if/when she came out.

    @Joy

    Inside, I’m a human being. Outside, I’m a woman.

    T-shirts! Bumperstickers! Keyrings! Tampon boxes! I think I want this on everything!

    @Zoe Brain

    I shouldn’t have been so lazy and should’ve just looked up GID. I appreciate all the info you’ve posted; it is very intriguing. I was really surprised to discover GID is still in the DSM, and that the only recommended treatment is reassignment surgery. If that’s the most effective treatment, then I can get behind that. I certainly don’t believe in unnecessary suffering. Of course, whether or not a female identified male person should be permitted to undergo reassignment surgery was never being debated. I hope you, and others of like mind, understand that no one wants to take away trans rights or see the transgendered community persecuted in any way.

    @speedbudget

    I hear you on the subject of loyalty. It’s my understanding that the majority of the MTF population *doesn’t* identify as feminist (I’d love to be proven wrong on that point), and so it’s more than a little ironic that there is a huge feminist contingent arguing for full inclusion of transwomen in the women’s club. I think there is a lot of socially ingrained codependent “I’ll be everyone’s hero and put my needs last” crap going on here.

    @Noanodyne

    Props to you for an incredibly lucid response. You said everything I wish I had.

  104. combat baby

    Just wanted to chime in with the rest of the chorus expressing gratitude for a great post, and thanks to all fellow blamers for their usual brilliant commentary! I’ve read through the whole thread and it has been uniformly thought-provoking (well, with the exception of the evo-psych dude dropping by to tell us what men are “hard-wired” to do). With regard to kyriarchy and the intersectionality of oppression: It seems necessary to strike a balance by acknowledging the ways in which we are each privileged, but not getting bogged down comparing different “levels” of privilege or oppression. One commenter pointed out that each of us is an oppressor in some way (buying appliances, etc.). While this is true, it doesn’t preclude women from working together to end the oppression that does affect us as a class. Overthrowing the patriarchy would likely bring an end to many other types of exploitation and oppression as well. After all, the sex class system is “the model for all other exploitative systems, and thus the tapeworm that must be eliminated first by any true revolution.” (My apologies if quoting Firestone on this blog is overkill; just read that today and thought it fit well with this discussion.)

    @Citizen Jane: I don’t think the majority of commenters here are suggesting that cis feminists need any sort of safe space from trans folks; I got the impression that most agreed with Twisty’s analysis re: individual women’s experiences with different types of privilege, yet all with some form of oppression. I agree that using one’s cis privilege to decide how trans people are allowed to identify themselves doesn’t really seem to jive with the whole idea of radical feminism. Critiquing and dismantling the binary gender system itself (which is at least partially to blame for the “emergency” state of being a trans person), though, is legit and indeed necessary for revolution.

    As far as MtF trans people using lipstick, implants, etc. to achieve physical “feminization” – IBTP for the concept of femininity in the first place!

  105. Citizen Jane

    Womanhood. Womanhood. Womanhood. I am not a woman because of some inherent condition that was assigned to me from on high. I was not even born a woman. I did not actually become a woman until some obstetrician took a look at my genitals and declared

    In accordance with the dogma of our society, we have determined that all human beings will be divided into two classes of people for no apparent reason. We could place someone into a class based on their hair colour, the shape of their eyebrows, or even a flip of a coin. However, for no reason whatsoever, we have arbitrarily decided to place someone in a class according to the shape of their genitals.

    I hereby decree that, due to the shape of this infant’s genitals, Citizen Jane will be a member of the class known as woman. This decree will enforce the way she speaks, the way she behaves, the manner in which she may relate to other people, the goals she is permitted to aspire to, and the way she will be treated throughout the entirety of her life.

    Woman is not something I am. It is something that was assigned to me by the patriarchy. Gender is an invention of the patriarchy, so to say that a person cannot change their gender is only saying that patriarchy enforces the gender binary with an iron fist. If you support that, you are colluding with patriarchy. This idea that gender is something inherent is the very basis of patriarchy. It is the essence of what keeps all of us oppressed, transpeople and cisgendered people alike.

    I need to quit this now. I refuse to discuss trans issues with someone who will not even acknowledge their cis privilege, for the same reasons that Jill refuses to indulge those who refuse to acknowledge their own male privilege.

  106. Lidon

    Okay, perhaps you could make an argument that MtF transwomen got some privilege over the rest of us in that they had some male privilege early in life. That privilege still pales in comparison to the cis privilege that we cisgendered folks have over transpeople.

    Regardless of how much that privilege may or may not pale in comparison, I’ve had trans friends that have made it abundantly clear that their new identities haven’t erased the male privilege they were raised with, as expressed by their sheer inability to relate with feminist issues (anything I bring up ends up becoming all about them, and once again, my objections have been dismissed).

    This isn’t to say I’m for excluding transpeople, definitely not, but I’m not one for having discussions co-opted or undermined either. Men do that to women enough.

    Of course any privilege we have should be challenged and examined, and different experiences should be discussed as they relate to feminism, but we’re either all women on here or not, right?

    Fuck. IBTP.

  107. Lidon

    yttik: I don’t understand what makes feminists of today so reluctant to simply focus on women’s rights.

    It’s because women are taught to accommodate and to always put others’ needs before our own.

  108. winnie b

    @justpassingthrough
    “To argue that womanhood can be procured through scalpels, silicone, and a somewhat chemically altered physiology is reductionist at best and a great whopping insult to those of us who take our womanhood way damn seriously.”

    I’d disagree that scalpels, silicon, or hormonal alterations are what makes trans women women, and to argue that womanhood (cis or trans) is based on the body is reductionist at best and a great whopping insult to those of us who take our womanhood way damn seriously.

    As a trans woman talking about my own womanhood, and the womanhoods of other trans women, I could say, “We’ve fucking earned it. All our lives we’ve been told to make concessions for others, we’ve been told we haven’t got the right to ownership of our own bodies, for goodness sake, and now we’re being told we have to sacrifice ownership of womanhood – and, yes, that is exactly what it would be.”

    Of course, I feel I should point out that the only womanhood I own is my own. All sorts of people try to take it away from me all the time in so many ways, kinda like you are here.

    It seems to me that you are fighting against a stereotype of a trans woman as if it were all trans women.

  109. kurukurushoujo

    Ayla. I’ve no idea as a woman what ‘feeling like a woman is’ also. However more and more trans gender mtf women are being regender assinged at an earlier age because their parents listen to them and are alarmed at, maybe, a two year old MAAB saying “I’m a girl”. And repeating this assertion year after year. I’m all for this

    Are you out of your mind?

  110. speedbudget

    To clarify, I was never advocating that we don’t support trans* people. I was simply voicing concern over how long it’s going to take that group to throw us under the bus when their needs are meet, i.e. with the support of feminists fighting for more surgical/presentation options etc., feminists fighting for more inclusion of trans* rights in social discourse, when that group of people gets theirs, when do they jump off our train? It happens. It’s disheartening to throw all your energy and thought and time into fighting for a more open, feminist world only to have a group say, “I got mine BIOTCHEZ” and leave us blowing in the wind.

    Also, I never meant to imply “Only America Counts.” I just assumed the parameters of this conversation encompassed America since the blog mistress lives in Texas and is blogging out of there and most of the topics for discussion are things happening right here in the United States. I didn’t realize we were responsible for all feminism all over the world. I have to get my bingo card out, cause that whole shit about “There’s ladies over in this part of the world that have it worse than you do” is NOTHING but a way to shut your shit down.

  111. evie

    miska: “By 8 years old this has already created two very different classes of people who experience the world and their place within it in very different ways.”

    If you talk to trans folks about their experiences growing up, you find out all sorts of interesting things about how socialisation can work covertly. If you think you should be/are really a little girl, it makes complete sense to internalise the messages that you hear your sisters getting, and many trans women experience this (and vice versa for trans men). E.g. plenty of trans women have totally internalised the whole ‘you’ve got to be thin’ thing in western cultures, and similarly the ‘responsibility’ to care for and pander to men. Just ask them.

  112. evie

    How come cis women get to define what womanhood is?

    It sounds bad, but bear with me. Het white rich married couples in love know that they’re truly in love, and patriarchal society approves. Drinks all round. But who else gets to join that club, and should it be the established members alone doing the deciding? How can heterosexual people on their own decide whether other loves ‘counts’: lesbians, mixed-race, underage couples, unmarried, arranged marriages, poly… The only way that we can be fair about definitions and groupings is by listening to the people on the margins, taking their experiences seriously, not writing them off as mad/dangerous/hypersexualised/just going through a phase/etc. and letting them shape ideas too.

    Patriarchy gives the power to define and exclude to the people at the centre. Patriarchy says the lables it imposes at birth stick forever. Patrairchy makes women fight each other instead of it. IBTP

  113. evie

    Patriarchy also makes me feel like a failure when I make typoes:

    *count
    *Patriarchy

  114. Laughingrat

    Thank you, Jill.

  115. flaps

    Speedbudget, why would transwomen jump off the feminism train when they are women and are affected by patriarchy just the same as cis-women? Am I gonna jump off the feminism train when queers are equal to straight women because my queer oppression has been magicked away? No, because I am still also a woman.

    Besides which since when is feminism separable from trans rights and queer rights? Transpeople get kicked down under a rigid gender binary system, the same system that pisses all over everyone else too. Mutually beneficial aims here. One fight will never be ended while the other continues.

  116. yttik

    “But who else gets to join that club..”

    Why do people assume that feminism is a club? It is a belief, a set of ideals, not an exclusive club with membership requirements.

    And why do we always have to play oppression Olympics, measuring and grading how much privilege each group has? And why do women never “win” this race to the bottom? There is this never ending march to portray women as oppressors, as the root of all evil. You have cis privilege, white privilege, economic privilege, het privilege, transmisogyny, and you are responsible for all the human rights violations in China. In other words, you’re a really bad person. And what sparked all this privilege shaming of women?? Somebody tried to say no to a dude acting superior on facebook. If this is what happens when you simply say no to some dude making a comment, no wonder women are so powerless when it comes to saying no to rape, to domestic violence, to wage discrimination, to the right to reproductive choices.

    Has anybody ever heard of standing in solidarity rather then sitting in judgment and relentlessly interrogating women until you find some character flaw?

  117. Cyberwulf

    Speedbudget, before you accuse me of silencing you by pointing out that ‘America’ is not a synonym for ‘the world’, you should know that I’m a long-time reader who is from and lives in Ireland. You just dismissed me, and every other reader who doesn’t live in the US, again. I would have let it go if it hadn’t followed the handwringing about selfish dykes and trannies co-opting the movement and throwing ‘us’ under the bus once they’ve got theirs (because there’s so many of ‘them’ and so few of ‘us’, right?). I suppose we also can’t trust women from minority ethnic and racial groups either.

  118. Valarissa

    May I make an assertion? The concept that transwomen benefit from male privilege is fraught with intricacies and complexities that are, to be quite honest, not understandable by any cisgendered individual.
    I cannot speak about the experiences of others, but from my own experience, any benefit I may have gained from my male privilege paled in comparison to the crippling depression that I suffered from receiving it. I grew up internalizing all of the messages directed at women in a very distorted way. I felt those messages directed at me, attributed to my body. I reeled because of them, because I did not conform to this standard of beauty that was attributed to and directed at women. I was not taught to be bold, to take charge of a situation, or to not be afraid. Those messages, those drives were external to me because of the fact that I was not male. I also knew I was not female. I was me, which is to say something in between. I held myself to the messages I felt were more adequately directed at me, and I suffered for it.
    I am only now starting to come to terms with the concept that I am as capable as I am, because I internalized a view that I am NOT capable. That what I say will never be as good as another person. This, to me, is not the semblance of a male persona. It is indicative of an oppressed individual. I was oppressed since birth because of the fact that I was NOT male, a boy, a young man. I also was not female, a girl, a young woman. I do not reach so far as to make those claims. I do, however, make claim to the fact that I was socialized more akin to a woman than to a man, because of the messages that infiltrated my head. I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough, that I was lesser. From what I understand, this is a common problem feminists attack: that girls and young women are constantly barraged by messages that are designed to make them feel inferior.
    That being said, I do not speak for all transwomen but for myself, I stand beside cisgendered women to overthrow a system that makes a staggeringly large number of people feel inadequate. A system which pushes people down in such a way that they do not feel their own dreams and desires are valid. I do this because growing up, I felt those messages too, in a very real, and very tangible way. Male privilege was never my privilege, and I would hazard a guess that this is the case for many trans* individuals as well.

  119. Zoe Brain

    justpassingthrough wrote:
    That connection is borne of a lifetime of understanding what it means to be a woman, which is to say, the shared rituals, traditions, hopes, fears, trials and tribulations experienced exclusively by girl children raised in a patriarchy.

    So all girl children, raised in Mongolia or Montreal, Quatar or Quebec have these same experiences?

    This view has been put forward exclusively by white western women, who have no conception of the differences between their experiences and those of, say, slaves (male or female) in Malawi. Whose “shared rituals, traditions, hopes, fears, trials and tribulations” have much in common with each other, and nothing in common with those of people in the privileged west.

    What about the tiny pockets of Matriarchy still on the planet in out-of-the-way places. Are girls their “not really women” because of their privilege? Those women in some South Chinese national minorities where polyandry is the norm (like one woman I worked with on a submarine project)?

    For that matter, what about those Intersexed people with 5ARD or 17BHDD? They look like girls at birth, are brought up as girls, and it’s often only in their late teens that their bodies masculinise. Google “Guevedoces Urology” to see what I mean. Your philosophy would say they’re all women. In fact, only some are.

    What about those Intersexed people, born with ambiguous genitalia, surgically “assigned” a sex at random? 30% revolt against that assignation, even if they’re not aware that it happened. It would be 50%, except that some people are “bi-gendered” neurologically.

    To argue that womanhood can be procured through scalpels, silicone, and a somewhat chemically altered physiology is reductionist at best and a great whopping insult to those of us who take our womanhood way damn seriously.

    Strawman, because no-one claims that, do they? You may think they do, because your ideology tells you that trans and intersexed people must think that. But have you ever asked them? For that matter, have you ever asked why a woman who’s had a radical mastectomy might want to have reconstructive surgery? After all, she’d be just as female without it, wouldn’t she? So why should she want it?

    They wanted to jump the fence and hang out with us, they wanted membership in our club because, of the only two clubs in town, it was the club they felt most at home in.

    Actually, yes, you’re *exactly* right there. But why would they think that? I mean. after all, they’re giving up vast amounts of male privilege? You haven’t thought it through to its logical conclusion. The most obvious reason why a person would feel “most at home” with other women is because… they are women too. Men would, and do, feel “most at home” in the other club.

    You’re right too when you mention “the only two clubs in town”. Sex is not binary, because biology isn’t binary. I know that more than most. I happen to fit well into the traditional female stereotype in some ways, not so well in others. For example, I’m a scientist and engineer, and when I was young, “good girls” dreamt of being nurses, not doctors, beauticians, not biologists. My heroines were Rosalind Franklin and Marie Curie though, not Marilyn Monroe or Brigitte Bardot.

    I know many people, mostly Intersexed though many not, who fit in neither binary category, and others who partake of some of both, and could function adequately in either “gender role” as circumstances dictate. They’re “bigendered”.

    Some reject both clubhouses – like my friend, Norrie May-Wellbe. The Patriarchy doesn’t like that. It insists that whatever clubhouse you were assigned to by it, that’s where you must stay. And the Patriarchy is aided and abetted by cis-privileged “feminists” who think the same, regardless of evidence that some victims were put in the wrong one.

  120. evie

    yttik: “Why do people assume that feminism is a club?”

    I’m not arguing that feminism is a club. I’m arguing that some people treat woman-ness (and man-ness, for that matter) as a club, excluding and granting membership based only on their experiences.

    “sitting in judgment and relentlessly interrogating women until you find some character flaw?”

    I’m really sorry that you feel interrogated. If I attack anyone’s arguments on the basis that they show privilege, it is to persuade them to maybe rethink things, not to shame them, but I apologise if I’ve had that effect. When the ‘character flaws’ and privileges of trans women are relentlessly interrogated, which they routinely are, it is to shame them for taking life-saving treatment, erode their identity, and exclude them.

  121. Sargassosea

    “How come cis women get to define what womanhood is?”

    Are you serious?

    We don’t. Obviously. Men do. Obviously. That’s the whole fucking point of this silly feminism business, you know.

    Jesus.

  122. Zoe Brain

    RE: SALLY (SPECIAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE) [2010] FamCA 237

    In the club or out of it? And why?

  123. Zoe Brain

    For that matter – what about these two, both FAAB?

    17BHDD Syndrome in Gaza

  124. yttik

    See, this is what I don’t get. Nobody has even suggested banning transwomen, quite the opposite. What some people do object to is having the trans-experience elevated to a position of more importance than any other woman’s. This is a whole thread about taking care of transpeople, about how their needs and feelings must come first, going so far as to suggest, “how come cis women get to define what womanhood is?” So now the simple act of existing and attempting to define our own experience as born women is somehow viewed as a slight against transpeople.

    The whole point is mute anyway, because if transpeople live long enough as women, surprise! Many tend to start observing the same reality that born women do, that blasted “standard of women’s oppression” that some people are trying to claim doesn’t exist.

  125. Cyberwulf

    Yttik – this started because someone asked if transwomen would be banned from commenting, and other people took that as a green light to say the kind of horrible shit that belongs on some bigot’s website. Then they decided to accuse their detractors of silencing them and alienating them by refusing to consider their viewpoints. Nobody demanded that we all focus on trans issues and nothing else. Nobody demanded that the ban on dudes be rescinded. There would be no problem if some people hadn’t decided to get their hate on. Some feminists might think we all should keep quiet when another feminist comes out with horrible shit. I don’t and won’t.

    By the way, crying about how unfair it is that various privileges combine to make one a de facto horrible person is what Liberal Dudes do when the rest of us don’t give them lengthy rimjobs for being such great guys. Let them keep it, it’s all they have.

  126. Gayle

    So all girl children, raised in Mongolia or Montreal, Quatar or Quebec have these same experiences?
    This view has been put forward exclusively by white western women, who have no conception of the differences between their experiences and those of, say, slaves (male or female) in Malawi. Whose “shared rituals, traditions, hopes, fears, trials and tribulations” have much in common with each other, and nothing in common with those of people in the privileged west.

    Okay, first of all– All women have certain things in common, we certainly have oppression as the sex class in common. We tend to get beaten up and killed by our husbands/fathers/brothers all over the world and that’s just the beginning of our various commonalities. We can get into economic and political oppression as well and see all the similarities between western and non-western women rather easily.

    Secondly, if the comment I just quoted above was written by a self-described het dude, he would have been slammed by other commentators already, if not tossed off the thread altogether.

    This is exactly why I’m very leery of intersectionalism. The stereotyping of the so-called evil white feminist (who, each and every one, is apparently rich and living the life of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby) displays a level of ignorance and blatant misogyny I want no part of.

    I’m with Speedbudget. Of course oppression is oppression and is wrong whoever suffers under it; however, if there is one thing I’ve learned after observing the behavior and comments of other groups I once thought were our allies: no one is going to fight for women’s rights but women. No one ever has and no one ever will.

    Which is why is so incredibly important to have women’s groups that fight exclusively for boring old women’s issues.

  127. m Andrea

    Well, except that you conveniently ignored the primary objection to transgenderism, which is patently dishonest. Yes, you Twisty. Dishonest.

    The primary objection to transgenderism is that it’s practitioner’s are reinforcing harmful gender roles. That is indeed the primary objection and I notice you don’t address that at all.

    Sexism is predicated upon a patriarchal ideology which prefers to believe there is an essential nature which is exclusive to females (and males also). So when we have a bunch of people who say “oh of course I was born in the wrong body and I must really be a woman BECAUSE — and this is their reason so pay attention — I feel like performing traditionally coded girly activies“. <<< That statement is assuming there is an essential quality exclusive to females which males do not possess. It is the exact same idea as that expressed by the worst of misogynists.

    You however, implicitly claim they are performing a NEUTRAL action but you never actually bother to provide any evidence which supports your assertion. Your entire argument rests upon an implicit assertion which you never bother to prove. Hello.

    Instead you end up resorting to some utter fucking bullshit invalid as hell justification: "well we can't disprove that God exists so we might as well accept that He does". It's completely dishonest. "We can't prove that gender exists so we might as well accept they are the gender they claim to be".

    Your argumentation is dishonest as fucking hell. And then you morph that into another one which makes no sense: "well someday sexism may not exist and then it won't matter who claims to be a dog". What? You're claiming that today's behavior is CAUSED BY the beliefs that people will hold someday. That's like saying the extra fat on my ass today is caused by the twinkie I'll eat tomorrow. Hello.

    It would be easier to have an actual conversation with you or any of the other supporters if you weren't so fucking delusional and non-logical. As it it, it's just frustrating.

    Just for fun, try asking yourself if the following is a true or false statement: A mentally healthy person is capable of expressing whatever personality trait they desire, in the body they were born with.

  128. Jezebella

    @Evie: “How come cis women get to define what womanhood is?”

    Wha? Who do you propose defines womanhood? Oh, right: MEN get to do it. Or maybe you mean trans*women get to do it. Anybody BUT actually FAAB, born, cis-, whatever you want to call us, women, right?

    No. Just. No. How come Evie gets to define me, my identity, but I don’t have that right? Hell no. This is the very fucking BASIS of feminism: I want to get to decide who I am, not anybody else. Damn. I can’t even believe you said that out loud, that you truly believe that women don’t have the right to name who and what we are. Everybody is always trying to steal the language from us, to pull the rug out from under us, and now you want to take THIS?

  129. Valarissa

    @mAndrea: You are ignoring the narratives of those trans* individuals who do not identify as feminine (for trans women) or masculine (for trans men). There are butch trans women, and femme trans guys. They exist as readily as the sun shines. Many trans* individuals resort to such hollow explanations because it is the easiest way to convey their beliefs to a society which believes that is what gender comprises of.

    Also, your last ultimatum is inherently flawed: “Just for fun, try asking yourself if the following is a true or false statement: A mentally healthy person is capable of expressing whatever personality trait they desire, in the body they were born with.” It rests on the grounds that there is a concrete definition for mentally healthy, also, that policing of social behaviors doesn’t exist. A person may be capable of expressing a feeling, however, they may feel like they cannot due to threat of violence. Furthermore, a trans* individual who seeks medical intervention still exists in the body they were born with. It is not as though they are transported to another body through the magic of science and medicine. The argument you are trying to assert with this statement is one that also ignores the lives of non-operative trans* people.

  130. Valarissa

    @Jezebella: Perhaps the assertion was why do cis women get to define all potential expressions of womanhood? As has been stated, womanhood is incredibly diverse. If what you say is true: “This is the very fucking BASIS of feminism: I want to get to decide who I am, not anybody else.” then how can you decide that a woman with a trans narrative is not a woman?

    If Evie’s assertion was different from the above, then my comments are null-and-void, but the question remains.

  131. evie

    m Andrea “So when we have a bunch of people who say “oh of course I was born in the wrong body and I must really be a woman BECAUSE — and this is their reason so pay attention — I feel like performing traditionally coded girly activies“.”

    This is not what they say, usually. This is what some people said, way back in the days when sexist, homophobic medics would deny treatment to anyone not giving that reason. As the profession has got more enlightened, so trans people can be freer about what their actual inclinations and personalities are. There are tons of dykey trans women, and tons of campy trans men. Really. If some trans people do propagate gender norms by their behaviour or self-description, surely they deserve no more vitriol than cis people who do the same.

    Most trans people transition because they are deeply unhappy with certain physcial aspects of their body. There is growing evidence that this is neurological: the brain expects a body of a certain kind, and feels crap when presented with evidence to the contrary. The only successful method of easing that discomfort is physical change. See Zoe Brain’s first post.

  132. DaisyDeadhead

    Any chance I can get a correction in the original post? I wrote that, not Renee.

    You added a footnote since last night about “Renee’s post”–excuse me?

    I am really trying hard not to hyperventilate over this.

    That post was written by a second-wave feminist, Renee is 30 years old. How can you confuse us?

  133. Renee Martin

    Hello, thanks for reading Womanist Musings but I feel it is absolutely necessary to point out that the piece was written by Daisy. I credited her for the piece in the very first line. If you could please add a correction I would greatly appreciate. Daisy worked very hard, and she deserves to be credited appropriately for her work.

  134. m Andrea

    Well Evie then what is it precisely that they offer as a reason today?

    This is basic logic people. Follow along:

    “Blue does not exist. I am blue”. It’s a direct contradiction.

  135. Sargassosea

    No one has yet addressed how F to M is a kosher radical feminist choice.

    *sounds of silence*

  136. CassieC

    One more thing (which has been in moderation so I tried to remove the offending words).

    The “transwomen are not like me, they have experienced male privilege and are just performing my gender for shits and giggles [Editor's note: what.the.hell?]” crowd are not seeing one crucial difference between cis-gender and transgender people. We, ciswomen, have one type of privilege over transfolk. We are more or less comfortable with our birth body’s gender: more or less, because obviously as women we get all kinds of hateful body messages. But we don’t have the horrible feeling that we are in the wrong body that someone who is transgender has. We don’t know that feeling. We have NO idea how much it sucks. And, friends and blamers, is a form of privilege. So before you go shit on women who were born with one type or another of male-identified body (lots of different non-binaries out there), rembember that you have no idea what it was or is like for them, because you are cis: you are comfortable (much more comfortable than them) with your birth body.

    And to those who say “after the feminist revolution, no one will care about which body they’re in, so trans-people should put a kabosh in it”, well (1) trans-people, much like everyone else, live now and have to deal with the present situation which honestly sucks more for them than it should, so let them do whatever they need to get by and give them solidarity (and give trans-women feminist solidarity too, goddammit!) and (2) you have no way of knowing that. I don’t either, but I bet it’s not true. I bet that even in the post-patriarchy, some people will be pretty damn uncomfortable with their birth gender. Because the post-patriarchy will not disappear gender (much like the post-racist society will not disappear skin color differences or the post-homophobia society will not disappear all hetero-homo differences). It will not disappear gender: it will make it possible to live while whatever gender while human.

    And if that last statement is enough for some to want to burn my feminist membership card, so be it. I didn’t want to be feminist with yall anyway in that case – I’ll trust the trans-folk and gender-queers to have my back more than those who would keep feminism away from them.

  137. evie

    This one person’s experiences: http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/for-the-uninformed-dysphoria/

  138. Eirwyn

    Now I know why Twisty usually avoids topics like this. They’re total feminist pitfalls.

    I have to agree with one of the commenters above who said this is all just fear-mongering. Or, something like that- those weren’t their exact words.

    Every trans woman I have ever known has been interested in the liberation of women. Anecdotal, but there you have it. If you consider yourself a woman (and I’m not saying trans women AREN’T women), why would you separate your own needs as distinct from those of cis women? That’s a distinction cis women try to make. The only trans women I know who don’t identify as feminist are like that BECAUSE of the feminist history of transphobia.

