Join 3,516 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Feminism calls for gender revolution
December 21, 2009 11:58 PM   Subscribe

Transphobic feminism makes no sense, argues Laurie Penny For decades, the feminist movement has been split over the status of trans people, and of trans women in particular. High-profile feminists such as Germaine Greer, Jan Raymond and Julie Bindel have spoken out against what Greer terms “people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody”. Some prominent radical feminists have publicly declared that trans women are misogynist, “mutilated men”.
posted by parmanparman (322 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting article, thanks for posting this.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:20 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Previous shitstorm
posted by Avenger at 12:33 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I understand the argument made by people such as Greer, and it isn't nonsensical, but I still find it deplorable and impossible to agree with. Yes, in a sense, the very idea of SRS buys into the notion that one's physical sex is part of what determines how one is allowed or supposed to act and dress (&c), but the author's argument that cisgendered people who deploy the same stereotypical gender role actions and dress (&c) are as much to blame is compelling. In fact, it is surely the fault of all of us (collectively, as a society) for reifying gender roles to the point where people feel forced to alter their physicality in order to conform with their actions and feelings... I don't think we can blame people for caving to the immense social pressure that is constantly upon all of us.

Besides, any effort to make feminism a less inclusive, more divisive movement that will simply not accept certain people is a step very much in the wrong direction, in my opinion.
posted by Dysk at 12:36 AM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


>: what Greer terms “people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody”.

Yes, these people exist. They're creeps and it's kind of like blackface.

There's also trans women who are completely normal people. They're just... trans.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:37 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, these people exist. They're creeps and it's kind of like blackface.

Hmm... I'm sure that's exactly what they're trying to do; and if they couldn't get a rise out of you, society, or academic feminists, they'd give up, go home, wash up the makeup, and just be proper men.

We're so lucky that some branches of feminism are so careful to maintain gender norms and protect the weak. Otherwise we wouldn't be living in a perfect world, only a better one.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:41 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I'm not oppressing you, Stan - you haven't got a womb! Where's the fetus going to gestate? You going to keep it in a box? "
posted by Artw at 12:43 AM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Many people who speak the language of privilege and oppression do not find either of things problematic so long as they get to be on the dominating side.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:44 AM on December 22, 2009 [44 favorites]


Well. Hmm.
posted by rtha at 12:44 AM on December 22, 2009


This is a complicated argument and one that, as a man, I have a limited perspective on. But I always come to this: How can a movement based around the idea of inclusion and equality afford to be so exclusive?
posted by GilloD at 12:48 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, it's not like movements based around fighting one kind of oppression don't fail to address or actively support other kinds of oppression all the time.
posted by Artw at 12:52 AM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


“people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody”.

Some of this is confirmation bias. If someone passes well and is not hyper-feminine, you wouldn't know they were trans.
posted by desjardins at 12:57 AM on December 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


This is a response to a recent article by Julie Bindel, The Operation That Can Ruin Your Life, the latest in a series of anti-trans articles that she's written over the last few years. Bindel makes one good point, namely that there is a great deal of uncertainty about the long-term effects of gender reassignment surgery. (This goes back to a 2004 study by the University of Birmingham's oddly-named 'Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility' which concluded that 'it is impossible to make a judgement about whether the procedure is clinically effective'.) Unfortunately Bindel then goes into a long paranoid rant about how she's the victim of a hate campaign by 'a powerful lobby affiliated with the lesbian and gay communities' etc etc.

Reading Laurie Penny often makes me think of a remark by Walter Benjamin about 'prose that eagerly consumes its object in the flame of its own indignation', but this is a strong and well-argued piece that keeps its indignation under control. Thanks for posting it.
posted by verstegan at 12:57 AM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Didn't we just address a lot of these issues in both MeFi and MeTa recently when talking about the sports reporter who was male and then female and then male again and finally killed himself?

I thought the end result of those discussions was that telling someone else how to dress or act in order to be appropriate to their gender was always going to be classified as sexist, and that individuals should be allowed to make their own choices when it came to expressing their own gender identity in the way which was most true to their inner selves.

Do we have to do it all again, or can we just stick with that conclusion? It seems like a good one to me.
posted by hippybear at 12:57 AM on December 22, 2009 [26 favorites]


Some of this is confirmation bias. If someone passes well and is not hyper-feminine, you wouldn't know they were trans.

It's another form of "Well I'm okay with [x] just so long as they don't rub it in our faces!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:58 AM on December 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Where "rub it in our faces" means "do anything to remind me that they exist at all, including many of the things I take for granted that I have the right to do".
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:00 AM on December 22, 2009 [35 favorites]


I'll just repeat verbatim what I wrote last time:

I support these feminists keeping "trans-women" out of their club.

I know these feminists will in turn support me in keeping women out of my business networking organization/golf course/country club.
posted by orthogonality at 1:16 AM on December 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


what Greer terms “people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody”.

I'm not sure Greer has grasped the difference between drag and trans. If she has, she should be ashamed for saying this. Not all trans-people can successfully pass; that they face ridicule from the man in the street is bad enough, but from a so-called intellectual is horrifying.
posted by Lleyam at 1:36 AM on December 22, 2009 [19 favorites]


They're creeps and it's kind of like blackface.

Again, if this is a reference to drag, this is also pretty disturbing.

The drag subculture is not in any way comparable to blackface.

Drag isn't about denigrating the female gender (although I admit that any audience member at a drag show is likely to be a target for ridicule by the drag queen).

Are drag kings creeps because they denigrate the male gender?
posted by Lleyam at 1:43 AM on December 22, 2009


Greer is quite good at attracting attention.

Is there an internet word for this?
posted by Wolof at 2:30 AM on December 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


Is there an internet word for this?

Perhaps your reluctance to actually say the word would be put to good use toward referring to it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:32 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. I have had this particular point of friction on my mind lately. This article is a bit simplistic, especially as it relates to the rad fem (what a term) side of things, but interesting.

Some drag is similar to some blackface. We shouldn't deny that "drag" can mean men indulging in harmful stereotypes at the expense of women.
posted by kathrineg at 2:33 AM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Talking about drag outside of the context of this article is a derail...trans women and their gender expression is not at all equivalent to drag, as much as some rad fems would like to assert that as though it were true and damning.
posted by kathrineg at 2:38 AM on December 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


/Australian, old friend of a former head of English at Cambridge who went to Sydney Uni with Greer in the late 50s
posted by Wolof at 2:50 AM on December 22, 2009


Are drag queens really even "trans"? My understanding was that drag was part of the gay male subculture, and the drag queens aren't doing it for any gender identity reason, but for the sake of camp.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:50 AM on December 22, 2009


We have the same understanding, the conflation of drag queens and trans women is meant to trivialize the motivations of trans women.
posted by kathrineg at 2:55 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some people do both, but to be trans and to do drag are two very different things.
posted by kathrineg at 2:55 AM on December 22, 2009


I've always been depressed & embarrassed by how little I know about the trans-community.

Suddenly I realise just how much I know and understand compared to several so-called intelligent, inclusive people...
posted by twine42 at 3:06 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, I think the danger here is in trying to find a one-explanation-fits-all - female impersonators, drag queens, male-to-female transsexuals are all different but there can be some crossover.
posted by crossoverman at 3:18 AM on December 22, 2009


If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend checking out the documentary Trantasia (trailer here), a chronicle of the 'The World's Most Beautiful Transsexual Pageant' held in Las Vegas. It's shown occasionally on the IFC if you have cable.

It's a pretty enthralling, yet wrenching documentary. On the one hand, it's heartbreaking seeing so many Trans women bust their asses to meet beauty standards that are impossible for anyone, and then watch the winners shake out between the haves and have-nots. On the other hand, it's fascinating to hear the life-stories of so many contestants and see the variety of family support.
posted by Alison at 3:31 AM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


so are "furries' doing species drag?
posted by billybobtoo at 3:40 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some prominent radical feminists have publicly declared that trans women are misogynist, “mutilated men”.

These women are confusing their bigotry with feminism, and I find their rhetoric just as offensive as that of the most egregious misogynists. I like to believe that ignorance is the root of feminist trans-hate, as I would like to believe of most seemingly baseless loathing, but unfortunately I have the grotendous feeling that it is really mostly malice and disgust. Fucking baffling.
posted by elizardbits at 3:42 AM on December 22, 2009 [14 favorites]


As far as Germaine Greer goes, she was great in her time but she's become increasingly weird and off-putting. See also: her ridiculous take on female genital mutilation (essentially, it's not automatically a bad thing, because it's usually imposed by women on other women or done "by choice").
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:50 AM on December 22, 2009


The Penny article is incorrect and disingenuous in summarizing the traditional justifications of transsexual gender conformism, and unpersuasive in its "victimization" justification.

The traditional feminist viewpoint isn't that difficult to understand. The traditional male-to-female transsexual justification for behaving in stereotypically feminine ways, and for undergoing expensive surgeries to alter their appearance is that they were "born as women on the inside". But this contradicts standard feminist ideas about gender identity, and, indeed, is considered sexist and patriarchal.

Penny argues (against traditional transsexual beliefs) that this standard feminist viewpoint is correct, and that transsexuals conform to stereotypical gendered appearances and behaviors only because of the sexist expectations of society.

Leaving aside the logical issues with men trying to look like women and identify as women to conform to a sexist society, the Gender-Conformism-as-Survival paradigm endorsed by Penny shouldn't logically make feminists more sympathetic to transsexual gender conformism.

A feminist would look at a transsexual's desire to get sex reassignment surgery the same as they would look at a woman's desire to get a surgery to enlarge her breasts to a triple D cup (or even a man's desire to undergo surgery to enlarge his penis). The breast enlargement girl might argue that the sexist expectations of society are forcing her to conform to arduous beauty standards. The feminist may agree with her assessment of social expectations, and sympathize with her plight, but still wouldn't endorse or encourage her to participate in those social expectations. Indeed, by doing so she is supporting the sexist social norms, and imposing the same costs on other women. Feminists, as a political group, expect other men and women who identify as such to behave in certain ways, and make certain sacrifices in order to change sexist social norms.

Or imagine how the NAACP, or similar black interest group, would react to a surgery that changed an African appearance to a European appearance. It would, e.g. depigment the skin, straighten hair texture, and reduce lip and nose volume, so that an African-American could "pass" as a white person. A political organization concerned with changing a racist society, rather than simply coping with it, would consider blacks who underwent this surgery ideological traitors who were re-enforcing the system rather than changing it.
posted by dgaicun at 3:54 AM on December 22, 2009 [17 favorites]


I remember reading this opinion of Greer's back in the day and thinking it was off. I seem to remember her saying something like 'they adopt the appearance of women, but cut them open and they're x y all the way through'. It was something like that.

What that ignores is that chromosomes indicate you should be a certain gender but hormones and other factors have a huge say in whether you actually are (or feel like you are) that gender. To say notions of gender are all culturally imposed is guesswork. These things are still imperfectly understood -and everyone should be a bit more understanding about it.

Being a woman doesn't feel like anything in particular to me, but that's because I've always been one and never been anything different. I've no idea what it feels like to think you've been born in the wrong body and neither does anyone who hasn't been through it.
posted by Summer at 4:03 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't know. On the one hand, Germaine Greer has been right often enough that her arguments merit careful consideration no matter how much we'd like to reject them out-of-hand. She's earned that credibility with over thirty tears of tireless activism. I only wish I knew what Greer's argument was, because Penny never articulates it. It's all "Greer thinks" and "Greer believes". I googled: Greer hasn't bothered to respond to Penny. Apparently Penny is, not to put too fine a point on it, a nobody.

So you know, I'd like to simply accept Laurie Penny's argument without engaging my critical reflexes, because her arguments mesh with the way I'd like society to be. But instead, I find myself wondering in Greer-like fashion: "How do trans people know they are trans? Given a completely one-sided frame of reference, how can they be certain of the reasons for what they feel? Given that I, born a male, have no idea what it even feels like to be male, how can I accept that someone who was born female knows that they feel male?" And so on.

And it's not that I think Greer is infallible. Definitely not. She has a first-class intellect, but feminism doesn't really seem to be her first and foremost passion anymore. So it wouldn't surprise me if her thinking on trans-gender issues hasn't progressed in the last decade or two.
posted by Ritchie at 4:18 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Given that I, born a male, have no idea what it even feels like to be male, how can I accept that someone who was born female knows that they feel male?

At risk of sounding like a broken record, one of the biggest advantages (and, once you start becoming aware of it and trying to change, biggest disadvantages) that accrues to privilege is obliviousness. As a man in a patriarchy, I don't have to think about how being a man feels: I'm the default! It's women who have to think about what they are; at most I am obligated, by our society's model of gender roles and characteristics, to monitor myself to ensure that I am not engaging in aspects of a feminine gender performance. I imagine that individuals who identify as female are much more acutely aware of how their gender feels.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:23 AM on December 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


Ritchie, here's a quote from Greer's 'The Whole Woman'.

Governments that consist of very few women have hurried to recognize as women men who believe that they are women and have had themselves castrated to prove it, because they see women not as another sex but as a non-sex. No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight. The insistence that man-made women be accepted as women is the institutional expression of the mistaken conviction that women are defective males.
posted by Summer at 4:26 AM on December 22, 2009


But instead, I find myself wondering in Greer-like fashion: "How do trans people know they are trans? Given a completely one-sided frame of reference, how can they be certain of the reasons for what they feel? Given that I, born a male, have no idea what it even feels like to be male, how can I accept that someone who was born female knows that they feel male?" And so on.

I imagine, from the perspective of a transperson, this would be the same shit, different day. The only novelty being a prospective ally shoveling it onto one's plate, rather than the captain of the highschool cheerleading/football team.

In this case:
In 1989, Greer was appointed as a special lecturer and fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge, but resigned after attracting negative publicity in 1996 for her actions regarding Dr. Rachael Padman, a transsexual colleague. Greer unsuccessfully opposed Padman's election to a fellowship, on the grounds that Padman had been born male, and Newnham was a women's college. A 25 June 1997 article by Clare Longrigg in The Guardian about the incident, entitled "A Sister with No Fellow Feeling", disappeared from websites on the instruction of the newspaper's lawyers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germaine_Greer#Later_career

Lastly, in the context of women taking potshots at other women, here's that nytimes article that was floating around last May:
Backlash: Women Bullying Women at Work
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:36 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, Summer, if that's not representative, you picked a quote that makes Greer look like a moron.

men who believe that they are women and have had themselves castrated to prove it, because they see women not as another sex but as a non-sex.

You know, maybe this is my "knows trans people and doesn't hate them passionately and actually takes the time to talk to people and learn about them, but most of the transfolk I've heard talk about the surgical bits of transitioning have discussed genital reassignment, in which the various tissues are used to construct as functional as possible genitals of the desired type. Unless there's something in the context that hasn't been quoted that exonerates her, this can only be a maliciously cultivated ignorance on Greer's part.

No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight.

Let's leave aside the whole "I know about transfolk and know what each one of them is like and what each wants" angle and just look at the fact that we can't fucking do that yet. Of course transwomen aren't getting ovaries and uteruses (uteri?) implanted- it's currently medically impossible.

But shit, far be it from a transphobic asshole to actually find things out instead of spewing out ignorant, bigoted garbage.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:40 AM on December 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


A few decades on, it's not at all clear to me that "male privilege" (including the privilege to be obtuse) is still a significant social factor in the middle and upper classes of the developed world, at least. (Heck, count the draft, in some countries, and it extends to the lower classes as well; indeed, count employment in the developing world and men are really falling behind.) In many, major domains of my life as a "privileged" male, women have either achieved or been granted more privilege than I get. 1970s feminist rhetoric sounds old and tarnished to me whenever I hear it used to refer to the world most spouters of such rhetoric inhabit -- universities, professional careers, urban/cosmopolitan social milieus, etc.

Mainstream liberal feminism, in the middle classes of the US at least, is conservative now. Of course they want to keep trans people out. The winners always want to keep the next wave of losers outside the gate. Watch a cohort of upper middle class feminist women operate in the upper reaches of power in any American university or business setting, as they do in so many, and tell me what they do differently from the good old boys of a generation earlier.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:42 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Or I'll just say it bluntly: I don't think upper-middle-class US/Canda/UK/Australia/Western Europe *is* a patriarchy anymore.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:46 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


On preview: Fourcheesemac, I'm sure the 102 female CEOs of Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 companies would agree with you entirely.

I had a fairly lengthy response to this, but the Internet clearly felt it was tl;dr material and crashed, taking the whole thing with it.

The tl;dr version - if you want to claim that transwomen aren't women, then nobody can stop you - and, since there aren't many transwomen around the dinner tables of newspaper editors, you might well be able to get some print mileage out of that . However, by seeking to marginalise and exclude a group of people who are highly susceptible to discrimination, violence and murder, you are putting yourself outside the group of people who seek social justice and a better society. As a man, I may not have much right to an opinion here, but it seems to me that feminism deserves better proponents.

On preview - dgaicun, I think where you depart from the subject matter here is that the primary concern of people like Greer and Bindel is not that women are abandoning the struggle and becoming men in order to achieve positions of power (which was a concern of Janice Raymond in The Transexual Empire), which would equate to your model of Europeanising surgery: you'd need to be squinting pretty hard to imagine 30 years on that gender reassignment is the easy way to get the key to the executive washroom. Rather, they are primarily concerned with the wells of womanhood being poisoned by the presence of people born biologically male.

(Incidentally, Julie Bindel seems specifically to want to have her cake (in the sense of making this a feminist issue) and eat it (in the sense of pointing and laughing at the funny transpeople). Her 2004 article for the Guardian described transexuals as appearing to have come from "the set of Grease". When compelled by protests to the paper to publish an apology that was in fact one part apology to ten parts self-congratulation for being brave enough to broach topics from the left that normally only the far right dare to go near, she identified this phrase as something which, in hindsight, was inappropriate and insensitive. However, she was clearly very proud of her turn of phrase, and quotes it again in this latest article.)
posted by DNye at 4:55 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Given that I, born a male, have no idea what it even feels like to be male

As a man in a patriarchy, I don't have to think about how being a man feels:

I don't know about all this. I'm male, and I'm also aware that some females will automatically assume that I'm a sleazeball and a potential predator simply due to that fact. It's not exactly some great cross to bear, comparatively, and I'm not complaining, but that seems like an example of "feeling" one's gender, at least.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:56 AM on December 22, 2009


Or I'll just say it bluntly: I don't think upper-middle-class US/Canda/UK/Australia/Western Europe *is* a patriarchy anymore.