    When trans women see and hear misogyny before they transition and are able to ‘pass’, they know that it’s about them, too. They know it’s directed at them even if they can safely hide for a while if/until they transition. They’re just as deeply wounded and enraged by misogyny as the rest of us, for the most part, unless they’re one of the ones who identifies as more masculine. I’ve had cis female friends like that- they were definitely, definitely cis women, but they still ‘never got along with women’ and ‘just liked to hang out with men’ and as a result were totally oblivious to their own oppression and got angry and riled up every time sexism got brought up, just like a man would.

    Also, it’s kind of funny people should bring up that cis women don’t ‘feel’ like anything, because that’s privilege right there. The privilege to just ‘be’. To be what you are without anyone questioning it because it’s evident right from the start, worn on your skin. And also, as far as I’ve been told, that’s a false trans narrative. Most trans women don’t ‘feel’ like women, either. They just -are-.

    The assumption that equality for women will ripple out to every other oppressed group is one I find hard to understand. White, upper class, able, hetero, cis men experience all kinds of good things and it doesn’t ripple out to anyone else. And feminists have a goddamn HISTORY of excluding women who come from different oppressive backgrounds- women of color, women with disabilities, poor women, et cetera. That should be sign enough that focusing just on sexism is not enough because there’s intersectionality.

    I actually feel a bit disappointed that I needed to say the above, because compared to some other people I’m fairly new to feminism, and it is like one of the first thing I learned, was the racist, ableist, classist shit that feminists have been dumping on other feminists.

    What people keep thinking is that gender= gender role. And yet all of us here are probably a very firm example that gender does NOT equal a gender role. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m feminine. And just because trans women so-called “want to be women” (they are women) doesn’t mean they want to perform femininity. As people have pointed out, sometimes they HAVE to just to avoid violence and discrimination.

    It’s been said before that children born without a limb experience phantom limb syndrome, so I think that’s a really likely explanation for transness, that the brain is wired to expect one body and ends up with a different one. However, that’s not important. We don’t need science or anything else to back up the need to treat people with respect and listen to their voices. Trans people have been telling us over and over again that they’re hurting, that they’re being hurt, and all we can do is sit around talking semantics. Where’s the compassion? What has all of our delving into the myriad ways patriarchy hurts women taught us about oppression if we can’t even listen to the voices of the oppressed? Obviously, for many of us, nothing beyond ‘my problems count, and Those People Over There can do it themselves/come after I get mine first’.

    As much as I love Twisty and agree with much of what she says, I have to disagree with this post-patriarchal gender-free “utopia”. The way to stop oppression is not by eliminating all differences. You could hardly say with a clear conscience that the way to stop racism is to all become one race, could you?

    As other people have said so succinctly: Trans women are my sisters. And I’m incredibly disappointed that the list of feminist blogs I can read grows smaller and smaller because of the rampant transphobia. It’s terrible because some of them have such WONDERFUL things to say about misogyny, and then they completely drop the ball on trans issues, even places that like to say they’re trans-friendly.

    This isn’t me saying I’m going to rage-quit IBTP, by the way. Just that I’m pretty sick of this trend.

  139. niki

    It feels strange and distressing that a woman-born-woman is now considered a ‘cis-woman’.

    I wish to be respectful to others but I don’t want to be subdivided and hyphenated, please. Transwomen can be subdivided if the distinction is necessary to them, but I’m just a ‘woman’, whatever the fuck that means.

  140. Eirwyn

    Additional note: I forgot to refresh the comments section before writing my post, so I missed several posts. If things I said have already been covered, that’s why.

  141. DaisyDeadhead

    I guess not, huh?

  142. Cimorene

    @yttik: “Has anybody ever heard of standing in solidarity rather then sitting in judgment and relentlessly interrogating women until you find some character flaw?”

    Isn’t this what those of us who want to stand in solidarity in feminism with transwomen are actually doing?

    @mAndrea: “Sexism is predicated upon a patriarchal ideology which prefers to believe there is an essential nature which is exclusive to females (and males also). So when we have a bunch of people who say “oh of course I was born in the wrong body and I must really be a woman BECAUSE — and this is their reason so pay attention — I feel like performing traditionally coded girly activies“. <<< That statement is assuming there is an essential quality exclusive to females which males do not possess. It is the exact same idea as that expressed by the worst of misogynists."

    But I am a FAAB, and I am a woman.

    Am I perpetuating misogynist gender ideologies by identifying myself as a woman? Are all radical feminists who identify themselves as women simply performing femininity in order to adhere to a patriarchal belief system?

    I am definitely a woman. No doubt about it. I am a feminist and I don't actively spend my time performing gender. But I'm still definitely a woman. My particular experience, that which made me a woman, is unique. It has some things in common with some other women's experiences, but the sum of it is unique. Still, it's clear that I'm a woman. I'd be a woman if I had to get my uterus removed, my boobies cut off, and my hair cut really short. Still a woman.
    It's likely that my experience as a woman has only a little in common with, say, your experience as a woman; but the fact that that-which-made-us-women is different doesn't make either of us less woman. How is that not the same as transwomen?

    What are we all even arguing about here? Is it about whether transwomen count as women? Whether transwomen are allowed to be feminists?

    If this is about whether or not transwomen are allowed to be considered just regular old women, perhaps we should make a list of specific traits that a person has to have to be considered a woman. Is it, as Noanondyne said, that women are all "females . . . enslaved by the patriarchy through their sex and reproductive organs from the time they are born"?

    So is it through sex and reproductive organs? What if you can't reproduce? Are you not allowed to be a woman then, because nobody can enslave your reproductive organs if you can't reproduce?

    Is it the enslavement of a person's sex organs? Nobody's ever really enslaved my sex organs. I'm not even sure what that means on an individual level. But I know that nobody's ever enslaved my sex or reproductive organs: am I not a woman?

    Is it that everyone else thinks you're a woman, so you get treated like a woman? If that's the case, then wouldn't a transwoman be a woman, what with everyone around her thinking that she's a woman?

    As for feminism–how do we decide who gets to say that they're a feminist, defined as a political identification? Do you need to be all for reproductive rights? How much do you have to care about it? If you're a lesbian and you don't care too much one way or another about abortion rights because the likelihood of needing an abortion is slim, are you not allowed to be considered a real feminist? A real woman?

  143. DaisyDeadhead

    Just a wee little correction? Please?

  144. Bushfire

    It feels strange and distressing that a woman-born-woman is now considered a ‘cis-woman’.

    I wish to be respectful to others but I don’t want to be subdivided and hyphenated, please

    Wow, privilege denial overload! Do you think that trans women want to be subdivided and hyphenated? WTF

    Everyone deserves to “just be” without being labelled. You don’t get to expect that privilege for yourself and not give it to other people.

  145. evie

    mAndrea: Try Genderbitch, try Julia Serano, try googling ‘gender dissonance’

    Eirwyn: thank you, beautifully put.

  146. Bushfire

    Thanks, Eirwyn.

    It is so f***ed up to hear all this transphobia on a feminist blog. As if trans women are just “men who want to wear lipstick”. F***.

    After the revolution, there will still be female and male human beings. Female human beings whose bodies grow the wrong way (i.e. with male presentations) will still need to have the mistake corrected. They just won’t be oppressed anymore. Thanks for adding to that oppression, people.

    I come here for Twisty’s brilliant analysis, I stay for the ignorant transphobic commenters.

  147. niki

    I never said I wouldn’t give it to other people. If transwomen want to call themselves women, I have no beef.

    That fucking ‘privilege’ thing is annoying too – I’m tired of being told I’m ‘privileged’ for a life that I was born into. I’m privileged just for existing. What an asshole.

    I’d love to read an essay written by Phil. Seriously.

  148. evie

    mAndrea: Try googling “For the uninformed: Dysphoria” and “My Dissonance Doesn’t Need to Make Sense to You”, or read Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl, (or http://www.switchhitter.net for her own basics).

    Eirwyn: thank you, beautifully put.

  149. evie

    Just to clarify, those are names of the posts, not me being arsey!

  150. Eirwyn

    You don’t need to thank me, Bushfire, Evie, this should be expected of everyone. It’s basic human decency.

    Niki: ‘That fucking ‘privilege’ thing is annoying too – I’m tired of being told I’m ‘privileged’ for a life that I was born into. I’m privileged just for existing. What an asshole.’

    Now you know what men encountering feminism feel like. Want to go talk shop with them, too? “What’s the deal with airplane peanuts, and constantly being told I’m privileged just because I was born a man?” Do you not see the correlation?

  151. Jezebella

    Eirwyn, here’s the thing: when I tell a man he’s got privilege, it’s not because I want to be part of the man club and have his privilege. I want him to not have privilege. But there’s this feeling – and it’s maybe just me – it feels like the message to me is, “You, as a cis woman, have privilege that I as a trans* person do not, and I want that privilege.” A radical feminist wants to do away with privilege of any sort, not try and get someone else’s.

    Dig?

  152. yttik

    I’m also quite tired of hearing how privileged I am! Those that insist on waving that around apparently missed all those parts about a systemic, institutional oppression with power behind it. It requires power, people! We don’t have any! People are not privileged simply because they exist.

    No, no, these two things are not equal, “Now you know what men encountering feminism feel like.” Huge, huge, difference between being viewed as a non human sexual commodity for your entire life and being a male denied posting privileges on a bloody blog somewhere! WTF, people?? It is not a great act of oppression and a royal abuse of power to want your own space to discuss issues.

    As far as I’m concerned anybody can be bloody feminist. Just cut your wages in half, deal with all the death threats, and have at it. I’ll welcome anybody with open arms. Just please, STFU about privilege and how woman are oppressing everyone.

  153. Sargassosea

    “I’d love to read an essay written by Phil. Seriously.”

    Me too. I’m ready to listen and learn how radical feminism played a part in his transformation.

  154. tinfoil hattie

    How come cis women get to define what womanhood is?

    The term “cis” is thought to have been coined by a transsexual man. So it’s okay for trans* folk to “label” WAAB as “cis”?

    I guess it’s a “privilege” to not want to be labeled?

  155. Bluetraveler

    So basically “cis” was invented by a woman who didn’t want to be “cis”. Guess it explains everything.

  156. Mary Tracy9

    All of this because we have the concept of “privilege” in the first place. It’s useless, and it’s about time we change it for something that has a bit more potential to, you know, have an impact on the real physical world. What matters at the end of the day is who’s got the money, who’s got the land, who’s got the weapons and, yes, who’s got “the means of production”. And it’s not “women”, cis or otherwise. And it sure isn’t feminists either.
    Feminism has to be more than this endless discussions on “identity” if it wants things to actually change. I would go so far as to argue that this individualistic obsession with “identity” is a direct result of this debate being had in the Rich West, especially the US. For the record, no woman, cis or trans, has the right to define her identity. Most people on this planet don’t get to define their “identity”. That’s because a person’s identity comes from the society in which they live. I can identify as an Alien from planet BlueTree, but if people don’t see me like that, my “identity” is meaningless.

  157. Eirwyn

    “No, no, these two things are not equal, “Now you know what men encountering feminism feel like.” Huge, huge, difference between being viewed as a non human sexual commodity for your entire life and being a male denied posting privileges on a bloody blog somewhere! WTF, people?? It is not a great act of oppression and a royal abuse of power to want your own space to discuss issues.”

    Okay, I’ll explain. Just because one is oppressed in one area doesn’t mean one doesn’t have privilege in another area.

    White women are oppressed for their sex, but have white privilege.

    Black men are oppressed for their race, but have gender privilege.

    Cis women oppress trans people all the time. It’s easy to do because even while women are considered subhuman, they’re still considered more “natural” than trans women. It’s oppressive, for instance, to talk about and around trans people without once consulting them for their experience, or without ever having bothered to read trans writing.

    I don’t really have a ton of examples on hand, of the ways cis people oppress trans people here- for the most part all I ever hear about is cis men oppressing trans women. (BIG trigger warning!) Beating them to death when they find out they “lied”. Raping them. Male paramedics letting them die from untreated injuries. Just last night I heard about a doctor who based his decision on whether or not to allow trans women hormone treatment on whether or not they could give him an erection.

    So, obviously, they experience misogyny too, on top of transphobia and intersected with it (transmisogyny).

    I’m derailing away from my original point here, which is that yes, cis privilege exists.

    http://takesupspace.wordpress.com/cis-privilege-checklist/ Cis privilege check list.

  158. m Andrea

    Oh I get it now. This “hard wiring” mistake in the brain which is supposed to account for transgenderism, isn’t really a mistake at all. It’s just another version of mental health, like gay folks who have a gay brain.

    Okay, that sorta makes sense. Except. Gay folks don’t believe they were born with too many body parts (or not enough body parts). Gay folks can express gayness with the body they were born with. Transgenderism is more like amputation disorder or somebody who thinks they were abducted by aliens.

    When IS feminisism gonna start fighting for the right for people who have amputation disorder? They are being discriminated against too yanno!!

  159. MarilynJean

    Reading these whack ass anti-trans comments was like watching a car wreck. My mouth is still wide open and my face is all contorted in horror. What the fuck is this shit right here?

    I have to start off first by saying that I feel so bad for white ass (American) women who don’t want to be told about their privilege. You got some. I got some. Deal with it. (You want to talk about wages being cut in half, talk to the disproportionate number of transpeople who can’t even get fucking jobs.)

    I will make sure to spend all weekend trying to figure how I can not make them feel uncomfortable when I need to call bullshit on the idea that feminism needs to only focus on women. I will be a busy woman when I need to leave my Radical Feminist meeting and run over to my Black Co-op meeting and then head over to my Latina Roundtable and then leave early to catch the last half my Queer Justice League and wrap up my day at the Fat Lady Strategic Planning Commission and so on and so forth. Since we gotta keep shit focused and whatnot. Forgive me for derailing the movement with my intersectionality jazz. I don’t have time to fucking take down my various oppressions one at a time or wait for the trickle-down effect to get my freedom from oppression. Call me a multitasker.

    Wow. I apologize because I cannot even form a decent profanity-free comment for this thread. I just can’t. Eirwyn and Bushire did it for me, but I just can’t go without saying something up in here. Now, I do get what people are saying about gender expression in terms of simply shedding one end of the binary for another and how some transpeople don’t give two shits about feminism. I also know of such people and I call bullshit on their support of the patriarchy. However,I also know plenty of transpeople who want a revolution as much as I do.

    If transwomen identify as women and some of them want to be feminists, then let them the fuck in. Transwomen are my mutherfuckin’ sisters and when the revolution comes, I will step over the cold dead bodies of fucking white ass women-born-women feminists types (and others who may not identify as white, but share the overall cis-privilege sentiment) who want to put the lockdown on transpeople and their experiences. If this shit right here is any representation of what radical feminism really is (as opposed to what I thought it was), then I want no part of it. (That’s one less meeting I’ll need to attend!)

    Fuck this thread.

  160. m Andrea

    And, it is oppressive to discuss pedophilia without also asking the pedophiles how they feel about their oppression! You should feel ashamed for not asking them how they feel!!

    You see what I did there? I assumed something. I assumed that pedophilia is a genuinely disadvantage group who is being unfairly denied their rights — without my ever bothering to prove that they have any right to practice pedophilia.

    It is true that some people can and do reinforce harmful gender sterotypes, but it seems awkward to make the argument that they are *being oppressed* when denied that opportunity.

  161. Eirwyn

    m Andrea, I can’t form a cogent response to that. I can only apply my palm directly to my forehead.

    Incisive answer pending. Or maybe not, I don’t think it deserves a response, but me saying so might be a flame, and it’s not my intention to come here flaming people.

  162. Eirwyn

    Wonderful, Andrea. Comparing transness to pedophilia. Would you like to make a reference to Nazi Germany too, while you’re at it? That would make this thread complete.

    Pedophilia is wrong because it’s harmful to children. Transness harms no one.

    Pedophilia: Adults taking advantage of adult privilege to harm children.

    Transness: Trying to find a sense of self in a violent, hateful world.

    I don’t see how in a million years you could make a comparison between the two.

  163. m Andrea

    Some WOMEN have amputation disorder! It’s intersectionality!! And since some WOMEN do suffer greatly and fweel sad all the frickin’ time when they’re not allowed to express their self-identity as a legless armless braindead zombie, it’s extremely ROOOOOOOOD for feminists to ignore their needs!!

    You should be ashamed.

  164. Eirwyn

    Yeah, at this point, I’m going to stop engaging you, Andrea. You’re being blatantly disrespectful and transphobic. I think I’m just going to wait for Twisty to delete your comments or lock the thread or something.

  165. m Andrea

    Feminists should be ashamed. How dare you not want to help people who fweel sad? Your callousness is just beyond the comprehension of my delicate flowery essence.

    Are you ashamed? You should be!! How dare you be mean to people who fweel sad!? You know you should be doing your sacred feminine duty by handing them oodles of tissues.

    Are y’all done with the outrage porn yet?

  166. Cyberwulf

    Keep showcasing your bigotry before the world, m Andrea! It’s much more refreshing than mealy-mouthed handwringing about how we all have to support every word out of every woman’s mouth all the time because FEMINISM.

  167. m Andrea

    Well my actual serious comment seems to be automagically dumped into the spam box. At first I thought it was because it was too long, but it winds up there even after brevifying it.

    The spam filer just ignores the trollish comments. /shrugs

  168. m Andrea

    It really is inappropriate for you to be telling women how they should feel. Men do that all time. And no, I don’t feel “ashamed” for noticing harm or bringing that harm to the attention of other people.

    So let’s get this straight: the new talking point is that trans aren’t claiming that they “feel like a woman”? Then why become one?

  169. DaisyDeadhead

    Twisty, thank you. I appreciate that.

    This thread: Holy Clusterfuck, Batman! (Batgirl? Wonder Woman?)

  170. Amianym

    Thank you for this post, Twisty, although I do disagree that trans-ness will cease to exist when gender does not imply behaviour. I will concede that the need to transition will be much less urgent in post!feminist!wonderland! though.

    I could point out the effigy arguments relying on stereotypes of patriarchy-compliant trans people and make a million other fallacy calls, but I’m not entirely sure that it’s appropriate to do so. For one thing, debunking trans* stereotypes somewhat erases those who do fit those stereotypes. It is worth saying, though, that a trans person’s gender does not suggest gendered behaviour to any greater extent than a cis person’s.

    But mostly, it’s silly to justify a person’s identity with logic, and it’s cruel for it to be called into question in the first place. I fail to understand who is harmed by recognizing a person as their stated gender, regardless of what that gender is and how they express it. However, claiming that trans women aren’t real women is demonstrably harmful. It gets them turned away from abuse shelters, while trans women are raped and abused at greater rates than cis women. It isn’t remotely radical to buy into transphobia. If gender doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter, why should it matter that some people are assigned the wrong gender?

    As a disclaimer, anti-trans sentiment will simply never make intuitive sense to me. Even the most cogent and perfectly-reasoned defense would fall on deaf ears; I’m just incapable of seeing hatred as rational. Thankfully, a compassionate viewpoint on any particular subject tends to be evidence-based, as well.

    None of this should be construed to mean that we can’t talk about binary-gender politics. I’m white and I’ve lived in mostly white areas; I can’t credibly talk about racism. I have a responsibility, however, to not perpetuate racism and to call people on it when I do notice it. I’m sure we’ll have no shortage of future patriarchy-blaming.

  171. Cyberwulf

    It really is inappropriate for you to be telling women how they should feel.

    This from the person who seriously compared transpeople to paedophiles. Go back to your tranny-hating blog, m Andrea, because you’ve lost all credibility now.

  172. Bluetraveler

    Thanks for existing m Andrea. Transsexuality is obviously this blog’s blind spot.

  173. delphyne

    Julia Serrano is proud of his dick.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a95JP8i8GuE

    In what way does that make him a woman?

    Trans is a joke. The fact that there are people who think that they are radical feminists who support these men’s delusions is depressing as hell however.

  174. m Andrea

    Go back to your pedophile loving blog because you’ve lost all credibility.

    You see the problem is that I don’t respect your athor-i-tah. And two can play at that ridiculous non-logical shaming game. That crap don’t work on me. Try something else, like logic.

  175. m Andrea

    I am quite amendable to logic. Use that and we can be friends. Let’s start over.

    It was Evie who suggested that my initial assessment was incorrect, that trans mtf are NOT claiming that the reason they are trans is because “they feel like expressing girly coded behavior”.

    And yet, part of her reply included the idea that the reason trans IS transitioning is because “Most trans people transition because they are deeply unhappy with certain physcial aspects of their body. There is growing evidence that this is neurological: the brain expects a body of a certain kind, and feels crap when presented with evidence to the contrary.”

    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2011/02/09/spinster-aunt-gets-translucent/#comment-172272

    Okay, fine. But my question still stands. If they don’t feel like a woman, then why are they transitioning to one? (As if feeling like a woman can be defined of course) Why not transition to a human being? Or a man in a dress? Or a man who is sweet kind and gentle? Why transition to a woman at all if they don’t feel like a woman?

    So is this a body part fixation? I am just asking for clarification here.

  176. m Andrea

    Part of my inability to grasp your point of view, is that I see only two options: A mtf is either transitioning because 1. he assumes the existence of some definition which is supposed to describe the essential essence of the female character AND he feels that he fits more comfortably within this catagory.

    Or, 2. he has a body part fixation.

    Honestly, I can’t see any third option but the trans supporters seem to saying that it exists. Okay, so what is it?

  177. Bushfire

    That fucking ‘privilege’ thing is annoying too – I’m tired of being told I’m ‘privileged’ for a life that I was born into. I’m privileged just for existing. What an asshole.

    You poor thing! You’re stuck being privileged and having to hear about it! That is so awful for you!

    And I’m an asshole for pointing out privilege! (while, of course, the people on here spouting hatred for others apparently aren’t assholes)

    OMG I hopt Twisty gets here soon and starts using the delete button. My anti-feminist bingo card is fucking exploding. And I’m not even gonna touch this ‘m Andrea’ bigot, my gawd.

    It would be better if I left this thread entirely, but you know when something is really horrifying you just can’t turn away?

  178. m Andrea

    Or, you could try actually talking to me instead of whining that your fweelings are magically more important than mine.

  179. Eirwyn

    Yeah, it’s not advisable to have anything to do with Andrea, who more or less openly admitted to trolling people. And you know how they say you should never feed the trolls.

    I don’t think anyone believes her inquiry is sincere after spewing that condescending shit. It’s like punching someone in the face and then going, “Okay, let’s discuss like adults.” Kind of too late, pal.

  180. m Andrea

    If it’s a just a body part fixation, then he wouldn’t care what pronoun people referred to him as.

    Deductive reason, I love you. Since he needs to be called she, gender must play some part. And he doesn’t want to be called zie, he insists on the FEMININE gender.

    So, how logically could we arrive at our desired conclusion which is “oh I haven’t internalized harmful notions regarding the essential essence of females, and I’m not pathologizing anything which resembles a mental illness or heaven forbide fantasizing about body parts but gee I really do like being viewed by the Male Gaze as a ooolala woman?”

    Did he just have an orgasm right there? Think I’m gonna have to include auto-erotica as option #3.

  181. Rachel

    m Andrea: Autogynephilia.

    IBTK: a place for blamers with a blind spot.

  182. Cara

    Just for fun, try asking yourself if the following is a true or false statement: A mentally healthy person is capable of expressing whatever personality trait they desire, in the body they were born with.

    False. That’s the point. That’s the point of feminism in the first place. Women don’t get to be who we are because women are supposed to be (fill in the blank). The effect spreads out to men not getting to express parts of themselves, either, but that’s just a by-product. As a result of this bullshit, mentally healthy people have to make constant half-conscious decisions about what parts of themselves to express if they want to get through the day in this screwed-up world. The unhealthy ones just look for other people to piss on.

    As far as I’m concerned if a trans woman wants to be a woman badly enough to take the pay cut, more power to her and all of us. Any trans woman who carries her previous male privilege into womanhood (if such a one exists) can be set straight by other women just like women are called out on their other privileges all the time.

    I have no authority on the issue but I do know I’m not about to tell someone who believes she’s a woman that her lived experience is false or that she’s letting the side down. It might be reinforcing a gender binary, but I can’t tell someone willing to change their sex that they’re wrong about who they are. I’m too fed up with being asked whether I’m sure I’m a “real woman” because
    I don’t (fill in the blank).

  183. Ayla

    “Also, it’s kind of funny people should bring up that cis women don’t ‘feel’ like anything, because that’s privilege right there. The privilege to just ‘be’.”

    While I understand the kind of “just be” privilege you are talking about here (for example, I have it because I do not “feel white” even though I am) please do not try to tell me that it applies to my statement about not knowing what it is to “feel like a woman.” That feeling has RIPPED ME APART and made me feel like nothing, not human, nothing. It made me want to kill myself, because I didn’t know what I was and saw no future for myself. I wanted so badly to feel like a woman, because that’s what I physically saw in the mirror, and it is how people seemed to want me to act and be. It made me feel that I HAD no identity, because I didn’t fit into the “feminine gender” box but I also knew I wasn’t a man or male. I have MANY privileges and have never had any trouble admitting to them. This simply IS NOT one.

    Also, the class that oppresses transwomen (who are women if I were to be the one charged handing out the womanhood cards) is men. Not FAAB women. MEN. MAAB men.

    IBTP.

  184. Ayla

    Also: Getting rid of the concept of gender would allow for MORE diversity, not less. My goodness, isn’t that self explanatory?

  185. justpassingthrough

    @ZoeBrain

    I have a lengthy response stuck in moderation that addressed your former response to me (which I think was misread as spam, so it may be there indefinitely). In case you never get to read it, I thanked you for sharing info about gender dysphoria and said it was “very intriguing”. I also expressed my support for gender reassignment surgery if current science says it’s the most effective treatment for GID/gender dysphoria (which, apparently, it does).

    So all girl children, raised in Mongolia or Montreal, Quatar or Quebec have these same experiences?

    In patriarchal societies around the globe, there are experiences endemic to all women. Women are the designated child care givers, housekeepers; they’re expected to sacrifice jobs and outside interests if they interfere with “feminine duties”; they are objectified, treated like property, prostituted, raped, impregnated (I’m sure I’m missing a few, but that’s where the thought train fizzles out). Certainly women in third world countries are disadvantaged in ways many women in first world countries are not (and let’s not overlook the fact that first world status does *not* confer equal benefits to all women living in 1st world nations).

    Of course the experiences are not identical, but that’s beside the point. Women are the second class in most of the world, regardless of what that means for individual women.

    I’m not going to touch the exceptions to the rule (matriarchal society – where??), because that’s precisely what they are: exceptions.

    What about those Intersexed people, born with ambiguous genitalia, surgically “assigned” a sex at random? 30% revolt against that assignation, even if they’re not aware that it happened.

    If 70% of intersexed people identify with their assigned gender, that speaks volumes about the influence of social conditioning. It supports the theory of gender as a social construct.

    To argue that womanhood can be procured through scalpels, silicone, and a somewhat chemically altered physiology is reductionist at best and a great whopping insult to those of us who take our womanhood way damn seriously.

    Strawman, because no-one claims that, do they?

    I’m showing my ignorance here. I thought transwoman was the clinical term for a post-op, well, transwoman. My bad. I’ve since done a little research and I now realize that “transwoman” applies to any man who identifies female and opts to use the term.

    I mean. after all, they’re giving up vast amounts of male privilege? You haven’t thought it through to its logical conclusion. The most obvious reason why a person would feel “most at home” with other women is because… they are women too.

    This is where we’re never going to agree. I think it’s illogical, if not preposterous, to conclude that a man who has mostly feminine-coded personality traits is therefore a woman, barring body dysphoria, which is a medical condition that can only be alleviated through the reconstruction of sex organs. Which is again, not enough to qualify as a full on metamorphosis from one sex to another. I’m well aware that some animals can change sex, but I would bet donuts to dollars gender identity never factored into those decisions. It’s a reproductive imperative, not a conscious decision to emulate the opposite sex.

    Back to feminine-coded personality traits. That’s precisely my point, and the point many other feminists here are trying to make. You can’t “feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body” because there is no such thing as “feeling like a woman”. It’s a societal ailment that can only ever be permanently resolved through society reassignment. Patriarchy to Egalitarian. PtE. That’s the only thing that’s ever going to defeat the gender binary. People emulating the opposite sex is just one more cog in the patriarchal machine because it supports the theory of gender essentialism. Some traits/behaviors/inclinations are female, others male. The radical notion is that gender essentialism is BS. I have some masculine-coded physical traits, but more feminine-coded ones. I am pretty much split down the middle with personality traits/behaviors/inclinations. I don’t feel male or female. I feel like an individual. That’s what radical feminists are fighting for: the right for individuals to be individuals. If we fully get behind the idea that people need their personality/behaviors/inclinations to fit neatly into a pink box or a blue one, or a male body or a female one, we’re not fighting for liberation from patriarchy anymore. We’re fighting to keep it. Which is why I empathize with the trans community, support their decisions to do what they please with their bodies, but I can’t in good faith say the concept of transgendering is a good idea.

    Some reject both clubhouses – like my friend, Norrie May-Wellbe. The Patriarchy doesn’t like that. It insists that whatever clubhouse you were assigned to by it, that’s where you must stay. And the Patriarchy is aided and abetted by cis-privileged “feminists” who think the same, regardless of evidence that some victims were put in the wrong one.

    And people like me would say you’ve got it backwards, that insisting that people should alter their physicality or identity because their personality doesn’t neatly fit within the confines of one of two gender boxes is propping up patriarchy. Let’s get rid of the damn boxes. Why can we never focus on getting rid of the damn boxes?

  186. justpassingthrough

    “Transphobia”. “Anti-trans”. Some people keep slinging the mud, attempting to dismiss women’s valid concerns using silencing techniques first used against them by men. Incredible. The tools of your oppressor aren’t going to dismantle anything but your credibility, so knock it off already. Try and remember for a moment what real persecution and discrimination look like. Has anyone here suggested outlawing transgender surgery? Has anyone here even remotely implied that trans*folk don’t deserve the same rights and privileges as any other citizen? Has anyone condoned trans prejudice (bullying, harrassment, violence, etc.)? Nope. Not a single instance, not as far as the eye can see. “Transphobia”. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  187. justpassingthrough

    @AlienNumber

    My response to you got stuck in moderation, so I’ll try this once more. You can contact me at: justpassingthrough2011 “at” hotmail “dot” com.

  188. m Andrea

    Thanks Rachel. I’m just hangin’ out here til Twisty blows a lobe. She is awesome of course, and a stunningly superlative writer, and yet sadly brainwashed. Good thing I’m here ;)

    If a mtf is all alone in a forest, does it really matter what gender he is?

    When I’m by myself, my gender means nothing to me. My clothes mean nothing. I could be stark naked and my physical body means nothing other than can it clean the house a little damn faster. It’s only when other people are present will the way they perceive my biological sex (and the essential essence they attribute to that sex) make any difference at all.

    Is this the same way for mtf? If he’s alone with himself then why would his gender even fucking matter? When a gay person is alone, does his own sexual orientation matter? About a straight person? Deductive reasoning, you are my friend. So the whole point of transitiong is so that other people will Gaze Rapturously upon The Glorious Woman. That’s why it pisses them off so much when other people don’t play along.

    Bingo. Number three it is. Aren’t we glad we had this little chat?

  189. Eirwyn

    I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the patriarchy that coined the terms ‘transphobic’ and ‘anti-trans’.

    ‘Reverse-sexism’ and ‘reverse racism’, however…

    And does anyone in this thread with a anti- oh forgive me- a “dissenting opinion about the validity of transness” look silenced to you? It pretty much dominates the entire thread.

  190. Cyberwulf

    And people like me would say you’ve got it backwards, that insisting that people should alter their physicality or identity because their personality doesn’t neatly fit within the confines of one of two gender boxes is propping up patriarchy.

    No-one here is saying “should”. People here are saying “should have the option”. Other people are also saying that transfolk should stay in the damn closet and not shit up the movement with their “fweelings”. That’s the only “should” I’m seeing.

    What happened to the idea that women who perform femininity often do so in order to survive life in the patriarchy? I don’t know what it’s like to be trans, but I do have some trans friends, and from their point of view, trying to be who they are in the body they’re born with (as someone mentioned on the last post) was and is intolerable to them. Should they have stayed miserable?

    I don’t know why some people are trans, and I don’t know whether they would still feel under as much pressure to transition if gender roles were eliminated. I do know that they’re living their lives NOW, in the world that exists NOW. They’re doing what they have to do to survive. The comments on here have been utterly disgusting and reeking of privilege, even as they berate other posters for engaging in “Oppression Olympics”.

    Why can we never focus on getting rid of the damn boxes?

    Maybe because people keep insisting that the boxes are real, and those damn trannies better not try to appropriate OUR particular box, or else.

  191. m Andrea

    I’m teasing Twisty!! ?

  192. Cyberwulf

    “Transphobia”. “Anti-trans”. Some people keep slinging the mud, attempting to dismiss women’s valid concerns using silencing techniques first used against them by men.

    Some people keep trying to shame everyone who calls them on their bigoted bullshit into silence using techniques favoured by Liberal Dudes.

  193. m Andrea

    In all seriousness, those shaming and various silencing techniques did work for quite a long time. Not any more, sorry. And believe it or not, there are several transfolk in real life whom I just adore. Really. It’s just that reinforcing that biological determinism argument isn’t going to fly. Ever.

    My suggestion has always been to write it off as one of those completely benign disorders and then wear all the frilly crap they want while peeing in the women’s bathroom. That way they’re totally protected from discrimination and we can all be friends.

  194. Cyberwulf

    Aaah, and finally “I have trans friends” makes an appearance!

  195. Ticki Tumbo

    Just curious Andrea-do you really believe all transwomen wear frilly crap or do the skirt and heels routine? I’ve met a butch one or two in my day, just sayin’.

  196. justpassingthrough

    I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the patriarchy that coined the terms ‘transphobic’ and ‘anti-trans’.

    True, but patriarchy perfected the silencing technique of “You’re either FOR ____ or AGAINST it.” Which is exactly what’s going on here. We’re either FOR trans*folk or we’re AGAINST them. That sort of black/white thinking precludes real intellectual discourse.

  197. Fede

    There are probably loads of trans women who are not the least bit feministically inclined. Also, there are no doubt trans women who claim to be feminists but nevertheless frequently voice opinions that would be considered outright antifeminist in a forum like this one. Certainly, there are trans women who voice what would appear to be feminist opinions while at the same time performing femininity. Trans women can have facets, I’m sure of it.

    All of the above can also be said of FAAB women. While this does not mean my background, *way of feeling*(hoo boy), or social status in the world is identical to that of Josephine-born-Joseph, we do have one thing in common: in this Man’s World, we are most definitely not Men.

    And if Josephine identifies as a radfem, I’m pretty sure I’ll feel more at home with her than with, say, a right wing woman-born-woman.

    Feminists, trans or otherwise, are my sisters.

  198. K.A.

    The only transwoman I’ve ever met in real life was an autogynephile BOSS who fetishized not only the cooptation of the female body, but the social construct of womanhood. In his mind, the gender of woman was akin to being “sub” in sub-dom relationships, and he wanted to be a sub.

    It was by far and away the most damaging experience of my life, and I have had, well, a hard life. It was in another league entirely compared to my run-of-the-fe-mill sexual assault. Do ALL trans people prioritize fetishism over other feelings of dysphoria? Not likely. But who are YOU to tell me which men I should be tolerant of in spaces I am trying to define based on specific privilege structures so I can finally feel supported and heal in the way I personally need to heal? I will never have anything to do with a man again on purpose: not a MAAB, not a transwoman.

    P.S. Cis = anti-radical feminism of the highest order, which makes it sexist. Non-trans might be a less misogynistic alternative term to consider, since there is still an obvious semantic need to be fulfilled without any unnecessary woman-hating.

  199. K.A.

    Fede, I am inclined to agree with you on there probably being many super-feminist transwomen who I would have more in common with than conservative women. Unfortunately, that is not the issue being discussed. Strawradfems, etc.

  200. gayle

    Oh MarilynJean, this white ass American gal hopes your face goes back to normal soon.

    I will make sure to spend all weekend trying to figure how I can not make them feel uncomfortable when I need to call bullshit on the idea that feminism needs to only focus on women.

    You’re confusing/conflating feminism with liberalism. An easy mistake to make nowadays with so many self-described feminist blogs doing just that.

    I have some causes that are unrelated to feminism myself. There’s no shame in it.

    You can fight for every cause under the sun and more power to you, but feminism is about women, period.

  201. Cyberwulf

    P.S. Cis = anti-radical feminism of the highest order, which makes it sexist.

    Why?

  202. yttik

    “…talk to the disproportionate number of transpeople who can’t even get fucking jobs.”

    Yeah well, welcome to womanhood, folks! That’s right, if you’re perceived as female, you too will get to enjoy all the “privilege” that entails. Do what women have been doing for centuries, work your ass off for no pay at all.

  203. Eirwyn

    @justpassingthrough:

    The reason discussion about the validity of transness (and this time I’m saying that seriously, not mockingly) is labeled transphobic is because of the harm it does to trans people. Harm may not be intended, but it is certainly caused. You are basically questioning someone’s right to exist. It’s dehumanizing at worst, and painful and aggravating to the people in question at best.

    I’m willing to concede that, in theory, one might be able to evaluate transness without being oppressive, but I haven’t seen any cis person do that, because it comes from a place of fundamental misunderstanding, lack of compassion, and privilege.

    Some things to avoid:

    -References to dick chopping
    -Talking about how all trans women are just guys who want to wear lipstick and put on high heels
    -Pathologizing transness (it’s a mental illness)
    -Speaking about transness as though trans people themselves are not qualified to judge what it means to be trans

    Those things are definitely transphobic and have been said here in this thread. If you didn’t say any of those things and still got called anti-trans, well, I don’t know, because I either failed to read your posts, read them and forgot them, or even talked to you myself and forgot I did.

    You know, even if you do honestly just want to have an intellectual discussion about this, it’s not like there aren’t thousands of articles and blog posts that answer every single question and assertion every rad feminist has ever thought of regarding trans people. They’ve heard it over, and over, and over again, and there is a lot of literature out there.

  204. Nepenthe

    Ah, my favorite anti-trans tropes. “They’re so privileged,” because trans women are certainly not raped and prostituted at a higher rate than cis women. They certainly don’t experience an incredibly high rate of unemployment and homelessness, because it’s perfectly legal in the United States to discriminate against them. They certainly aren’t regularly murdered brutally for existing. Trans women who do pass exist in an amazing state free of any sort of misogynistic oppression; they receive the same wages as men, are not catcalled, and are considered fully human in every way. They thus have no first hand understanding of women’s oppression.

    And the ever popular “they wear too much lipstick” because their receiving appropriate medical care, not being regularly harassed, being employed, going out in public and surviving certainly isn’t improved by their passing as a gender-norm compliant woman. Also, trans woman are always stereotypically femme. They’re probably all heterosexual too.

    I think, though, my real favorite is the ever popular argument that trans people are reinforcing gender roles, which is a terrible, terrible thing. Gender, as we feminists know, is completely rigid and absolutely biologically determined. Therefore there can be no such thing as a woman with a penis or a man with a vagina. Women, as a class, are united by their anatomy, not by their common experience of misogyny. Patriarchy looks under your skirt before deciding to oppress you.

    Don’t bother with m Andrea; she infests another one of my favorite blogs and all she ever posts are screeds about why we should kill all the men or why trans people suck. Which is strange, because it’s a feminist economics blog.

  205. justpassingthrough

    “…talk to the disproportionate number of transpeople who can’t even get fucking jobs.”

    Yeah well, welcome to womanhood, folks! That’s right, if you’re perceived as female, you too will get to enjoy all the “privilege” that entails. Do what women have been doing for centuries, work your ass off for no pay at all.

    Srsly. Which is the why the concept of “cisprivilege” is so much BS. Scratch the surface of trans prejudice and you find…wait for it…misogyny! In the same way scratching the surface of homophobia reveals misogyny. It always comes back to women’s oppression.

    And I didn’t even get the option of being treated like shit because of my sex. If I were training for the oppression olympics I might even say I’m *more* oppressed than transwomen because I DIDN’T GET TO CHOOSE TO BE OPPRESSED. A pre-op transwoman can even take off her feminine costume at the end of the day and don male privilege if zie so chooses. Not me. I don’t have that option, never had it, never will.

  206. Femsei

    @ m Andrea:

    Wow. You are beginning to give me a ‘Republican Feminist “feel” ‘ — in Canada that would be a ‘REAL WOMEN’ “feel”.

    You’re really Sarah Palin, aren’t you?

  207. OhTheBeemanity

    Holy Batman, this thread. As much as I love the systemic critiques offered by radical feminism (because it’s true that liberal feminism can become too individualistic at times), I can’t at all relate to the transphobic sides. I find myself casting a jaundiced eye at all this woman-bonding-since-birth talk and how women feel magical-like whilst gazing in one another’s wounded eyes; come on, we know better than that, or else feminists and radfems could actually feel kinship with women like Sarah Palin and Anne Coulter — perish the thought, right? Frankly, there are a hell of a lot of patriarchy-affirming women I feel absolutely no sacred bonds of lady kinship with. I’m an atheist who doesn’t feel any bonds of Goddesshood, a childfree lesbian who hasn’t experienced any suffering in a personal heterosexual relationship — no babies, no lactation.

    I know there are many, many women with awful experiences of rape, molestation, violence at the hands of men. Direct violence. But sometimes what I hear out of all of this is that all women have grown up with some very personal, specific, shared violence. Something on the cult of the blood level. The abuses I’ve suffered as a woman are at the institutional level. Laws cutting women’s rights, mass media promoting a narrow idea of womanhood and beauty, general assumptions about my nature or incompetence as a woman. Yeah, I think every woman experiences some of these things. And I can’t see a single reason that a transwoman, presenting and living as a woman, throwing in solidarity with ciswomen, isn’t also negatively affected by narrow standards of female beauty, mass media, laws cutting women’s rights, stupid assumptions, -and- the addition of extra stupid assumptions that society projects onto her as a result of being trans. And given that most transpeople identify as trans fairly young, there’s a good chance she’s been negatively impacted by the same social crap and more since early childhood, too.

    Of course, in the above, I was focusing exclusively on what every woman, no matter how relatively privileged, has to live with. The broad social shit. If we start getting to the fact that many, many women are raped and physically abused, that doesn’t exclude transwomen, either. Look up the statistics on heterosexual dudes raping and murdering transwomen; someone on this thread said men define womanhood, didn’t they? Pretty sure those men don’t think they’re raping and murdering a man. Regardless of what body a person was born in, things like misogyny and race hatred are created in the minds of the people doing the abuse. So a person can still be misogynist to a transwoman (the person with the misogynistic take might not even realize she’s trans, for that matter), or racist towards a relatively lighter skinned person if that person is perceived to be non-white. Basically, most kinds of sexist suffering which can be applied to ciswomen can be applied (with additional shit) to transwomen.

    The one exclusion everyone seems to be focusing on is the uterus. I call bogus. Sure, I recognize the uterus as an important — hugely important — site of female oppression. I recognize that many women throughout the world have historically not had rights to their uteri, and that this continues to be a battle we fight today, and I’m as adamant for reproductive rights as anyone I know. I also recognize that lots of ciswomen don’t have uteri and not all women who have them have the same experiences with them. As someone who has never had sexual congress with a male, I find it doubtful I’ll ever have a personal, direct need of birth control or abortion. But I still regularly read RHRealityCheck and other such publications and I still regularly rage when I see politicians trying to cut rights. Because I get that cutting rights for women makes things worse for all women. And as much as people can talk about lesbians who don’t care about reproductive issues (not my experience at all; again, some of the most outspoken pro-choice people I know are lesbians, which is anecdotal, but still) or transwomen who have no need to care, I think there are many, many who see the larger picture, too. And that’s why they rightly want in on the feminist fight. How is *not cutting them out* exactly bending to the whim of the Patriarchy? The Patriarchy approves of trans and queer people? News to me that the Patriarchy was trans-inclusive. Here I thought the Patriarchy was all about narrow binaries and stickin’ to ‘em and that it didn’t have any use for people on any side of the queer spectrum.

    Seriously, enforced femininity and masculinity suck, but I don’t get how this keeps coming around to blaming transwomen and transmen. As many have pointed out, they didn’t invent enforced femininity or masculinity, and I thought one of the rules of IBTP in the first place was to blame the Patriarchy, not the individuals who, say, wear lipstick or heels. If a transwoman feels like she needs lipstick and long hair to, like, not be murdered by het dudes, isn’t that even /more/ reason to blame the Patriarchy? As opposed to calling her a goshdarned evil lipstick-wearing dude? (Because in Patriarchy, dudes can’t wait for access to lipstick? Or something?)

    We all understand — I dare say most of the detractors of trans would even agree — that the features which typically distinguish male and female bodies don’t come in until fairly late in pregnancy. Gonads and ovaries being cut from the same cloth, the dudely meat and the clitoris, etc. etc. for a number of things. Some dudes lactate (probably most of you know). Some women don’t lactate, ever. And we understand that the brain is the biggest sexual organ and that that’s why individual sex acts are so incredibly malleable and able to be enforced through social constructions. So why is it baffling that gender, too, is a thing of the brain?

    Focusing on the surgery itself seems to me to be sidestepping this major point: that it’s the brain we’re talking about here and not the body. Transwomen are relatively less fixated on their bodies as identities, I dare say, and people who hyper-focus on the surgical element are the ones making it all about physical bodies.

  208. Cyberwulf

    Yeah well, welcome to womanhood, folks! That’s right, if you’re perceived as female, you too will get to enjoy all the “privilege” that entails.

    Well done on disappearing FtMs. Oh but who cares, they’re all gender traitors anyway, right?

    Which is the why the concept of “cisprivilege” is so much BS.

    Cisprivilege – not being murdered because someone found something unexpected in your pants, and the only way to rid himself of gayness is to kill you.

  209. m Andrea

    Keep in mind, I actually know literally — dozens? Two hundred? Most of them are frickin’ nuts. I see the ones who are turned away from treatment. The ones most of you see have already been self-selected and pruned.

  210. Femsei

    “Transphobia”. “Anti-trans”. Some people keep slinging the mud, attempting to dismiss women’s valid concerns using silencing techniques first used against them by men. Incredible. The tools of your oppressor aren’t going to dismantle anything but your credibility, so knock it off already.

    On the contrary, posters are calling people “transphobic” because they are being transphobic. This is not “mud”, this is calling people on their bigotry. You bet I’m going to try to silence bigotry. And I won’t knock it off. If being anti-hate damages my credibility in your mind, then I certainly don’t want to be credible to you.

    We’re either FOR trans*folk or we’re AGAINST them.

    And what else is there, exactly? There are people commenting on here who are AGAINST trans people, and that is wrong. I guess if you’re in the middle of FOR and AGAINST then you’re indifferent or undecided? I don’t know, but I’m definitely FOR all people.

    Which is the why the concept of “cisprivilege” is so much BS

    Cisprivilege is anything but BS. Cisgendered people enjoy many privileges over transgendered people. This is oppression 101.

    And I didn’t even get the option of being treated like shit because of my sex. If I were training for the oppression olympics I might even say I’m *more* oppressed than transwomen because I DIDN’T GET TO CHOOSE TO BE OPPRESSED. A pre-op transwoman can even take off her feminine costume at the end of the day and don male privilege if zie so chooses. Not me. I don’t have that option, never had it, never will.

    As if transpeople choose to be oppressed! Did we really need victim blaming on this thread along with everything else? A transwomen would feel extremely uncomfortable presenting as a man, because she’s not one, and so no matter what she does, she loses. Oppressed as a transwoman, living a lie as a man. It is such bullshit to think that she can just present herself as a man and suddenly have privilege. It is not a privilege to have to present yourself as someone else for fear of violence being done against you.

    Some 101 level info for y’all:

    Transwomen are women.
    Referring to transwomen as “he” denies their right
    to identify as the gender they really are, and is
    transphobic. It implies you know their gender better
    than they do.
    Transwomen do not have privilege, they have oppression.
    They are statistically more likely to be sexually assaulted, fired from jobs, be murdered and commit suicide FOR THEIR SEX/GENDER than cisgendered women are.
    Cisgendered people have the privilege of not being questioned about or denied their own gender/sex, of not being treated as “freaks” for dressing the way they normally would for their sex, and not being at the mercy of the medical establishment to recieve necessary medical care that they need to present themselves as themselves.

    I’m learning what Twisty means by “blowing a lobe”.

  211. Bushfire

    “Transphobia”. “Anti-trans”. Some people keep slinging the mud, attempting to dismiss women’s valid concerns using silencing techniques first used against them by men. Incredible. The tools of your oppressor aren’t going to dismantle anything but your credibility, so knock it off already.

    On the contrary, posters are calling people “transphobic” because they are being transphobic. This is not “mud”, this is calling people on their bigotry. You bet I’m going to try to silence bigotry. And I won’t knock it off. If being anti-hate damages my credibility in your mind, then I certainly don’t want to be credible to you.

    We’re either FOR trans*folk or we’re AGAINST them.

    And what else is there, exactly? There are people commenting on here who are AGAINST trans people, and that is wrong. I guess if you’re in the middle of FOR and AGAINST then you’re indifferent or undecided? I don’t know, but I’m definitely FOR all people.

    Which is the why the concept of “cisprivilege” is so much BS

    Cisprivilege is anything but BS. Cisgendered people enjoy many privileges over transgendered people. This is oppression 101.

    And I didn’t even get the option of being treated like shit because of my sex. If I were training for the oppression olympics I might even say I’m *more* oppressed than transwomen because I DIDN’T GET TO CHOOSE TO BE OPPRESSED. A pre-op transwoman can even take off her feminine costume at the end of the day and don male privilege if zie so chooses. Not me. I don’t have that option, never had it, never will.

    As if transpeople choose to be oppressed! Did we really need victim blaming on this thread along with everything else? A transwomen would feel extremely uncomfortable presenting as a man, because she’s not one, and so no matter what she does, she loses. Oppressed as a transwoman, living a lie as a man. It is such bullshit to think that she can just present herself as a man and suddenly have privilege. It is not a privilege to have to present yourself as someone else for fear of violence being done against you.

    Some 101 level info for y’all:

    Transwomen are women.
    Referring to transwomen as “he” denies their right
    to identify as the gender they really are, and is
    transphobic. It implies you know their gender better
    than they do.
    Transwomen do not have privilege, they have oppression.
    They are statistically more likely to be sexually assaulted, fired from jobs, be murdered and commit suicide FOR THEIR SEX/GENDER than cisgendered women are.
    Cisgendered people have the privilege of not being questioned about or denied their own gender/sex, of not being treated as “freaks” for dressing the way they normally would for their sex, and not being at the mercy of the medical establishment to recieve necessary medical care that they need to present themselves as themselves.

    I’m learning what Twisty means by “blowing a lobe”.

  212. Cyberwulf

    Wait, so now people who are perceived as women are treated as women but aren’t actually women and therefore don’t belong in the radfem tent. Also, FtMs don’t exist and nothing bad ever happens exclusively to transpeople because of their transness.

  213. m Andrea

    Paraphrasing: “for a real man to give up his privilege, you know he must really be a woman”.

    Whoever said that has a very low opinion of men. Whoever said that believes that the only way a real man would ever relinquish his male privilege is if there was some other, much more exciting benefit in it for himself.

    Zoe, I’m looking at you. Real men give up their male privilege and guess what? They’re real feminist men. Not transgendered.

  214. gayle

    Cyberwulf,

    Whoever said any of that except you?

  215. Cara

    Most of them are frickin’ nuts. I see the ones who are turned away from treatment. The ones most of you see have already been self-selected and pruned.

    You sound like one of those cops who thinks liberals are softy assholes, soft on crime, bleeding hearts, HE knows what “those people” are REALLY like, etc.

  216. Sargassosea

    “Also, FtMs don’t exist […]”

    Well, Cyberwulf, I’ve been asking all along if anyone had something to say about eff-to-emmers and just how radically feminist THAT is, but so far no takers.

    I wonder why that might be. Apparently because they “don’t exist”.

  217. Claire K.

    On cis privilege and intersectionality: the intersectionality model came about mostly as a way of thinking of the intersections between race and gender and that’s the area to which it’s best suited. It doesn’t work when applied to issues like gender identity and sexual orientation because gender identity and sexual orientation, unlike race, are not separate axes which intersect with gender; they are themselves gender issues. The oppression I experience as a lesbian isn’t a double oppression along the separate axes of sexual orientation and gender: if I were a man my being attracted to women wouldn’t be a problem. ‘Homophobia’ is actually a variety of sexism, and I think the same can be said for ‘transphobia.’ Labeling sexual orientation and gender identity separate axes requires ignoring the question of why gay and trans people are oppressed, the answer being that we’re oppressed in order to uphold a gender binary which ensures (cis, het) male supremacy. It’s not arbitrary.

    It bothers me when I see radical feminists dismissing the oppression of gay and trans people, especially when they go so far as to suggest that lesbians are actually privileged relative to straight women and trans women relative to cis women. There are a few comments on this thread that seem to say that, or at least come close to it. At the same time, if we acknowledge that the oppression of gay and trans people (both men and women) is part of a larger effort to keep cis, het women in line (and to turn lesbians into het women, and trans men into cis women, who can then be kept in line) that has to change the way we talk about cis and het privilege. Cis and het women are privileged relative to trans and lesbian women in that they don’t have to experience transphobia or homophobia. That’s not remotely the same thing as male privilege or white privilege, because men actually benefit from the oppression of women, whether they try to or not, and white people benefit from the oppression of people of color. Cis and het women do not benefit from the oppression of trans and lesbian women –on the contrary, the oppression of trans and lesbian women furthers the oppression of cis and het women. Cis and het men, on the other hand, do benefit from homophobia and transphobia because these things reinforce their male privilege. The power structures here are fundamentally different from those involved in the intersections of race and gender in that a white feminist who discriminates against women of color is securing her own privilege but a cis feminist who discriminates against trans women is just shooting herself in the foot. That doesn’t make transphobia from cis feminists any more palatable, but it does mean we have to understand it differently and the word ‘privilege,’ given that it means something different in its usual usage in the phrases ‘male privilege’ and ‘white privilege,’ is not the best tool for that.