*Looks around*
What, do we have free day care yet? Or socialized medicine? The environment's fine and dandy? Based on the persecution of transfolk and the other infighting, it seems like much of academic-type feminism has disappeared up its own asshole rather than working on action towards real issues.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:58 AM on December 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


Much of the stereotyping imposed upon trans women is enforced by sexist medical establishments - a phenomenon which radical feminists and trans activists are unanimous in decrying.

Interesting and seems right. Another example of shared or at least analogous experiences. We're better working together.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 4:59 AM on December 22, 2009


At risk of sounding like a broken record, one of the biggest advantages (and, once you start becoming aware of it and trying to change, biggest disadvantages) that accrues to privilege is obliviousness.

That's a very good point, and I'm trying to tread carefully. I guess I'd rather cede the argument to those who have to live the reality of being trans-gender for that reason. I don't know if my obliviousness is truly that of privilege or because there really is nothing to be aware of, but while the stakes for me are very low, and it's all a bit of an intellectual exercise, for others the stakes are very high indeed, and I recognize and respect that.
posted by Ritchie at 5:02 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I imagine that individuals who identify as female are much more acutely aware of how their gender feels.

Pope Guilty, your comment misses Ritchie's point about dubious theories of "gender identity," and inadvertently underlines a large part of the feminist grievance against male-to-female transsexuals; namely, that the female gender experience is defined entirely by the patriarchal expectations and social treatment associated with being born with a vagina.

Feminists consider it an insult and incoherent when a man says he was "born feeling like a woman on the inside". The feminist doesn't consider "feeling like a woman" something you are born with, but the way you feel from being treated in a very specific unfair way by society all your life.

The male-to-female transsexual couldn't possibly know that feeling because he has not been treated as a woman by his caretakers or his society. So his idea of "what it feels like to be a woman" is usually just a set of preferences for patriarchal gender stereotypes that feminists reject are inherently female. A desire to have breasts and a vagina, wear a skirt, and bake pies, is not "feeling like a woman on the inside". Feminists who consider "feeling like a woman" something you can only feel if you were treated like a woman by the patriarchy since birth, don't accept that men with surgically "feminized" appearances are women. Rather they are just men reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes in another fashion.
posted by dgaicun at 5:07 AM on December 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


To remind folks of my background and give some perspective on my own perspective, I am an intersexed, transgender identified, masculine presenting, masculine raised (by a strictly 2nd wave feminist mother) person who is in a heterosexual partnership with a partner who considers the relationship (as I do), queer. In Texas, my partner and I cannot be legally married (because my chromosomes are XY/XXY mosaic - meaning that some of my chromosomes are XY and some XXY - I don't qualify as male in Texas).

In non-work social situations, I have occasionally dressed drag. While my gender identity is usually clear to me, it hasn't consistently been clear to others. I also have a lot of friends in the trans communities, as do I in straight communities, as do I in communities of people who are not gender normative but have never sought any kind of treatment for it.

To me, policy making is the problem. The trans communities are just too extremely individual, too extremely particular that making any kind of specific, proscriptive blanket statements (which I think is required for making policy people will consistently consume and understand) is likely to hurt at least as many people as it helps.

To be a genuine, supportive, loving friend to each of my friends I HAVE TO (as in, it cannot otherwise work in any way that builds trust, intimacy, companionship) treat each individual as an individual. I have to discover, discuss, and understand their motivations individually and in context with their life's experiences. I have to understand not only their context but also their intent, their sincerity in order to have even a half a chance of understanding what they want, why they do what they do, why they present their gender the way they choose to.

It should be known I am a complete policy freak and policy wonk. I write policies as a hobby and also as part of my job. Even so, I cannot for the life of me even start to formulate a policy that would be of any help whatsoever to inform my politics about gender identity and feminism.

And I think it's irresponsible to start trying, especially for feminists to do so. Feminists who have so very recently (in the historical context) taken what progress we've made with respect to busting through gender normativity policy and politics for power building for our own sakes and turned around and started being proscriptive, patronizing assholes to folks who are still trying to climb up that ladder, against the tide. It's hypocritical. It's nasty. And I think for feminists to do this to the trans community is willfully ignorant and hateful.

<satire>Congratulations, feminist scholars. With the power you've finally achieved, it's GREAT to see you using it against your fellow gender transgressors with such alacrity. Score one for social progress and a lack of historical perspective or compassion.</satire>
posted by kalessin at 5:20 AM on December 22, 2009 [35 favorites]


Feminists consider it an insult and incoherent when a man says he was "born feeling like a woman on the inside".

Do they? All of them?

Thanks. I didn't know that.
posted by motty at 5:20 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Note: I'm a trans-woman, and so this post may seem angrier than it is. Apologies. This stuff just gets my hackles up.)

A feminist would look at a transsexual's desire to get sex reassignment surgery the same as they would look at a woman's desire to get a surgery to enlarge her breasts to a triple D cup (or even a man's desire to undergo surgery to enlarge his penis).

The feminist would be wrong. Sexual reassignment surgery isn't just about meeting the sexist expectations of society, it's about feeling comfortable in your own body. Gender dysphoria is so called because it is often accompanied by a feeling of one's body not fitting right. While it certainly is handy to sculpt yourself to meet society's standards and norms, it's also pretty awesome to have a set of genitals that matches up with what your brain expects to be between your legs.

Or imagine how the NAACP, or similar black interest group, would react to a surgery that changed an African appearance to a European appearance.

You're comparing apples to oranges, because there's nothing about being African American that changes how your brain works. There is nothing fundamentally "black" about a person aside from their skin color, whereas there are significant differences between the brains of men and women. There are studies that show that male-to-female transsexuals do not have the same brains as cisgendered men.
posted by aedison at 5:24 AM on December 22, 2009 [19 favorites]


On preview - dgaicun, I think where you depart from the subject matter here is that the primary concern of people like Greer and Bindel is not that women are abandoning the struggle and becoming men in order to achieve positions of power (which was a concern of Janice Raymond in The Transexual Empire),

No, this wasn't what I was saying, and it wasn't the point of my analogy. The point is that transsexual gender conformism clashes with mainline feminist politics, just as racial conformism would clash with mainline black politics.


Rather, they are primarily concerned with the wells of womanhood being poisoned by the presence of people born biologically male.

I have never read Greer, but this does not represent the logical feminist concerns with transsexuals.
posted by dgaicun at 5:32 AM on December 22, 2009


I'd like to take a moment to note that transphobia is not a universal (or even the norm, in my experience) among feminists and that transphobic feminism is one branch among many in the huge tree of ideologies and ideas that comprise feminism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:37 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


You're right, Pope Guilty. Transphobic feminism is not the only form of feminism that still exists.
posted by kalessin at 5:39 AM on December 22, 2009


What, do we have free day care yet? Or socialized medicine? The environment's fine and dandy?

Do dads get custody of their kids as often and easily as moms do? Do women fight in combat situations? Is there gender based affirmative action for men for university admissions? Last I checked, there are quite a few women CEOs among the Fortune 500, somewhat of a fad for them, in fact. Not a majority, but the day is coming.

Also, I fail to see what the environment has to do with this discussion. Do women consume unnecessary consumer goods or drive cars? If there were no men, we'd live in harmony with nature? Last I checked, many indigenous societies that live in harmony with nature might be characterized as patriarchal.

I'm not saying the struggle is over. I am saying that the problems of patriarchy are not the problems of upper middle class liberal feminists who write pompous screeds about what feminism is supposed to be.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:47 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


(First line of my last should have been italicized, since I was quoting sebastienbailard )
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:49 AM on December 22, 2009


How can a movement based around the idea of inclusion and equality afford to be so exclusive?

Well... as far as I can tell it happens quite often, there have been NAACP members who've express homophobic remarks, there have been feminists who've expressed blatantly racist remarks. To be sure, not all (or even most) members of such groups do so, but as has been alluded to up-thread, movements seeking increased social/economic status for one group do not necessarily mean they are willing to stand for the same thing for other groups. Many (especially older, or university educated) feminist will point to the days of suffragists, abolitionism, civil rights as a period of asymmetrical gains of rights between women and blacks, and express a certain level of bitterness over it. They even did so as a justification of preferring Clinton over Obama during the last primary.
posted by edgeways at 5:51 AM on December 22, 2009


OK, I gotta run and cut these stringy, viscous tethers that I cultivate with the Interwebs, but I just wanted to point out that I'm unsettled by the argument being made in some of the comments of the following genre: "Transsexuality is compatible with feminism because it isn't drag," or "To conflate drag with transsexuality is to insult trans people."

I don't want to derail on the merits of stylized/parodic gender performance, but defending one non-normative practice by characterizing another non-normative practice as relatively worse doesn't really help fight the underlying problem. It reminds me of the "Not all gay men are nellies" defense, which accepts and confirms the idea that alternate forms of masculinity are a legitimate cause of shame, anger, rejection, violence, exclusion, etc.
posted by LMGM at 5:51 AM on December 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Feminists consider it an insult and incoherent when a man says he was "born feeling like a woman on the inside".

Ow! Watch it with the generalizations, there - you're gonna poke somebody's eye out!

A desire to have breasts and a vagina, wear a skirt, and bake pies, is not "feeling like a woman on the inside". Feminists who consider "feeling like a woman" something you can only feel if you were treated like a woman by the patriarchy since birth, don't accept that men with surgically "feminized" appearances are women. Rather they are just men reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes in another fashion.

This feminist's experience with transgender women could not be farther from this stereotype. Do Greer et al. somehow imagine that the only model of femininity available to transwomen is the 1950s stereotype? Because frankly, the transwomen I know exhibit different types and styles of femininity that mirror the kinds around them - which is a pretty broad range.
posted by rtha at 5:58 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


On preview, and I confess slightly offtopic, but this is fascinating - Fourcheesemac, I believe that as of May of this year there were 15 female CEOs in the Fortune 500. That's a 3% ratio. Do you think that constitutes an artificially high number as a result of faddism? That is, should that number be lower, because some of those appointments are fad appointments?

dgaicun, it appears I misunderstood you:

No, this wasn't what I was saying, and it wasn't the point of my analogy. The point is that transsexual gender conformism clashes with mainline feminist politics, just as racial conformism would clash with mainline black politics.

Forgive me. So, it could be a treatment that allows Europeans to change their appearance, just as easily, and the allegory would function in the same way? I'm interested, then - why the African-to-European allegory you chose? Only, that does match very closely to Janice Raymond's Transexual Empire model.

That said, right now I have no idea what you mean by 'mainline feminist politics" or "mainline black politics", so I may be right off-beam.
posted by DNye at 6:00 AM on December 22, 2009


As long as a person is a nice person, they're fine with me. I only discriminate against jerks.
posted by sciurus at 6:05 AM on December 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


Motty: Do they? All of them? Thanks. I didn't know that.

No. There is no edict from God giving us a "true" definition of Feminism. Traditional mainline Feminism treats gender identity as something socially constructed, and not something biological.


Aedison: Sexual reassignment surgery isn't just about meeting the sexist expectations of society, it's about feeling comfortable in your own body.... there are significant differences between the brains of men and women. There are studies that show that male-to-female transsexuals do not have the same brains as cisgendered men

Part of Feminist opposition to transsexual gender conformism is related to Feminist prejudices against biological explanations for gendered behavior and preferences.
posted by dgaicun at 6:09 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Last I checked, there are quite a few women CEOs among the Fortune 500

Thanks fourcheesemac. I'll keep that in mind the next time I (law partner) am presumed to be "Mr. [my last name]'s secretary."

posted by applemeat at 6:26 AM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


dgaicun's ridiculous generalizations about what "Feminists" feel about trans issues deserve nothing but scorn. He's just going to keep going (this is apparently a real hot button with him for some reason), but there's nothing that's going to convince him to rethink on this one, so I'll stop after this:

The point is that transsexual gender conformism clashes with mainline feminist politics

Not only is "gender conformism" an absurdly simplistic and unnecessarily insulting way of thinking about the varied ways trans people work with the society that surrounds them, but dgaicun's ridiculous placement of trans "conformism" in opposition to mainline feminism blurs over a host of differing feminist views of feminity itself. It's also worth mentioning again something that came up in that old Michigan Womyn's festival thread: Female-to-male transgendered individuals are indeed welcomed there by many of the same feminists who refuse to acknowedge male-to-female trans individuals.

So, some kinds of "gender conformism" are more acceptable than others. Again, the issues are complex, and folks like dgaicun who come in with simplistic barrels blazing are always wrong.
posted by mediareport at 6:32 AM on December 22, 2009


The male-to-female transsexual couldn't possibly know that feeling because he has not been treated as a woman by his caretakers or his society. So his idea of "what it feels like to be a woman" is usually just a set of preferences for patriarchal gender stereotypes that feminists reject are inherently female. A desire to have breasts and a vagina, wear a skirt, and bake pies, is not "feeling like a woman on the inside". Feminists who consider "feeling like a woman" something you can only feel if you were treated like a woman by the patriarchy since birth, don't accept that men with surgically "feminized" appearances are women. Rather they are just men reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes in another fashion.

I once read about something called "cissexual privilege": how it's hard for somebody who isn't trans to appreciate that a mismatch between inwardly and outwardly experienced sex can exist. The assertion that it's impossible to "feel like a woman on the inside" (not a great choice of words, but hey) is difficult to accept from a person who has never experienced the kind of mismatch which makes those feelings more keenly felt. Just as it's hard to accept from a man the assertion that male privilege does not exist, because they themselves have not experienced what it is like to be not-male. I suppose it's necessary to state explicitly that transsexualism uncovers a phenomenon of inwardly experienced sex, in addition to the outward sex most people are conscious of. It's that phenomenon which drives trans people to do what they do, with gender being a slough of craptitude they have to deal with, and not the goal in itself - which seems to be the greatest misinterpretation many people make.
posted by Sova at 6:33 AM on December 22, 2009 [17 favorites]


Oh, I also liked this in the linked article:

The demand that trans people conform to gender stereotypes in order to be considered ‘healthy’ or ‘a good treatment prospect’ is something that cis women also experience in their dealings with the psychiatric profession. It is standard practice for women in some inpatient treatment facilities to be pressured to wear makeup and dresses as a sign of ‘psychological improvement’. The institutional misogyny of the global psychiatric establishment is something that radical feminists and trans activists can usefully oppose together.
posted by mediareport at 6:39 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Feminism Some feminists call for gender revolution.

FIXED.

Can we stop attributing this to feminism as a whole now? Neither I, nor most of the feminists that I know, agree with it.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:41 AM on December 22, 2009


I am an intersexed, transgender identified, masculine presenting, masculine raised ... my chromosomes are XY/XXY mosaic - meaning that some of my chromosomes are XY and some XXY - I don't qualify as male in Texas

I'm confused. The state of Texas now counts X chromosomes?
posted by waraw at 6:46 AM on December 22, 2009


Do women fight in combat situations?

No they do not, it has historically been considered a privilege of men to have this honor, a form of discrimination which many women in the service are struggling to overturn to this day, and your ability to pull this through the looking glass and see it as the opposite is actually a perfect example of that oblivious male privilege mentality discussed upthread, so thank you.
posted by hermitosis at 6:46 AM on December 22, 2009 [15 favorites]


Certainly, I dimly recognise some of the beliefs dgaicun is attributing to feminism here in the views of feminists I know, but not the whole package. Possibly one factor is that the feminists I know are generally trans-friendly, and are prone to identify transwomen not as "fake women" but rather as "women with different life experiences".
posted by DNye at 6:52 AM on December 22, 2009


I always love it when men tell me the need for feminism in my SES is over. Thank you for providing me with an example of how not to behave towards transfolk whose problems I don't entirely get, gentlemen.
posted by immlass at 6:56 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Pope Guilty says: "At risk of sounding like a broken record, one of the biggest advantages... that accrues to privilege is obliviousness."

Whereas fourcheesemac apparently believes in showing, not telling.
posted by edheil at 6:59 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


dgaicun's ridiculous generalizations about what "Feminists" feel about trans issues deserve nothing but scorn.

Actually, I did not intend to say there was any feminist consensus on specific trans issues. But that there are traditional feminist viewpoints on gender which conflict with traditional trans viewpoints on gender, and that the two perspectives conflict in logically understandable ways.

On an interpersonal level, not many self-identified feminists or trans people are overly political, and generally let bygones be bygones. They are often, if not mostly, sympathetic to each other.


He's just going to keep going (this is apparently a real hot button with him for some reason)

I don't recall ever talking about feminist/transsexual conflict here before. It certainly doesn't have much emotional relevance to me.
posted by dgaicun at 7:04 AM on December 22, 2009




Do women fight in combat situations?


De facto? Yes. Yes they do.

(And that's the end for me of feeding this tired trolling about BUT BUT BUT WHAT ABOUT THE [WHITE, MIDDLE CLASS] MENS every time someone here wants to start a discussion on gender-based discrimination or violence.)
posted by availablelight at 7:13 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Last I checked, there are quite a few women CEOs among the Fortune 500

uh, yeah that's a unqualified bullshit. there are 28 women CEOs amongst the F500, 28 out of 500 is a "quite a few" % of 5.6%, not quote as good as a whopping 17 our of 100 in the Senate (woo 17%)
posted by edgeways at 7:27 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fighting in combat situations thing is a bit of a stumper, isn't it? By the same logic, I guess openly gay men and lesbians in the US are being unfairly benefited by being kept out of the armed forces, where they might get hurt.

dgaicun: Out of interest, where are you getting your picture of traditional feminism, if we assume that it's a doctrinal position not supported in the trenches? Which works are you basing the traditional feminist approach on?
posted by DNye at 7:29 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, mind you, if it's gone from 15 in May to 28 now, that is a pretty sharp jump, given that it only rose from 12 to 15 from May 2008 to May 2009 - maybe that's what fourcheesemac meant by the fad part?
posted by DNye at 7:34 AM on December 22, 2009


A few decades on, it's not at all clear to me that "male privilege" (including the privilege to be obtuse) is still a significant social factor in the middle and upper classes of the developed world, at least.

Or I'll just say it bluntly: I don't think upper-middle-class US/Canda/UK/Australia/Western Europe *is* a patriarchy anymore.

Male privilege isn't significant anymore? Awesome! Wait, are you by any chance a man? Do you possibly feel like you have less privilege than before in some way?

Oh.

*goes back to work at 10,000 person company with not a single woman in senior management*
posted by Pax at 7:36 AM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's like people telling me that I can't be Na'vi just because I'm short and pink and can't breathe the air. Those assholes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:37 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kutsuwamushi: "Can we stop attributing this to feminism as a whole now? Neither I, nor most of the feminists that I know, agree with it."

I think we sort of can and we sort of can't. I think we can say "Yeah, not all feminists are as kooky as this, and we don't agree." but I think that we have to actually say that in a forum where it will be heard or else the larger public will take these kooky feminists as our spokespeople.
posted by kalessin at 7:37 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


"...(This article focuses primarily on the experiences of trans women, as these experiences have been the main focus of controversy over the past three decades of feminist thought - the intention is not to erase the experiences of trans men and boys.)"

I wonder why there isn't an examination of female to male transgendering in the article or here? Are there fringe groups of transphobic commentators in the masculinist or feminist movement about female to male transgendering? I am quite motivated to read up on how these particular feminists regard the process of reassigning gender from female to male. I feel like articles like this are so shrill that they seem almost desperate for controversy, at the expense of scope.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:38 AM on December 22, 2009


honey-barbara: "I wonder why there isn't an examination of female to male transgendering in the article or here?"

Examination of the feminine-to-masculine transgender communities has always been particularly fraught in feminist communities. There's so much baggage associated with this kind of transgressiveness that it seems like folks that do scholarship on one direction of transgression (i.e. masculine-to-feminine) tend to avoid doing similar scholarship in the other direction.
posted by kalessin at 7:49 AM on December 22, 2009


How do trans people know they are trans?

Well, when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, it's time to get the boltcutters and advil.

What aedison said. And Pope Guilty and, well, a lot of other people. For the others, this link may be useful.

As a point of interest, there's been a bit of a rocky period for well-known feminist blogs engaging with trans stuff lately, with many trans people swearing off many blogs for good. Which means that a lot of these blogs are going out of their way to discuss trans issues like this. So expect to see more of this, everywhere, for the next while, especially if Julie Bindel finds someone else to publish her next amazing screed.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:53 AM on December 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


I wonder why there isn't an examination of female to male transgendering in the article or here?

I tend to think that most discussions of transgender people shy away from mentioning FTMs because there's less revulsion -- you can't freak out your audience with words like "castration" and "mutilation" -- and these types of articles thrive on outrage and controversy fueled by their readers' disgust.

There's also the problem that transmen tend to be invisible, once they've transitioned. Hormone therapy gives them way more gender markers than MTFs get from a similar treatment course (FTMs on testosterone grow facial hair, get an adam's apple, get a deeper voice) and so they blend into society much more easily.
posted by aedison at 7:53 AM on December 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Hormone therapy gives them way more gender markers than MTFs get

Along similar lines, it's been suggested (by Julia Serano, among others) that people in general are socialised to give "male" cues more authority in their perception than "female" ones, which is kinda saying the same thing in a different way :)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:02 AM on December 22, 2009


As a point of interest, there's been a bit of a rocky period for well-known feminist blogs engaging with trans stuff lately, with many trans people swearing off many blogs for good.

What are some good trans blogs? Please and thanks.
posted by The Straightener at 8:34 AM on December 22, 2009


Taking Steps and Questioning Transphobia are good; I'm sure some more will come to mind after I click post.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:41 AM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


OH MY GOD SOME PEOPLE ARE WRONG THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD FEMINISM MUST BE A SHAM

Germaine Greer is wrong. Julie Bindel is wrong. Jan Raymond is wrong.

People can be wrong without the entire movement with which they self-identify being automatically discredited, you know.

Feminism is for all women, regardless of what gender they were assigned at birth.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:04 AM on December 22, 2009 [16 favorites]


Or I'll just say it bluntly: I don't think upper-middle-class US/Canda/UK/Australia/Western Europe *is* a patriarchy anymore.

*Looks around*
What, do we have free day care yet? Or socialized medicine? The environment's fine and dandy?


Saying we're not a patriarchy anymore isn't saying that all our favorite policies have been enacted into law or that everything is perfect.

Yes, there's still a lot of bad stuff in the world. Would women be better off if all society's problems were solved? Of course. But so would men.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:16 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I changed gender at 27, about 20 some years ago and identify as a woman. However I spent 27 years trying to be the best male I could possibly be simply because I thought I had no other viable alternative. I was unhappy and not entirely successful. But I am much better now :)

I can actually understand why the Greer and Raymond have some difficulty accepting Transwomen as women . What exactly IS a transwoman?

Is she someone like myself who changed gender at a relatively young age , got on with her life as a simply a woman and left her gender past behind her? Not a transwoman mind you, simply a woman.

Or is a transwoman a crossdresser who claims to be intersexed, intergendered and oh by the way I only dress after work or on weekends because I can't do it on the job and I would lose my executive position.

It is unfortunate that both scenarios above qualify someone to call oneself a "transwoman" and hence comes the confusion. The former example tends to not be recognized as a trans anything because they do NOT want to be recognized as a trans-anything - they simply want to be woman and are overlooked and often unseen by such people as Greer and Raymond.

The latter example tends to be bold and forceful in their desire to be seen as anything that contains the word woman in it and will gladly and forcefully maintain their assumed right to be thought of as a transwoman. Such people are far more seen and heard in teh world then I simply because we are two very different things seeking two very different goals but unfortunately often confised and labeled with the same moniker - transwoman.

I can tell you , only from personal experience ,from meeting with hundreds of various types of TG people over the years that I would personally consider only perhaps 1 in 10 of those presenting themselves to me as some sort of "transexual" or "transwoman" to be a woman. That's right, as someone who has changed gender myself many years ago, even I only soncider a tenth of those who claim to be someone such as myself to actually be what they claim.

I can also tell you, again purely from personal experience, that the number of mentally ill people who call themselves "transwoman" is astonishing. I can also tell you that the number of people who cannot accept their behavior as having a transvestic fetish and call themselves transwoman in order to seem "proper" dwarfs by an order of 10 the number of actual of actual woman who have always been woman inside , had a gender change, and continued their lives as woman.

I expect this to be a higly controversial post. I expect to my voice to be drowned out by the forceful protestations of all those who have taken a very different path then I have - yeat claim to be the same. But it is what it is - and this has been my experience as someone who has actually done what she claims and who lives her life as a woman - and only a woman.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:28 AM on December 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


Poet_Lariat, your post hits a lot of the same points as many women who claim to have "Harry Benjamin Syndrome." Do you class yourself as one of these women?
posted by aedison at 9:44 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Poet, that sort of thing is why many people are hot on adding/preserving a space between "trans" and "woman", both figuratively and actually; I say "trans woman" instead of "transwoman", to mark myself as distinct from "cis woman" (in situations where I believe the distinction is relevant) and part of the greater category of "woman". I don't really believe in instructing other people to use the terminology I do, provided they're not actively trying to be insulting, the same way I don't believe that I am or can be the arbiter of who is a woman and who is not.

There are of course women of transsexual history who prefer not to be grouped with other women of transsexual history, which is all very well and good, but I've spotted quite a lot of members of the former group badmouthing members of the latter group for their activism/visibility, which doesn't seem sporting.

As to the rest of your post, it doesn't align with my experience.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:44 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


How can a movement based around the idea of inclusion and equality afford to be so exclusive?

Because "feminism" is not a single movement with a universal platform agreed on by all parties--the only thing that the majority of feminists can agree on is "women deserve to be treated as full persons." What that means/entails, especially when you intersect culture/race/disability/sexual preference/gender identification, is a much larger and more complicated question.

For the record, most the feminists I read/follow/admire do not exclude transwomen. That there are other feminists out there who agree that "women should be treated as full persons" but disagree on gender identification/treatment of transpersons, should not really surprise you or anyone else. I think they're wrong, and I think their viewpoint is harmful and will lose in the end. But I also know there is plenty of racism, ableism, and general bigotry among feminists just as there is among any other group.

Oh and as for blogs, Shakespeare's Sister includes lots of good trans discussions and links (and are also good on the racism/disability front).

At the risk of navelgazing, I think feminism is merely a convenient word for one section of a larger movement against institutionalized privilege based on unjust factors, in this case gender. But at its base it must connect to racial equality, equality for the disabled, equality for those who don't fit binary gender roles, and gay and lesbian equality as well.
posted by emjaybee at 9:44 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Poet_Lariat, the thing is that you don't get to say who "actually" is a woman any more than Germaine Greer does. Germaine Greer doesn't think you're actually a woman; you don't think various people who self-identify as trans women are actually women; etc., etc.

It's not like if Germaine Greer knew you, she'd change her mind because you're not like those other trans women. She thinks you're a man, because you have XY chromosomes and were born with a penis.

Be controversial all you want, but understand that the people you might want to sell out to aren't buying you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


This video provides a good introduction to trans issues, for those who are interested in learning more.
posted by prefpara at 9:52 AM on December 22, 2009


There are of course women of transsexual history who prefer not to be grouped with other women of transsexual history, which is all very well and good, but I've spotted quite a lot of members of the former group badmouthing members of the latter group for their activism/visibility, which doesn't seem sporting.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by badmouthing. The people I know who live their lives like myself do not want to be "visible" as anything other than a woman. Such people as myself feel that labeling us as anything other than woman to the general populace marginalizes our status as woman. With that said how do you label the person who wants to be perceived as a woman yet is completely comfortable keeping his penis and using it for it's intended purpose? This is not an uncommon , and frankly quite frequent , occurrence. Transgendered is a term that works very well for such a person - but such a person's experience and desires are not the same as myself.

As to the rest of your post, it doesn't align with my experience.

Experiences differ. Desires differ. Lives choices differ.
I do not want to nor am I saying that there a particular choice is less valid or less "right" than the one that I chose. I am only saying that I wish there was far more of a distinction in the labeling of various paths so that peoplw who chose my path would not be lumped in with those that chose a very different path
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:54 AM on December 22, 2009


Sidhedevil says
Be controversial all you want, but understand that the people you might want to sell out to aren't buying you.

I never intended to sell out to anybody. I merely want to live my life as I chose. And I do not want to be confused with someone who lives a very different lifestyle. I don't care what Janice Raymond thinks of me. I'm Jewish. I'm used to appointment. Mostly I care what I think of me.

I merely want to live my life as a woman. Not a TG, not a Transwoman, and not as a sex-change. Simply as a woman. With whatever that entails.

My other experience with gender was over 20 years ago. That part of my life, vis-avis gender was over with many years ago.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:59 AM on December 22, 2009


"used to disappointment" rather
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:03 AM on December 22, 2009


My brand of feminism would (and we went over this in that other disaster of a thread) seek to make sure that all people be treated equally and with respect, regardless of their sex, gender, orientation, makeup, facial hair, clothing, etc. So feminism should protect cis-women, trans-women, transwomen, drag queens, drag kings, cis-men, trans-men, transmen... you get the point. Why make a women's club that excludes anyone? Don't tie privilege to sex or gender or societal norms, great, but let everyone identify anyway they want. I, for one, like my long blond hair.

Tangentially, one thing I've always had trouble with, too, are the arguments that people who are gay or trans should be accepted because that's the way they were born. While I wholeheartedly agree that people are born they way they are, I also think that people should be treated equally even if they CHOOSE to identify a certain way, for whatever reason. That is, even if "gay" were a choice and not an orientation, that's OK!

A friend of mine who is gay always said that the arguments that people who are gay "are born that way" made him feel defective :-)
posted by Pax at 10:03 AM on December 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


I tend to argue that the question of whether people are born to their sexual identities or not tends to be framed in such a way as to play into the "if they chose it then it's okay to discriminate" argument made by bigots.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:05 AM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I get why it it's framed that way, I just hate it. The "unnatural" arguments annoy me too, as if we are living the "natural" human existence today.
posted by Pax at 10:08 AM on December 22, 2009


I wonder what Ms Greer thinks about people born with no gender? Or perhaps both?
posted by Solomon at 10:09 AM on December 22, 2009


What, do we have free day care yet? Or socialized medicine? The environment's fine and dandy?

What planet do you live on where women vote exclusively for those things? Because, here's a clue, if they did, we'd have them. The fantasy of "if women were in charge we'd live in a socialist utopia devoid of war and strife where every child is attended to and every tummy is full" is just as stupid as "society needs a firm male hand to stay on course".
posted by kjs3 at 10:09 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I merely want to live my life as a woman. Not a TG, not a Transwoman, and not as a sex-change. Simply as a woman. With whatever that entails.

I am totally not getting your problem. It's your life and you get to live it, woo! But you also say this:

With that said how do you label the person who wants to be perceived as a woman yet is completely comfortable keeping his penis and using it for it's intended purpose?

There's a wave of having-your-cake-and-eating-it here that I feel you may be cresting. You want to define your own terms, but then you go and mis-pronoun your hypothetical. Let people be. From what I can see you're the first person of transsexual history in this thread (and I'm choosing that term for its neutrality; please let me know if there's another you prefer) who's even brought up the notion that all trans people are the same, and that's to debunk it. If you want those of us who self-describe as trans women (or whatever) to respect your identity -- and I certainly do! -- then I fail to see what coming in on the offensive gets you. And if you want the wider world to recognise whatever differences you may see between you and me, then I'd like to give you this bag of good luck and a whistle.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:10 AM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Pax (who's name I like very much ) says
I also think that people should be treated equally even if they CHOOSE to identify a certain way, for whatever reason.

In a perfect world that would be a perfect solution. So I assume you know where I'm going with this now :) ....

What do you do when :
You are Jewish and a group of "Jews For Jesus" claims Jewish status as well?

You are Native American and someone who claims 1/10 Cherokee status on his great-grandfather's cousin's side claims Native American status as well?

You are a woman and someone with an obvious mental condition in highheels says that he is the same thing as you?

What do you do? Should you be offended? Should you accept or resist the self-described label?

It's unfortunately not a very perfect world. And doing away with "labels" is really no good because let's face it - labeling is a aprt and parcel of the human condition. It's what we do . It's who we are . It's what we are. We label.

What to do when someone wants to attach a label to themselves that is inherently very wrong?
Saying that we should be accepting is really quite contrary to what and who we are as a species, in my observation.

Perhaps we need more accurate labels in some instances?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:13 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I tend to argue that the question of whether people are born to their sexual identities or not tends to be framed in such a way as to play into the "if they chose it then it's okay to discriminate" argument made by bigots.

It's a debate that supporters of gay rights mistakenly believe will clinch their position. They're not thinking about things from the other side's perspective. If you really believe homosexuality is just plain bad, it doesn't matter if it's a choice or inborn. Compare: even if research shows that a pedophilia or alcoholism are inborn, does that make them socially acceptable? No. The reason gays should be accepted isn't that they have no choice (which would call into question how to deal with bisexuals!). Gays should be accepted because there's nothing wrong with homosexuality -- no matter why people are gay.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:13 AM on December 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


I wonder what Ms Greer thinks about people born with no gender? Or perhaps both?

She wrote a short article for The Guardian in the summer on the Caster Semenya controversy at the World Athletics Championships, if that's any help.
posted by dng at 10:20 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jaltcoh, I agree. Fighting your own gayness is like abstinence before marriage, I imagine. Being born that way, they are against anything but heterosexuality strictly because of the "ick" factor.
posted by Pax at 10:24 AM on December 22, 2009


You are a woman and someone with an obvious mental condition in highheels says that he is the same thing as you?

I'm impressed that you managed to be insulting to two marginalised groups in that one sentence.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:24 AM on December 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


aedison asks
Poet_Lariat, your post hits a lot of the same points as many women who claim to have "Harry Benjamin Syndrome." Do you class yourself as one of these women

No. I have no "syndrome", no disease and no condition. Any problem that I had with regard to gender I fixed over two decades ago.

I am familiar with what you are describing and do not in any way identify with such a group. The closest thing to ever describe me that I agreed with was "gender dysphoria" - which again, is something that I relate to having some 20+ years ago but no longer identify with now.

I identify merely as a woman. Not any special type of woman . I fully recognize and appreciate that my growing-up experience was different from any other female. That saddened me the same way that not being able to have children saddened me. But under the circumstances I did the best that I was able to do with regard to my situation.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:25 AM on December 22, 2009


What to do when someone wants to attach a label to themselves that is inherently very wrong?

Inherently very wrong?

I don't know, I guess if you are not hurting anyone, I say live and let live. Would the 1/10 Cherokee be taking benefits from anyone? I guess there are legal definitions for some of these things that might make sense, but am I offended if a hulking genetic male with mental illness gets in a dress and calls herself a woman, am I offended? No. People don't have to look or feel exactly like me to feel like women.
posted by Pax at 10:27 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gays should be accepted because there's nothing wrong with homosexuality -- no matter why people are gay.

This. So much. I've always hated the biology/choice argument because it's framing the discussion in the bigots' terms. I fully believe homosexuality is not a choice. I also firmly believe it shouldn't fucking matter if it is or not.

Choice should not be a dirty word.
posted by kmz at 10:33 AM on December 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Pax says:
I don't know, I guess if you are not hurting anyone, I say live and let live. Would the 1/10 Cherokee be taking benefits from anyone?


I suppose that would depend on how well you identify with your own labels. My own experience with Native Americans is that they are deeply offended by any attempt to co-opt their heritage. My own experience as a Jewish defendant of a Holocaust is that I am deeply offended at a so called "Jew for Jesus" co-opting my own heritage. And I believe that we are both offended by the same things - by people who have no real experience or idea of what we are about presenting themselves to an otherwise uneducated public and attempting to rewrite what we are both about.