    Practically speaking, the problem with the phrase ‘cis privilege’ is that it doesn’t differentiate between cis women and cis men. When ‘woman’ and ‘man’ are constructed as opposites, the ‘privilege’ of being recognized as a woman from birth is the opposite of the privilege of being recognized as a man from birth. The phrase ‘white privilege’ works because white women are still privileged in our whiteness, even if to a lesser extent than are white men. ‘Cis privilege’ is a ridiculous phrase because one can’t be just ‘cis,’ one has to be cis-something and as soon as we add in that something –’man’ or ‘woman’– we’re dealing with opposite categories, not with two parts of the same category. (I’m not saying that men and women are opposites but that to be told one is a woman is to be told one is the opposite of man/human being.) Again, we do have to acknowledge that trans women face oppression cis women don’t face, but the concept of ‘cis privilege,’ when described with this phrase and discussed as somehow being a separate axis from gender, trivializes sexism by implying that being assigned the status of ‘woman’ is actually a good thing most of the time.

  218. Cara

    Real men give up their male privilege and guess what? They’re real feminist men. Not transgendered.

    Wait a minute. So “real men” can give up their privilege, just like that, easy peasy, but a man who believes he’s a woman and backs it up by living as one still has male privilege?

    I thought the whole argument against calling trans women “women” was that “real men” stay men no matter what, so can never ever ever not be men and can never ever ever understand what it’s like to be a woman so they should stay out of here because they’ll take over the discussion with all their me-me-me stuff. You know. Because they’re “real men” and that’s what “real men” do.

  219. Claire K.

    TL;DR version of the above comment: trans women are oppressed in ways cis women are not, but we need a concept other than ‘cis privilege’ to express that because ‘cis privilege’ groups cis men with cis women, pretending cis/trans is a separate axis from gender rather than acknowledging that transphobia is an offshoot of sexism, thus trivializing sexism.

  220. ampulla

    First of all, a sincere question for the trans activists: what is the precise difference between cis and trans?

    Most so-called cis-women don’t feel delighted with their assigned body or with the expectations that come along with it. In patriarchal society, womanhood isn’t a mantle that rests comfortably on anybody’s shoulders.

    I’ve always felt dissociated from my body, particularly the female parts. As I’m currently experiencing my first pregnancy, the weirdness has only compounded. Is this the result of past abuse, or ought I to conclude that I’m a little bit trans?

    If I am trans, it’s not something that bothers me enough to pursue surgery, hormones, or a pronoun shift. So is my reluctance to do anything about it the definitive proof that makes me cis? It can’t be, though, because plenty of trans people pick and choose among these modification options as well (as is their right); a few opt out of them all together. So what is the difference between us? One might say that I’m gender-fluid or genderqueer, but it’s obvious from looking at me that I’m female, and it’s not something that troubles me enough to make me bind my tits or what have you. I’ve never been all that concerned with my appearance.

    Besides, I’ve already logged thirty-odd years as a “woman,” experiencing all the B.S. that comes along with it, and while I may not feel I’ve been assigned the right box — it certainly isn’t the most “fun” box — and as a feminist, I certainly question the usefulness of such boxes altogether, but this is where I’ve been my whole life, and at this point it feels more comfortable than that other box full of dudes. But if you’d asked me the same question at eight years old, I probably would have made the switch in a second.

    So that’s what it’s like [for this woman] to be “cis,” if that’s indeed what this all adds up to.

    I am hunky-dory with trans people of all stripes. I can certainly relate to your pain. It’s really the theory behind the trans movement that doesn’t make sense to me, the same as my anorexic friend’s reasons for wanting to be sickly thin don’t make sense to me, *except as a maladaptive response to this crazy effed-up patriarchal society*. I applaud anyone’s efforts to do what they need to do to get help, and to be as happy as they can be in this world.

  221. m Andrea

    I finally read that article at Womanist Musing. First Dworkin confuses biology with gender. Yes, the goddess herself made a beginner’s mistake. She writes this long garbled paragraph about supposedly there are multi sexes. Uh basic taxony says no. An animal has to be capable of reproducing it’s own kind before it can be considered viable. Intersex is a medical disorder with quite compromising health issues — not a condition anybody actually wants in a baby.

    But besides that, Dworkin described SRS as “an emergency measure for an emergency situation”. She also said transgenderism was caused by a faulty society not a faulty mind-body abduction. And apparently she changed her mind not five years later when Janice Raymond’s book was published because Dworkin had nothing but praise for it.

    Twisty you are stretching the truth to say that Dworkin supported transgenderism. How was the heartwarming nature crap which occupied your day?

  222. Carol Teater

    Wow. I came here from a post in Feministe, which is awesome. From the post there, I thought this might be a good site, so I thought I’d take a look. Definitely some interesting posts here, though really I have heard all this before, many times.

    So, just for perspective from a trans woman, I can’t imagine wanting to be part of a group where I am not welcome. Such as most (all?) rad fem groups. Such as most lesbian groups. And such as this one. So you are safe from one ‘pretender to womanhood’, at least.

    Enjoy whining about how much you hate the concept of privilege and MAABs trying to ruin your little club.

  223. nails

    I’ve outlined my reasons for thinking that transsexualism will exist post revolution (because the need to alter non gendered parts of the body exists in a remarkably similar way right now, and is probably a brainular phenomenon), but that is kind of beside the point. The “you have female experience and are human” side is the important distinction.

  224. nails

    “There are no studies that show that “therapy and/or medication” have any effect, long-term. A 0.000% success rate in fact.”

    YES, anyone who needs to know how far the patriarchy was willing to go to say that transsexualism was curable via therapy and upbringing needs to look into the activies of John Money. A boy whose genitals were disfigured as an infant was raised as a girl, and he put it in journals all over the world about the “success” of doing so. The boy happened to be a twin and so that made the study even better, except that the kid wasn’t accepting their assigned gender role and had serious behavioral problems. He found out what happened to him when he was older and immediately began living as a man and trying to have his genitals reconstructed. He killed himself recently, and well, who can blame him? That is a horrible life to live. He was just one person though, all the psychological advice cooked up after this study meant that trans people thought they were just socialized wrong, and that parents were at fault, and so on. Just like they taught about gay people for so long. If it threatens the gender binary the patriarchy thinks it cannot exist- it must just be a sickness. So if there was a cure for it via psychotherapy I would think it would have been proved by that time, considering that it was presented as the *only* option for decades, but to date surgical intervention is the only real way to give relief to the person suffering. Its not like when people want a boob job.

  225. Triste

    You know, I was going to toss myself into this argument, because I am just absolutely hopping goddamn mad about this entire thing even existing in a place I usually consider to be relatively free of stupid bullshit, or at least stupid bullshit allowed to go by unmocked. But reading over the comments, it dawned on me (and I mean no particular disrespect to those who did chose to engage, but, well) that the absolutely last thing this clusterfuck needs is another cis chick pontificating on the worth of transpeople, who are nowhere to be found (so far as I can see) in this debacle.

    And who can blame them? I cannot even imagine being a transperson and wanting to get in on this discussion, wherein they must defend their basic right to live to a bunch of people who have already decided that they are Nazi amputation-fetishist pedophiles whose very existence is contributing to the Patriarchy, which in turn is responsible for such favorites as rape, beauty, gendered violence, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, pornification of the unwilling and much, much more.

    Holy shit! Given that trans men and women are often /victims/ of rape, beauty, etc. etc. it is hard to imagine a more insidiously awful accusation. This is the moral equivalent of telling a woman that she contributed to her own rape by wearing a miniskirt. Hell, not only her own rape, but the rape of her fellow women.

    Imagine, if you will, stumbling upon a blog in which a number of men heatedly debated whether or not ladies who wear high heels contributed to the existence of rape. Some men argue that women who dress like sluts reinforce the idea that women are sex objects who are ready and available for use at all times, thus perpetuating rape culture. Other men argue that no, it is not the responsibility of oppressed classes to stop oppression from happening – it is, rather, the responsibility of the oppressor. They then proceed to quibble back and forth on the motivations that women have for dressing like sluts. Nowhere in these discussions is it suggested that /actual women/ might contribute their own opinion on why women dress like sluts, or that women have varied and nuanced reasons for dressing like sluts and such speculation is therefore fruitless, or that it doesn’t fucking matter why they dress like sluts, for fuck’s sake.

    Certainly if you found such a place, your first inclination would likely be something along the lines of turning off the computer, taking a shower, and never thinking of it again. It would take a great deal more fortitude than I myself possess to even consider commenting in a shithole like what I just described. Therefore, congratulations to the transphobic side of the force! You have essentially guaranteed that no transwoman will ever think to openly (that is, admitting that they are trans) comment on this blog. Now that you’ve created an environment that is too hostile for the vast majority of transwomen to bother posting in (thus effectively winning, since this was your goal), shut the fuck up already, because your shit is making me physically nauseous.

    Seriously. Is there anyone at all whose life is in any way improved by masturbatory back-and-forth sniping about whether or not transpeople are equivalent to people who fuck children? No! This entire gross debate has not done a single thing to embiggen anyone’s fucking discourse. In fact, it has done nothing at all but waste time and energy which could have been spent blaming the /actual Patriarchy/ rather than trying to prove that one particular oppressed class is (or is not) actually secretly a Patriarchal mole and should (or should not) have their oppressed status revoked pronto.

  226. m Andrea

    Oh please. I didn’t say they are pedophiles and if that is all you understand about a logical argument then you’re disqualified. Seriously. The form of the argument that trans keep trying to make is invalid.

    They keep putting the cart before the horse. oops did I just say something bad about horses? If you are going to make the claim that pedophiles are entitled to molest small children, first you must prove that pedophilia is harmless. And by the exact same token — oops did I just say something bad about tokens — if you are going to make any sort of claim about transgendererd at all, then you first need to provide evidence that transgenderism is harmless.

    Because there is a preponderance of evidence which suggests transgenderism only reifies harmful gender roles.

  227. TotallyDorkin

    This whole thread makes me feel like Twisty has certainly set the tone of civil discourse on this blog.
    Everyone is definitely trying to be intellectual and calm about this argument!

    Except if a post doesn’t start with “Are you fucking kidding me!!??” then it ends with “shame on you!”

    Congratulations Twisty, you taught all of your commenters to write as rudely and unintellectually as you do!

  228. Eirwyn

    Holy fuck, Triste. Beautiful post.

  229. Claire K.

    Even though I’ve been contributing to this mess, I have to agree with Triste. -___-;

  230. Triste

    Transgendered people, via existing, reify harmful gender roles no more or less than any member of the sex class. AS women, everything we ever do “reifies” these gender roles. If we perform femininity, we reify that it is a woman’s proper place to be feminine. If we perform or attempt to perform masculinity, we reify that masculinity is superior and ladies/ladythings are worth shit. Those of us who participate in society (i.e. all of us) do not have the option of taking any middle ground, because like it or not, we are, against our will, gendered, and everything we do is gendered.

    Therefore, the argument that transgendered people reify these roles by existing is just dumb. Transpeople, just like all people, live in a world wherein all behavior is policed based on arcane gender rules. Transgendered types, for whatever reason, have identities (patterns of behavior or self-conception or ideas about how their bodies should be, what the fuck ever) which are so radically off from their Patriarchy-assigned genders that they decide, fuck it. Rather than go through the constant psychic agony of being torn between who you actually are and the gender role which you were assigned /at birth/, before you were at an age where you might hope to resist or object or say, BUT WAIT, GENDER IS A BULLSHIT SOCIAL CONTSTRUCT, I WANT OUT – rather than that, transgendered people decide, fuck it, and just switch. You may, if you like, compare this to women who cave to Patriarchal beauty norms by shaving their legs or wearing lipstick.

    It turns out that individuals, even individuals born with penises, don’t actually have the power to dismantle the Patriarchy. Furthermore, every single one of us has, at some point, caved, thus becoming collaborators. The idea that transsexuals, who are members of an oppressed class, need to take responsibility for the oppression which created them in the first place is just fucking ridiculous.

    The purpose of this blog is blaming /Patriarchy/, which is what is responsible for making this game in the first place. You can make your own blog in which you bitch about transfolks and other women whose existence you feel perpetuates Patriarchy, and you can say “You can’t /prove/ that transsexuals aren’t ruining everything, therefore it must be true that they are!” until the fucking cows come home. But right now, you are wasting everyone’s time on a bunch of stupid bullshit which serves only to relieve the Patriarchy of any blame by sticking it on a bunch of innocent transfolks. Knock it off already.

  231. OhTheBeemanity

    I wrote a long, detailed reply to this argument, but it’s in the moderation queue. I suppose we’ll see if it makes it out. In the meanwhile (supposing this comment posts): mAndrea, for someone accusing Twisty of dishonesty, how intellectually dishonest is it to sling around the word pedophilia as if such a comparison in any universe is anything besides a complete rhetorical strawman? Even if one actually addresses your “comparison,” the fallacy is obvious. Pedophilia has victims, i.e. children, whereas transwomen are victims — of Patriarchal abuse, that is. Same as the rest of us.

    It’s been brought up many, many times here that some transwomen feel that they have to uphold enforced femininity and “pass” in order to not be fucking murdered. As a ciswoman, having to wear makeup or being pressured to sucks. Having to wear makeup and codify “femininity” to simply not be fucking killed — isn’t this a pretty exact case of why we should indeed Blame the Patriarchy?

  232. winnie b

    I’d like to offer my perspective on the nature of transness as a trans woman. It’s a vastly complex thing that can’t be explained in a few convenient sentences to someone who doesn’t have to experience it. Using so few words would leave it so vague and open to wildy different interpretations.

    To boot, yeah, this enviroment does come across as pretty hostile in some quite bigoted ways. It does make it hard to want to participate in this kind of conversation. Of course, it also seems really amazing in many other ways, with all the people who have gone out of their way to defend trans people, and all the super awesome radfem, which are the reasons i’ve bothered to read through all that and respond.

  233. Zoe Brain

    K.A. wrote:

    The only transwoman I’ve ever met in real life was an autogynephile BOSS who fetishized not only the cooptation of the female body, but the social construct of womanhood. In his mind, the gender of woman was akin to being “sub” in sub-dom relationships, and he wanted to be a sub.

    It takes all kinds. Do you think that that person typifies all or most trans women?

    Because if so, here’s some quotes one widely-published Feminist.

    About the Trans Day of Remembrance:

    “..they’re the ones who kept taking about violence and murder. But really, they should be careful about giving some angry women those ideas. I can’t imagine that every one of them hasn’t raped or molested a female at some point.”

    “They expect we’ll be shocked to see statistics about them being killed, and don’t realize, some of us wish they would ALL be dead.”

    About Trans women:

    There are no words to describe them. There are tiny parasitic wasps who paralyse small animals (spiders, caterpillars, etc.) and lay their eggs on them, so the animal is alive while being slowing eaten by the growing baby. But the wasps aren’t deliberately cruel. These men remind me of a deliberately female-hating version of that. They’ve prove what I’ve been saying for decades — they are more female-hating than even many het men. The character in Silence of the Lambs who skinned women to wear really seems more accurate all the time.

  234. Zoe Brain

    justpassingthrough wrote:

    A pre-op transwoman can even take off her feminine costume at the end of the day and don male privilege if zie so chooses. Not me. I don’t have that option, never had it, never will.

    +1 Insightful… but only half the story. Less.

    That explains a lot of the transphobia expressed by transsexual women against transgendered people. There’s a feeling that “TGs” can get around the gynephobia that “real women” experience just by butching up and doing the boy act.

    There’s a certain amount of truth in that, especially for transgendered men who don’t identify as female (to state the obvious), just get a thrill from dressing en femme, usually in private or on weekends.

    The difference is expressed in the old joke: “A woman gets home from work and sighs with relief because she can take her heels off. A TG gets home from work and sighs with pleasure because he can put his heels on”.

    But that’s not the whole of the story: because yes, you could just “don male privilege” if you wanted to. Possibly not very successfully, it depends on your “passing privilege”. How male you can look. How male you can act.

    Read Norah Vincent’s book “Self-Made Man: My Year Disguised as a Man”. She “passed” well. And had a mental collapse after 18 months due to self-induced Gender Dysphoria, the consequence of a woman constantly having to suppress instincts and natural responses in order to “perform male gender” without giving the game away.

    The same kind of thing trans women endure, sometimes for decades. Those that don’t end up suiciding.

    She used to think there was no significant biological component to Gender too. That instead of it being 80% a social construct, it was 100%. I’m glad she wasn’t permanently damaged by her experiment.

  235. Zoe Brain

    m Andrea wrote:

    Zoe, I’m looking at you. Real men give up their male privilege and guess what? They’re real feminist men. Not transgendered.

    Take it up with the FAABs who say that even women brought up as pseudo-male can’t give up their male privilege.

  236. m Andrea

    Imagine, if you will, stumbling upon a blog in which a number of men heatedly debated whether or not ladies who wear high heels contributed to the existence of rape.

    Born women do not have to “imagine” men justifying violence against women. That’s the thing you apparently don’t get — those types of casual conversations spoken earnestly by men who claim to have our best interests at heart occur pretty much everywhere, all the time. Even on feminist blogs. Hell especially on feminists blogs! And when you equate mere disagreement with rape, you are indeed delusional. That is something only a genuine man would say.

    And then for him to turn around and claim he is a woman? A man who dresses up in women’s clothes and women’s body parts while taking orgasmic delight in that Male Gaze? A man who feels his very existence is threatened by disagreement? And then you wonder why some of us are creeped out. It requires internalizing masochistic submission to think THAT creepy feeling is normal– even more to celebrate the crawling of one’s own skin as empowering.

    I guess you laydies have never seen a man who was turned away for treatment. Because if you had, you would never in a fucking million years be saying they were neutral.

  237. evie

    Jezebella: This is the very fucking BASIS of feminism: I want to get to decide who I am, not anybody else

    Yes. Exactly. I don’t get to define you; you get to define you. I get to define myself as mixed race, but I don’t get to decide for anyone else. This stuff is basic, I agree. So let’s extend that courtesy to trans people. We don’t get to define them – they do.

  238. Zoe Brain

    justpassingthrough wrote:

    I’ve since done a little research and I now realize that “transwoman” applies to any man who identifies female and opts to use the term.

    Not quite – it applies to any woman who was born looking male (or mostly male – many are intersexed), and identifies as female.

    The current DSM-IV-TR (the US psychiatric diagnostic manual) excludes those with externally visible or chromosomal Intersex conditions from a diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder”. Similarly, the WHO’s ICD-10 excludes Intersexed people from a diagnosis of “Transsexuality”.

    But the new DSM-5 will change that, pathologising Intersexed people who don’t accept others’ assignment of their sex as “mentally ill” too. The formal diagnosis will be 302.85 Gender Identity Disorder with Disorder of Sexual Development.

    At least now it’s consistent, even if consistently wrong.

  239. Triste

    Don’t feel too terribly bad about it, Claire. I actually went and started arguing back myself, although the comment is stuck in moderation presently and will hopefully be lost in some sort of awful server explosion. The urge to waste time on the internet is indeed powerful.

    I do believe that I am going to check out now, however.

  240. delphyne

    “Jezebella: This is the very fucking BASIS of feminism: I want to get to decide who I am, not” anybody else”

    The basis of feminism is to free women from male oppression.

    Me, me, me-ism comes from libertarianism and neo-liberal capitalist thinking. You’ve got mixed up.

  241. Triste

    Remember that bit where I said I was going to shut up now? Yeah, well, you know how it is.

    To clarify for m Andrea, who appears to be deeply confused: I wasn’t comparing disagreement to rape. I’m not actually sure how you could have possibly come to that conclusion, except that there is a disagreement occurring and I mentioned rape in my post and somehow you just shook up this entire conversation, pulled out two random words related to it, and then decided to say that I was equating the two.

    I’m going to try to make this extremely clear for you, step by step.

    - You claimed that transgendered people perpetuate patriarchy, i.e. “harmful gender roles.”
    - Because Patirarchy is responsible for rape and other forms of gendered violence, this means that you are saying that transgendered people, via their existence, perpetuate rape.
    - I demonstrated that this was stupid and evil by using an example that involved cis women. My purpose was to show that doing things which “reify gender roles” does not make you responsible for the Patriarchy, and that saying so is vile.
    - You derided people for freaking out over mere “disagreements,” and then immediately afterwards decided based upon my post that I was a “genuine man” because I disagreed with you.

    This last point is particularly important, since I stated quite clearly that I am a cisgendered female in my post. I was assigned female gender at birth, I have lived my entire life as a female, I do not now and do not ever intend to identify as a non-female. I find it difficult to understand how you could have missed this, given that essentially the entire point of my post is that it’s best if we cis chicks shut the fuck up about trans people already.

    All of this brings me to my next point, which is: just stop already. It’s really, deeply obvious that you are in over your head right now, between making really blatantly dumb go-back-to-feminism-101-and-start-over level mistakes like saying “men can give up their privilege by becoming feminists” and your apparent inability to form a line of reasoning beyond picking out garbled word associations and throwing in a few misgendering slurs. Your posts have gone way beyond “disagreement” and plowed straight into obvious trolling territory. Either slow the fuck down and start taking the discussion seriously, or better yet, just fucking stop and take it somewhere that will welcome your brand of garbage. It’s not wanted here any more than anti-feminism is wanted here.

  242. Melissa

    Emergency mobile phone update??? Twisty… you’re scaring me with your technological prowess.

  243. delphyne

    What is anti-feminist and anti-woman is believing that a woman is no more than a man with his pennnnis inverted and a pair of silicone breasts attached and a few artificial hormones in his veins, or, in the case of Julia Serrano, believing that a man is a woman just because he says he is, even whilst he’s figuratively waving his cock (his word) around. Freud thought women were castrated men, and here in 2011 apparently that view still holds true for so many people. Why haven’t we moved on.

    It is also a profoundly stupid and ignorant claim. You can’t wipe out the biological categories of male and female just for a bit of essentialist wishful thinking that says that being female is simply a “feeling”, an “essence” that any man can lay claim to. If you were all studying biology or genetics degrees you’d fail them if you insisted on making those claims.

    A woman is an adult female human being. Men are not women, no matter how loudly they shout. It’s a travesty that people are trying to twist radical feminism around to try and accommodate this particular brand of sexism and misogyny.

    (weird that the spamulator wont’ let peeeeniiises through in word form, but if they are claiming to be female they are totally welcome here)

  244. Comrade Svilova

    Twisty’s original proposal is that anyone who can *not* wield male privilege is welcome on the blog.

    Some trans* folks wield male privilege. They would obviously be excluded (whether MtF or FtM). Some trans* folks don’t wield male privilege, either because they were born without it or because they’ve managed to shed it with their transition. They would obviously be included.

    It doesn’t matter how one was born, but how one acts. Anyone who is working towards ending the oppression of women is a feminist, whatever their current gender or birth gender.

    Trans* feminists and cis feminists are my comrades.

  245. yttik

    May I point out that this exact same debate has been raging within feminism since forever and that many of the points people have made have been hashed out in numerous other places already?

    So, there really is “a standard or authentic woman’s experience,” because you can watch the exact same points being made by women every time, the same fears and concerns being shared, the same authentic women’s voices talking about it.

    Jill may not have intended to push so many buttons by claiming there is no authentic women’s experience, but you can probably understand why that is like poking people in the eye with a stick. I mean, you would never say there is no authentic black experience or no authentic Native American experience, because it’s dismissive and demeaning and makes people feel as if they can’t even own their own experience. The natural result is that people will rear up and start drawing lines in the sand. Hey, this is my experience, my identity, and my commonality with other women, you can’t just take all that away and declare that I’m not authentic.

    Of course underneath this entire debate, tranpeople have not been oppressed by feminism. Feminists have little or no power and did not create the patriarchy or rigid gender roles. Feminism is not the enemy of transpeople. By the same token, transpeople have little or no power, as a group are small in numbers and have not been oppressing women since forever. Women are not in the situation they are in today because of transpeople and transpeople are not in the position they are in today because of feminism.

  246. delphyne

    “By the same token, transpeople have little or no power, as a group are small in numbers and have not been oppressing women since forever.”

    Men have been though. MTF trans are men. The fact that they think that they get to change the definition of woman to “any man who says he is one” is one of the most blatant examples of male privilege you are likely to see. The fact that women support them in this is one of the most blatant examples of female submission you are likely to see.

    It’s a massive reversal to say that feminists “oppress” trans, when it is men in all their forms, including MTF trans who oppress women.

  247. Triste

    Huh?

    Talk about being stuck in the past, delphyne – I thought we got past the conflation of biological sex and gender back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth or Madonna was still cool or something. Trans people aren’t “wiping out” (or attempting to wipe out) the differences between /biological/ sexes, and I defy you to find me a single transperson who suggests that they are able to change their biological sex from male to female or vice versa.

    There’s a reason that we use the terms “transgendered” nowadays, you realize. It’s because transgendered people are in the business of transitioning from one gender to another, not from one biological sex to another. This transition is not as simple as having surgery, nor merely “saying” that one is such and such gender. It involves performing that gender, which is, at is happens, quite possible regardless of your chromosomal arrangement.

    Defining womanhood by biological sex is dumb, mostly because actual biology does not fit cleanly into the gender binary. Essentially all physical characteristics of human females do not actually apply to all women. For instance, human women menstruate (except that many do not), human women can give birth (except many cannot), human women have breasts (except not our beloved blogmistress, among others), have vaginas (except for the 1 in 4000 that do not), have XX chromosomes (except for those intersex variations who are raised as women and have female characteristics despite being XY, as well as women with varying numbers of Xs and so on, blah blah).

    Actual womanhood (related to but ultimately not contingent upon biological femaledom) is a messy, ill-defined combination of social, physiological, and psychological factors. It is not simply a fuction of biology – as any actual biologist will tell you, there is not a biological sex binary, but a plurality.

  248. Sargassosea

    Still no one has addressed eff-to-emmers.

    Well, except for the sarcastic *Oh, so f to m don’t exist then!?* and the *Anybody who doesn’t benefit from male privilege can comment here – EVEN f to m!!1!* (How exactly does that work, CS when it‘s largely about the quest to GAIN male privilege?)

    Why is it that none of the tenacious transactivists here are rushing to advocate for eff-to-emmers specifically? I think it’s because none of the transactivists here really care about them because they are WOMEN. I think that the transactivists here really care about MEN. The kind who were maab.

  249. Triste

    Alternatively it could be because the actual attacks have been focused largely upon MtF. Oops! I guess that doesn’t fit with the narrative, though, so let’s ignore that, shall we?

    Although now that you mention it, I don’t see any particular reason that transmen shouldn’t be allowed under the same rules that cismen are allowed – namely, don’t wave your privilege around and rush to tell us all about the dude experience. Transmen in my experience are disinclined to do so regardless, but since those who pass presently experience some degree of dude privilege, they are, like transwomen (who may experience male privilege to a lesser degree or who will have experienced this privilege in the past), not immune from being unbearably dudely.