It's not so much about the self-labeling, which in itself is inherently harmless, but rather about the public declarations and eventual misperceptions that more times than not go part in parcel with the self-label.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:34 AM on December 22, 2009


Folks who are ascribing these anti-trans views to all feminists are getting it wrong; folks who are ascribing Greer's views to all of academic feminism are also wrong. I can't claim to be an expert in feminist studies, but I've read a fair bit and I've never read anything by Greer. In my mind she's more of a media personality ("Grumpy Old Women," anyone?). More influential feminist figures in the academy (e.g.) have very different things to say about transgender issues.
posted by col_pogo at 10:36 AM on December 22, 2009


I merely want to live my life as a woman. Not a TG, not a Transwoman, and not as a sex-change. Simply as a woman. With whatever that entails.

Poet_Lariat, I agree with you. Germaine Greer does not agree with you. She thinks you're a man. That's why I think she's wrong.


I can't claim to be an expert in feminist studies, but I've read a fair bit and I've never read anything by Greer. In my mind she's more of a media personality

I think this is correct. The Female Eunuch was very influential in its day; that day was 1970.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:38 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I think this is correct. The Female Eunuch was very influential in its day; that day was 1970."

Well said.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:46 AM on December 22, 2009


What to do when someone wants to attach a label to themselves that is inherently very wrong?

I've made a conscious decision (partly because I know a lot of people who are in the beginning stages of transition and because I know a lot of people who identify as transgendered or transsexual or simply "trans" who are not interested in taking the full path to transition) to support self-labeling as a part of people's identities and my support of their identities for the long term.

I realize that there are problems (like the above) with that especially with respect to the possession and exercise of privilege that attends traditional labels and labelling. While I can understand part of what motivates your argument what it lacks and what I am unwilling to sacrifice is compassion.

To me compassion allows us to make room for different folks that we may not even be completely convinced "deserve it" within our privileged categories. It allows us to help our siblings out when they've got less and we've got more. It allows us to make decisions to support or tolerate our siblings charitably even if it doesn't seem like they're capable of or willing to work as hard as we did for the same privileges.

But I also think that it would be naive to believe that no one would ever take advantage of my compassion and good graces. But in contrast I also think that pure or partial fraud exposes itself to society's prying eyes a lot more quickly than any self-protective divisive actions I could take would do.

I'm not speaking for you, Poet_Lariat. Maybe your compassion's all run out. Maybe you just don't have it in you. Maybe someone betrayed your trust. I can't say. I do think that if I were if you place, compassion would be more important to me than divisiveness, but I know that I'm not you and that you clearly have a different opinion on the importance of this kind of compassion.

The other aspect of this argument you're making is what degree of tolerance and compassion folks can expect from the generic "other" of society. If things are simply too unbelievable about a person's choice of self-labelling then I've had friends experience reactions anywhere from unbelieving or callous disregard for their wishes to strained tolerance founded solely on basic social politeness.

In response, sometimes I've seen friends normalize toward their chosen direction of gender normativity. Other times it's seemed to make no difference to the person claiming the identity. But this simple summary doesn't really reflect accurately these folks' real feelings or reactions. Like my remarks about policy-making it really seems to depend on the whole person's experience and context how they respond and react to outside society's responses to their own efforts to transform themselves.
posted by kalessin at 10:51 AM on December 22, 2009 [15 favorites]


To me compassion allows us to make room for different folks that we may not even be completely convinced "deserve it" within our privileged categories.

THIS!
posted by Pax at 10:56 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


She wrote a short article for The Guardian in the summer on the Caster Semenya controversy at the World Athletics Championships, if that's any help.

Wow, in just a few short paragraphs she manages to come off as a massive asshole AND say nothing substantive whatsoever. Way to go!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:58 AM on December 22, 2009


kalessin says -
several things regarding compassion.

I have compassion for people who sit on street corners and proclaim themselves to be Jesus. I have compassion for them - but I do not accept their self-definition.

My concern is more about the realities of being perceived as something that you are not. The "welfare queen" meme haunts all legitimate recipients of public aid. It doesn't take much to be misconceived in the world - especially not in today's world where memes propagate with literally the speed of light.

People want to be perceived as what they are.
I am not a transwoman. I do not want to be a transwoman.
I do not accept that all people who call themselves transwoman are woman. In fact my personal experience has been that more times than not , my perception is that opposite is the case .

It's not about compassion but rather about reality. It would be nice to live in a world without labels. But that is not reality. That is not who we, as normal human beings, are. We label. It's as natural as language. In fact it is language. It's how we come to understand the world.

I respect the right of anyone who wants to be called a transwoman to be called such and I would call them the same. Many transwoman that I know or have encountered are part time crossdressers. I do not consider them to be woman.

I am simply saying that there needs to be a distinction between those who wish to live their lives with a penis as opposed to those who do not. And perhaps more distinctions need to be made as well. And perhaps there also needs to be a distinction between a woman who was born a woman and one such as I. So be it.

I am just asking to be labeled for what I am and not to be lumped into a majority of what I am not. That is all that I , and many that I have met who are similar to myself, would want. A clear distinction of what we are. A disambiguation of what we are not.

It is not about compassion. It's about the reality of being who you are and what you want to be identified with.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:08 AM on December 22, 2009


Poet - I guess my resistance to your view is that I don't have any labels for myself that I would begrudge anyone else, even if he or she doesn't seem to conventionally fall into that category. Maybe this shows show my white, straight privilege - perhaps if I had to struggle related to my identity I would feel differently. I respect that people who are part of a disenfranchised group may feel insulted (or worse) if someone claimed membership in their groups.

However, I still don't understand disassociating, for example, yourself as a woman from someone who, for example, couldn't afford reassignment surgery (or had other reasons for not going "all the way").
posted by Pax at 11:19 AM on December 22, 2009


Poet_Lariat, I think we are talking about exactly the same things but have very different feelings about it. I feel like we will never really agree, so I'm not going to pursue it more than that.

I'm sorry you and I don't see eye to eye enough to make more progress, but I'm not particularly surprised.
posted by kalessin at 11:22 AM on December 22, 2009


I am simply saying that there needs to be a distinction between those who wish to live their lives with a penis as opposed to those who do not.

If you're not directly involved with a person sexually, reproductively or medically, then why?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:30 AM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's about the reality of being who you are and what you want to be identified with.

But whose reality? In your reality, you don't see people-with-a-penis-who-wear-dresses as women. In Greer's reality, she doesn't see *you* as a woman.

I know lesbians who identify as lesbians, but they occasionally sleep with men. I know bisexuals who identify as such but who have never slept with someone of the same (or opposite) gender. I'm not the police of them, and just thinking about it makes me tired.

Do I flinch when I see some Caucasian bozo in a Hawaiian shirt and puka shell necklace go on about how awesome it is to be "Hawaiian"? Well, as a person who is ethnically/racially Hawaiian, yeah, I do. But what am I going to do about it, in this universe? Demand he take a blood test? Provide me with his family tree?
posted by rtha at 11:33 AM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


My own experience as a Jewish defendant of a Holocaust is that I am deeply offended at a so called "Jew for Jesus" co-opting my own heritage.

As my Jewish mother (and the Israeli government) would say, it doesn't matter what they call themselves if they haven't converted or don't have Jewish moms. I know very few Jews who are offended by the claims of Jews for Jesus to be Jewish--what's offensive is their stealth conversion efforts.

But anyway, I'm pretty offended by your continual use of male pronouns in reference to transwomen, as well as your repeated insistence that transwomen have something mentally wrong with them. I find that much more offensive than the "mislabeling" you're talking about.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:40 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


rtha: "I know lesbians who identify as lesbians, but they occasionally sleep with men. I know bisexuals who identify as such but who have never slept with someone of the same (or opposite) gender. I'm not the police of them, and just thinking about it makes me tired."

My partner identifies as "sovereign" because bisexual just doesn't give her the autonomy she wants.
posted by kalessin at 11:41 AM on December 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


And perhaps there also needs to be a distinction between a woman who was born a woman and one such as I.

In some contexts, it's useful to distinguish between trans and cis people (for example, cis women and trans men need to be screened for cervical cancer; cis men and trans women need to be screened for prostate cancer).

In other contexts, of course not.

I don't see when it would ever be useful to distinguish between trans people on the basis of whether their gender transition was undertaken for the "right" reasons or the "wrong" reasons.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:42 AM on December 22, 2009


However, I still don't understand disassociating, for example, yourself as a woman from someone who, for example, couldn't afford reassignment surgery (or had other reasons for not going "all the way").

I find it interesting that this discussion pretty much excludes transmen, too--how would they fall into Poet_Lariat's system of labeling, since surgery often isn't a satisfying option?

You know what? Never mind. I probably don't want to know.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:42 AM on December 22, 2009


Pax said
Poet - I guess my resistance to your view is that I don't have any labels for myself that I would begrudge anyone else, even if he or she doesn't seem to conventionally fall into that category.


My thoughts don't center specifically on begrudging a label to anyone else but rather begrudging a label to one you feel is surely misrepresenting themselves in your eyes. I would be hard pressed to imagine any person who doesn't have such bounadries. My guess is that if you really look inside yourself you will find your own boundary issues as well.
Maybe this shows show my white, straight privilege - perhaps if I had to struggle related to my identity I would feel differently. I respect that people who are part of a disenfranchised group may feel insulted (or worse) if someone claimed membership in their groups.

However, I still don't understand disassociating, for example, yourself as a woman from someone who, for example, couldn't afford reassignment surgery (or had other reasons for not going "all the way").

But you are lumping in a great many things together here. For instance I would not lump together someone who had true difficulty paying for the surgery with someone who simply used that as a convenient excuse. How to tell the difference . :) Well that's a whole different can of worms and a whole different thread.

Do I flinch when I see some Caucasian bozo in a Hawaiian shirt and puka shell necklace go on about how awesome it is to be "Hawaiian"? Well, as a person who is ethnically/racially Hawaiian, yeah, I do. But what am I going to do about it, in this universe?

My guess is that you do as I do and tell those about you "sotto-voice" that ,"you know - that kid really isn't what being a Hawaiian is all about" . You try to educate people.

Here the difficulty - when you tell others that you are Hawaiian you get a "that's cool Bro!" kind of response (and btw - that's cool Bra!) but should I choose to tell someone that I have a transsexual past I lose my job, casual acquaintances suddenly stop talking to me and the dating pool becomes a whole lot smaller - and fishier. And all that both complicates and frustrates my experience and the people with experiences similar to my own.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2009


Do women fight in combat situations?

In many countries, yes. In the US, also yes, but they aren't eligible for combat pay or promotion because the rule is that women can't hold combat posts EVEN WHEN THEY DO.

See this article on how the US military puts women in combat roles but denies them any of the benefits of combat duty.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:49 AM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I find it interesting that this discussion pretty much excludes transmen, too--how would they fall into Poet_Lariat's system of labeling, since surgery often isn't a satisfying option?

Yeah, that's why I included them in my definition of feminism.
posted by Pax at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2009


And all that both complicates and frustrates my experience and the people with experiences similar to my own.

Poet_Lariat, I know dozens of trans people and you are the only person I have ever encountered to voice the concerns you're voicing here. The trans people I know don't appoint themselves the police of others' transition choices.

Now, yeah, I'm a cis person, so what do I know? But there are other people on this thread who are self-identifying as trans who are also disagreeing with you strongly.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:51 AM on December 22, 2009


I am simply saying that there needs to be a distinction between those who wish to live their lives with a penis as opposed to those who do not.

If you're not directly involved with a person sexually, reproductively or medically, then why?


So that other poeple understand where I am coming from . If I tell someone of my transexual past the most common reaction I would get is from someone who would identify me with some crossdresser that they once say on a daytime talk show .

Which is not what I am .
Accurate labels for my life choice would prevent people fro lumping me in with someone like that.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:52 AM on December 22, 2009


This whole discussion, and descent into hair-splitting definition, closely reflects the problem that we're discussing.

It burns up emotional energy better turned into action.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:54 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sidhedevil
Poet_Lariat, I know dozens of trans people and you are the only person I have ever encountered to voice the concerns you're voicing here. The trans people I know don't appoint themselves the police of others' transition choices.

I am not policing . I am merely asking for the right to be accurately identified for who and what I am.

I am not a crossdresser.
I am not a transvestite.
You will not see me on daytime TV.
I am not someone who chose not to change gender in order to keep my huge salary and position.

I do not think any of the above are bad people or made wrong choices. I respect all their choices.
But I am not them.

And I am simply asking for the respect and the right to be identified for what I am and not be lumped together with a much larger group of whom I am not
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:56 AM on December 22, 2009


poet_lariat: wow, just wow. I don't know why you see the world the way you do, but it can't be healthy. I'm sorry.


cis men and trans women need to be screened for prostate cancer

I thought trans women were extremely low risk for prostate cancer and didn't need to be screened?

posted by Sova at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this the thread where I come out to MetaFilter as transgender? I think it is.

*takes a deep breath*

Forgive me, but I'm about to do a brave, terrible, painful thing. But I doubt it'll hurt me any more than I've hurt myself over the years and the truth can only set me free. I am very fortunate to have a lot of friends here that already know this about me, and who support me.

I'm not even sure where to begin, so I suppose I should start at the beginning. I've written some variation of this comment dozens of times over the years I've been on MetaFilter and failed to hit post. I've stood by for far too long in too many of these threads about transgenderism while willingly silencing myself and my voice, and thereby not supporting those around me of all genders.

I identify as transgender and/or pangender. I personally know more about this than I really care to admit or that I'm comfortable talking about. There's a real reason why my profile usually says something like "other" in the gender field. I've known since puberty started that something was "wrong", and it just went downhill from there. The first sign of facial or body hair, the first deepening of the voice, the flood of male hormones. It was all wrong.

Do you have any idea what this means? To look at your own body and loathe it? To see your own arms and body, or see your own face in the mirror and hate nearly every facet of your physical form? It's like being allergic to your own body. It's hateful and hurtful to oneself, which is easily the worse kind of hate. There's a reason why so many transgender people end their own lives.

For my entire adult life I've owned more female clothes then male clothes. For my entire adult life I've been living a double life that takes double or triple the effort to maintain any sort of a true self. There is the inner subjective world I express to mainly myself and then there is the protective cisgender male shell I wear in public to haphazardly attempt to fit in to the binary gender stereotypes.

It's not the clothes that make me trans or pangender. It's what's inside that makes me trans or pangender. The clothes are just a tool to help alleviate the internal stress of self expression to try and balance the differences and dichotomies between who I feel I am and what society expects of these gender dichotomies.

I fully understand what "male privilege" is. I currently rely on it to survive. It protects me. It keeps me from getting attacked on the street. It keeps me from being a target for rape or abuse, or sexual objectification. And I hate it because it isn't right. It isn't fair. It isn't true.

For my entire adult life I've winced in real pain at having to stand still while the men in my life - some of them dear friends, some even in my family, sometimes even parents - have made hurtful, sexist, misogynistic remarks, jokes or comments about women. Making the mistake that simply because I'm a cisgender male that I agree with them on a de facto basis. Everything from the comments about physical appearances to the stupid comments about driving skills to the hideously ugly "I'd hit that" snap judgments about sexual attractiveness or availability.

And when I do speak up - and I do speak up - I'm at least equally attacked for my views that women are equals and should be treated as such as any woman would be. If anything I'm attacked even more. "What are you, homo?"

Greer's brand of feminism is hurtful, and here are just some of the reasons why, and why it shoots feminism in the foot and is arguably not feminism at all.

It's exclusionary. It's exclusionary based on gender stereotypes, appearances, expectations. It's a mindless surface judgment just as evil as any prejudice, racial or otherwise that denies progress in real social equity.

To say that a transwoman doesn't understand feminism, that a transwoman doesn't understand what it means to be a woman in a male dominated world simply because they haven't lived their whole lives as whatever undefinable things it means to be a women - outside of maybe "oppressed" - is so short sighted it's ridiculous.

No, we understand. We understand this very well and it's fucking terrifying and enraging. We understand what it means to be both oppressed and oppressor because many transwomen oppress themselves. We understand what it means from both sides of the fence. We see and hear things from men that would enrage any feminist to the point of armed revolt. We see and hear things from the men that you think are pretty OK guys, because we're secretly there when these men mistakenly think there aren't any women around to hear what they're actually saying.

Transwomen understand the physical judgments of ones appearances very well. We understand the self-loathing and inability to match the impossible ideals of physical beauty. We understand the doubt. We understand what it means to be discriminated against. We understand the terrible pain of remaining silent when you just want to scream "THIS IS WRONG. STOP SAYING THAT HURTFUL, OBJECTIFYING BULLSHIT."

We understand what it means when men denigrate things like housekeeping as "woman's work" and refuse to pitch in. We understand what it means when a man questions the sanity or mental capacity of a woman. We understand what it means when men ignore the very real contributions of women to the world in everything from the arts and sciences, to industry, to literature, and everything else. Because we're secretly right there with women. Transwoman live this waking nightmare, too.

To deny a transwoman the right to be feminist is to deny feminism. It's long past time to for a gender revolution and to reconsider gender as a binary paradigm. It's not. It's a spectrum. I'm living proof of this and I defy you to tell me that I don't exist.

On the other hand - I can also empathize with some of the viewpoints that some forms of transgenderism are toxic and harmful to gender equality. That some "drag queens" are indeed engaging in "blackface". This is something I've only learned and accepted recently and has always made me uncomfortable and confused about the transgender community at large and unable and unwilling to fit in there, either. There are people who are crossdressers because they fetishize it, who are turned on by the idea of being objectified and emasculated, turned on by the idea that women are inferior and from that they enjoy the degradation of being considered inferior.

As far as I can define what it means to be transgender for myself - this is not what it means to be transgender.

On the other-other hand many transwomen engage in and present as hyperfeminine as an overreaction when fighting their male cisgender, to bury anything male about themselves in an attempt to fit in and pass male and female scrutiny.