  250. Butch Cassidyke

    Claire K: I didn’t want to participate in this (heated) discussion, but I just wanted to say that your comment really made me ponder about the way we analyse privilege, and it resonate with the “dykes VS het women” clash I somehow experienced in a feminist group (where the “dykes are privileged over het women” was a bit present).

    I think it’s complicated because in the absolute I agree that cis/het women don’t *really* benefit from the oppression of trans/lesbian women, but on the other hand they do perpetuate a real oppression (e.g. when they use the fact that people are dykes to make them shut up because dykes take up too much space and are violent and so on… (I’ve also read how the same arguments were basically also used against trans women, though I didn’t experience it)). But maybe it’s indeed more similar to how women can have internalized misoginy than to male/white privilege…

  251. delphyne

    I’m not conflating biological sex and gender triste. I’m a radical feminist, I want to destroy gender (the socially created sex roles that exist to maintain a hierarchy between men and women where men dominate and women submit).

    Also you get MTF trans claiming they are female and women all the time. A woman is an adult human female. That’s all. If a trans is claiming to become a woman then he is claiming that he, a man, can become female – that’s simple logic.

    But of course I”d forgotten that MTF trans (men) have invented their own extra special and ever changing definition of woman – that erases biological womanhood/femaleness in favour of whatever suits them that day. Why are they even calling themselves “male to female” if they don’t think that they are changing sex from male to female? It makes no sense, but then nothing in trans or rather male domination ever does. It’s about dominating women – in this case by erasing our reality and replacing it with their fantasies.

    “Defining womanhood by biological sex is dumb”

    No it isn’t, it’s accurate.

    “mostly because actual biology does not fit cleanly into the gender binary.”

    Human biology actually fits very clearly into two categories. There are a tiny number of intersex people who are the exceptions that make the rule. Not a single one of us would exist if it wasn’t for the fact that there were two sexes and we had two parents, one male, one female. To deny that is the dumb thing. And like I said, you’d fail your biology or genetics degree if you were making such stupid claims, but for some reason in some parts of feminism they are treated like the deepest kind of wisdom, probably because they pander to what men want.

    “any actual biologist will tell you, there is not a biological sex binary, but a plurality”

    No they won’t. They’d tell us there is a female sex, a male sex, which exist so human beings and other animals can reproduce, and some intersex. There aren’t third fourth and fifth sexes that can reproduce. Once again, utterly nonsensical.

    “Actual womanhood (related to but ultimately not contingent upon biological femaledom) is a messy, ill-defined combination of social, physiological, and psychological factors.”

    You’re a trans aren’t you?

    Claiming that being a woman is down to social factors = essentialist and *wrong*
    Claiming that being a woman is down to psychological factors = essentialist and *wrong*
    Stating that being a woman being is down to physiological and biological factors = correct

  252. yttik

    “Actual womanhood is a messy, ill-defined combination of social, physiological, and psychological factors”

    Okay, but listen, that attacks women’s very essence, their experiences, their commonality, their authenticity, who they have been since the day they were born. Women don’t feel like a messy ill defined combination of anything, we actually have the audacity to feel like full human beings.

    Nobody is picking apart masculinity here, nobody is treating maleness as a lab specimen, messy and ill defined, like a systemic disease the person needs treatment for. Nobody is claiming men have no authenticity and that their very definitions of themselves is up for grabs. We don’t even label men, cis men. They remain an unhyphenated dominant gender. The default.

    So women are an ill defined non existent gender that has little or nothing to do with biology, in fact, we aren’t even authentic and don’t even really exist outside the culture, but transpeople are so driven by gender and biology, and physical inconsistencies, that a state of emergency exists. You can see the conflict here.

  253. yttik

    “Actual womanhood is a messy, ill-defined combination of social, physiological, and psychological factors”

    Actually, most women have the audacity to view themselves as full human beings, not a messy ill defined combination of anything, thank you very much.

    “Still no one has addressed eff-to-emmers”

    That’s because many of them are busy enjoying their new found male privilege as successful Jazz singers and combat pilots. What would they want with a feminist group? They have no desire to redefine other people’s womanhood for them.

  254. Sargassosea

    Well, Triste for someone who seemed to be feeling rather superior for staying out of this you sure are talking a lot.

    If you will recall, it was a drive-by transactivist who got the whole “attack[s]” ball rolling by *innocently* asking if transwomen are women on the previous thread.

    And I’d like to point out that there have been exactly ZERO “attacks” on eff-to-emmers “largely” because NO ONE IS ADDRESSING IT.

    Because none of the transactivists here care about women. At least the kind who were born women.

  255. Triste

    I’ve stated multiple times now that I’m not trans, thank you kindly. Even if I was trans, it wouldn’t make a lick of difference, but as it happens, I am XX female and a woman. The whole “your ability to form an opinion separate from mine proves that you are really a man!” bit is officially Old News, so lay off it already.

    The idea that the division between biological sex and gender is some trans conspiracy when it was in fact developed by cisgendered feminists is a hell of a laugh. The comment guidelines ask that you read some feminist theory before posting on this blog. If you honestly think that the most basic tenets of third-wave feminism like “there is a difference between being biologically female and being a woman” is part of some vast male conspiracy, you don’t actually have any business posting here, and you especially don’t have any business posting here in order to spread a bunch of cissexist hate.

    Read a fucking book for a change, or at least glance at wikipedia for the history of feminist theory so that you can take a shot at faking some understanding of this shit. You might actually learn something useful, like say, “intersex conditions are about as common, worldwide, as green eyes – they make up between 1 and 1.7% of the human population and therefore cannot be casually and callously dismissed even though you really, really want to reduce women to nothing but walking uteri and tits.”

  256. Cimorene

    “When I’m by myself, my gender means nothing to me.”

    That’s impressive because I’m a woman and being alone doesn’t make me not-a-woman. I’ve been socialized to be a woman from birth; I am a woman; I will always be a woman. Even if the revolution started tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to actually participate in a genderless society because I am a gendered being. I cannot escape my gender any more than I can escape my race (that is: not at all). Two fundamental aspects of my entire personality are defined by the way others define me (white lady) and thus the way I define myself (white lady).

    I don’t know when this happened. I don’t know when I went from a nongendered human baby to a girl baby, but I do know that once it started I couldn’t stop it and I couldn’t escape it. Unfortunately.

    Really though, my socialization–though of course entirely defined by my femaleness–was a complex amalgamation of various messages. “Be pretty” = girl, for example ( to be a bit reductive). But I also got messages that might also be used to socialize babies to become boy-babies, like “your brain is more important than your body.” I also, of course, got “your body is more important than your brain,” which is definitely an [ ] = boy socialization moment, but like I said shit is complex and often contradictory. I’m not sure when the “[ ] = girl” messages overtook the “[ ]=boy” messages, but at some point they did and that’s when I became a girl.

    If at some point in a transperson’s development as a person, their “[ ] = girl” messages overtake their “[ ] = boy” messages, then who am I to tell them that those messages didn’t count? When I became a girl (instead of a nongendered baby), my subordination came into existence. Before I was gendered, I was not oppressed by my gender, but the moment I learned what I really was, I became subordinated. Even if I was still, for example, rewarded for doing typically boy things. I was still a girl. I don’t see why this is different for transpeople. If someone realizes that they’re a girl (even if they have a penis), why aren’t they a girl?

    Are penises and vaginas really the decisive factor in whether one is a boy or a girl? It seems to me that that’s really reifying the gender roles that people who want to deny transwomen’s entrance in the ladies-only tent.

    Also, as for the person who’s asking “what about FtMs?” Well: what about them? I don’t even know what this argument is. People keep saying “I’m not against transpeople, I just don’t think they’re really is such a thing as trans.” But then it’s also just about political alliances? Or what? Those of you who are critical of trans politics: what is it exactly that you want to deny to trans people? I, for one, am simply arguing that transwomen are women, with no other qualifications. Just like not all ciswomen are radfems, just like not all ciswomen are enjoyable, just like not all ciswomen are tedious: the same is true for transwomen without a quantifiable difference in terms of gender and gender oppression.

    Some people disagree with me because they believe that transwomen are not oppressed because of their gender? Because they have penises?

  257. Citizen Jane

    Stating that being a woman being is down to physiological and biological factors = correct

    If you are so committed to the basic premise of patriarchy (and so willing to deny the last 50 years of scientific discovery), why are you at a feminist blog? There are sites like Ladies Against Feminism for women who believe the stuff you believe to get together.

    What kind of response do you expect when you walk into a feminist community and say “Hey gals, you know that idea that, ridiculous though it may be, has been used to oppress you since the day you were born? It’s a fact, and I don’t care what scientific inquiry has to say about it”?

    The only explanation I can imagine is that you are so transphobic that you are even willing to throw all of us cis folks under the bus if it’s an effective way to hurt trans people. That is called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  258. Sargassosea

    Ah, Triste, I had a lovely little something for you re the F to M thing but the Auto-Mod grabbed hold of it and now its brilliance is probably lost forever. Oh well.

    But I’ll try this:

    “If you honestly think that the most basic tenets of third-wave feminism like “there is a difference between being biologically female and being a woman” is part of some vast male conspiracy, you don’t actually have any business posting here, and you especially don’t have any business posting here in order to spread a bunch of cissexist hate.”

    I hate to be the one to deliver the bad news, but third wave feminism IS a vast male conspiracy to *legitimize* their need for every feminized thing to be a fuckhole to accommodate their incontinence.

  259. Triste

    “I hate to be the one to deliver the bad news, but third wave feminism IS a vast male conspiracy to *legitimize* their need for every feminized thing to be a fuckhole to accommodate their incontinence.”

    Oh, /right/, silly me. I forgot that there was no radical feminist component to the third wave, and the entire thing is just a funfeminist ode to fellatio. Well, you had to expect that the whole movement would turn into pornslut central once we started letting women of color have their say. God, how we all miss those halcyon days when only wealthy or middle class white women were allowed to be feminists. Second wave for life!

  260. delphyne

    Triste I don’t know what you’re talking when you talk about feminist theory and apparently neither do you. Third wave feminism is bullshit – it’s anti-feminism. It’s you who needs to get back to the reading list.

    This blog is for advanced blaming i.e. radical feminsm. Radical feminism doesn’t accept the idea that men get to define womanhood or worse still erase it, in the way it has happened with trans. The fact that there are some people who have been using radical feminist platforms to try and promote a trans agenda, doesn’t mean that the trans agenda is correct. It just means that radical feminism is being compromised and infiltrated yet again.

    I suggest *you* read some feminist theory, in particular Mary Daly and Janice Raymond. They’ll help you understand how profoundly anti-feminist and anti-woman the whole trans phenomenon really is.

  261. delphyne

    “I forgot that there was no radical feminist component to the third wave, and the entire thing is just a funfeminist ode to fellatio.”

    You’re right there wasn’t a radical feminist component to it. Third wave feminism developed in opposition to radical feminism, in order to put male interests and fucking back into feminism.

  262. delphyne

    “If you are so committed to the basic premise of patriarchy (and so willing to deny the last 50 years of scientific discovery), why are you at a feminist blog? ”

    The fact that women exist isn’t the basic premise of patriarchy.

    Woman destruction and women erasure are the basic premises of patriarchy and trans is part of that phenomenon. Why do you think the ultra-patriarchal medical (in particular psychiatric) and legal professions have embraced trans so wholeheartedly? It’s because trans enables men to erase the reality of women and say we don’t even exist. Job done for the patriarchy.

    Why are you at a feminist blog if you are so willing to capitulate to men and everything they want, even when it’s at the massive expense of women?

  263. yttik

    Okay, but this whole debate is a big contradiction. If being a woman is not about biology and there is no authentic definition of womanhood, how come people are working so hard to support transpeople’s quest for….authenticity?

    Being a woman is about psychology, biology, hormones, and physical characteristics. Transpeople are willing to go to great lengths to try and feel comfortable in their own skin, authentic. If female authenticity exists for transpeople than it must exist for born women, too.

    Why is this thread filled with accusations of transphobia, of women not being “real” feminists, of woman having no authenticity as women, the exact same things that many transpeople find painful and dismissive? It is not nice to accuse transpeople of having no authenticity, but it is also not nice to accuse born women of the exact same thing.

  264. Triste

    As cute as the whole “back in my day feminism was radical, now it’s just a bunch of cum-guzzling pole dancers” schtick is, guys, third wave feminism, just like every other wave of feminism, has both radical elements, moderate elements, and all-about-the-men elements. Conflating funfeminism with the third wave is fucking dumb, and frankly reeks to me of “I liked it better back when the darkies and the poor women knew to shut their faces and let us do the talking.”

    These are the primary characteristics of the third wave:

    1. Inclusion of women of color in feminist discourse.
    2. A understanding of intersections of oppression on various fronts, including race, class, etc.
    3. An understanding of gender as separate from biological sex.

    I could probably go on, but whatever. Now, is the largest chunk of this movement funfeminist and mostly made up of Patriarchy-collaborators? Sure. But like the second wave wasn’t? /Please./

  265. Sargassosea

    “God, how we all miss those halcyon days when only wealthy or middle class white women were allowed to be feminists. Second wave for life!”

    You said it, I didn’t!

    Because that is another “tenet” of third wave feminism: the second wave *was* a bunch of old, white, rich, racist women who created the *generational divide* in feminism.

    Stuff and bother.

  266. delphyne

    I don’t think you know what radical in radical feminism means Triste. It means going to the root. It goes to the roots of male dominance of women and male supremacy. Your trans males who apparently haven’t become female according to you are part of male dominance and male supremacy. Radical feminism has a specific political meaning – just because you think the “radical” moniker sounds cool, doesn’t actually mean that what you are doing has anything to do with radical feminism.

    As for funfeminism, yes indeed that is another name for third wave feminsim – all the nonsense about how a woman’s choice matters more than anything important like defeating the patriarchy or liberating women. Third wave feminism opened the door for pornographers and pimps to use feminism as a cover for their activities and even promoted porn and prostitution themselves.

    It’s just embarrassing for you that you don’t seem to know this stuff.

  267. Jilla

    Because that is another “tenet” of third wave feminism: the second wave *was* a bunch of old, white, rich, racist women who created the *generational divide* in feminism.

    I don’t know the second-wave feminism you talk about (U.S. centric much?) but here it was never old, white, rich or racist. I have personally never been any of the first three, and am not white, nor were the majority in the movement I knew. The Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyite arm (as much as I loathed their particular brand of feminism) were primarily Jews the majority of whose immediate families perished in concentration camps in Eastern Poland.

  268. delphyne

    “As cute as the whole “back in my day feminism was radical, now it’s just a bunch of cum-guzzling pole dancers””

    BTW this is my day, I was just helping you with your apparent ignorance of feminist history – but I’m not going back to anything. Radical feminism is right now, it’s never gone away. The people who jumped on the third wave moron bandwagon because they had the idea that being a feminist must have something to do with being a certain age were the ones who made a mistake. Quite funny to see the third wavers whose whole theory seemed to be based on the fact that they were young, now heading steadily into middle age. Wonder how they’ll get their politics to fit that.

  269. Triste

    Yaaawn. The reality is that a nice big chunk of the second wave was happily along for the free-love ride. It was by no means dominated by the anti-porn bunch. You might argue at best that third-wave has a slightly higher threshold of pornulation, but that shit is par for the course – the second wave was a boatload more enpornulated than the first wave, but I’d still call it an improved model.

    Feel free to ignore all of that if you are really so attached to the second wave. It brings to mind hearing my uncle talk about the good old days of yore, when men were men, women were women, a days work for a days pay and blacks had their own schools and their own water fountains.

    At any rate, we seem to have gotten rather hugely off-topic, although the topic was pretty vile in the first place, so perhaps we’re better off for that. God knows I’d rather quibble over wave superiority than hear any more fucking trans hate.

  270. Sargassosea

    “back in my day feminism was radical, now it’s just a bunch of cum-guzzling pole dancers” [sic]

    I’d appreciate it if you’d check the way you are using your quotation marks there, please, because again no one has actually said that except you. Truly you can’t WANT to create a false impression?

    AND, I have never heard a feminist call another woman what you just did. Even in false quotation marks.

  271. j

    Triste, Delphyne is not reducing women “to nothing but walking uteri and tits” by merely stating that humans, like all mammals, come in male and female versions so that they may reproduce. Her definition of “woman” is simply adult female-bodied human being. What is your definition of woman? Is a person a woman by feeling like one? Then how does that feel?

    I have suspicion that a lot of queer theory is meant to divide and conquer feminists. You can be any gender you want, no basis in reality! If you don’t like your gender role – be gender queer, refuse the oppressive title of woman/man! Or change your sex! It’s frightful for patriarchy when women stand together, and have safe spaces where they might plan revolution – so let’s redefine what a woman is! Anyone can be a woman!

  272. m Andrea

    Yanno, Jill spent her entire post trying to prove that transgenderism is a valid oppression and they have every right to call themselves women.

    Except, ccording to the’logic’ Jill used we might as well exclude trans now, because come the revolution there won’t be any!

    I’m sorry, that was just too hilarious. Jill baby dahling, you are so not consistent. Damn like out of the fucking ballpark inconsistent. oops.

  273. m Andrea

    However you do get major kudos for taking this all with good humor. You are just so fucking awesome.

  274. ew_nc

    I’m quite shocked to see the usually-sensible Blamerariat feeding an obvious troll.

  275. m Andrea

    Okay I will behave myself now. Consider me a little angel.

  276. yttik

    I kid you not, some of the worst patriarchal crap always winds up on this blog, just dripping it’s woman hatred all over the place. This is how women apparently define other women. No wonder we’re screwed.

    just a bunch of cum-guzzling pole dancers
    nothing but walking uteri and tits
    third wave moron bandwagon
    fucking dumb
    a bunch of old, white, rich, racist women
    a fuckhole
    a party to human rights violations
    white ass (American) women
    backstabbing dykes
    profoundly stupid and ignorant
    step over the cold dead bodies of fucking white ass women-born-women feminists

    Well Twisty, there is the evidence of the existence of a standard women’s experience of oppression and an authentic example of womanhood, because really, all these commentators are simply parroting back all the things they themselves have been told about women. I mean really, as a woman, who hasn’t been defined as a stupid, old, racist, backstabbing dyke, fuckhole, nothing but a cum guzzling, pole dancing, walking uteri with tits?? Heck, it’s practically what’s for breakfast!

  277. m Andrea

    AND, I have never heard a feminist call another woman what you just did. Even in false quotation marks.

    Funfems object to being called cum guzzling pole dancers, not because that is a rude thing to say, but because it’s true. They are performing gender exactly how patriarchy wants them to, and constantly encouraged to incrementally increase that “freedom and equality” by pretending their behavior is “liberation”.

    Which is why radfems are supposedly getting “more crude”. We’re just naming their behavior for what it is, and the truth makes them extremely uncomfortable.

  278. Rachel

    I’m not shocked to see the often-liberal/queer/third wave commenters here misunderstand basic radical feminism yet again.

  279. Triste

    “Triste, Delphyne is not reducing women “to nothing but walking uteri and tits” by merely stating that humans, like all mammals, come in male and female versions so that they may reproduce. Her definition of “woman” is simply adult female-bodied human being. What is your definition of woman? Is a person a woman by feeling like one? Then how does that feel?”

    The definition of woman, as I have said, is complex, and there are literally novels devoted to the subject. I recommend The Second Sex as a start, followed by some Butler. First of all, the state of womanhood and manhood alike are social constructs – any patriarchal society will have gender norms, and will gender every possible aspect of who we are and what we do. As we are born, some doctor glances at our naughty bits and tells our parents what role we are to perform. Our parents and other relatives spend our formative years training us in the ways of gender performance. Eventually, we are released into public, where every day hundreds of strangers will judge whether we are men or women based upon our performance. It is important to note here that they are /not/ judging us based upon our biological sex, because unless someone takes a DNA test or feels up the crotch of every person they meet, they do not actually know what our biological sex is – they only know how we present ourselves. These strangers then decide how to treat us based upon their assessment of our gender, which is based on everything from how we dress, how we talk, how we walk, whether or not we have visible breasts, our waste to hip-ratio, etc. If they judge that we are women, they will treat us the way women are treated in a Patriarchy, as we will experience oppression. If they judge us to be men, they will treat us as men are treated in a Patriarchy, and we will experience privilege.

    As individuals, we internalize these constructs in different ways. Some of us decide that the only thing to do is to try as hard as we possibly can to achieve the ideal form of whatever gender we were assigned at birth. Some of us gain two hundred pounds, stop shaving our body hair, and decide to only fuck other women, accepting that we have utterly failed at femininity while still considering ourselves to be women. Some of us take in the whole terrible garbled mess of gender and, for whatever reason, come out of it feeling deeply disgusted with the role that we were assigned at birth, against our will. Transpeople are people who have a giant gaping chasm in between who they actually are and who they wish to be and 1. how they are expected by society to act based upon their assigned gender and 2. how they personally conceive of their assigned gender, which is generally, to some extent, a function of 1. This may or may not contain a bodily element, it is worth noting – many transpeople do not get surgery and do not want surgery. There are transpeople who are entirely comfortable with their biology, saying that it is their gender (as a social and psychological construct) that they wish to change.

    This principle is not just a bunch of academic wanking. It is absolutely /fundamental/ to feminism. If womanhood is based purely on biological criteria, then male privilege does not exist, because there are women who are able to exercise it, and men who are not. There are people like Billy Tipton – people who are, by your definition, female, but who nevertheless clearly exercise male privilege by taking on male identities. I myself exercise this privilege from time to time just by being a naturally really masculine-looking woman who gets mistaken for a dude, and who is therefore treated like a dude. Furthermore, there are trans and intersexed people, who are by your definition male, who decidedly lack this privilege /as they presently are/ – even if they did once enjoy it. There are intersexed people with breasts, vaginas, clitorises, and XY chromosomes, and there are transwomen who pass in society as females and are /treated by the world/ as though they are females – which is to say, they are subject to the very same abuses, via Patriarchy, that cis women are, including rape, gendered violence, beauty, etc.

    “I have suspicion that a lot of queer theory is meant to divide and conquer feminists. You can be any gender you want, no basis in reality! If you don’t like your gender role – be gender queer, refuse the oppressive title of woman/man! Or change your sex! It’s frightful for patriarchy when women stand together, and have safe spaces where they might plan revolution – so let’s redefine what a woman is! Anyone can be a woman!”

    That’s a pretty fucking horrible accusation you’ve just levied against a whole lot of women who are hugely dedicated to fighting patriarchal norms. Do you have any actual evidence of that, or do you just enjoy that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you stick it to your fellow women?

  280. Treefinger

    “Yanno, Jill spent her entire post trying to prove that transgenderism is a valid oppression and they have every right to call themselves women.

    Except, ccording to the’logic’ Jill used we might as well exclude trans now, because come the revolution there won’t be any!”

    Well, come the revolution there won’t be any FAAB women either (because the concept of gender will have been destroyed), that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to call themselves women.

  281. gayle

    Because that is another “tenet” of third wave feminism: the second wave *was* a bunch of old, white, rich, racist women who created the *generational divide* in feminism.

    Yup. I’d say these kind of comments illustrate how third wave/intersectionalist feminists simply don’t have any understanding of feminism’s history, except I’m fairly well convinced by now the third wave “movement” was contrived to kill feminism. Thus all they lies and all the stereotyping.

  282. CassieC

    It may be possible to blame the patriarchy for the transphobia on display on this thread, but that would probably be too generous. This thread is such an apalling display of lack of empathy and understanding for human differences and commonalities: the patriarchy can really only be blamed for so much.

    (And I don’t feel like saying that very often.)

    Who to blame, then? Some of you have been huffing at some dogmatic texts so much and so long that your ideology (which is not the P) has stunted over your humanity. Try to break free: read the words of transpeople (who are not posting here, and who can blame them?).

  283. Treefinger

    *”doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to call themselves women now, when gender still exists”.

    Also I don’t know why I bothered to type up that comment on the previous thread, but I advise the people complaining about how no one is discussing ftms now to go there and read it. I am an ftm, my perspective is shown there. And my main problem with the idea that “mtfs were socialized to hate women” is that Mtfs identified with the women in those woman-hating pieces of media. They looked at misogynist advertising as they grew up and thought “hey that’s me… but I don’t want to be treated like that.” Julia Serano’s book has a chapter in which she describes how her feelings of being female conflicted with the messages she got about women being inferior to make her hate herself for feeling female and wanting to be like that… before her feminist awakening.

    Us ftms were more likely to identify with the men abusing women in these pieces of media socialization. The people around us tried to socialize us as females, but we tried our best to interpret things the way males do as they grow up. Obviously I visit this blog because I’m a radical feminist now, and had to disown these gross notions, but I’m just sayin’, if anything we are the ones with the gross masculinist bias we had to work to get rid of. If you could get past the fact we were born with vaginas and not mtfs, you would see this. Go to an ftm forum and observe the posts if you don’t believe me, the average ftm is much more hostile to feminism than the average mtf (not to tar us all with the same brush, but still).

    And FYI, it’s possible to accept the idea that different types of women experience oppression differently and not argue that funfem things like BDSM and porn are a-ok. The reason there are more liberal than radical trans women is that the radfem community is so hostile to them.

    and further fyi before someone asks me why I “transitioned to get male privilege”, I look like a woman still and have not had any surgery, meaning I get passing for cis privilege, but no male privilege other than the possible unintended absorption of “the wrong socialization” growing up.

  284. Older, Maybe Not Wiser

    There is a reason why, as someone who is now considered to be a “senior citizen”, I stay away from women-only groups in the real world: As a transwoman who transitioned a long time ago, I am tired of being hurt. I am tired of being regarded as an interloper. I am tired of having my bona fides questioned.

    Coming out as trans and then going through the full male-to-female transition cost me in friendships, relationships, career and family more than anyone who is not either gay or trans might ever imagine. Yes, I went into the transition knowing it would. Yes, the scale of it still shocked me. No, I would never go back, even if I could.

    It took me a very long time to come to grips with who I am. It took me a very long time to muster the will and the resources to deal with it. I feel no need to play “transgender evangelist” (the term “transgender” didn’t exist back then, for that matter).

    For me, life is too short to deal with the trans-haters.

  285. Triste

    Tragically, my reply to j has been sucked into the moderation queue, which is tragic because it was totally fabulous.

    By the way, do keep going with the whole bit where you act as though the second wave didn’t have a giant glaring fucking problem as pertains to race. It just absolutely never fails to crack my shit up to see you guys all rush to deflect onto the third wave.

  286. m Andrea

    Gender is not the same as biological sex. So there would still be XX. And when a movement tries to include as many people as possible, of course it’s going to pick up some riff-raff. consider:

    If most women within any given culture fit within the definition of feminist, then what does that say about most women? And what does that say about the culture they are supposedly opposed to? And supposedly resisting? Is it really likely they are cognizant of all the systematic manipulation techniques used to herd and control them?

    And then consider our public education system here in the US, where for the past thirty years every child has had it instilled into them that “the reason bullying is wrong is because it hurts Johnnie’s fweelings“. They literally lack the tools to identify assertions, evidence ect or to reason through a large complex problem with a multitude of indirectly related causes. They are utterly lost and need our assistence desperately.