In posting this perspective and admission I'm breaking all the rules. All of them. The accepted way to "become" transgender means to kill off your male self and leave it entirely behind, to bury it, to supress it and move boldly forward from that point on as entirely female, to embrace the stereotypes and entirely give up ones male privilege. Supposedly you're not supposed to want it both ways. You're supposed to be one or the other, but not both. To qualify to doctors for the purposes of treatment you're expected to live entirely as a woman for years before getting "authorized" treatment, to fight uphill the entire way before you can even be considered for treatment. To stop wearing jeans or boots, to put on makeup, to do things no modern, self respecting woman would consider acceptable if forced on them whether in the workplace, the home or in public life.

Society expects you to conform to the female stereotype and leave behind those male things, to become meek, receptive and compliant. To become a prim and proper lady in public and a submissive whore in the bedroom. To forgo ambition, to stop wanting to do male things like being a sportswriter or a cop or a construction worker, because supposedly real women never want to do any of those things.

We're also expected to conform to the terrible idea that if we really want to be women we should be sexually attracted to men, or that we're just gay and unable to accept this. This also is not true. Sexual orientation is not gender orientation. We're typically not allowed to be lesbian because we're not women. So, many transwomen get doubly or triply excluded because on one hand some gay men just can't get over the fact that, no, not all genderqueer or transwomen just secretly want to worship the almighty cock, and at the same time they're excluded from lesbian spaces because they're supposedly just men in drag - all while being excluded from generic cisgender male and female stereotypes and spaces. (Don't even get me started on how I feel when some hypermasculine sexist cisgender male claims to be a lesbian trapped in a male body.)

Worse we're expected to undergo radical, dangerous surgery and hormone treatment to "fit in" to the stereotypes. We're expected to risk life and limb to conform to gender stereotypes, to risk the ability to ever have fulfilling sex again, to risk the ability to ever have another orgasm after surgery. We're expected to mutilate ourselves to fit in to these stereotypes. How fucked up is that? Very.

Transwoman are expected to "pass" and be "feminine" - whatever that means - and become even more hyperfeminine than cisgender women, to become more woman than any cisgender woman, to be held to even more strict unrealistic ideals of beauty and attractiveness. Holy hell, let me tell you about what I know about what it means to be held to unrealistic expectations.

And even when a transwoman does comply with these unrealistic ideals and manage to somehow become more feminine than feminine - they're still freaks. Chicks with dicks. A dude in a dress. Frank N. Furter. James Gumb. Do you have any idea how few truly positive role models there are in popular culture for transwomen? I have yet to find a single one that isn't at some level a mocking stereotype. Do you have any idea how often transwomen face these hateful stereotypes? Daily. Every day. Day in and day out. Transwomen will be likely be the last remaining socially acceptable target for derision, mocking and oppression.

And it's all so much gender-biased bullshit. Why? Because people want to be able to categorize everyone around them in easily identifiable labels of "I'd like to have sex with that person" or "I would not like to have sex with that person" because they're too fucking lazy or terrified to think outside of their genitals and their own selfish needs and desires.

Yeah, transwomen understand misogyny and sexism all too well. To deny them the right to be feminist - or simply humanist - is to deny what may be a feminist's most powerful ally. Someone who understands what it all really means, and who is committed by nature to breaking down the stereotypes and barriers that keep all women (and men) everywhere oppressed by sexism.

I'm not writing this to pick any fights with anyone. I'm writing this almost entirely for myself, though I hope my words have given someone, somewhere some hope and a little more peace of mind in knowing that they're not alone.

I have more to say about all this than I can fit into one post, one thread, one moment in time - so I'm just going to close with the following quote. I've posted it on MetaFilter before, and I mean it. It's powerful, clear statement about a very complex set of issues facing our society and the roots of sexism and gender bias.
FOR EVERY GIRL WHO IS TIRED OF ACTING WEAK WHEN SHE IS STRONG, THERE IS A BOY TIRED OF APPEARING STRONG WHEN HE FEELS VULNERABLE. FOR EVERY BOY WHO IS BURDENED WITH THE CONSTANT EXPECTATION OF KNOWING EVERYTHING, THERE IS A GIRL TIRED OF PEOPLE NOT TRUSTING HER INTELLIGENCE. FOR EVERY GIRL WHO IS TIRED OF BEING CALLED OVER-SENSITIVE, THERE IS A BOY WHO FEARS TO BE GENTLE, TO WEEP. FOR EVERY BOY FOR WHOM COMPETITION IS THE ONLY WAY TO PROVE HIS MASCULINITY, THERE IS A GIRL WHO IS CALLED UNFEMININE WHEN SHE COMPETES. FOR EVERY GIRL WHO THROWS OUT HER E-Z-BAKE OVEN, THERE IS A BOY WHO WISHES TO FIND ONE. FOR EVERY BOY STRUGGLING NOT TO LET ADVERTISING DICTATE HIS DESIRES, THERE IS A GIRL FACING THE AD INDUSTRY’S ATTACKS ON HER SELF-ESTEEM. FOR EVERY GIRL WHO TAKES A STEP TOWARD HER LIBERATION, THERE IS A BOY WHO FINDS THE WAY TO FREEDOM A LITTLE EASIER.

From the Crimethinc Collective gender subversion poster.
Whoever you are, be yourself, be true and be well. You're not alone.
posted by loquacious at 11:57 AM on December 22, 2009 [304 favorites]


I am merely asking for the right to be accurately identified for who and what I am.
You got it. You are a woman. But women come in a lot of shapes and sizes.

And I am simply asking for the respect and the right to be identified for what I am and not be lumped together with a much larger group of whom I am not

Sorry, I don't think you get to decide this.

I am a natural blond. A lot of people dye their hair blond. But I don't get to say that they are not blond, even though I don't appreciate the subset of fake-blonds that also get breast enlargements and fake tans and act like bimbos and the resulting "dumb blond" jokes. They are still blond. And those people who inconspicuously dye their hair don't get to say THEY'RE blond, but not those who are "obviously" bottle blonds...

It doesn't strike as deeply, I know, and I am not trivializing. I just don't think you can dismiss those who have taken, for whatever reason, a different path in womanhood.
posted by Pax at 12:04 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


loquacious said.
Do you have any idea how few truly positive role models there are in popular culture for transwomen?

Actually quite a few - at least from the transexual side of things:
http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TSsuccesses/TSgallery1.html

I respect your right to self identify as a transgender and/or pangender and have no problem in any way accepting you as such.

But I am not transgender. All that I have ever wanted to be was a woman nd nothing else from a gender standpoint.

And all that I want is the right to be identified as something separate from the many other equally valid gender choices out there.

Sadly the geeral public, more times than not , sees me no differently than a crossdresser - not here on MeFi but 90% of middle America does. Been there - experienced that.

I want to be identified and understood for who I am and for what I have chosen and not be lumped together into a much larger milieu of some very different choices.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:06 PM on December 22, 2009


Pax said
Sorry, I don't think you get to decide this. ...
...
I just don't think you can dismiss those who have taken, for whatever reason, a different path in womanhood.


Then we will have to agree to disagree. I do wish you could dee the dichotomy in your two sentences above that appeared closely together.

I don't get to decide who I am yet I am expected to allow others to decide for me?

We will have to agree to disagree and go our separate ways
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:10 PM on December 22, 2009


Accurate labels for my life choice would prevent people fro lumping me in with someone like that.

Ironically, this is why mental health professionals no longer refer to service consumers by their diagnosis, because the stigma of being "a schizophrenic" -- or, having a "mental condition," as you put it -- immediately and unfairly conjures an image of someone straight-jacket bound in a rubber room. It's a put down when used as a societal label and not a clinical diagnosis, and it's clear that you're similarly applying labels to others in order to separate yourself from those you feel superior to, which I think is why people, regardless of gender or sexual preference, are bristling at your comments.

Having said that, great article and thread, A++ Metafiltering here.
posted by The Straightener at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I respect your right to self identify as a transgender and/or pangender and have no problem in any way accepting you as such.

I identify as "me". The use of the terms trans or pangender are only for the purposes of this discussion for lack of better vocabulary. It has nothing to do with your statements, which I empathize with deeply. While I understand why you may take that as personal, I haven't actually read any of your statements while writing that comment so you really shouldn't take it as personally as you seem to be. My comment is not a response to yours, or anyone, in the thread.

Your mileage and motivations may vary as is your right.
posted by loquacious at 12:16 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


loquacious, me and my siblings all have copies of that poster. one of the few crimethinc things I've instantly identified with.
posted by shinyshiny at 12:25 PM on December 22, 2009


Aw, loquacious, come here and have a hug. Everybody needs one, you know. :)
posted by jokeefe at 12:26 PM on December 22, 2009


I don't get to decide who I am yet I am expected to allow others to decide for me?

No.

You get to decide who you are. You are a woman.

Other people also get to decide that they are women, and you don't get to tell them otherwise any more than Germaine Greer gets to tell YOU otherwise.

Germaine Greer doesn't get to police your gender identification; you don't get to police anyone else's gender identification.

This is not rocket surgery.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:26 PM on December 22, 2009 [16 favorites]


loquacious said
While I understand why you may take that as personal, I haven't actually read any of your statements while writing that comment so you really shouldn't take it as personally as you seem to be.

Of course the subject itself is an intensely personal one for me and one which I am obviously passionate about but by "personal" I assume that you mean that you feel that I felt offended by something that you said. That is not the case in any way. Perhaps it is my style of writing?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2009


Accurate labels for my life choice would prevent people fro lumping me in with someone like that.

But that would in fact require some sort of policing, and who's going to do that? Who's going to mark out the boundaries of "woman" vs "dude in a dress (who identifies as woman)"?

In addition to being Hawaiian, and born-female, and bad at math but good with words, and a maker of a fine martini, I'm also a lesbian, and a butch one at that. So I have a lot of experience with being "represented" in the popular culture by images or characters or people on talk shows that are not in any way a reflection of how I experience being a lesbian.

Over the years of coming out - because there was that one big "coming out" event when I was in college, but I keep moving or meeting new people or whatever, so the "coming out" is sort of an ongoing process - I've personally encountered a few people who have very odd ideas about homosexuality, garnered from the aforementioned talk shows/porn movies etc., and my solution to their ideas about What Homos Are Like is, yes, to talk and educate. Not to say - because really, how would I know? - "That woman on the [sensationalist talk show] is not a lesbian!" but rather "I know that's what you saw on TV, but my life is like [this], not like [talk show].

Because what it comes down to is that people are going to use labels, and they are often going to use them in the laziest/easiest (for them) way possible. You can't prevent the dudes-in-dresses from saying they're women if that's what they want to say; you can't prevent them from identifying as women, or trans. You can't prevent people who claim to represent "your" community from going on TV to talk or act in ways that you see as damaging to your identity or community. I mean, youliterally cannot prevent this.

My solution to the representations of the gay/lesbian/butch/martini-making community that I see as inaccurate or narrow or just plain wrong is to point out how utterly different that is from my experience and the experiences of people I know well. This, obviously, will not work for everyone - I live in a time and place where I can be out without being afraid of getting fired or kicked out of my housing, or losing any friends. But I can't imagine what other viable options there are that don't involve policing other peoples' identity.
posted by rtha at 12:32 PM on December 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Perhaps it is my style of writing?

Yeah, you're coming off a bit strong and defensive but that's ok. People seem to be interpreting it as "these other transgender people are wrong and I'm right and that's that!"
posted by loquacious at 12:33 PM on December 22, 2009


Sidhedevil said:
Germaine Greer doesn't get to police your gender identification; you don't get to police anyone else's gender identification.

If you are now talking about who is or is not a woman then I think that a great many modern feminists would agree that they DO indeed get to decide who is and who is not a woman.

Is a corporate CEO who reeks of male privilege but who has a secret life dressing up in the the evenings to go out to paint the town a woman if he says he is? If he demands it?

Would you grant him that self-identification and agree with it?
If so, then suspect strongly that the vast majority of feminists would disagree with your assessment.

And if so then we shall have to agree to disagree and go our separate ways.

But if not - if you do agree that my extreme example is one where obvious labeling needs to be corrected - then we have a starting point upon which we can agree that labels are necessary and that self-identification is not necessarily the best option - and we could go on from there.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:36 PM on December 22, 2009


loquacious, thank you for your post.

*hug*

*looks self-conscious*
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:37 PM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


If you are now talking about who is or is not a woman then I think that a great many modern feminists would agree that they DO indeed get to decide who is and who is not a woman.

If you have read any of my posts on this thread, surely you must have gotten the idea that I think that those people are so wrong they could not be any wronger.

Because those people think you're a man. And you aren't a man.

Is a corporate CEO who reeks of male privilege but who has a secret life dressing up in the the evenings to go out to paint the town a woman if he says he is?

I don't get to police anyone else's gender identification. If someone self-identifies as a woman, but poses as a man in the workplace, what skin is it off my back? Plenty of cis women have done this through the ages.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:44 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't get to decide who I am yet I am expected to allow others to decide for me?

Sorry, I wasn't more clear. Yes, you get to decide what you are. No gets to say you aren't a woman, just like you don't get to say anyone else isn't a woman.

Agree to disagree. Peace :-)
posted by Pax at 12:44 PM on December 22, 2009


loquacious: Thank you. Reading what you wrote affected me in many deep ways. *hug*
posted by hippybear at 12:45 PM on December 22, 2009


Sidhedevil: jinx.
posted by Pax at 12:46 PM on December 22, 2009


Is a corporate CEO who reeks of male privilege but who has a secret life dressing up in the the evenings to go out to paint the town a woman if he says he is? If he demands it?

I think the problem, Poet_Lariat, is that you're defining people by the way they choose to present, and that's pretty much not what gender identity is meant to be about. As someone with a trans history, you should understand that.

If someone feels like a woman despite presenting as male for most of their life, but is only able to escape from the masquerade and be their real selves when they "paint the town," why does that make what they feel on the inside any less valid?

To understand how frustrating it is to read your posts, please imagine if someone told you that the whole time before you transitioned, you were not a woman. Not on the outside, not on the inside, not at all. Doesn't that idea infuriate you? Because that's what you're effectively doing -- you're saying that people who don't meet your standards for how women should act and appear aren't women.
posted by aedison at 12:47 PM on December 22, 2009


Poet_Lariat: Is a corporate CEO who reeks of male privilege but who has a secret life dressing up in the the evenings to go out to paint the town a woman if he says he is? If he demands it?"

Well, if it's a secret life, then when is he demanding it? If he wants to say he's a woman while out painting the town red and wearing a dress, sure, what the hell.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:47 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is a corporate CEO who reeks of male privilege but who has a secret life dressing up in the the evenings to go out to paint the town a woman if he says he is? If he demands it?

Perhaps. I don't know.

I've been told a bunch of times in my life that I am not a "real" woman because I don't sleep with men. Absurd! we say. But there are culturally hefty mores out there that say exactly this (although not as loudly as they used to): that unless you are heterosexual and married and have children, you are not a "real" woman.

I guess my question is, then, Poet, what would your definition of "woman" be? I'll bet some amount of money that I or some other ciswomen in this thread would not fit it. So what would that mean?
posted by rtha at 12:47 PM on December 22, 2009


*pushes aside ArmyOfKittens*
*pushes aside hippybear*
*hugs loquacious*
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:48 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


rtha says:
But that would in fact require some sort of policing, and who's going to do that? Who's going to mark out the boundaries of "woman" vs "dude in a dress (who identifies as woman)"?

Well that's the really difficult part , isn't it now? :)
We start by entering into a dialog much like we are doing now. Where this leads, who can say?


Over the years of coming out - because there was that one big "coming out" event when I was in college, but I keep moving or meeting new people or whatever, so the "coming out" is sort of an ongoing process -

See, that's the thing. I never "came out" in the sense that you did. I wanted to be perceived just as a woman . Coming out is rather a paradox for me because the moment that I do so is the moment that I lose the very thing I worked so hard to achieve (and yeah, lost so much for in terms of finances, friends and family). So this is a course of anxiety for me - by educating others I sacrifice to some degree exactly what I hope to gain.

You can't prevent the dudes-in-dresses from saying they're women if that's what they want to say; you can't prevent them from identifying as women, or trans. You can't prevent people who claim to represent "your" community from going on TV to talk or act in ways that you see as damaging to your identity or community. I mean, youliterally cannot prevent this.

Well again I am conflicted. I can't literally prevent this of course but I could help correct this by exposing what I am - and then losing a large part of who I am. I don;t have to tell you of the perception of TS women in a woman's bar. I have had other dyke woman instantly reject me , after having known me for some time, the moment that I came out to them regarding my past. It;s more common than not - as I am sure you are aware. So it is a source of conflct for me.


I live in a time and place where I can be out without being afraid of getting fired or kicked out of my housing, or losing any friends.

I do not live in such a place. And I live in 21st century San Francisco. And I've spend a considerable amount of time in woman's bars as well.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:49 PM on December 22, 2009


Me too, Poet! (In case you didn't click my profile, like I didn't click yours and I don't even know if it says where you are.) You should come to a meetup and then we can do this the right way: Solve the world's problems over some beer. Or non-alcoholic beverages, if that's your thing. But I solve best over beer.
posted by rtha at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Feminism is about treating all people with the respect and dignity they deserve.

A person who self-identifies as a woman is a woman. The end.
posted by Lobster Garden at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


rtha says:
I guess my question is, then, Poet, what would your definition of "woman" be?

Isn't that a good question? :)
I have no decisive answer . And I know that I have revised my "definitions" several ties in that past. And I probably will again. But I think it needs to be discussed in a larger arena by many more people.

Personally, I honestly kind of go by the rule that "when you're around one you know"
(which really sucks of course for a general rule - which is why there needs to be more discussion regarding gender choices)
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:53 PM on December 22, 2009


Lobster Garden
Feminism is about treating all people with the respect and dignity they deserve.

I always thought it had to do with empowering women to survive, succeed and thrive in a male dominated world myself.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:02 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is a corporate CEO who reeks of male privilege but who has a secret life dressing up in the the evenings to go out to paint the town a woman if he says he is? If he demands it?

You ever met this person? Do they really exist? I mean, is this person more hypothetical than actual for you?
posted by Sova at 1:05 PM on December 22, 2009


You ever met this person? Do they really exist? I mean, is this person more hypothetical than actual for you?