    PS The reason bullying is wrong is because bullying violates a right to which Johnnie is entitled AND it has been proven he is entitled to that right.

  287. gayle

    yttik,

    No feminist on this thread actually wrote “just a bunch of cum-guzzling pole dancers.”

    triste is pretending like a radical feminist did. It’s all part of her game.

    Just like claiming the entire 2nd wave was hideously racist, that no women of color were involved, and then attempting to mock those of us who know better.

  288. sai

    >Transsexuality* is currently considered a gender disorder, that is, a person learns a gender role which contradicts his/her visible sex. It is a “disease” with a cure: a sex-change operation will change the person’s visible sex and make it consonant with the person’s felt identity.

    No, it can’t be cured with surgery, the symptoms can be alleviated by bringing one’s physical characteristics in closer alignment with one’s true gender. It’s far from perfect but it’s the only shot we have, so we make the best of it.

  289. Treefinger

    @m Andrea
    Yeah but will XX be calling themselves women after the revolution? No, because it will be a meaningless concept.

    I’m not surprised that you assume if large proportions of women identify as feminist some of them must be “riff-raff” who don’t get it (why would someone who wants a radfem revolution, and believes it is possible, believe this? it’s as if you’re saying “feminism can only stay pure if only a small group of women who Truly Understand It are involved”- i.e.: if it can never get large-scale enough for people to unite and revolt). And I suppose this “riff-raff” includes trans people, fun feminists (I mean I don’t agree with them either, but RIFF-RAFF is a bit harsh) and anyone else who disagrees even slightly with your own conception of what radical feminism should be.

  290. Treefinger

    All my meaningful comments are stuck in moderation, so I guess I should stop posting more. However, Twisty rules, as do Daisy Deadhead and a few of the commenters here (notably the ones arguing with m Andrea). Everyone else here, I have no real words for.

  291. smaller

    It’s doubtful that I’m the only one who stopped reading after m Andrea and her ilk started vomiting all over the thread.

    Thanks Eirwyn, Brushfire, and everyone else who’s been doing her best to demonstrate that there are plenty of feminists who are not transphobic bigots.

  292. Sargassosea

    Whoever it was who said that trans debate is classic divide-and-conquer, thanks for reminding me.

    And with that my adieu.

  293. delphyne

    “No feminist on this thread actually wrote “just a bunch of cum-guzzling pole dancers.”

    triste is pretending like a radical feminist did. It’s all part of her game.”

    Indeed not. I didn’t answer it because exactly how much crap does one need to counteract and how many posts will it make to do it.

    The third wave aren’t the pole dancers or the prostituted women or the women in porn. It’s other women who are their to service their men in prostitution and pornography and of course pole-dancing. The third wave just theorise about how it’s A-OK for men to buy and sell those women. They aren’t putting *their* bodies on the line. It’s the women who have *no* choices who have to do that.

    The third wave was the misogynist backlash, the most it had with actual feminism was stealing the name.

  294. yttik

    It is separate, divide, conquer, control, the most powerful patriarchal tool of all!

    It’s kind of funny actually, I bet the mansplainer on FB that triggered the No Dude Policy that then triggered the Trans War of ’11, is laughing his ass off and still posting over there. For him, divide and conquer has been quite successful, this isn’t about his behavior anymore, it’s about the character flaws of women, what bigots we all are, etc, etc.

    Think of all the time and energy women have put into this thread attacking each other all because of the behavior of this one FB moron, who hasn’t been held accountable at all. Rather than attacking him, we’ve attacked each other by proxy.

  295. Sylvie

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/juliet-jacques

    Only one person’s (edited) words.

  296. Ayla

    The number of people here who want to blame FAAB women for the evils that MAAB MEN perpetrate on our trans* sisters is astounding and disgusting.

  297. AlienNumber

    I’ve read through (most of) this and I have found several examples of transpolitics that made my hairs stand up. I finally realized that the MtFs writing this truly are men and they are bloody violent. Be very afraid.

    A MtF defender called some very logical blamer- “cis chick.” How’s that for a great example of trans-misogyny? (as in, misogyny expressed by MtFs)

    But for real scary misogyny, look no further than MarilynJean, who envisioned a future in which she steps over the dead bodies of women:

    “If transwomen identify as women and some of them want to be feminists, then let them the fuck in. Transwomen are my mutherfuckin’ sisters and when the revolution comes, I will step over the cold dead bodies of fucking white ass women-born-women feminists types”

    Last sentence- really charming! (not).

    Finally, m Andrea, I think I loves you, girl. Never ever shut up.

  298. Mina

    ” the patriarchy for the transphobia on display on this thread”

    Sorry but many people don’t care anymore about whiners who spot transphobia everywhere.

  299. Tsunami

    Everything Trieste said times a thousand. I’m an XX woman child of the second wave, grew up reading Mary Daly, Merlin Stone, and the No Comment page of Ms. Listened to Cris Williamson and Willie Tyson, ran around playing at festivals and retreats. And some of you commenters here horrify me. I’ll be over there with the trans folk. Whatever it is I am, in my female bodied, menstruating, theoretically pregnancy-capable self, I recognize in them. Whatever it is some of you are, that you can write such things here, I’d rather die than be.

  300. nails

    m Andrea
    “Gender is not the same as biological sex. So there would still be XX. ”

    So you think that genetics is THE basis for biological sex? It isn’t. Sex is a spectrum made up of many different characteristics. XX chromosomes do not even correlate with the primary and secondary sex characteristics displayed by a person, and there are people with an XXY set of sex chromosomes instead of just the two. There are people with mismatched primary and secondary sex characteristics. There are people who don’t present one way or the other strongly with their primary sexual characteristics. There are hormone insensitivity syndromes that make sexual development take a path opposite from what their chromosomes would otherwise dictate.

    Intersexed people are all over the place. I wonder what the anti-trans feminists here would propose should be done with them? Should we all have blood texts and medical exams before we can be called women (as a prerequisite for ‘feminist’)? Or does it seem more rational to accept that biological sex is a diverse thing just like female experience?

  301. nails

    AlienNumber, I am not afraid of MtF transgender people, and shame on you for saying they are violent and that I should be scared of them. Maybe you should go MEET SOME instead of taking someones word on the internet about it. Sounds a lot like how unenlightened people talk about the mentally ill, when in reality both of those groups are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. You and I have enormous privilege over these people and you are denying it exists at all because you are having a hard time seeing it. You need to look harder.

  302. AlienNumber

    nails, funny that you ask, because in my comment stuck in moderation I proposed that we, as feminists, should stop the medical establishment and its predilections towards chopping parts off intersexed people’s body parts, let the people grow up and allow them the freedom to wear whatever the heck they want (however, while discouraging gendered behavior, like lipstick and high-heels and steroid injections to grow a manly chest etc. Heck, we should discourage that gendered stuff in all children).

    What do you propose we do with them? Let me guess: why, I have this feeling that you propose that we continue allowing the medical establishment to chop off their body parts and dress them up in pink or blue I suppose? Geez.

  303. Ayla

    Also: That cold dead bodies spiel is some serious hate speech on the level that I have never seen get a pass ’round these parts.

  304. nails

    delphyne
    “Woman destruction and women erasure are the basic premises of patriarchy and trans is part of that phenomenon. Why do you think the ultra-patriarchal medical (in particular psychiatric) and legal professions have embraced trans so wholeheartedly?’

    *headdesk* Trans people are not well served by the medical establishment, and it is only recently that they have been granting people surgery (after a year of counseling and hormones, and a counselor willing to approve them, that is). So basically only trans people with money can afford the surgery that would alleviate their suffering. Even the rich ones weren’t granted domestic surgery for a long time, and I can tell you as someone who works in the medical establishment that the people that make it up (like doctors and nurses and such) are outright jerks to trans people. They receive sub par care as a result or are outright harassed. They are called by pronouns other than their desired one or referred to as “it” by people, among other things. I’ve seen it, way more than once, don’t tell me that trans people get respect from doctors and hospitals because they DON’T. Witnessing that so often prompted me to write the medical program at the university here to try and fix this problem of persistent disrespect that permeates a trans persons experience in the hospital.

    As far as the legal establishment embracing it- trans people do not have legal protections as a class. The legal system doesn’t care about these people. Its not a hate crime to kill them for being trans, even when the person doing so admits that was why, in fact it is has been used as a provocation defense- what they are is an invitation for violence.

    This idea of a man, on a whim, deciding to be a woman and having an easy happy fun time doing so while the “real” women toil and are oppressed sounds a lot like black welfare queens in cadillacs having tons of kids while the middle class white people slave away to pay for it. You have to profoundly ignorant about the reality of being trans to think that it works that way ever, much less that it works that way typically.

  305. nails

    Alien number, I said repeatedly sex is a spectrum, and that I am cool with that reality. Why would you ever parse that I want to force people into a binary from that?

  306. delphyne

    It shows how weak the trans case is that its proponents have to continually refer back to intersex, a set of rare conditions, to justify their belief that men can turn themselves into women. Intersex people are generally pretty unhappy that their real conditions are used to justify the fantasies of a few men who think they fancy visiting the ladies toilets for while.

    I mean if you can prove that all these MTF trans didn’t start off with peniiiiiiiis and testes and XY chromosomes, I’m all ears.

    But I don’t think you can.

  307. Daisy Deadhead

    yttik: Think of all the time and energy women have put into this thread attacking each other

    I was thinking the same thing, except I was wondering where all of this Major Feminist Fervor was during the Bush Admin. Why do trans people get the wrath that Republican warmongers never even earned?

    Have you blasted the Tea Partiers like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann? My state is about to have our public health care taken away by a CIS WOMAN GOVERNOR… do any of you give a shit about that? Wouldn’t you rather have feminist trans women who agree with you on your side, or cis-women like Bachmann and Nikki Haley?

    If being a cis woman is a guarantee of automatic wonderfulness, why is my state currently being looted by one?

    There are only a tiny few trans women in the world, and you are engaging in all this hoopla over them, when we have real problems propagated by OPPORTUNIST REPUBLICAN WHITE WOMEN who would lock us all up in the same jail cell. Have you written about this? Do you care about challenging the women who have real power? Why are you picking on a bunch of people who can’t even get hired anywhere?

    Alien, if you want your hair to stand on end, move to South Carolina and I betcha you will get your priorities in order in no time. Feminists are my sisters. Whoever they are. Nikki Haley is not, and anyone who would rather challenge some powerless people rather than challenge the powerful? Are cowards and fools. And excellent patsies for The Right.

    Look me up after the Tea Party puts us all in the same holding facility, and we can talk further then.

  308. AlienNumber

    Dear Daisy, I see where you’re getting with this, but the reality is that transpolitics got “third” bathrooms in New York (which is great) faster that women got 10 more cents to their 60 cents to the menz’ one dollar. So, nice try at calling transpolitics powerless, but it simply does not match the Reality.

    Also, fyi, in this country, the U S of A, gay marriage is still very much illegal while marriage between a transsexual and a person of the opposite sex is very much legal. Can you maybe see why that would (somewhat) scare a lesbian very much into her body parts and the body parts of her female partner? We are not as far from Iran as we’d like to think, really.

    As for nails, I’m sorry I didn’t see proof anywhere in your writings that you are actually against body-parts-chopping and gender-conformist behavior.

  309. AlienNumber

    Moderated again. Au revoir.

  310. Eirwyn

    Fear mongering at its best, AlienNumber. And supporting a total fucking troll, to boot.

    So someone said ‘cis chicks’ and that’s proof to you that the trans woman in question is a misogynist. I get called a chick by cis women all the fucking time.

    And then another trans woman said something violent about cis chicks. So obviously she is representative of ALL trans women.

    Two examples to back up your hatred and fear.

    What are you going to tell us next? That all black men are gangsters? All black women do drugs and have babies too young? All mentally ill people are just lazy whiners who get a free pass by the government to not work like the rest of us honest folk? All fat people are a drain on our health care system?

    I’m sure you can find two examples for any of those claims, because that’s obviously enough for you to discriminate against an ENTIRE group.

  311. AlienNumber

    But before I go, thank you ClaireK for your (long) post, very articulate, the way you show that one can’t have a both a gender essentialist axis and a gender-non-essentialist axis at the same time in reality.
    (As for Triste, I also thought you were a man (I guess I still do?). Weird. !)

  312. Eirwyn

    Comment stuck in moderation.

    AlienNumber is fear mongering. And supporting a total t-r-o-l-l to boot.

    If two examples are all she needs to discriminate against an ENTIRE group…

    How many times does it need to be said that trans people are PEOPLE? Some of them are violent. Some of them are misogynist. And, hey. Most cis women are misogynist too. Lots of cis women are violent against cis women. People evidently have to keep pointing these things out to you hatefuls again and again because it just doesn’t sink in or something.

    How can there be such a huge disconnect between being a feminist and yet using the exact same things used against women by the patriarchy, against trans women?

    The patriarchy also:

    -Takes a few examples of women who are violent, or vocal, or angry, or vapid, or “slutty”, and then posits that all women are worthless/bad/etc. Fails to acknowledge that women are human and come in a wide range from violent and horrible to pleasant and peaceful.

    -Tries to define what womanhood is by its own terms. I.e. women who can’t give birth are unnatural and not ‘real women’. Women who are skinny and don’t have ‘curves’ are not ‘real women’. Women who are not considered conventionally attractive are not ‘real women’. Women who are too uppity and talk back to men are not ‘real women’.

    -Does everything in its power to ignore the fact that oppression of women exists, even while blatantly oppressing them. If a woman gets raped, it’s not because men hate women, it’s just because men are too horny for their own good, gosh darn it, or maybe they had a tragic childhood!

    The anti-trans feminists here so far are:

    -Taking a few examples of trans women who have been misogynist, or violent, or said dudely things, and posited that ALL trans women are like that. (AlienNumber, I’m looking at you since you’re the one to do it most recently.)

    -Trying to define transness by their own terms.

    -Doing everything in their power to ignore the fact that trans people are a horribly oppressed group.

    Well done, everyone. What a proud group.

  313. AlienNumber

    okay, one more (ClaireK, good post, except for the unfortunate “cis” usage). And Triste, you sad thing (play on words, everyone who speaks no French, “triste” in French means “sad”) further analysis of your writing style makes me confirm my suspicions that you are indeed a man, the flaming-queen type though. I truly hope that this analysis doesn’t please you though.

  314. piny

    Twisty,

    When I was posting at Feministe, even when I posted as a trans person, linked to other trans people, and discussed topics like actually cutting bits off my body, I seldom had to yank comments like this out of the mod queue. I usually could count on a certain amount of productive discussion. I got better results when I outed myself as a fake-ass fucked-up mutilated unwoman, and I can’t chalk that up to sympathy or shame.

    I know I’m not a regular reader, but these hate geysers leap skyward every single time the subject comes up. I hardly ever see any comments that rise above that level–all are either hatespeech or a reaction to it.

    Does it bother you that these women find your blog to be so much more comfortable than those less-strident, less-committed, less-radical blamin’ blogs? Do you ever wonder why this regressive assholery flourishes here?

    If rape apology or anti-semitism erupted like herpes every few months or so, wouldn’t you wonder what the fuck was up with your commentariat? If transphobia is no better than dudejectivity, isn’t it in theory possible for you to combat it in the same way?

  315. AlienNumber

    Eirwyn, how do you feel about lipstick?

  316. Eirwyn

    AlienNumber, are you also a troll? That sounds like a troll hook to me. I’m not biting unless you explain yourself.

  317. AlienNumber

    What is a troll? (if mAndrea was the troll, then I’m proud to be in her company. I found her writing very articulate and clever, and find myself sad that she’s been tired out.)

    Anyway, I mean: do you support the use of lipstick (among other) things as a tool of pornification for the Male Gaze. Or, do you support the use of lipstick in general? Just remember, before you enthusiastically express your support, that lipstick (and other cosmetics) are tested on bunnies (the “scientists” apply the lipstick ingredients on bunny eyeballs and measure how infected the bunny eyeballs get).

  318. Eirwyn

    A troll is somebody who behaves in a way that’s purposefully inflammatory in order to wear people down or get them angry. They may hide behind a cause or a claim to be trying to do some good or help someone, but overall their tactics and rudeness gives them away, as well as their failure to engage in actual discussion instead of making wild, emotional claims. That’s my definition of a troll, anyway.

    Yeah, you are derailing HORRIBLY. I’m guessing that you’re trying to gauge my stance on lipstick so that you can find out what kind of feminist I am, and upon finding out what kind of feminist I am, you can safely dismiss any other argument I may have out of hand. Nice try, but I’m not biting. Lipstick is irrelevant to the conversation at hand, unless you want to try to take another whack at the “but trans women are men who wear LIPSTICK!” thing, which has already been tried before, and it has also been pointed out that not all trans women agree with wearing lipstick, either.

  319. OhTheBeemanity

    Are some of you seriously pulling the “you disagree with my stance so you’re a dude” card?

    Triste was making her points with a lot of harsh hyperbole and satire, but the radfems here who are anti-trans would be the first to say that women have no need to shut the fuck up with their anger, that they don’t have to stand for dudes calling them aggressive, so why is this point out the window if someone is /not/ anti-trans?

  320. Eirwyn

    A t-r-o-l-l is somebody who behaves in a way that’s purposefully inflammatory in order to wear people down or get them angry. They may hide behind a cause or claim to be trying to do some good or help someone, but overall their tactics and rudeness give them away, as well as their failure to engage in actual discussion instead of making wild, emotional claims. That’s my definition of a t-r-o-l-l, anyway.

    You are derailing horribly. I’m guessing that you’re trying to gauge my stance on lipstick so that you can find out what kind of feminist I am, and upon finding out what kind of feminist I am, you can safely dismiss any other argument I may have out of hand. Nice try, but I’m not biting. Lipstick is irrelevant to the conversation at hand, unless you want to try to take another whack at the “but trans women are men who wear lipstick!” thing, which has already been tried before, and it has also been pointed out that not all trans women agree with wearing lipstick, either.

  321. Eirwyn

    I see what you’re doing. You’re trying to label me a ‘fun feminist’ so that you can safely dismiss everything I say out of hand. I’m not going to tell you my stance on lipstick, because it’s a massive derail and a waste of my time.

  322. AlienNumber

    Eirwyn, I disagree. It is not a waste of time. I’m trying to get us to debate and agree on some basic principles. It is indeed too bad that we cannot have this conversation.

  323. Eirwyn

    Well, in doing so, you have failed to address any of the points in the post I made that was originally directed at you. Also, I tried several times to explain what makes you seem like a t-r-o-l-l to me, but all three posts are stuck in moderation, so I suppose it will have to wait.

    If you can’t engage me based on the argument on hand, then I’m done talking to you. I think I made it pretty clear in my posts what kind of feminist I am and what some of my basic principles are. This is obviously some kind of tactic, and stinks even more strongly of that certain breed of internet ‘debater’ that dwells beneath bridges.

  324. AlienNumber

    This tactic you speak of so suspiciously is called “dialectic” (which reminds me, if you haven’t yet read The Dialectic of Sex, by Firestone, you should).

    Good night, now I feel like I’m wasting my time.

    p.s. these are the arguments at hand, it is too bad you cannot see the connection between lipstick and transpolitics in your narrow self-righteousness.

  325. Eirwyn

    I guess since I can’t read your mind it’s because of my self-righteousness and narrowness, then.

    Officially done with this conversation.

  326. Cimorene

    Is it essentialist to say that I am a woman? Is the fact that I’m a woman reifying gender roles? Does the fact that I define myself as a woman (regardless of my clothing or company or lipstick or hairy legs) mean that I’m embracing the patriarchal concept of gender binaries and oppression?

  327. m Andrea

    Oh thank you Alien! Anyway, never will I forget the post Twisty wrote on transgenderism wherein she claimed that “because we can’t define what makes a women, then we must accept anyone’s claim to womanhood”. Because we can’t disprove the existence of god, then we must accept that god is real.

    Yet female can be defined just fine. It’s XX. Intersex is an OUTLIER — meaning a very tiny percentage of the sum total, behaving in a way completely opposite of the vast majority. Outliers are always stastically disregarded. Trans folk keep making the implicit assertion that an outlier should somehow represent the vast majority.

    So when I say you don’t count, I actually mean it. Your special snowflake needs are irrelevant when compared to the majoral commonality of all women. Transitioning is a PROCESS. In theory, it has an actual end, when you complete the transitioning phase of your life and finally accept yourself as a woman. But most trans folk don’t ever leave the transitory station. For them, it’s a life long club wherein their primary concern is never those discriminations which are common to all women, for them they are only ever concerned with the special snowflake needs of Club Trans.

    If you want to be in our club then you are gonna have to fucking act like it. Apparently ou are used to a certain kind of wormy ingratiatory compliance from so many feminists and so instead of noticing that even if the commonality of all women is not magically enough to meet with your approval, even if, common sense dictates that would we focus on the intersection of RACISM and sexism. Hello. Can you please quit whining about yourself.

    Analyizing gender and gender roles is what we do. Get the fuck used to it. Because right now all you are doing is dividing the very caste woman YOU CLAIM to belong to. It’s the exact same dynamic as allowing an argument on little green men from Neptune to divide the entire NAACP. If you believe that you are not reifying gender roles then prove it. Let’s see your actual argument.

  328. damequixote

    You know, some heartwarming nature crap would be good right about now.

    Isn’t there something, nah anything, interesting and heartwarming scurrying around Savage Death Island in the dead of winter? Anything?

    Bueller?

  329. Charity

    Delphyne, it’s pretty extraordinary how much you missed the point of that Julia Serano video. Pretty willful and extraordinary.

  330. MPMR

    Around my part of Savage Death Island, the only furry nature creatures we see right now are rabbits.

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2189/2041598728_40b7572708.jpg

    Which poop on top of the snow, and then my dogs go NUTS seeing who can get to the pooplings first to gobble them up.

    Then they come in the house and lick my face. Is that heartwarming enough?

  331. Tehomet

    “Outliers are always stastically disregarded. Trans folk keep making the implicit assertion that an outlier should somehow represent the vast majority… So when I say you don’t count, I actually mean it.”

    We’re not talking about statistics, though; we are talking about human beings.

  332. Cimorene

    Intersex people don’t count? Perhaps statistically this argument can be made. But what about individuals? What are they supposed to do?

  333. Comrade Svilova

    Like Nails, I believe that gender is a spectrum, and the P is invested in maintaining it as a binary. It’s sad to see so many radical feminists bowing down to the patriarchal standard of either/or binaries (which Irigaray theorizes as being a manifestation of phallic logic). Like Twisty, I hope for the day when all genders will be obsolete, but in the meantime, I know plenty of trans* folk who are ardent feminists, and I’m as happy to see them in feminist circles as any other feminist.

    I’ve seen several people in this thread opine that the goal of feminism is to make women equal to men — not only does this perpetuate the binaries in which the P is so invested, it proposes that the goal for women-as-a-class is to become exactly like men-as-a-class are currently. One of my favorite things about the vision of my gender queer friends is that they hope for even more than that — they hope for a future where marginalized classes aren’t “equal” to the most privilege classes, but where those classes and class distinctions cease to exist (as do the power structures of oppression, of course).

    There also seems to be a lot of evolutionary psychology in asserting that women and men are binary because otherwise reproduction wouldn’t happen. Why does it make sense for radical feminists to remain so attached to reproduction and its logic for their definition of identity? From what I understand of Firestone’s and Twisty’s vision, reproduction as a human endeavor will be radically changed post-revolution. We don’t need to maintain this artificial binary of two gendered sexes in order to perpetuate the species, and I am confused by the apparent investment in reproduction and evo psych that I see in this thread.

    And finally, there is no contradiction in saying that one hopes for a genderless future, but that in the present people often must present as some gender in order to survive. As feminists, we know that sometimes compromises must be made; some women must wear lipstick in order to survive, some women must shave and groom their bodies in P2K approved ways; we are not all fortunate enough to live on Savage Death Island 24/7. It’s not appropriate to blame the victims for their concessions to the P, whether it be a woman who wears lipstick in order to fit in and maintain her employment, or a trans* person who psychologically can’t deal living as what feels to hir to be the “wrong” gender. Eventually, we hope, none of this will be necessary.

    But in the meantime, I know who to blame. And it isn’t the woman who wears makeup or the trans* person who embraces a gender identity as ardently as many of the feminists here embrace their own gender identity as women.

    I blame the patriarchy!

  334. damequixote

    MPMR Awwwww and Ewwwwww at the same time. Yeah, that pretty much does it.

  335. thebewilderness

    Typically, Cimorene, when intersex people join the conversation the are even more frustrated with trans politics than feminists are. There are several discussions on mAndrea’s blog where intersex as well as trans persons participate.

    Some of us raggedy old second wavers have been hanging round this blog since 2005 and I, for one, am amused to see them called trolls and cis because they still refuse, even after all these years, to be dictated to by men.

  336. thlingan

    I’m a trans person. I do not identify as a woman or a man, but I’ve passed for a cisgender woman all my life and people still mistake me for a woman now… However, I have trans-masculine privilege over trans women (that’s how I choose to define it) and trans men have trans male privilege over trans women.

    THAT’S RIGHT. I’m FAAB and I have PRIVILEGE based on my gender identity.

    I will NEVER experience transmisogyny, even if I experience misogyny, even if I don’t have cis male privilege, even if I experience sexism…

    And do you know what? Trans women experience misogyny and transmisogyny and don’t have cis male privilege or male privilege (just like I don’t have cis female privilege)…

    Indeed, I think there is such a thing as “passing for cisgender” privilege. I had it when I passed for a cisgender woman and I would have it if I ever passed for being a cisgender man. And SOME trans women may have experienced that as well. But passing-for-cisgender privilege isn’t the same as male privilege.

    But I HAVE PRIVILEGE.. I live that privilege… I had to EXAMINE that privilege… I know that when I came out as a trans person I received a warmer reception from my cis male friends than I would have had I been MAAB and come out as trans… You know what else? A bunch of fucking privileged cis rad fems aren’t on my ass all the time about my gender expression. Segments of the medical establishment aren’t claiming I’m ‘particularly suited for prostitution’ because of an intersection of my race and my transness.. You know why? Because as a trans-masculine person I’m not considered “the sex class” the way trans women are.

    I experience a lot of transphobia, a lot of objectification of my body for being trans and for being perceived as a cisgender woman… I experience some unique kinds of prejudice because I’m not binary identified… I have a dual consciousness of experiencing sexism & transphobia… but I don’t think it’s the same as transmisogyny…

    Trans women have higher rates of hate crimes, sexual assault, murder, unemployment, discrimination and poverty than cis women… As women, they are disproportionately at risk for being forced to become prostitutes… All because of their GENDER. What gives a cis woman the right to deny that?

    There’s so much fucking hatred in this comment thread… All this transphobia and stuff about ‘fun fems’… I am trans, I am feminist… I bind my breasts, shave nothing, wear my hair extra-short and wear make-up and earrings along with a tie… And I don’t give a shit if anyone thinks that means I’m pornifying myself and I extra don’t give a shit if people think I’m ‘aspiring’ to have male privilege by being trans or donning the ‘mask’ of the oppressor, and I don’t give a shit if people think a desire to alter my body is categorically bad or a result of socialization… I think everybody’s gender presentations are just as valid as mine… And all I want is for everybody else to feel the same way and for no one to feel required to look any particular way… That’s my utopia…

    Trans solidarity with all my trans sisters and all my fellow allies! Let’s transcend oppression together…

  337. Eirwyn

    Hey: I just wanted to apologize for pulling some of that “not MY feminism” shit earlier. Or rather, “you’re feminists, you should know better!”

    It’s been proven again and again and again that simply fighting one type of oppression doesn’t give automatic insight into all types of oppression, nor exempt one from acting like an -ist or -phobic asshole. And this thread pretty much makes that self-evident.

    So, yeah, I’m sorry I’m still shocked by how crappy feminists can be, even if I still choose to identify as one.

  338. SeleneD

    Thanks for this post, Twisty. This comment is probably going to be lost beneath all the previous discussion because I’m late to the party, but I did want to chime in with my experience relevant to the discussion.

    For a little while I had a fairly popular blog among feminist circles called FemmEssay. It came to popularity largely because of a piece I wrote specifically taking on mAndrea and speaking in solidarity with the trans community. I wrote that article because at the time I had a friend who was transitioning and I mostly wrote it for her.

    And, if I am honest, I wrote it for me. I wanted to feel like I’d earned my chops in the feminist circle of blame and I used her back as the bridge to step on. We are not friends anymore. It was my choice, not hers. I realized I did not really like her as a person so much as an idea, and that’s a crappy thing to do to a person. I also deleted my blog and withdrew entirely from the feminist community for awhile because I knew I needed some time to think more and talk less.

    I came to that realization in the course of the comments on that article. I made a defensive remark about trans men, regarding how they were being sexist toward me in a way I would never tolerate on my blog from “real men”. Wow, did they fall on me like a ton of bricks! But they were right: I was not moderating them with the same standards with which I would moderate cis men, in part because I felt like they should get a pass for being part of an oppressed class, but in another part — maybe a larger part — because I didn’t think of them as “real men”. I was not being honest about that. I knew it because every time I talked to my trans woman friend, I had to wrestle around my words to keep from showing how much I actually othered her in my thoughts.

    So I deleted my blog and haven’t written about feminism since. And my friend actually felt guilty about that — as if she were the cause of my bigotry. I told her that she needed to regard me, and all cis women, the same way I regard male “allies”. If we are being useful, fine. But never, ever trust a cis woman when it comes to trans issues. Don’t trust us to speak for you, and don’t trust us to never fall back on our privilege when the chips are down, and definitely don’t trust us to understand. No one can understand the experience of being a trans person the way they can, and no one will fight harder and more passionately for their rights than they will. Allies are still the oppressors. I apologized to her for being a bigot, and then slowly distanced myself from our friendship because I really wasn’t good for her — I just couldn’t get past my internal thoughts which to this day remain too preoccupied with whether she is a woman. I don’t think I should write about feminism if I can’t get over that.

    That said, I want to apologize to mAndrea. Not for arguing with her, and not because any of the points that I made in my post were wrong (they weren’t), but because I wasn’t arguing with her for an honest reason. I was trying to humiliate her so I could look cool to the popular feminists. I was going for hits on my site. That makes me a different kind of asshole, because however wrong I think you might be, you are honest. I was a bigot AND a liar.

    So I guess the only point I want to make here is that I don’t think I’m alone in that experience. And I think it’s worth being honest about that so that trans people can know where they stand in regards to their allies, rather than be lured by their own optimism into believing that cis women feminists are trustworthy allies. Just because someone says they think mAndrea’s point of view is wrong, doesn’t mean they don’t harbor other, perhaps equally insidious prejudice. All cis people are the oppressors, even if they are themselves a member of an oppressed class, because like Twisty said, that doesn’t mean they understand your situation, or that they won’t use their privilege to oppress you given half-a-chance.

    I know a lot of trans people who have been around the feminist circle already realize this from bitter experience, but there are a lot of young, idealistic trans people who see blogs like this one and join up with radical feminist groups only to be shocked and feel betrayed when they realize that it would take an unproductive amount of time to figure out which among these cis women is actually trustworthy. It’s really not worth the time, just like it’s a waste of any feminist’s time to try to find the one nice guy out of a bunch. The theory of feminism is definitely useful to any woman, but that doesn’t make every feminist useful as an ally.

    Important difference to understand, because I’ve seen a lot of trans women walk away from feminism precisely because of their experience with cis feminists.

  339. m Andrea

    Whoa getting past these filters is so difficult, wonder if twelve monkeys typing Shakespeare could do any better. How can I possibly harrass you folks if the filters are wacked?

    That was nice Eirwyn I also apologize for my generally craptastic behavior.

  340. m Andrea

    Is the section which triggers:

    I’ve seen several people in this thread opine that the goal of feminism is to make women equal to men

    Hmmm, perhaps they just meant “equal to default human” and didn’t select their word choices carefully enough?

    Also, and finally it dawns on me that this might sound rude so apologies. Some percentage of people continually conflate their own personal Nigel with 3.5 billion men. They love their hubby and so when random commentor says “oh gosh men suck” they get all bent out of shape because they think their own personal Nigel is being disrepected.

  341. m Andrea

    Or possible this one:

    This may sound mean but it’s not about you or whatever individual that you prefer to assume is under attack. Speaking for myself only, I tend to focus on the largest groups for purposes of analytical pleasure and so pretty much ignore, for example, which flavor of ice cream is pertinent to Souji Vallejo (who is currently residing in Iceland and has three adorable children).

  342. m Andrea

    Or maybe the filters hate this one:

    It isn’t possible to identify patterns if you don’t look at the largest groups. Getting side-tracked by the individual peccadilloes of random group members is just avoiding the obvious and sometimes painful predictions which result from analyzing patterns.

    Seriously this isn’t worth my time playing guessing games with idiotic filters.

  343. TwissB

    Is it possible to ask for some guidance concerning the criteria than can land a politely stated comments like the following one in apparently permanent “moderation”? I’m aware that I am hardly the first to make this request – but it is variously frustrating and alienating to be consignned to this limboic invisibility without any explanation:

    TwissB
    February 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    @yttik (Now that I have finally looked twice at the name, I’ll have to revise the interesting Nordic identity I had assumed for it.)

    “My idea is that our failure to unite over this one simple standard, women’s oppression, is why there has been no revolution.”

    Yttik demonstrates awareness of the “divide and conquer” ploy that is always used to splinter and defeat revolutionary movements. Who needs goons with clubs when we’ve got a well-infiltrated Women’s Studies program or law school faculty?

    At the risk of being dismissed as academic by someone kind enough to read my words at all, I direct the attention of any American women in the room to the much revered 14th Amendment – men guaranteed equal protection of the law for themseves and continue to deny it to women. They seem to be able to declare a comprehensive “difference” and act on it.

  344. Claire K.

    AlienNumber: Thanks, but I hope it’s clear I’m on the trans-gals-are-my-sisters “side,” such as it is. It just bothers me to see feminists, even feminists at an ostensibly radical-leaning blog like IBTP, suggesting that gender is only mostly the result of socialization –that 20% or 40% or whatever of stereotypically feminine behaviors occur naturally and cause people to identify as women– and pulling out examples favored by the anti-feminist evo-psych crowd to prove it. I’ve heard some of these arguments almost verbatim from evo-psych people trying to prove that women are naturally driven to love their oppression; the only difference is that the people making those arguments here allow a little more leeway by adding the categories ‘trans’ and (sometimes) ‘genderqueer.’ In other words, one is still driven by biology to stereotypically gendered behaviors, they just might not be the behaviors of the gender one was assigned at birth. That’s not much of an improvement. As I think I said in my first comment, though, rejecting this argument doesn’t mean I have to reject trans women; in fact, I think the argument itself causes problems for trans people by adding to the pressure to conform to gendered stereotypes. (Of course the people who make this argument don’t use the word ‘stereotype,’ but that is basically what they’re advocating, since one can’t have typically feminine behaviors without them being stereotypically feminine behaviors.)

    Argh, this comment turned out long too. I wasn’t sure if anyone had been willing to waste their time going through my earlier ones, so thanks again to AlienNumber. It’s nice to know you read them. I agree that “cis” is an unfortunate term, but I can’t in good conscience use “FAAB” or just “not trans,” both of which unfairly stigmatize trans people. After all, if the way many trans women talk about identifying as women is problematic, the way many cis women talk about identifying as or, more commonly, just being women is also problematic. It doesn’t make sense to single out trans people. But yeah, “cis” is a problem. Other people have already pointed this out, but I’ll second it: the concept “cis” means that when a woman says she doesn’t feel like a woman, she feels like a human, people can tell her that she’s mistaken and that either she really does feel like a woman and just doesn’t notice it because of her cis privilege or that she shouldn’t be calling herself a woman, she should either be a trans man or genderqueer. It still promotes a sort of essentialism, if not necessarily a biological one, by saying that all women feel alike to some extent. That’s a very damaging argument from a feminist perspective because it ignores the violence that goes into maintaining male dominance and attributes women’s compliance entirely to their own feelings of identity. In reality, not all women have the option of identifying as men or as genderqueer even if they want to. Moreover, there’s no reason they should have to. Insisting that someone who says she feels no identification with any idea of “woman” whatsoever must be a man or genderqueer instead is just plain obnoxious and also makes it more difficult for that woman to combat the oppression which she will experience as a woman regardless of her identity. It means she can draw off the resources of feminism and take her place in a feminist sisterhood only to the extent that someone who is not a woman could, even though she experiences sex-based oppression just as other women do. Of course, that’s also the reason it’s cruel to tell trans women they can’t identify as women.

    Sorry for the excessive length (again).

  345. AlienNumber

    And this is what transpolitics and queer politics will bring ya: utterly nonsensical advertisements for make-up –

    “But in the meantime, I know who to blame. And it isn’t the woman who wears makeup or the trans* person who embraces a gender identity as ardently as many of the feminists here embrace their own gender identity as women.”

  346. Hermionemone

    Still here, and still reading (one in my position has to develop a thick skin)

    It is an honor to be the subject XXXXXX object of discussion these last couple of days. I am deeply moved to hear you all caring so passionately about defining my identity, authenticity and acceptability re: visiting women’s spaces (or not). Thank you, trans allies, for sticking up for
    inclusion. Anti-trans, please excuse me for saying you’ve got us all wrong, but I can sort of see how you could come to your viewpoint, what with having to be so constantly on guard from the insidious P and all.

    I’ve been ‘some sort of a woman’ for about 10 years now. The trans stuff was before then. I never considered myself a man in any sense of the word. Call it self-hate if you want, I just never figured out, nor could imagine, how to be or become one and still live with myself, or maybe ‘as’ myself. Being not-a-man is not necessarily to say one is-a-woman, but it did work out that I had a complementary affinity to a female identity as much as I rejected a male one.

    I’ve wondered how I could have been so sure, and the answer seems to me at least partly to do with empathy. Humans, like all big-brained social creatures, devote a lot of neurons to building up mental pictures of the people around us: our mom, our friends, generic random male or female strangers, our own selves. We rely on predicting in advance how someone is likely to react in various situations, real or hypothetical. “What would I do and how would I feel about it if I were a woman” is a valid question to run against one’s empathic self-model. If the answer is “better than I would if I had to continue pretending to be a man” then you could say one feels more like a woman than like a man. Sure it’s all in our heads, and it’s certainly possible to delude oneself, but in general people are pretty good at this empathy business. In a trans person’s case, there is a tremendous sense of relief and resonance with an inarticulated but deeply felt truth when one considers the possibility of living the rest of one’s life in honesty and consonance.

    I don’t know how the purported hard-wired body image perception sense is supposed to work, but I’m sure that if it exists it would subconsciously feed into the model of self too.

    I did what I had to do, avoided suicide (which at least I’m grateful for, even if some others aren’t *), and actually feel quite congruent between my inner ideal self and my interactions with the world as an embodied being. I have women friends who love and accept me as a woman, albeit an eccentric one (which are my favorite kind, also!) Believe it or not, sometimes I am the strong, sensible one.

    I am a feminist because I’m now in the same boat with other women under patriarchy, though for a while I had to hang onto the transom*, growing up naturally sympathetic and outraged, seeing how privilege and freedom were given to me while denied to my 1-year-younger sister, just because I was the boy and she the girl. Sis (cis*) was lucky enough to have a friend with a feminist mom around age 11 or 12, and I absorbed at least some awareness of the systemic injustice starting with her, but really, isn’t it obvious to any person with any sensitivity whatsoever? One thing that has horrified me recently is that my 15 year old daughter was very depressed for some time, believing she was ugly. First, she IS beautiful, second, we’d love her whether ugly or beautiful, and third, what kind of stupid standard of human measurement is beauty anyway? (Elementary blaming, but very close to home. In fact, right IN our home*) She got better, now if only I could get her to read some of my marvellously accessible feminist anthologies we could have some engaging discussions on this and many topics.

    Human development is a messy process, natural variation mixes up our personality types, if there /were/ sexual differences hard-wired in the brain, then some people could not help having mixed up brains involving those parts. Female brain bits along with male body bits? Essentialism is a dirty word, for good reason, but there’s something to this core body image aspect, just as gay/straight attraction is a reality that one just can’t help. Biological systems (also cybernetic ones) are messy, with all kinds of feedback among hardware, firmware and software leading to unpredictable behavior. If you can’t understand me and my kind, it’s understandable*, but trans-folk are not the living embodiment of counterrevolutionary thought, we’re just people living the best life we can with what we’ve got.

    I will happily help man* the barricades when the revolution comes, and use my ill-gotten skills obtained under privilege (who’s the infiltrator NOW Mr. Man?*), to help build a brave new world without patriarchy. My personal preference is for Secession not Revolution, but it’s the same basic idea, only more gradual. I am currently unemploy(ed,able) due to misgendered circumstances beyond my control. I have lots of free time. Can we start next week? *

    * potential loci for contraband smileys not permitted on Savage Death Island * * * <– this is not an ellipsis * * *

  347. AlienNumber

    Next in the series:

    “boob jobs, like lipstick, are GREAT for ya on occasion and they will bring you freedom and liberation; furthermore, I will fight to death – and hope will step on some women’s dead bodies after the fight – for my sister’s right to get a boob job; because issues like wage discrimination and political disenfranchisement are like… so second-wave (ewwww). Second-wave feminism= OUT, gender fundamentalism= IN.”

  348. m Andrea

    If you believe that you are not reifying gender roles then prove it. Let’s see your actual argument.

  349. m Andrea

    Hey at least that sentence got through. IBTF I Blame The Filters

  350. Treefinger

    They aren’t reifying gender roles any more than a cis woman who engages in femininity (i.e.: nearly all of them) is. Attack some cis women for a change if you’re simply against everyone whose actions could be seen as giving legitimacy to gender roles.

    Also, if you don’t identify with the term “cis”, then don’t get offended when people use it. You can be non-cis, non-trans and still identify primarily as a woman. “Cis” is a term for FAAB women and MAAB men who feel a kinship and comfort with the gender roles and/or physical sex they were assigned at birth. These people demonstrably exist. But if you aren’t one of them, no one is saying you HAVE to call yourself cis (though if you can pass as cis to people on the street, thus being statistically less likely to face violence, you have cis passing privilege).

    Someone said upthread that “non-trans” would be less offensive than “cis”: 1. they mean the exact same thing, 2. The entire reason “cis” was coined was so that the inherently othering term “non-trans” would not be used anymore. “Non-trans” suggests that being cis is such a given in society that it doesn’t need its own term. It would be like calling heterosexuals “non-queers”.

  351. Zoe Brain

    “I suggest *you* read some feminist theory, in particular Mary Daly and Janice Raymond. They’ll help you understand how profoundly anti-feminist and anti-woman the whole trans phenomenon really is.”

    “Dionysus sometimes assumed a girl-like form. The phenomenon of the drag queen dramatically demonstrates such boundary violation. Like whites playing “black face,” he incorporates the oppressed role without being incorporated in it. In the phenomenon of transsexualism, the incorporation/confusion is deeper. As ethicist Janice Raymond has pointed out, the majority of transsexuals are “male to female,” while transsexed females basically function as tokens, and are used by the rulers of the transsexual empire to hide the real nature of the game. In transsexualism, males put on “female” bodies (which are in fact pseudofemale).”

    “Today the Frankenstein phenomenon is omnipresent not only in religious myth, but in its offspring, phallocratic technology. The insane desire for power, the madness of boundary violation, is the mark of necrophiliacs who sense the lack of soul/spirit/life-loving principle with themselves and therefore try to invade and kill off all spirit, substituting conglomerates of corpses. This necrophilic invasion/elimination takes a variety of forms. Transsexualism is an example of male surgical siring which invades the female world with substitutes.””

    “All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.”

    “Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Transsexual involved in it? If you cut even cautiously into such an abscess, you found, like a maggot in a rotting body, often dazzled by the sudden light – a Tranny!”

    “The Dionysian solution for women, which is violation of our own Hag-ocratic boundaries, is The Final Solution.”

    “I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.”

    “If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore.”

    One of those quotes is from Janice Raymond. One from “Mein Kampf”. The rest from Mary Daly.

  352. Triste

    m Andrea, as members of the sex class, there is not a woman alive who has the luxury of /not/ reifying gender roles, one way or another. That would be because we live in what is called a Patriarchy, a term that you may wish to look up if you intend to continue engaging in conversation here.

  353. Sylvie

    Is it not possible that all views on this issue are valid in some instances but each overstates it case in an effort to be the final word?

  354. delphyne

    “Delphyne, it’s pretty extraordinary how much you missed the point of that Julia Serano video. Pretty willful and extraordinary.”

    Really? I missed the point of Julia Serano boasting about how he’d turned his previous girlfriends into lesbians because he’d fucked them with his (“female”) dick? What a fucking prick he is. Seems like Serano is pretty impressed with his mighty peniiiiiis and finds it very important to wave it around.

  355. delphyne

    Willful sounds a bit like uppity doesn’t it?

  356. Comrade Svilova

    AlienNumber, I’m with you that makeup and other feminizing activities are inherently anti-feminist, but we live in a patriarchy, and not everyone is able to live a completely pure life, free from patriarchal pressures. If you are able to do so, that’s wonderful. My congratulations. Not everyone is so fortunate. And I do blame the patriarchy — not individual victims of the patriarchy — for the fact that these gendered activities are sometimes necessary.

    If, pre-revolution, you find a way to dissolve gender categories and the gender binary, then I would hope that no woman would have to perform femininity in order to survive. However, I’m afraid that that world without genders will only exist post-revolution.

    I don’t agree with the mainstream trans* political movement in the assertion that trans* gender identity is innate. Like the mainstream “gay” rights movement, there’s a real danger that so much effort is put into justifying non-traditional gender and sexual identities through their “innateness.” But although I disagree about whether or not trans* identity and queer sexual orientation are innate, I think that a feminist revolt that demands that all people conform to two binary genders that match their biological sex is a weakened movement. We welcome queer people into the rad fem tent, and I don’t see any reason to not welcome trans* individuals who are able to avoid wielding male privilege.

    The blogmistress here has always made this genderqueer queer person feel welcome, and I will continue to stick around for the brilliant theory, even if I have to wade through comments who seek nothing more from post-revolution society than for women and men to remain separate binary socially constructed categories that are simply “equal” to each other — rather than radically transformed.

  357. Charity

    Delphyne, willful was the kindest word I could think of; and your second post is even more distorted and frightening than the first.

  358. Fede

    Svilova is my comrade. Thank you for being more articulate than I.

  359. Gayle

    Omg. Zoe just pulled the old ” worse than Hiltler” canard.

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so sick.

    It’s bad enough to pull quotes out of context to smear someone, but this? Ugh!

  360. delphyne

    What’s frightening is Serano boasting about using his dick to fuck women into “lesbianism” – an erasure of women (women don’t have dicks) and an erasure of lesbians (you don’t become a lesbian by being fucked by a peeniiiss).

    You’re shooting the messenger, Charity.

    The problem is women accepting this BS from men like Serano, not women pointing it out.

  361. yttik

    “Is it not possible that all views on this issue are valid in some instances but each overstates it case in an effort to be the final word?”

    Absolutely.

    I keep thinking about how an oppressed group might feel if somebody darkened their skin, moved into the neighborhood, and declared themselves black, but not just black, authentically black. The rest of you people are now cis-black folks who better watch your privilege. Needless to say the whole community would probably have a big WTF moment.

  362. CassieC

    @Yttik

    (1) don’t pretend transgender people just happened, like, last week.

    and

    (2) don’t pretend that they as a monolith are claiming “authentic” gender purity.

    and

    (3) yes, you do have cis-privilege. The funny thing about privilege it that it’s almost always invisible and normal to those who have it. Therefore, those with privilege are allowed to sputter in surprise for a little bit, before getting over themselves and trying to understand the whole situation better.

    I’m a cis-woman. I have never had to question the appropriateness or legitimacy of my body’s assigned gender. I don’t know if I’m XX or not, or if I can “bear viable offspring” or not, but that hasn’t kept me out of the girl clubhouse. I have cis-privilege, and I’ve been trying to understand what it’s like for those who don’t, and how I can make their lives a little easier by not being a total asshole about it. I do care about weirdoes and outliers and statistical anomalies, because (another list!) (1) they’re human just like me and (2) bending the gender roles is good for feminism and all of us. Guys exist who have female genitals – they’re men, good for them. Women exist with male genitals: they’re women, they can come hang out in my feminist clubhouse.

  363. Mar Iguana

    Question for ya, Twisty: Now that you’ve finally come clean about why you support SCAMS, can you reveal your purpose in posing as a radical feminist? What is your hidden agenda in hijacking radical feminism?

  364. Comrade Svilova

    Yttik, the problem that your analogy illustrates is the problem of appropriation. But I have never seen trans* folk saying that their experience is *the* authentic experience of womanhood (or manhood) nor do I see trans* folk saying that cis women and cis men have not experienced womanhood or manhood. The trans* experience is necessarily different from the experience of those who are (to some degree) more comfortable with their gender as assigned at birth. Yes, there would be a big problem with trans* folk claiming that only by being MtF can one be authentically female. But I have never seen that claim being made. All I have seen is trans* people discussing their situation in a society that hates anyone who dares to suggest that sex and gender are not natural, linked, monolithic and enduring categories with specific and immutable characteristics. This is a problem for women too, albeit in a different way. We are also told that our biology defines who we are, how we can behave, and how we are treated.

    Each group has a very different experience of being oppressed by the patriarchal position that masculine=good, feminine=bad. But because both groups have intimate knowledge of the problem of patriarchy, there is the very real possibility of uniting against the P. Not all individuals will embrace revolution — there are as many anti-feminist women as there are anti-feminist trans* folk. Identity and biological sex don’t guarantee a particular ideological position.

    But just as straight women and queer women can unite against patriarchal oppression despite some distinct differences in their experiences, trans* folk and cis women can unite against the patriarchal command that we all are permanently defined by our biological sex.

    Like Twisty, I dream of a future in which, rather than two monolithic genders which are ceaselessly policed for infringements from within and without, people are able to exist as they choose without performing any gender in order to survive.

  365. Zoe Brain

    yttik – you don’t have to wonder.

    The late unlamented Racial Reclassification Board of South Africa faced problems like that:

    These tests included measurements of the nose, nostrils, and cheekbones, and an expert analysis of hair texture. The latter often included the ‘pencil test.’ It was thought that a white person’s hair is not so curly to hold a pencil, whereas a coloured person’s hair could. There were gradations of skin color to be measured in various places of the body including the fingernails and the eyelids; earlobes were squeezed to determine their degree of softness. (It was thought that Black person’s earlobes were softer than others.) Individuals challenging their racial classification before the board would also be asked what they had for breakfast (it was thought only blacks would eat mealie or cornmeal porridge), how they slept on a bed, and what sport they enjoyed (blacks were thought to favor soccer while coloured favored rugby).

    That led to some interesting legal issues for White parents whose daughters had been re-classified:

    If Sandra remains ‘Coloured’ does it mean she will have to be registered as a servant in order to live with us?” [Mr. Laing] added. “Or must she move away into a location? Will we be breaking the law if we take Sandra into a tearoom or a cinema, or take her on a train journey with us? And who would Sandra be allowed to marry?”

    Compare and contrast:

    The tests–many still used today–strike Burke as Orwellian. In one, a child being tested is asked to draw the figure of a person. Girls who draw boys first, predominately, or in positions of power and strength, are suspect, as are boys who draw princesses or mommies. The Barlow Gender-Specific Motor Behavior test examines such things as how far from the back of a chair a seated child’s buttocks are–farther is “masculine,” closer is “feminine.” All the precision of science was applied in developing these tests to measure such things as the angle between the wrist and the hand, how often a child touched his or her hands together in front of his or her body, and how far the hips swayed as the child walked across the room. Especially damning for boys was a lack of hand-eye coordination.

    And legal problems IS and TS people face – this from Littleton vs Prange

    Taking this situation to its logical conclusion, Mrs. Littleton, while in San Antonio, Texas, is a male and has a void marriage; as she travels to Houston, Texas, and enters federal property, she is female and a widow; upon traveling to Kentucky she is female and a widow; but, upon entering Ohio, she is once again male and prohibited from marriage; entering Connecticut, she is again female and may marry; if her travel takes her north to Vermont, she is male and may marry a female; if instead she travels south to New Jersey, she may marry a male.”

    I’m Intersexed – medically classified as a case of “Undervirilised Male Syndrome” in 1985, reclassified at my extraordinarily late (and partial) puberty in 2005 as a case of “severe androgenisation of a non-pregnant woman”.

    So biologically female (well, more F than M), but MAAB. Technically not trans, but I may as well be. I knew I was female at age 10, no matter what I looked like, so I partook of the “trans experience” if you like.

  366. Zoe Brain

    A comment of mine is stuck in Purgatory, so I’ll split it and try again.

    justpassingthrough wrote:

    This is where we’re never going to agree. I think it’s illogical, if not preposterous, to conclude that a man who has mostly feminine-coded personality traits is therefore a woman, barring body dysphoria, which is a medical condition that can only be alleviated through the reconstruction of sex organs. Which is again, not enough to qualify as a full on metamorphosis from one sex to another.

    But is it illogical that a person who has mostly feminine-coded personality traits is therefore a woman?

    You’re begging the question when you say a priori that this person is “a man”. You’ve already assumed your conclusion, so of course you say it’s preposterous.

    It really comes down to how you define “male” and “female”. For the extremes, and 59 people out of 60 are at those extremes, it’s simple, easy, obvious. But for some human beings, not so much.

    And that question I’ll try to deal with in the next comment.

  367. Comrade Svilova

    Zoe, thanks for sharing your experience, and thanks for bringing up the history of the obsessive policing of gender and race that has taken place in different cultures. That degree of insistence on categorization is part and parcel of the structures of power and dominance. I seek less power, dominance, and oppression through my feminism. To rigidly define gender based on biological and performative markers seems to be one of the oldest plays in the patriarchal handbook.