J. Edgar Hoover?
posted by loquacious at 1:08 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Poet_Lariat: Is a corporate CEO who reeks of male privilege but who has a secret life dressing up in the the evenings to go out to paint the town a woman if he says he is? If he demands it?"

The corpse in the library: Well, if it's a secret life, then when is he demanding it? If he wants to say he's a woman while out painting the town red and wearing a dress, sure, what the hell.


Then there should be no woman's space that is protected from any man who chooses to barge in whenever and however he wants?

Which brings up full circle back to Feminism and Feminist Theory again - which is really where we belong :)
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:10 PM on December 22, 2009


Then there should be no woman's space that is protected from any man who chooses to barge in whenever and however he wants?

You mean the way the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival is "protected" from you, Poet_Lariat, because you had a male gender assigned to you at birth?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:12 PM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


IPoet_Lariet: a corporate CEO who reeks of male privilege but who has a secret life dressing up in the the evenings to go out to paint the town a woman if he says he is? If he demands it?

Sova: You ever met this person? Do they really exist? I mean, is this person more hypothetical than actual for you?


Yes, I have met this kind of person countless times. In person. Face to face. In reality. It's a reality based archetype
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:12 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then there should be no woman's space that is protected from any man who chooses to barge in whenever and however he wants?

Space?

When I see someone who is dressed as a woman but whom I suspect might be trans, do I treat her like a woman? Yes. This could be your hypothetical CEO. Why would what she does in another aspect of her life matter?
posted by Pax at 1:13 PM on December 22, 2009


Sidhedevil says
You mean the way the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival is "protected" from you, Poet_Lariat, because you had a male gender assigned to you at birth


Yeah and I really hate that and boycott the place personally - but this is exactly why I believe better definitions are in order and more discussion is needed.

Personally I don't see them "protecting" themselves from me so much as a lot of people who pretend to be me - and we have no good way of determining the difference easily.

I don't like what they are doing - but I would welcome the opportunity to dialog about it with them.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:15 PM on December 22, 2009


Pax says:
When I see someone who is dressed as a woman but whom I suspect might be trans, do I treat her like a woman? Yes. This could be your hypothetical CEO. Why would what she does in another aspect of her life matter?


When I see a 50 year old man in an ultra-short miniskirt, 5" heels, double-D stuffing and made up like Lady Gaga's bad grannie, i treat him like the parody of a woman that he is making himself out to be. Not only do I not consider him to not to be a woman but I personally consider it offensive and demeaning to be displayed as a fetishistic parody of what I am as a woman.

That is where I am coming from
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:20 PM on December 22, 2009


Poet_Lariat, it really does sound like you're a first-class bigot.
posted by aedison at 1:22 PM on December 22, 2009


Poet_Lariat, do you really not see a difference between your insistence that you're a woman and other people's insistence that *they're* women, too? I mean, what if someone plopped down in this thread and said - look, you're not a woman, you were born with dudely parts, a woman is a person born with womanly parts. And they weren't willing to budge on this. How would you feel? Wouldn't you think they were wrong?

And they would be wrong, is the thing, just as wrong as I think you are about when a woman "gets" to call herself a woman. You cannot just claim a position of authority here; none of us can. But when you say a woman who still has dudely parts is *not* a woman, you discount the entire life experience and transition of a lot of women out there who are absolutely as much woman as you are in their hearts and their minds and their souls?

(And, although this has been addressed earlier, the phallocentrism of "the weener's gotta go" is so shocking to me, and completely discounts the FTM trans experience.)
posted by harperpitt at 1:22 PM on December 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yes, I have met this kind of person countless times. In person. Face to face. In reality. It's a reality based archetype

That's cool, I know they do exist, because I've met them too. But I wondered if the lack of sympathy was from not ever having talked to such a person and tried to understand where they're coming from. I mean, a lot of the time I read comment by people like Greer, I wonder if she's ever met a trans person. Some of the things she says - like how she describes the way trans women look, or that they wouldn't transition if womb transplants were mandatory - make it obvious she has a warped view that could do with a good dose of "sit down and listen". I guess that's not the case for you, and that you've listened to how people feel and identify, but decided otherwise.
posted by Sova at 1:23 PM on December 22, 2009


for "a difference" plz read "the similarities." that'll teach me not to preview.
posted by harperpitt at 1:24 PM on December 22, 2009


Personally I don't see them "protecting" themselves from me so much as a lot of people who pretend to be me

No. They don't want YOU there, because you weren't assigned a female gender at birth. Which part of that don't you understand?

They think you're a man, because you were once assigned a male gender. They are absolutely as bigoted as you are being when you suggest that other people who self-identify as women aren't women because they currently have a penis, or whatever other way you think they're Doing Feminity Rong.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:26 PM on December 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


harperpitt said
Poet_Lariat, do you really not see a difference between your insistence that you're a woman and other people's insistence that *they're* women, too?

M only point of insistence is not being lumped in under an umbrella of transgender definitions , the vast majority of which do not apply to me. I only ask to be clearly defined fr what I am . I have many times in this thread avoided the issue of who is and who is not a woman. That is not my immediate concern or what I want to post about. My only concern is being identified for who I am and for people to understand how this is different from other labels and choices. The matter of who is or who is not a woman is a larger and more complex question.


(And, although this has been addressed earlier, the phallocentrism of "the weener's gotta go" is so shocking to me, and completely discounts the FTM trans experience.)


An FtM experience is a different experience than an Mtf. The two should be treated differently A crossdresser and a TS person should be defined and understood to be different as well.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2009


When I see a 50 year old man in an ultra-short miniskirt, 5" heels, double-D stuffing and made up like Lady Gaga's bad grannie, i treat him like the parody of a woman that he is making himself out to be. Not only do I not consider him to not to be a woman but I personally consider it offensive and demeaning to be displayed as a fetishistic parody of what I am as a woman.

You know, when I see Lady Gaga, I treat her as the parody of the woman she is making herself out to be. Then, when I get drunk in a pub with my friends, I praise her for being the best woman ever: because she can cast off the "authenticity" of her femininity as good as any drag queen, and hint at the awful truth: we're all parodies (and it's okay).
posted by Sova at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Sidhedevi said
No. They don't want YOU there, because you weren't assigned a female gender at birth. Which part of that don't you understand?

I don't know why you think I should be upset or flustered by this. I respect their right to define their Woman's Space as they see fit. I neither agree not accept their answer but I do respect it. And I feel that continued dialog with them if such a thing were possible would lead to greater understanding and change.

Which is pretty much the same answer I gave you earlier
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:34 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know why you think I should be upset or flustered by this.

I don't want you to be upset or flustered. I want you to understand that your reasoning is specious, and that you don't "pass" as far as they are concerned. Plenty of other women who were assigned a male gender at birth have had "dialog" with the people who came up with the "womyn-born-womyn" policy, and it hasn't changed. I don't think you'd be any more likely to persuade them.

As a woman who was assigned a female gender at birth, I find the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival policy to be bigoted and discriminatory and generally shitty, and I would never go there for that reason. I'm outraged that you wouldn't be welcome there, even if you're not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:42 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cheers, loq! I only hope that you wear your gender as proudly and as accurately as you wear your username.
posted by stet at 1:43 PM on December 22, 2009


Sidhedevil
I don't want you to be upset or flustered. I want you to understand that ....
I don't think you'd be ....
I'm outraged that you wouldn't be welcome there, even if you're not.

Please save your outrage , your wants and your thoughts for someone who frankly cares. This will be the last time we will ever communicate because I have no desire to be lectured further to by some internet keyboard warrior.

You don't get to define me or my thoughts or tell me what I should ostensibly be outraged about. Save your outrage for the whales.
And you don't get to place me into your nice transgendered box.

I will not communicate with someone who so forcibly wants me to be what they say I should be .
I have the right to NOT be defined by you.
I have the right to NOT be placed into your convenient transgender cubbyholes.

Please have the last word because experience has shown me,if nothing else, that people like yourself always do.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:50 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


M only point of insistence is not being lumped in under an umbrella of transgender definitions , the vast majority of which do not apply to me. I only ask to be clearly defined fr what I am .

No, you don't. You keep saying that you do, but your writing in this thread as an entirety makes it totally clear that what you really want is to be able to exclude others from the self-definitions they are trying to claim. You may not mean to come across that way, but that's the way you're coming across, and that's why people keep arguing with you.
posted by Caduceus at 1:57 PM on December 22, 2009


I think Sidhedevil would just define you as a woman, fwiw. SHe doesn't need you to be outraged, though, I don't think. I didn't get any hostility until this very last post...
posted by Pax at 1:58 PM on December 22, 2009


Caduceus:
No, you don't. You keep saying that you do, but your writing in this thread as an entirety makes it totally clear that what you really want is to be able to exclude others from the self-definitions they are trying to claim.

Please, I would like to ask what self-definition are you seeing me exclude people from and specifically which people? I'd appreciate it if you could use a quite of mine rather then just something you may have felt that I said.

Thanks :)
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:01 PM on December 22, 2009


experience has shown me,if nothing else, that people like yourself always do.

*laughs*

Forgive me, but you've made 26 comments so far. I'd bet on you getting the last word in here.
posted by mediareport at 2:01 PM on December 22, 2009


Please, I would like to ask what self-definition are you seeing me exclude people from and specifically which people? I'd appreciate it if you could use a quite of mine rather then just something you may have felt that I said.

One example of many from above:
When I see a 50 year old man in an ultra-short miniskirt, 5" heels, double-D stuffing and made up like Lady Gaga's bad grannie, i treat him like the parody of a woman that he is making himself out to be. Not only do I not consider him to not to be a woman but I personally consider it offensive and demeaning to be displayed as a fetishistic parody of what I am as a woman.
posted by kmz at 2:04 PM on December 22, 2009


I would like to ask what self-definition are you seeing me exclude people from and specifically which people?

Um... well, you want someone to find a quote from you... how about this?

When I see a 50 year old man in an ultra-short miniskirt, 5" heels, double-D stuffing and made up like Lady Gaga's bad grannie, i treat him like the parody of a woman that he is making himself out to be. Not only do I not consider him to not to be a woman but I personally consider it offensive and demeaning to be displayed as a fetishistic parody of what I am as a woman.

Sounds pretty exclusionary and downright ugly to me.
posted by hippybear at 2:04 PM on December 22, 2009


jinx, kmz. one of us owes the other a coke.
posted by hippybear at 2:05 PM on December 22, 2009


Poet_Lariat:When I see a 50 year old man in an ultra-short miniskirt, 5" heels, double-D stuffing and made up like Lady Gaga's bad grannie, i treat him like the parody of a woman that he is making himself out to be. Not only do I not consider him to not to be a woman but I personally consider it offensive and demeaning to be displayed as a fetishistic parody of what I am as a woman.

hippybear: Sounds pretty exclusionary and downright ugly to me.


Yes, it's true that I would not consider the person described above to be either female nor a woman. If you do, then we have fundamental differences that can not be reconciled and we shall have to agree to disagree. :)
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:07 PM on December 22, 2009


Please allow me to direct you to my comment early in this thread, and then perhaps to the two threads which I mentioned there but did not link, wherein a lot of these issues were already discussed, about gender expression and whether one should have the right to dress and express onesself as they wish. I think it's a pretty good microcosm of the MeFi attitude toward this kind of thing. Perhaps that will help you understand why you're getting so much pushback against your own expressed prejudices.
posted by hippybear at 2:13 PM on December 22, 2009


Please, I would like to ask what self-definition are you seeing me exclude people from and specifically which people? I'd appreciate it if you could use a quite of mine rather then just something you may have felt that I said.

And I do not want to be confused with someone who lives a very different lifestyle.

I can tell you , only from personal experience ,from meeting with hundreds of various types of TG people over the years that I would personally consider only perhaps 1 in 10 of those presenting themselves to me as some sort of "transexual" or "transwoman" to be a woman. That's right, as someone who has changed gender myself many years ago, even I only soncider a tenth of those who claim to be someone such as myself to actually be what they claim.

What to do when someone wants to attach a label to themselves that is inherently very wrong? Saying that we should be accepting is really quite contrary to what and who we are as a species, in my observation.

I do not accept that all people who call themselves transwoman are woman.

Many transwoman that I know or have encountered are part time crossdressers. I do not consider them to be woman.
posted by Pax at 2:14 PM on December 22, 2009


Poet_Lariat, do you at least understand why people are upset at your comments? You claim for yourself the right to not be defined by others, but are happy to define others as you see fit and not accept their own self-definitions. It's impossible to "agree to disagree" with you because you position is contradictory.
posted by Sova at 2:14 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


That said, I think we're done here.
posted by Sova at 2:15 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Perhaps that will help you understand why you're getting so much pushback against your own expressed prejudices.

I'm only getting "pushback" from a very few people out of many thousands seeing this thread.

I have only stated that I do not want to be places in a nice little "transgendered" box along with someone who is say, a fetishistic transvestite, as an extreme example.

If you wish to consider a fetishistic transvestite (again extreme example) as a female and as a woman (as I believe you implied) that is your perogative and your right.

As it is my right to not consider such a person female.
As it is my right to nor be lumped together with such a person (extreme example again) when identifying to others.

Seeing another Mefi thread will not change my desire or my perception.

You have every right to consider a transvestite female and/ot a woman (whatever the difference is) . As I have the right to not consider him such.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:21 PM on December 22, 2009


In that case, yeah, I think we're done here.
posted by Pax at 2:21 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I will not communicate with someone who so forcibly wants me to be what they say I should be .
I have the right to NOT be defined by you.
I have the right to NOT be placed into your convenient transgender cubbyholes.


Maybe I'm misreading here but I don't see Sidhedevil as trying to pigeonhole you or define you or put you in a convenient anywhere. If I'm reading Sidhedevil right, she's pointing out that just as you rightly demand that you be called what you identify yourself to be, other people have that right too. The fact that they define "woman" differently from you doesn't make their right to be called what they want any less legitimate.

Phyllis Schlafly defines herself as a woman, and except for having the same primary and secondary sex characteristics as I do (I'm just going to pretend that I know for sure that she and I are both XX here) we could hardly be more different. She's not a woman in the way in which I am a woman, and yet here we both are, women. And I'm not going to try to tell her that she's not a woman.

Likewise Dolly Parton. Talk about stereotypical female performance! But she and I and Phyllis are all women. (Just to be clear, I think Dolly is awesome and Phyllis is not; I also think that Phyllis is much more damaging to the idea of "woman" than Dolly is. But that's me.)
posted by rtha at 2:25 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Shoulda previewed.

If you wish to consider a fetishistic transvestite (again extreme example) as a female and as a woman (as I believe you implied) that is your perogative and your right.

I didn't see anyone here say this. I see lots of people saying that if the fetishistic transvestite identifies as a woman and says she is a woman, then that is what she should be called and recognized as.

I don't think anyone here has any interest in going into drag bars or whatever and announcing that all the performers are women. All the drag performers I know identify as male in the part of their lives when they're not on stage.
posted by rtha at 2:28 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pax,
Just as with Sova, you seem to take issue with my assertion of :
Many transwoman that I know or have encountered are part time crossdressers. I do not consider them to be woman.

Look, I don't consider a part-time crossdresser to be either female nor a woman. Most part-time crossdressers don't think of themselves that way either. If you do that's your prerogative however I don't think that I am expressing a particularly odd personal opinion here.

I asked for specific examples from me to lock down exactly what we were talking about. I wanted to find out what I said regarding not wanting to be put into a "transgendered box" and about having well defined labels was offending you.

If you are personally offended by my not believing that a transvestite is a woman we will just have to agree to disagree.

But this discussion is not about transvestites - it's about gender and about feminism.
Pretty much everyone agrees that a transvestite (person with a fetish ...) is a man. Very few would disagree. You do and I respect your opinion but I do not agree with it. Transvestites have little to do with gender and a lot do do with sexual parapheiias.

If this is all it's about why don't we just move on.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:34 PM on December 22, 2009


rtha says:
I didn't see anyone here say this. I see lots of people saying that if the fetishistic transvestite identifies as a woman and says she is a woman, then that is what she should be called and recognized as.

Is this just a pronoun thing? For politeness sake I would use the female pronoun in such a person's presence as I am sure that you would.

Let me ask you ,as a woman, would you personally and inside your heart consider a transvestite or even a gay drag queen to be truly a woman regardless of what pronoun you called him by?

P.S. I'm not sure how or why we reverted to this very specific discussion as I think it has very little to do with feminism.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:38 PM on December 22, 2009


I knew a transgender woman (M to F) that was part of a feminist group to which I belonged. I have to say I found it difficult to sympathize with her sexism comments since she had been doing business as a man for a long time before publicly transforming. I realize of course that she experienced prejudice from many fronts as a transgendered person, but the sexist issue just did not seem fitting. She was known as a man before the change and she was still getting the benefit of that state. And quite frankly, I don't think she really got what it meant to have grown up as a female and face the expectations that come with that.

I did not think she needed to leave the group but I did dismiss, on some level, her assertions about sexist treatment.
posted by Red58 at 2:39 PM on December 22, 2009


Red58 says :
knew a transgender woman (M to F) that was part of a feminist group to which I belonged. I have to say I found it difficult to sympathize with her sexism comments since she had been doing business as a man for a long time before publicly transforming. I realize of course that she experienced prejudice from many fronts as a transgendered person


I have seen similar things as you describe. I never experience discrimination as a transgendered person per se. But at 27 , my salary went to one third of what it had been after I transitioned. And I began to be passed over for promotions in favor of male peers. I had never understood male privilege prior to that I thoroughly understood it in the years that followed.

She was known as a man before the change and she was still getting the benefit of that state. And quite frankly, I don't think she really got what it meant to have grown up as a female and face the expectations that come with that.

I , and a lot of people like myself never wanted to ever be perceived as having been a man at some point in our lives. There are major differences in how different groups of people approach this - which is yet another reason that I do not want to be lumped into a category, such as "transgendered" that does not really describe the experience that I had.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:47 PM on December 22, 2009


Poet_Lariat, what the fuck?

You are a woman. I am not saying you aren't a woman.

What I'm objecting to is a) other people who say you aren't a woman, and b) your saying other people aren't women.

I am not policing your gender identification in any way. You, on the other hand, are policing other people's gender identification.

There is a word for that in English, and that word is "hypocrisy."

Let me ask you ,as a woman, would you personally and inside your heart consider a transvestite or even a gay drag queen to be truly a woman regardless of what pronoun you called him by?

How is it hard for you to understand that others don't want to police other people's gender identification?

And you seem to be using language very idiosyncratically. A "gay drag queen" is someone who self-identifies as a man except when performing as a woman. A transvestite is someone who identifies as a person of one gender dressed up as a person of another gender.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:56 PM on December 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Let me ask you ,as a woman, would you personally and inside your heart consider a transvestite or even a gay drag queen to be truly a woman regardless of what pronoun you called him by?

I don't know. It would depend hugely on the person. It would depend most of all on if they wanted to be called women, and if they publicly identified as women.

If the part-time cross-dresser doesn't consider himself a woman, then I guess I don't need to either.
posted by rtha at 2:59 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do not want to be lumped into a category, such as "transgendered" that does not really describe the experience that I had

This is another way you're using language idiosyncratically. What, to you, does "transgendered" mean other than "having a gender identification different from the one you were assigned at birth?"

I mean, I don't really care if you answer me or not, but that is the definition of the term.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:00 PM on December 22, 2009


rtha said:

Maybe I'm misreading here but I don't see Sidhedevil as trying to pigeonhole you or define you or put you in a convenient anywhere. If I'm reading Sidhedevil right, she's pointing out that just as you rightly demand that you be called what you identify yourself to be, other people have that right too.

Actually the only right that I am demanding is to NOT be pigeonholed into a group (transgender) with which I share very little commonalities. What I am called and considered to be in everyday life generally is an issue that takes care or iself.

The fact that they define "woman" differently from you doesn't make their right to be called what they want any less legitimate.

It's all well and good for us to discuss equality for all and defer to everyone's right to be known for what they want to be known as here on Mefi . Where the s*it hots the fan is when someone like me applies for a job and somehow their TS past gets known and they get turned away primarily because the interviewer say "one of those kind of 'women'" on a Jerry Springer show one day.

Real life is where definitions matter and misperceptions have real life consequences.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:04 PM on December 22, 2009


I don't think we can blame people for caving to the immense social pressure that is constantly upon all of us.

Besides, any effort to make feminism a less inclusive, more divisive movement that will simply not accept certain people is a step very much in the wrong direction, in my opinion.


To a certain extent, I can see why someone would prefer to blame some nebulous collective entity rather than dig beyond a superficial level, but that last bit of course I have to take issue with. The liberal men here clearly do not have more than a shallow grasp of even BASIC feminism, that's why we have to have thousand comments threads explaining why catcalls, harrassement and rape jokes etc create gross harm for females.

So I hope that's enough evidence that Liberal Dude Nation probably doesn't have a clue when it comes to somthing like transgenderism. And perhaps you should take a back seat, this time.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 3:16 PM on December 22, 2009


Ah. Now perhaps we've gotten to it.

There is still, in the gay community, a portion that would like all the nelly boys and flamers and drag queens and stone butches to go away, because "those kinds of people" give "our" community a bad name.

I'm very sorry that assholes have denied you jobs (or housing, or anything) because of misconceptions they have about MTFs, transgender women, crossdressers, whathaveyou.

But you cannot control what TV they see or magazines they read, and likewise you cannot control the behavior of other people (MTFs etc. as above). The queer community has gone through phases of "straight-acting" being where it's at, at least in parts of the community, and you know what?

People who hate or fear gay people are going to hate and fear us even if we are all models of gender appropriate dress and behavior (well, except for the sex thing).

You do yourself no favors by being enraged by things that are completely and utterly out of your control. There is no council that can hand down a proclamation that makes it clear to one and all the THESE are women over HERE and over THERE those are NOTWOMEN.

The only thing you can control is yourself. If you cannot - for physical safety reasons, or financial reasons, or any reason at all that's a good reason for you - afford to come out and allow the ignorant-but-not-hateful to see that some women were not born women, and look! here's one right here at the next desk!, well, I get that. I do. But that's the option. Or you can boil quietly in rage, or let it go. Those are options too.

That's it, though. You tell people; or, you don't and get pissed at how misrepresented you feel; or, you let it go, and try to be like the duck's back in the rain. You can't make other people not call themselves women if they want to, or not wear dresses if they have dicks but don't identify as women, or anything like that.
posted by rtha at 3:18 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's the attitude here which is at the heart of the problem. You don't have a fucking clue about BASIC feminism, but somehow you are magically qualified to tell feminists what they should think about this.

Now tell me why you don't deserve to have your ass ripped just for that bit of stupidity.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 3:21 PM on December 22, 2009


It's the attitude here which is at the heart of the problem. You don't have a fucking clue about BASIC feminism, but somehow you are magically qualified to tell feminists what they should think about this.

Now tell me why you don't deserve to have your ass ripped just for that bit of stupidity.


Care to elaborate? I mean, I don't even know who this comment is aimed at, or what your opinions are, except that somebody somewhere has apparently got BASIC feminism very wrong. Give us a "fucking clue", if you will.
posted by Sova at 3:30 PM on December 22, 2009


So I hope that's enough evidence that Liberal Dude Nation probably doesn't have a clue when it comes to somthing like transgenderism. And perhaps you should take a back seat, this time.

I think we were talking about the beliefs of Germaine Greer, Julie Bindel, Janice Raymond and (hell, why not?) probably also, although not named, Sheila Jeffries on transpeople, with particular reference to transwomen. I think that many people identifying as feminists in this thread have queried whether those people are representing a) the mainstream of feminist thought and b) the right direction for feminism to take on trans issues. I confess that I don't know offhand whether all of those feminist-identifying people were liberal dudes, mind.
posted by DNye at 3:40 PM on December 22, 2009


BASIC feminism looks like this:

10 DO
20  INPUT "How should men and women be treated differently?", D$
30  IF D$ <> "Not at all" PRINT "Sorry, no"
40 LOOP UNTIL D$ = "Not at all"
50 PRINT "Equal rights!"

posted by 0xFCAF at 3:46 PM on December 22, 2009 [16 favorites]


Do you feel the same rage when you see a a 50 year old woman in an ultra-short miniskirt, 5" heels, double-D stuffing and made up like Lady Gaga's bad grannie?
posted by prefpara at 3:54 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would just like to say that my job has mandated that I treat transpeople, which has turned into beings hundreds of trans patients, and the vast majority of them wouldn't recognize sexism if it bit them on the ass. Whenever one of them talks about how a client roughed them up during sex, they giggle like mad dogs because that's how they think women should be treated. Even as the nurse is trying to stop the bleeding caused by "rough sex".

They view that as confirmation and validation. They're fucking stupid as hell. And whenever someone like myself or Greer or Bindal expresses our frustration in writings which are intended for other radical feminists, liberal dude nation always responds the same way. By avoid focusing attention on the REASONS why we object to transgenderisn, and instead making the only issue one of how evil we are. As if no actual reasons exist. Listen to yourselves some time.

The only time they actually cry about their bruises, is when they're trying to advance their agenda with sympathy.

If you want to read some things I suggest almost every post on this site:

http://fabmatters.wordpress.com/
posted by bravelittletoaster at 4:01 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Julie Bindel writes for the Guardian - I don't think she's presupposing a readership made up entirely of radical feminists. Germaine Greer's statement about ghastly parodies was also made in the Guardian - again, not generally sold as a dead letter drop for radical feminists. I'm not quite sure what the argument here is...
posted by DNye at 4:17 PM on December 22, 2009


At risk of sounding like a broken record, one of the biggest advantages (and, once you start becoming aware of it and trying to change, biggest disadvantages) that accrues to privilege is obliviousness.

Not to take the momentum out of the current fight that's brewing but,

Couldn't this argument be used from either side of the issue? And isn't that part of the point of those earlier in the thread whose statements are seemingly against feminism as I admittedly am as well?

It would be a hostile arrogance to deny white privilege which I have certainly benefited from. As well as American/first world privilege. Middle (lower but it's worlds above poverty) class privilege. And even in some cases male privilege. Yet at the same time, there are distinct female privileges which I, like many men are disadvantaged by and depending on your status, your goals, and your philosophies. And it's possible that they can legitimately outweigh those of male privilege to the individual. That some initially classified as men would be willing to modify their bodies in dangerous ways, put themselves in one of the most reviled social groups and face severe threats of violence not to mention usually a complete upheaval of their lives to be able to physically make themselves into women is a testament to it. Certainly that's not the reason they do it, but if it appeared to be such a solidly worse option to be a woman then only with lunacy would people be undergoing this.

I can't claim to have come even close to experiencing the difficulties and struggles that the trans community faces but there are certain aspects I get. When I was a preteen through teen I secretly dabbled with cross-dressing whenever I had the chance. I remember the constant self loathing of my looks and my body because of all women treating me as if I were an ugly monster (these same young girls would rationalize their hatreds using the same power/privilege arguments, though worded less eloquently, that I see every time these feminist threads come up. Because even though their hatred was bigotry against whatever they didn't find pretty, my being a man was enough to moralize it.). I spent a few years physically being assaulted in school due to someone claiming I was gay (over a misinterpreted comment).

I did not know about reassignment surgery and had no contact with trans folk or even much with gay communities so the option wasn't on the table, but I certainly spent a lot of time wishing I was a woman. After all, in the comfort of middle class white america, they were fawned over and desired giving them social power in every possible way. And while that came with a downside of disrespect and sexual harassment/assault, there were always more men who would stand up against the stereotypes, protect them, and even more so who were at the mercy of female whim and would simply accept resignation. Had I been in a situation where I could have afforded it and been able to start over, I would unquestionably have become a woman. It makes little sense to do now and I can't foresee any happiness resulting from it, nor would I pass the psych exam before transition, but the longing is still there. This is not an unawareness of many instances of woman whose lives who, by no fault of their own, would not have been preferable. But of course the same goes true for men. And far more of those of a comparable situation to mine reap the rewards of life I will never experience. And my experience is they prefer their lives to mine as well.

Meanwhile, the opinions of the article cannot be ascribed to all feminists. Moreover a few people have made the suggestion that the anti-trans stance of feminists may not be a majority. However, what can be said is a self-consistent argument can be made off some of the fundamental tenets of feminist which can be anti-trans people and which some feminists hold. And to be clear, this means against some of the most marginalized unhappy and unfortunate people often just looking for a way to find a bit of comfort in their lives. As issues like this continue to pile up, people should start catching on that there is in fact something(s) fundamentally wrong with feminism.
posted by kigpig at 4:22 PM on December 22, 2009


Your sample could not be more different from mine, bravelittletoaster.

liberal dude nation always responds the same way.

Who the fuck are you talking to? Because as far as I know in this thread, most of us tangling with this are born-XX-type women.
posted by rtha at 4:25 PM on December 22, 2009


As issues like this continue to pile up, people should start catching on that there is in fact something(s) fundamentally wrong with feminism.

No there isn't. There's something fundamentally wrong with bigotry, and sadly there is a slice of those who identify as feminists who also carry around a shitload of bigotry about any number of topics.

This is not too far removed from most of humanity, actually. And it is only through active exploration and conscious removal of bigoted responses within one's psyche that an individual transcends that tendency. And individuals are not equal to the philosophy they may ascribe to, so taking any individual as a true representative of anything is always going to yield false results.
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whenever one of them talks about how a client roughed them up during sex, they giggle like mad dogs because that's how they think women should be treated.

Also, I hate to break it to you, but this doesn't make them special or unusual. An awful lot of ciswomen believe this too.
posted by rtha at 4:29 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


A trans-woman being recognized as a woman diminishes your womanhood? Is that like how allowing gay marriage diminishes straight marriages? Oh my god, let people be!
posted by prefpara at 4:36 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you want to read some things I suggest almost every post on this site:

http://fabmatters.wordpress.com/
posted by bravelittletoaster at 12:01 AM on December 23


From that site:

But all these [above mentioned] things are routinely shouted down as transphobic in the feminist community. To the point where “transphobia” has come to mean “anything that a trans person doesn’t like”.

And with their trigger-happy accusations of TRANSPHOBIA! (as distinct from actual transphobia) trans-activists have shot themselves in the foot. At best, TRANSPHOBIA! has become an empty charge, and at worst, a silencing tactic. And among feminists who are not so easily silenced, it is a running joke.


I'm going to print this out and pin it on my wall. And then every time I'm tempted to get into an argument with you about trans people, I'll read it and know to save my breath. Consider this a "silencing tactic" if you will, but please also try crossing out and replace the pertinent words in that quote with ones related to sex/race/sexuality/whatever, and you might understand. Has it really come to this, where some feminists sound like angry old white men railing against a world they can't come to terms with?

PS If you're struggling, here's something similar in easy cartoon form.
posted by Sova at 4:40 PM on December 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


lol My previous comment made it sound like I'm a writer. oops.

When is it right to dismiss a set of objections as mere hate? The arguments on abortion, gay rights, etc have been painstakingly discussed ad nauseam in great detail, for decades. We've all heard the entire set of arguments and rebuttals literally thousands of times. Some of us can recite them in our sleep. But the automatic knee-jerk reaction upon hearing someone objects to transgenderism occurrs without ever having experienced any period or calm reflection or little more than one reading of one objection. Now ask yourself why that is.

Another thing. Every other group which claims oppression, has demanded all the rights and priviledges accorded to the default human, in spite of their particular self-identity. Transgenderism, on the other hand, is the only group which demands to be treated less than the default human -- for they demand to be treated by others as a gender. What does it mean, when the principle they're trying to use isn't consistent with all the other groups?

And of course, another question requires a careful answer: does anyone really have the right to force others to treat them as whatever they self-identify as? And why is it acceptable when that principle is also applied unfairly? Will the people on this site treat me as a Goddess? Because that's MY self-identity!
posted by bravelittletoaster at 4:44 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every other group which claims oppression, has demanded all the rights and priviledges accorded to the default human, in spite of their particular self-identity. Transgenderism, on the other hand, is the only group which demands to be treated less than the default human -- for they demand to be treated by others as a gender...does anyone really have the right to force others to treat them as whatever they self-identify as?

I am unclear exactly what you mean by this, but it seems you come dangerously close to saying that 1) there are specific self-identities which are somehow subhuman and not deserving of rights and privileges of being human, 2) transgendered people are demanding to be treated as subhumans because of their non-majority gender self-identity, and 3) it is not a matter of individual "rights and privileges" to be treated according to your self-identity.

Is that really what you're saying?
posted by hippybear at 4:52 PM on December 22, 2009


bravelittletoaster: "Will the people on this site treat me as a Goddess? Because that's MY self-identity!"

I generally prefer to go about my business on this site as if you did not exist, and in that sense I am treating you in exactly the manner I would any God or Goddess.
posted by idiopath at 5:00 PM on December 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


Poet_Lariat said:

I can tell you , only from personal experience ,from meeting with hundreds of various types of TG people over the years that I would personally consider only perhaps 1 in 10 of those presenting themselves to me as some sort of "transexual" or "transwoman" to be a woman. That's right, as someone who has changed gender myself many years ago, even I only soncider a tenth of those who claim to be someone such as myself to actually be what they claim.

....

I respect your right to self identify as a transgender and/or pangender and have no problem in any way accepting you as such.


I'm having trouble reconciling these two statements. You want to be identified as a woman on your presentation alone, but you stand in judgment of others who want you to accept their identity as women. Yet you go on to say you have no problem accepting a stranger's self-identification online. A lot of what you've written comes off as extremely judgmental even as you ask others not to judge you and to instead accept your self-identification. You've indicated that you want complete freedom to define and choose your own label, but it sure sounds like you've denied others the right to do the same.

But back to the topic at hand... as someone who considers herself a feminist, I'd rather feminism be open to different forms of womanhood. Uh, whatever womanhood actually is. That might mean that sometimes freaky-deaky dudes weasel their way into, what, feminist rallies? The feminist club? But I look at it the same way I look at welfare. Better that some people be allowed to game the system than more be excluded so they don't. You want me to think of you as a woman. Let me know that, and I will. You want me to think of you as a person, an individual? EVEN BETTER.
posted by Never teh Bride at 5:01 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't see anyone here say this. I see lots of people saying that if the fetishistic transvestite identifies as a woman and says she is a woman, then that is what she should be called and recognized as.

Are you good with this hypothetical person using the women's locker room and showers at the local gym where you and many other women are naked much of the time? It seems to me that this is where the rubber meets the road and not what we here on an internet forum are fine with. It's easy to say we regard anyone who identifies themselves as such as a woman when we have no real skin in the game. It's harder when I guarantee that a great many women would be very deeply uncomfortable with the situation I outline.

I'm not claiming I have the answers, only that theoretical discussion like this don't always translate easily to the practicalities of life.
posted by Justinian at 5:05 PM on December 22, 2009


When is it right to dismiss a set of objections as mere hate?

When the person ignores the arguments that have been painstakingly discussed ad nauseam in great detail, for decades, and instead insists that they have something new and interesting we must drop everything to respond to. "What about this?"-ism and "nobody's ever answered my question properly!"-ism are usually screens and delays used by people to continue in their prejudice.

Transgenderism, on the other hand, is the only group which demands to be treated less than the default human -- for they demand to be treated by others as a gender.

No.

And of course, another question requires a careful answer: does anyone really have the right to force others to treat them as whatever they self-identify as? And why is it acceptable when that principle is also applied unfairly? Will the people on this site treat me as a Goddess? Because that's MY self-identity!

What are the alternatives? Apart from your stupid fucking example, what do you suggest? Because if you want people to be treated as they are identified by others, then great, I might go out and shoot myself right now.

Actually, I'm going to bed now, cause I'm tired. But I'll be happy to respond in the morning to any further questions that don't regard trans people as colonizing women's space, stealing young butch lesbians, comparable to limb amputation, or just plain mentally ill. We've heard all this tiresome shit a million times and it drags, it really does, especially from people who claim to know better.
posted by Sova at 5:09 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think I actually understand what Poet_Lariat has to say, although I can't say whether I agree with it or not because it's her point of view, not mine.