  368. Zoe Brain

    Try again..

    Does being brought up as female make you a woman? David Reimer’s case would argue against that.

    What about chromosomes, as the current policy of the Roman Catholic Church says? If you have 2 X chromosomes, you’re a woman (at least, that’s what the Indonesian Catholic Bishops have ruled). Even if you’re 47XXY, identify as male, and have fathered children. The disadvantages of this are obvious.

  369. Zoe Brain

    What about “bits” at birth? Apart from those with ambiguous “bits”, there are those like the Guevedoces whose “bits” change from female-at-birth to male-after-puberty. Again, we sometimes end up with “women” who have fathered children, and identify as male.

    Then there are those few whose transition is the other way.. but again, only the male form isn’t always sterile. It is in some syndromes, merely infertile in others. (Not quite true – one unique case being studied by the Mayo clinic is infertile in both, but he has male neurology).

  370. Zoe Brain

    What about the neuro-anatomically defined “feminine-coded personality traits”, as is the legal definition in Australia and Spain (for example)? Well, as you said, “mostly” applies here too, the brain is no more strictly binary than any other part of the anatomy. And again, in some trans women who are unable to access treatment when young, a few have fathered children. Once they’re post-op, this is impossible of course, and in some jurisdictions, all trans people must be sterilised by law to be recognised.

    In Sweden for example. Or Western Australia. Not Germany though, there was a recent court case overturning this requirement as being far too reminiscent of their horrific past.

  371. Zoe Brain

    Then there’s other effects that are correlated with the “female feelings” caused by a female neuro-anatomy. Those traits can cause progressive physiological and biochemical dysfunction due to female-pattern braincells immersed in a male-pattern hormonal environment. You’ve also mentioned the “body map” issue, but even when not present, the requirement for hormone replacement in doses that will visibly change the body can exist.

    The humane definition is that if someone thinks, feels, and above all identifies as female due to their neuro-anatomy, then they’re female. But that one’s unsatisfying to many people, perhaps most, especially cis-sexual women. Where do their rights to arrogantly define other people as female or not, or in extreme cases as human or not, end?

  372. Zoe Brain

    Then there’s other effects that are correlated with the “female feelings” caused by a female neuro-anatomy. Those traits can cause progressive physiological and biochemical dysfunction due to female-pattern braincells immersed in a male-pattern hormonal environment. You’ve also mentioned the “body map” issue, but even when not present, the requirement for hormone replacement in doses that will visibly change the body can exist.

  373. Comrade Svilova

    We definitely need chromosomal blood-testing before we let anyone into the feminist movement!

    Or maybe it would be better to do as our blogmistress suggested, and go d00d-free. Any hanging Chads who feel the need to enlighten Savage Death Islanders with their Unique Perspective, any Nigels who need to inform us about how well they treat their personal female chattels, any Nice Guys who want cookies and any MRAs who want to ask “What about the Men?” are obviously, by their behavior, anti-feminist. A feminist who happens to not have XX chromosomes, but whose behavior never partakes in d00dly privilege? Zie is an ally against Patriarchy.

    It’s pretty simple that way.

  374. yttik

    I think people are discussing several different issues here. Who doesn’t empathize with someone like Caster Semenya, the runner who was subjected to gender tests? I don’t think anybody here would suggest she be kicked out of “womanhood” or deny her right to embrace her gender. That’s one end of the continuum, but then you move on to cross dressers, transvestites, transgender people. All wrapped up in these issues is the ever present misogyny. Linked way above is an article about a couple of Palestinian kids born female with a genetic condition that makes them male at puberty. The international community wants to help them get surgery, because until they present as male, they will be denied higher education. What is wrong with that picture? It’s okay to deny half the human race a high quality education, but these boys are suffering because they can’t experience their rightful male privilege? As a feminist is my primary concern supposed to be about supporting these boys in their quest for male privilege?

    Again in Pakistan, recently some major civil rights legislation has just been passed to protect the “wedding singers” the males who dress, live, and act as females and perform in public. More power to them, everybody deserves human rights, but the whole reason they’re called “wedding singers” is that traditionally for a woman to perform at a wedding would be a death sentence. You can’t act “female” or display any femaleness in oppressive countries if you’re a born female, but even in sexually oppressive countries, people care about the rights of males to perform femaleness. You read about the same thing in Iran, women must be covered head to toe and face execution if they step out of line, but believe it or not, there is a thriving community of transgended people quickly gaining acceptance. It’s no utopia, that’s for sure, but they benefit from their perceived status as born male.

  375. yttik

    Well, my blasted comment is in moderation.

  376. Shabnam

    @Zoe Brain

    Your point? Yes,Hitler was an incredibly gifted demagogue who knew how to manipulate the masses as reflected in the quotation:

    “All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.”

    Hitler used the word “Goddess” in this one sentence, so you think this is sufficient grounds for comparing him with two radical feminists? The most round-about way of calling people ‘feminazis” I have ever seen!

  377. Treefinger

    @Shabnam

    Strangely enough the Hitler quote is the least disagreeable thing in the list of quotes Zoe posted (if you take all the quotes out of context and ignore who said them- since that passage from Hitler doesn’t reference any of the things that were evil about him and Nazism, while the passages from Daly and Raymond had hate speech in the body of the quote).

    Though I agree with you in principle that comparing radfems to Nazis is ridiculous.

  378. m Andrea

    The silence surrounding the killing centers of WWII is a sad testimony to the fact that most people prefer to remain in denial when reality is just too painful. German citizens had to be frog marched past the piles of burnt bodies in order to believe the atrocity ever occured.

    Well I can’t frog march any of you anywhere, so it’s unhighly unlikely you’re ever leave your state of denial. So basic logic will have to do. You prefer to believe that transitioning from male to female is exactly like a female transitioning from female to female.

    Common sense would suggest you are avoiding a rather large distinction. A female with small boobs who surgically transitioning to a female with bigger boobs — what precisely is she doing? Are her actions informing us of her beliefs regarding the inherency of big boobs? Does she believe that it is the essential essence of all women to have big boobs and does she organize political events for the express purpose of claiming that all women should have big boobs? Is she redefining womanhood for all females?

    So no, it is completely STUPID for you to make the argument that women do it too and apparently these god forsaken idiotic filters do not like quotation marks. Damnit Twisty fix your filters. I Blame Twisty.

  379. icktopus

    I just wish that people who have no clue what my life or experience is like- who make that extremely clear through their comments- would stop talking about it like they have some idea. That comment you post because it seems self-evident, because you learned about trans women from the television or Janice Raymond (who is not a trans woman) or some other sensationalist place? The way that comment erases me, and my experience, my actual real life, it make me feel bad for a minute, or an hour, or a day, or days.

    Look, I’m real: I’m white, I dye my hair, I work in a store, I’m currently able-bodied, I live in a house with my partner and some friends, I’ve read Dworkin and Friedan and de Beauvoir (and found Kathy Acker superior to all of them)- in fact I started reading feminist theory way before I actually transitioned- I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over ten years, I live in Brooklyn, I have a couple bad tattoos, I used to drink a lot but I don’t drink so much any more ’cause I’m getting older, I transitioned a long time ago, there are four or five holes in each of my ears, I saw Bitch & Animal back when they used to still be together, I get kind of excited every time I find a new grey hair on my head- and you are erasing me. When you talk that shit, you shift the focus of conversation about my needs FROM real things like getting medical care that doesn’t dehumanize me and wishing I could access bottom surgery even though I probably won’t ever be able to, TO nonsense things like ‘the primacy of a shared female childhood’ or the male privilege that you assume 1. I experienced uncomplicatedly and 2. assume I still somehow experience, or benefit from, or just can’t possibly wrap my head around, the way you can.

    I wish people posting things like “I don’t like male rapists imprisoned for manslaughter who demand that they get gender reassignment so that they can get into women only prisons. That particular scenario, all every woman can agree, is just sinister patriarchy at it’s worst” (1. could differentiate itses and 2.) could understand that while they’re making up weird fantasies about access to bottom surgery (to be very clear: it is difficult to get bottom surgery, *especially* if you’re in prison) and conflating trans women with rapists and murderers- making up manipulative straw man trans women (while parenthetically validating the racist prison-industrial complex, nice work there)- while they’re doing that, real live trans women over here are trying to have a job, and get health insurance, and maintain relationships with the people in their lives, and eat, and pay their rent, and figure out a way to walk their dog even though they’re feeling very tired, and find the time to patch up this hoodie, and just sometimes maybe hopefully not feel totally fucked up, every time they try to read something on the internet.

    I mean, trans women’s lives are not theoretical imaginary feminist hairs to split; when you reiterate pseudofeminist, phallus-obsessed gibberish like “trans women’s experience as trans women is about the medicalization of the business in their pants,” you draw attention to weird nonsense, and you draw attention away from actual real world lived experiences. To be very clear, this is how *all* women are talked about under patriarchy: as bizarre, imaginary constructs, about which to make up strange theories, not real people. Duh? Way to replicate the ‘I’ve got mine (meaning, my privilege) and I’m gonna fuckin use it’ modus operandi of oppression. It feels good to be able to shout that you’re more legitimate than someone else, doesn’t it? That doesn’t mean it *is* good and it especially doesn’t mean that it *does* any good. Quite the reverse, in fact.

    Plus think about this: every time you repeat a nonfact about trans women’s lives, out loud or in writing, a fairy dies. Do you want that on your hands?

    tl;dr: when you repeat a weird idea about a trans woman that you heard somewhere, you erase the real lives of trans women. THAT IS STUPID AND HARMFUL.

  380. Sylvie

    What about moving towards the freedom of indeterminacy?

  381. m Andrea

    Actually I blame the blog software. It’s more likely that something more fundamental is preventing the filters from executing their own limited call functions.

  382. m Andrea

    Logical you folks are not. Just sayin’. You’re fucking irrational as hell.

  383. Sylvie

    Rationality has its limits and works beautifully within them.

  384. icktopus

    “You’re … irrational as hell.”

    Haha, that is a popular thing to yell at a woman, isn’t it?

  385. m Andrea

    A male who transitions from male to female is not equivalant to a female who transitions from female to female. And so the question becomes, why are you so irrational? Why, what is the benefit for you to avoid such a glaring discreptancy?

    Well it could be several things. You could be protecting male supremacy, having internalized the beliefs and myths of your dominate authority a la Stockholm Syndrome. You could be expressing the patriarchal mandate which demands that you accomodate and nurture every freakin crybaby who tugs at your apron — which is still basically Stockholm. You could just be acquainted with and enjoy the company of a transperson and consequently seeking a justification which explains why you should support their wacked out beliefs — still Stockholming.

    Basically, you’re brainwashed. Any other explanations for you to avoid such a glaring discreptancy? Because again, a male who transitions from male to female is not equivilant to a female who transitions from female to female.

  386. m Andrea

    You don’t arrive at authenic liberation by internalizing the myths, beliefs and assumptions as told to you by your dominant authority. It isn’t possible. You’ll always be enslaved to him.

    It’s masochism. You like being submissive or at least know of no other way of being. After a life time of abuse, you’ve trauma bonded to your abuser. I’m not sure I can help you with that. Basic abnormal psychology sez that in order for you to find a healthier way of being, it is required that you seperate from your abuser. There isn’t other way. Keeping you together and trying to treat both sadist and masochist at the same — while they are busy reinforcing each other — isn’t an effective treatment.

    I read a great deal of psychology in case you can’t tell but strictly armchair.

  387. Sylvie

    The “I” comes and goes.

  388. Sylvie

    For everyone.

  389. DaisyDeadhead

    m Andrea, you remind me of the way my father was so obsessed with darkies everywhere. Damned pathological and sick. Haters creep me out, and BTW, are pretty patriarchal as a rule.

    Old post of mine, I figure it doesn’t derail any more than the rest of this shit here. Apologies for length, transphobia tie-in at the end (explains why m Andrea reminds me of my daddy):

    http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2008/09/brute-heart-of-brute-like-you.html

  390. Comrade Svilova

    You could be expressing the patriarchal mandate which demands that you accomodate and nurture every freakin crybaby who tugs at your apron

    While it’s undeniably problematic that women are expected to heal all ills, it’s also a remnant of the P that being caring and understanding (coded feminine) is bad/weak/lesser than being harsh, uncaring, and ignoring others’ experiences (coded masculine). I expect all people, male, female, trans*, etc., to model the caring and understanding mode of interaction. So thank you for pointing out that I’m living up to my own expectations for others (of all genders). Even though seeking to understand and work with others is coded feminine (and thus weak or bad), I am happy to embrace that model as part and parcel of my feminist practice. Thanks, m Andrea.

  391. Sylvie

    Everyone emotion expressed here is justified when the necessarily limited perspectives of each of our lives is considered.

  392. Cimorene

    m Andrea, do you believe that transwomen are actively oppressing women, they way, say, people who protest outside abortion clinics actively oppress women? Like, they actually try to do so, rather than just passively accepting their own privilege and power which ultimately (but not intentionally) oppress women?

    That is, we can say that all men oppress women, yes? But then there are some men that oppress women with more excitement and zeal and glee than other men. Like the way some men enjoy raping women but lots of men do not rape women at all. Despite the structural oppression, some men are happy participants and others are participants merely by dint of their gender.

    Are transwomen, according to your logic, like the former (gleeful participants in oppression) or the latter (merely oppressive because of their place in the matrix of the gender paradigm, i.e. oppression/subordination)?

  393. m Andrea

    Just asking for clarification but what do you mean Sylvie by the moving towards the freedom of indeterminacy?

    Never using quote marks again here btw sorry that’s gonna be awkward. And Eye gotta go lunch with friend so be back later.

  394. m Andrea

    Nice chatting with you all btw

  395. m Andrea

    EXCELLENT question Cimorene.

  396. Sylvie

    Engagement with the ongoing discussion appears to me as evidence of m Andrea’s willingness to consider the possibility of change in hir views and a desire to hear from all those here. Change is permanent.

  397. Comrade Svilova

    I’m all for dialogue and will check back later to see where this conversation goes.

  398. jayo

    This comment thread is really depressing, especially right after Jill’s great post on the subject. Transwomen are my sisters, too.

  399. Sylvie

    Comrade S, m Andrea has just nipped out for a pee. Do we look at each other in silence until she returns?

  400. Comrade Svilova

    Hehe, I don’t know that I have much more to say. Personally, I look with a doubtful eye on any and all claims to authenticity and innateness. We’re all networks of social relations and cultural products.

  401. Sylvie

    So the “I” has a doubtful claim to existence?! And as ever, but more on this occasion – thanks to Twisty – with out whose blog etc.

  402. Comrade Svilova

    Definitely! It’s so hard to drop “I” however.

  403. Sylvie

    Just don’t use it. It’s understood in most cases.

  404. Comrade Svilova

    It’s certainly a goal to which to strive. And eliminating the “I” also eliminates the personal claim to authenticity, leaving us with various marginalized populations, none of which can appropriate each others’ experiences, but all of whom can unite together to undermine the P and its individuating, labeling, divide-and-conquer, binary, phallocentric logic!

  405. Sylvie

    Yup – and if that doesn’t work take the I key off your keyboard.

  406. Comrade Svilova

    But then it would be impossible to point the browser to IBTP.com!

  407. Sylvie

    That’s what the mouse s for.

  408. Rachel

    Those Mary Daly quotes are the most intelligent statements on this thread.

  409. Comrade Svilova

    Hmm, what about these lines from the OP?

    Not only is there no “standard” women’s experience of oppression, but a primary experience of womanhood is in fact inessential to the understanding of oppression. It is not necessary, in order for the oppressed to unite behind the common cause of liberation, that every oppressed person should share the background experiences of every other oppressed person. It is not only not necessary; it is not possible. The imposition of such jingoistic strictures precludes all possibility of revolution.

    Those are pretty sparkling brilliant, intelligent, and awesome words. And what’s more, they put the focus on most important thing: the revolution. Heavens to betsy, let’s not preclude the possibility of revolution!

  410. Sarah

    Hi, first time commenter. I just thought I’d leave this here.

    http://www.bilerico.com/2010/08/transphobia_mistake.jpg

    (Of course, I blame this on the patriarchy. Relurking…)

  411. Schala

    Props to Daisy Deadhead for her comments.

    And that’s all I’ll say. One commenter said it well: Why would I come here and identify as trans publicly to try and discuss the merits of my existence?

    At least, be certain that I’m reading.

    I’m Sara on some blog softwares, so the one Julian Real refers to as “anti-radical, anti-feminist, race privileged, class privileged”, because I’m assertive enough to consider my access to women’s space unconditional (and not depending on being ‘graciously allowed’ by my betters, cissexual women).

  412. Fede

    “It shows how weak the trans case is that its proponents have to continually refer back to intersex, a set of rare conditions, to justify their belief that men can turn themselves into women.”

    If you prefer, we can focus on the majority of trans* people, namely the ones who were unambiguously assigned male sex at birth and became transwomen. I get the feeling that they are the ones this is about, anyway. But you are begging the question; we proponents do not believe that men can turn themselves into women. Our belief is that a person who has been assigned the male sex and hence the Man gender may actually be someone who fits in better among those of us called women.

    All these categories are of course bogus, but we have to work with what we’ve got.

    We agree that gender is a patriarchal construct, do we not? As for sex, yes, humans by and large come in two sexes, corresponding by and large to XX and XY. Even assuming that those two categories were discrete and no others existed, still only few people in this forum would argue that sex = gender, unless I am very much mistaken?

    Gender is an aspect of everyone’s identity in one way or another; the P makes sure of that. While gender identity is an arbitrary construct, it is also a fact. In a patriarchal society, it is a fact. Perhaps even the P is not capable of quelling completely the human diversity that the gender binary is meant to negate; nevertheless we will all be placed in one of two categories – ‘he or she’ – whether we like it or not. And most people conform without the question of ‘liking it or not’ even entering into it.

    A lot of debaters here have put forward the idea that because of the relentless conditioning it initiates, sex assigned at birth determines gender. They believe, as far as I can tell, that no one growing up in a patriarchal society will ever acquire a gender identity at variance with their conditioning. To them a transwoman is essentially a man, and hence a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    I guess it comes down to what you believe runs the deepest, patriarchy or diversity. Not being a behaviourist, I am inclined to believe that humanity is too complex to describe in terms of ‘expose someone to A type of stimulation, and invariably you get B result’. If the P were all-powerful, there would be no homosexuals, no trans* people, and no feminists.
    Considering transwomen’s low social status, the idea that a man would transition (or fruitlessly try to, within this frame of understanding) just because he fancies using the ladies’ toilet seems a bit of a stretch to me to be honest.

    And to suggest that in general, transwomen might be “men that oppress women with more excitement and zeal and glee than other men” – the possibility raised by Cimorene that m Andrea is now mulling over – that is just stretched to the point of snapping.

    In the vast majority of cases, patriarchal society sees to it that those and only those assigned the male sex at birth acquire a gender identity as a Man, and that FAABs are raised as women. That’s what patriarchy is all about, after all: making sure we know who’s who so we can fix everyone’s status as either citizen or chattel.
    When for some reason the conditioning doesn’t take in the way it was supposed to take, do we jump to the conclusion that this is bad?

    So, the gender binary is inescapable. It is embedded in language, and indeed in every aspect of society, in such a way as to make it impossible to renounce or avoid. Look how fast transwomen like Juliet Jacques, who started out with dreams of transcending gender roles, settle for just ‘passing’.

    Some argue that, in the very act of performing femininity, transwomen are demonstrating their devotion to patriarchal mores. They couldn’t just be performing femininity because they know what happens if they fail to pass, or are seen to not try hard enough?

    At any rate, lest we forget: as long as the revolution is not in full swing, we are all lapdogs of the P, lipstick or no lipstick. That quote from the OP is exactly it, Comrade Svilova. Twisty, again you are right.

  413. TwissB

    @yttik

    Way back on Feb. 9 at 10:56 p.m., you said to Jill: “My idea is that our failure to unite over this one simple standard, women’s oppression, is why there has been no revolution.”

    I responded on Feb. 10 at 2:31 p.m.: “Yttik demonstrates awareness of the “divide and conquer” ploy that is always used to splinter and defeat revolutionary movements. Who needs g*o*o*n*s with clubs when we’ve got a well-infiltrated Women’s Studies program or law school faculty?

    At the risk of being again dismissed as “academic” by someone kind enough to read my words at all, I direct the attention of any American women in the room to the much revered 14th Amendment – men guaranteed equal protection of the law for themseves and continue to deny it to women. They seem to be able to declare a comprehensive “difference” and act on it.”

    Moderation promptly disappeared my post. I’m guessing that it was the word (now) in asterisks above that triggered the Twisteraser’s blunt axe of doom, since it fell again when I repeated the same message on Feb. 12. I think that it attacks any word it doesn’t recognize. I’d take rejection of sloppy editing of typos like a lamb.

    But, inspired by your Feb.12-11 1:40 pm post referring to “divide and conquer,” I’m back to salute your eloquent and persistent effort to keep this discussion in clear feminist focus. As I said back then, this exchange has been splintered and prolonged to a wearying and acrimonious extent by the age-old divide and conquer ploy.

    I keep hoping that Feminism 101 will alert activists to this bad faith tactic that was used, for example in the early 1970′s by the Socialist Workers Party to shatter NOW chapters by deploying guilt trip issues for which no response was acceptable. Others like bell hooks did not hesitate to use it at times and so it goes.

    With a grateful nod to Yttik A. MacKinnon’s fine “Feminism Unmodified,” if this blog were not so outstanding, I’d be considering a blog for radical feminists called “In Immoderation.”

  414. TwissB

    What’s a body to do? Three posts over 5 days attempting to affirm Yttik’s essential ““My idea is that our failure to unite over this one simple standard, women’s oppression, is why there has been no revolution” and point to the “divide and conquer” play that Yttik has since identified so well in this long exchange have been disappeared by Moderation.

    Apologies if I have overlooked a link to criteria for avoiding the axe of doom, but please explain.

  415. AlienNumber

    Comrade Svilova, great quote (and great name, Comrade).

    An interpretation of the quote is: and this is why MtF need not wear lipstick and get boob jobs and wear high-heels and in any ways feminize themselves to appease the oppressor.

    “Every oppressed person need not share the background experiences of every other oppressed person:” no need to share in the oppressive experience of wearing high heels/lipstick/getting boob jobs etc, ya know?

    Which brings me back to that loop: if a MtF can’t feminize himself, is he still a MtF? And why are so many people on this thread fighting for the right of the MtF to feminize himself and making me call him a “woman” while he’s at it?

    I thought I came here for radical feminism, instead I landed in fun-feminist land (“but wearing high heels makes me feel sexy and womanly and also, it’s an emergency situation”).

    I would actually like to start an experiment to see if banning high heels (and the mass production of them)* will kill anyone.

    *the proletariat who finds itself in the unfortunate situation of having to produce high heels for a living will be alternatively compensated in the experiment (just so they don’t die from hunger or something).

  416. humanbein

    If mtof transwomen are to be given the status of women by born female women, why do threads like this exhibit the same tenacious fighting, aggressive, always-right, never-wrong presumptions that threads about men tend to demonstrate? With all the tedious appeals to logic and reason and logical fallacies in almost every strident post.

    It seems simple for any transwoman to never question her acceptance on this blog if she’s really for her rights as a woman. To fight about whether or not she’s truly accepted, or that her identity is being defined for her, or any of the other obscure nitpickings above, seems pointless to me if you are primarily interested in liberating yourself from oppression, instead of interested in proving oppression wherever you decide it exists for reasons other than standard, shared problems women routinely face.

  417. AlienNumber

    Remember, radfems, seize the means of production!

    (instead of inadvertently helping increase the market for the “feminine” products of feminization- both the supply and demand sides).

  418. Comrade Svilova

    I would actually like to start an experiment to see if banning high heels (and the mass production of them)* will kill anyone.

    Banning high heels everywhere would be fine (I suppose). The problem is demanding that people stop wearing high heels, now, while doing so is required by culture in many situations. Twisty has said many times that blaming individual women for their necessary concessions to the rules of the oppressor is counterproductive. A friend of mine wears eye makeup to avoid being beaten up in the homophobic area in which she lives. If she looks too “dykey” she really is risking her life. In a few months she’ll be able to afford to move, but until then, it is necessary for her to feminize herself for her own safety. Who do I blame? IBTP.

    An interpretation of the quote is: and this is why MtF need not wear lipstick and get boob jobs and wear high-heels and in any ways feminize themselves to appease the oppressor.

    Here, here! However, that may not be possible in all situations in today’s world. Non-conforming gender presentation isn’t something that the P accepts without violence. The ideal is to not have to feminize oneself to appease the oppressor, but sometimes certain concessions are necessary. Please note that this position is *vastly* different from funfeminism, which asserts that these concessions are not concessions at all, but are affirming / empowerful and, ahem, “fun.”

    To acknowledge that the P sometimes reacts to non-conforming or ambiguous gender presentation with violence and sometimes women (cis and trans*) must make concessions in order to survive is to recognize how deeply and pervasively the P messes with people. It is not to *advocate* gender conformism. It is yet another thing for which IBTP.

  419. Shelby

    See that’s the problem with academia. A shit load of smarty pants rationalisation for oppression goin’ on here, but in this one’s heart it does not bode true.

    Transwomen are my sisters.

  420. m Andrea

    Your comment is awaiting moderation. uhuh

  421. AlienNumber

    C.S. I was with you until you used that double-speak language of the oppressor: “cis” and “trans” (“cis” especially).

    I’ll leave this conversation with a couple of quotes from Valerie Solanas:

    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/extra-credit/scum-manifesto/

    “Women, in other words, don’t have p-e-n-i-s envy; men have p-u-s-s-y envy. When the male accepts his passivity, defines himself as a woman (males as well as females think men are women and women are men), and becomes a transvestite he loses his desire to screw (or to do anything else, for that matter; he fulfills himself as a drag queen) and gets his d-i-c-k chopped off. He then achieves a continuous diffuse sexual feeling from `being a woman.’”

    “The male chromosome is an incomplete female chromosome. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.”

    So, yeah, I guess I do see the light now and (rhetorically) ask myself: who really could blame the MtFs for wanting to become women so badly?

    The emperor still didn’t have any clothes though, in the end; and in the beginning, but also during his walk.

  422. Comrade Svilova

    But also smarty pants explanations for solidarity! Like our brilliant blogmistress.

  423. m Andrea

    Well crap Eye have no idea what fricken set the filters off. Eye avoided numerical characters punctuation marks etc and bad words.

  424. Azundris

    If transsex is all brainmappy and phantom-limby like someone said up-thread, doesn’t that mean there’s identity (cis/trans, “What bits do I need to have?”), orientation (hetero/homo/etc., “What bits does my partner need to have?”), and then gender (masculine/feminine/…)? So since it’s the gender bit that’s problematic, not the trans bit, a genderqueer trans feminist could be my comrade, right? Doesn’t it just mean it’s bad that cis women are forced to perform femininity, and it’s also bad that trans women are forced to perform femininity, and that’s all there is to it?