Anyway. Let's see if a fresh take and a cooler head will bring a new perspective to this. Or open a new can of worms. Either way.

Let's say we have a person named Chris. Chris' only exposure to "black culture" is through gangsta rap videos and slapstick comedies. That person would have a very skewed view of what it means to be black. Now, let's say we have someone named Lee, who is half-black but appears to be white. If Lee told Chris, "hey, there's something I've never told you, I'm half-black," Chris would suddenly have some really ill-informed opinions about Lee based on a very narrow worldview. Lee might then jump back and rightly say "well, no, I don't want to be identified (lumped in) with that culture."

Of course, the analogy breaks down because Lee can't say "those people aren't actually black," as Poet_Lariat is saying "those people aren't actually women, no matter how they self-identify." However, I understand Poet_Lariat as saying that she does not want people's perceptions of her informed by the ... what? flashier? more dramatic? elements of transgender culture. Some people really DO think that trans women are just like the crossdressers on Jerry Springer. Some people really DO think that young black men are all like gangsta rappers. They're wrong, and they need to be corrected.

If you're racist in today's society, you're just a complete blithering idiot because you're not paying any attention. But there are still lots of people who have not knowingly come across a trans person, and their views of trans people are largely or solely informed by sensationalist media. I can understand not wanting to be lumped in with that portrayal.

Of course, Poet_Lariat, if I'm way off base, please feel free to correct me. I don't mean to speak for you, I just feel like the conversation had gotten stuck in a rut and no one was listening to each other anymore.
posted by desjardins at 5:11 PM on December 22, 2009


Let people be.

This made reading the thread worth it.
posted by nola at 5:17 PM on December 22, 2009


sebastienbailard: "Or I'll just say it bluntly: I don't think upper-middle-class US/Canda/UK/Australia/Western Europe *is* a patriarchy anymore."

*Looks around*
What, do we have free day care yet? Or socialized medicine? The environment's fine and dandy? Based on the persecution of transfolk and the other infighting, it seems like much of academic-type feminism has disappeared up its own asshole rather than working on action towards real issues.


In a lot of Western Europe at least, we do have free day care and socialised medicine, yes. I'm aware of many of the arguments that feminism extends to all political issues, but I'm not buying the idea that our not having stopped destroying the environment proves that there is still patriarchy. The logical disconnect there is just too big.
posted by Dysk at 5:46 PM on December 22, 2009


dgaicun's ridiculous generalizations about what "Feminists" feel about trans issues deserve nothing but scorn.

It certainly doesn't deserve a rational consideration, anything but that! lol

Dictatorship says: "Although X is a topic which has never reached public or scientific concensus, we'd like to discuss X with people who don't agree with X, but only under the special circumstance of acknowleging that our opinion of X is correct, and that anyone who doesn't agree with our opinion is phobic." When the debate itself is always centered upon basic questions of validity, attempting to assume that validity has already occured is dishonest, to say the least.

It's also the foundation of hypocrisy, which the trans advocates have been wallowing in. A reasonable person cannot act as if they hold the high moral ground until they provide evidence which proves they are entitled to it. Tears are proof that someone is unhappy, not that they should be given whatever they want just to make them stop crying -- which is why reasonable people discuss questions of injustice within a framework of universal rights.

I'm sincerely asking. Why must I acknowledge someone's self-identity as being "real" to them? To clarify why I don't immediately leap on the transgender bandwagon, consider that alcoholics frequently insist that they're not alcoholics and pedophiles routinely insist they don't molest small children. Obviously, a reasonable person is not going to simply take everybody at their word regarding their self-identity. We need some type of criteria or principle to determine if it is even possible to rely on someone's claim for self-identity, lest we be suckered by pouty faces and sad eyes.

And of course, in order to assume their out-of-body experience is a phenomenon sane people experience, I would have to first believe that something in the human brain causes a person to require a dick in order to be good at math. Again, I'm sincerely asking, and apologies if it sounds snarky but I don't know how else to say this concisely: how do you reconcile the feminist idea that a female doesn't need a dick to pick up a hammer, with the transgender idea that a female needs a dick if she wants to pick up a hammer? Those two concepts appear mutually exclusive.

Is the assertion that these folks are sane? Perhaps we should start with that.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 6:29 PM on December 22, 2009


And of course, in order to assume their out-of-body experience is a phenomenon sane people experience, I would have to first believe that something in the human brain causes a person to require a dick in order to be good at math. Again, I'm sincerely asking, and apologies if it sounds snarky but I don't know how else to say this concisely: how do you reconcile the feminist idea that a female doesn't need a dick to pick up a hammer, with the transgender idea that a female needs a dick if she wants to pick up a hammer?

What. The. Fuck.
posted by kmz at 6:35 PM on December 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


bravelittletoaster: how do you reconcile the feminist idea that a female doesn't need a dick to pick up a hammer, with the transgender idea that a female needs a dick if she wants to pick up a hammer?


I think you've misunderstood and misrepresented the motivations of just about every transgendered person I've ever met in the most profound way possible, there.
posted by Dysk at 6:41 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


How do you reconcile the feminist idea that people should be treated equally with the Manichean idea that the moon is made out of cheese?
posted by kmz at 6:43 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


they giggle like mad dogs

This made reading the thread worth it.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:45 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think I'm adding names to my MeFi troll list. This is fascinating.
posted by hippybear at 6:48 PM on December 22, 2009


attempting to assume that validity has already occured is dishonest, to say the least.

your're not to valid , prove me wrong.


I'm sincerely asking. Why must I acknowledge someone's self-identity as being "real" to them?

Back at you buddy.


I don't immediately leap on the transgender bandwagon, consider that alcoholics frequently insist that they're not alcoholics and pedophiles routinely insist they don't molest small children.

Wowwy wow.

Tears are proof that someone is unhappy, not that they should be given whatever they want just to make them stop crying --

Tell me how to make you cry so I can make you cry.
posted by nola at 6:49 PM on December 22, 2009


I think you'll find that "back at you buddy" is not a compelling argument...
posted by Dysk at 6:53 PM on December 22, 2009


I don't know - at this point I'm not sure what a compelling argument is. We've got people comparing transpeople to paedophiles, a woman insisting that she isn't one of those transwomen just because she was born male, someone who appears to believe that women's superpower is sexual desirability, which trumps male privilege and without which nobody would want to transition... I'm really struggling to get a handhold on all that, possibly because I am a liberal dude.

Also, I'm pretty sure that mad dogs don't giggle. They do go out in the midday sun, though, if that helps at all.
posted by DNye at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whatever a compelling argument may or may not be, it's not just quoting a question and inserting a flippant nothing-remark.

Yeah, there's a lot of specious shit in this thread (it's a controversial issue, and this is the internet, even if it is one of the nicer corners of it) but at least some of that specious shit is the result of some effort at proper debate.
posted by Dysk at 7:06 PM on December 22, 2009


Whatever a compelling argument may or may not be, it's not just quoting a question and inserting a flippant nothing-remark.

Are you calling me out? Because it would be great if you just made that clear here.
posted by nola at 7:16 PM on December 22, 2009


So, OK, the question was:

Why must I acknowledge someone's self-identity as being "real" to them?

And that's not a stupid question, certainly. I'm not sure there us any way to compel someone to acknowledge another's self-identity - so, by extension, there is no "must". Of course, the stakes are lower and higher for different identities, and the impacts are greater or lesser. If I decide not to respect my cisgendered bus conductor's identity as a man, then the potential impact of that is pretty limited - I'll get some odd looks if I call him "Miss". If that bus conductor is a transman, and I insist on making a big deal about how that bus conductor is, as far as I am concerned, a woman and will damn well be treated as such, then the potential impact on the bus conductor is probably going to be greater - especially if someone _else_ on that bus is violently upset by the thought of transpeople and would otherwise not have noted that the bus conductor was transgendered... and so on.

So, there isn't really a "must", but there is, I think, a "should". Generally, it's polite if somebody identifies themself as a man or a woman to go with that. If somebody identifies as "not an alcoholic" or "not a paedophile", I think that's a different concept of identity, because whereas gender is something we generally put in as a primary processing cue when we look at people, drinking habits or predilection for illegal acts of any kind are not. Like it or not, gender is a thing that we seek to taxonomise, whereas unless someone is an alcoholic _at us_ it's not something we're likely to look for immediately.

Also, one could probably agree that being a woman or a man is a less controversial thing to be, either way, than being an alcoholic or a paedophile - which is why associating someone who perceives themselves and wishes to be perceived as something other than their physical gender at birth with someone who wishes to conceal the fact that they are an alcoholic or other feels like rhetoric.
posted by DNye at 7:23 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


...bad, empty rhetoric at that. There's also the fact that there are reasonably uncontroversial and empirical definitions for alcoholism and paedophilia (not entirely, but to a much greater extent than for gender - we can, for example, conclusively disprove the assertion "I don't molest children" empirically, whereas there is no conclusive or empirical test of somebody's gender).
posted by Dysk at 7:27 PM on December 22, 2009


FWIW to the folks keeping track of whose not worth replying to in the future on this issue (and I agree this thread has some fine new additions) bravelittletoaster was also responsible for dropping this absurdly simplistic turd in the 2008 Michigan Womyn's Festival thread:

An interesting thing I have noticed about almost all mtf is that they get really happy whenever some guy treats them like a sex object -- no amount of abuse or denigration is too extreme as long as they're considered female.

It's weird that this issue brings out some very bizarre emotional reactions where folks dig in quickly and deeply negatively against trans folks, instead of honoring the complexity of the many issues involved, but it does, and those folks really, really aren't worth the time.
posted by mediareport at 7:37 PM on December 22, 2009


As issues like this continue to pile up, people should start catching on that there is in fact something(s) fundamentally wrong with feminism.

No there isn't. There's something fundamentally wrong with bigotry, and sadly there is a slice of those who identify as feminists who also carry around a shitload of bigotry about any number of topics.

This is not too far removed from most of humanity, actually. And it is only through active exploration and conscious removal of bigoted responses within one's psyche that an individual transcends that tendency. And individuals are not equal to the philosophy they may ascribe to, so taking any individual as a true representative of anything is always going to yield false results.


There is if it's logically consistent with the principles or ideals of the philosophy, ideology or the movement. I have yet to see anyone point out why this bigotry is logically inconsistent with feminism, even if most (probably) don't hold it themselves. So for now, the socially conscious actors are the ones with a core hypocrisy. This argument plays out with discussions of religion constantly which is for some reason applicable there but never with feminism. Certainly I'd rather see kindly hypocrites than morally consistent bigots, but ideally it would be nice to abandon those things that lead to them.
posted by kigpig at 7:46 PM on December 22, 2009


I have yet to see anyone point out why this bigotry is logically inconsistent with feminism, even if most (probably) don't hold it themselves.

I thought hippybear did a good job of showing that just upthread.
posted by kafziel at 7:53 PM on December 22, 2009


There's also the fact that there are reasonably uncontroversial and empirical definitions for alcoholism and paedophilia (not entirely, but to a much greater extent than for gender - we can, for example, conclusively disprove the assertion "I don't molest children" empirically, whereas there is no conclusive or empirical test of somebody's gender).

Well, bravelittletoaster might respond that there is precisely such a test - one can go back to their birth certificate and discover if Martha standing in front of you was born Arthur. What you do with that knowledge, I guess, depends where you want to go with it, and what your objective is. If your intention is to keep things straight by imposing your definition of gender - perceived gender at birth - over other people's, that becomes how you treat that person. If you are inclined to accept other people's self-expression of gender, then you probably wouldn't be looking at someone's birth certificate in the first place, but it might be of only anecdotal interest. If you're trying to work out whether to let someone into Michigan Womyn's Fest, then it's a key document. If, like poet_lariat, you see whether or not the other person is a woman as dependent on other factors than birth gender - that is, all biowomen are women, and some people born male and now identifying as women in some way or other are not women, whereas others are.

I think the outcome of this thread is that some people see the duty of feminism here as ensuring that the community of women is not adulterated by the presence of people who were not born woman. Others see the duty of feminism as to protect and advance all women, regardless of whether those women were born women. And others see feminism as a toolkit to examine and take apart inequalities and injustices, even if those injustices (socialised medicine, for example) seem very broad to some observers.
posted by DNye at 7:56 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


kigpig: I have yet to see anyone point out why this bigotry is logically inconsistent with feminism, even if most (probably) don't hold it themselves.

That proof is not necessary. There's no logical inconsistency between having a beard and raping young boys, but that does not imply anything at all. The bigotry in question is not a logical consequence of feminism, and that is a much more meaningful question.

DNye, your birth certificate asserts what your sex was at time of birth, but says little to nothing of gender.

I'm being incredibly snarky here, but I just have to pick out this choice quote:

And others see feminism as a toolkit to examine and take apart inequalities and injustices, even if those injustices (socialised medicine, for example) seem very broad to some observers.

Actually, I think that people upthread were arguing that socialised medicine would help address some inequalities, not that socialised medicine is an injustice. :P

posted by Dysk at 8:05 PM on December 22, 2009


...also, even if we conflate gender and sex, there is no uncontroversial or reliable test - witness the clusterfuck that was trying to determine Caster Semenya's sex.
posted by Dysk at 8:07 PM on December 22, 2009


Irony: women who object to having society force them into a particular role because of their chromosomes try to force others into a particular role because of their chromosomes.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:08 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's also the fact that there are reasonably uncontroversial and empirical definitions for alcoholism and paedophilia (not entirely, but to a much greater extent than for gender - we can, for example, conclusively disprove the assertion "I don't molest children" empirically, whereas there is no conclusive or empirical test of somebody's gender).

As aedison pointed out above, "There are studies that show that male-to-female transsexuals do not have the same brains as cisgendered men."
posted by kafziel at 8:09 PM on December 22, 2009


Regardless of the unpleasantness that has sprung up here and there - just wanted to thank everyone in this thread. I don't know anywhere else I can go on the Internet to get a discussion of this quality, on this subject (or most others). Kudos to all.

As to the matter at hand - the division seems to come down to the question of whether, when there is a difference between the body (i.e. genitalia) and the brain (i.e. identity) should be interpreted as indicated a problem with the body or with the brain. I don't really know how to decide that question, myself. I don't find it to be any skin off my back to be nice to people, trans or cis, but this seems as clear a case of straight-up, unmediated value judgement as I know of.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:09 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, I think that people upthread were arguing that socialised medicine would help address some inequalities, not that socialised medicine is an injustice.

Just so. The absence of socialised medicine. Good point re: the intersex issue - although pretty much anything analogue will fit into some sort of sliding scale, of course, and there will likewise always be outriders and unexpected inputs.

Could you break down your distinction of sex and gender, Brother Dysk? I was quite careful to talk about perceived gender above - that is, perceived future gender ascribed by those able to speculate and ratiocinate in a way that the newborn was not.
posted by DNye at 8:13 PM on December 22, 2009


kafziel, there's a lot of medicalese in those documents that is virtually impenetrable to a poor social science student like myself, but I think I can just about grok this:

We revealed a cerebral activation pattern in MTF transsexuals compared with male controls similar to female controls compared with male controls during viewing of erotic stimuli, indicating a tendency of female-like cerebral processing in transsexualism.

Or rather, I thought I could grok that. I thought that meant that people who had been men, but had, through the wonders of medical science, become women, responded like women. Which, surely, proves nothing other than that, as far as that test can ascertain, the MTF transsexuals are women.

...but then, given that I only have access to the abstract, I can't see how they define MTF transsexual - is this somebody who has had SRS? If so, I think my interpretation stands, and the results are unsurprising, and show nothing other than that SRS works. If transsexual refers to somebody who has not had SRS, but self-identifies with a different gender to what their genitalia would imply, that has a whole host of other implications. However, that doesn't change much. It makes it possible to test to see if somebody is transsexual (does their brain profile match what would be expected based on their genitalia?) but does not provide any answer to the question of whether to consider them male (based on genitalia) or female (based on brain profile).

(One of the linked articles didn't load at all, and the other was similar to the one I quoted, but more technically dense and vague in definitions).
posted by Dysk at 8:26 PM on December 22, 2009


(On lack of preview...)

DNye, I'm working with gender as having a primarily psychological or sociological definition, which physical aspects certainly can and do play into, and sex being purely physiological.
posted by Dysk at 8:30 PM on December 22, 2009


Also, I'm pretty sure that mad dogs don't giggle. They do go out in the midday sun, though, if that helps at all.

Can we go back to J. Edgar Hoover? I liked the part about J. Edgar Hoover.
posted by Kirklander at 8:33 PM on December 22, 2009


I thought hippybear did a good job of showing that just upthread.

It links to a comment critiquing the claim that transgendered people want to be less than the default human. I don't see what at all that has to do with the bigotry consistent/inconsistent with feminism argument.

That proof is not necessary. There's no logical inconsistency between having a beard and raping young boys, but that does not imply anything at all. The bigotry in question is not a logical consequence of feminism, and that is a much more meaningful question.

Having a beard doesn't say anything about raping young boys and naturally does not encourage or lead to such things. It is a physical characteristic and completely irrelevant. Feminism, in trying to be the leviathan of civil rights movements, certainly makes claims that are very much relevant to whether or not it's okay to be transgendered. The argument has been made fairly clearly on why as a feminist someone should be against them, and hence I say that the hypocrisy is at it's core. Arguments against have simply veered off course into moral arguments about it, which while I may agree with, do not refute the claim that feminists should be against transgendered folk.
posted by kigpig at 8:40 PM on December 22, 2009


How does it go? When your only rebuttal is insults, you've lost the debate? The other techique used (besides insults) is to refocus the discussion -- instead of addressing the actual criticism, people with no refutation available will change the subject and talk about how the feel about they criticism.

As aedison pointed out above, "There are studies that show that male-to-female transsexuals do not have the same brains as cisgendered men."

Sigh. More bad logic and this take-down is as simple as it gets: "X is different from Y" does not prove, amazingly enough, that "X needs to switch to Y".

Where did you folks learn how to dissect a logical assertion, anyway?
posted by bravelittletoaster at 8:44 PM on December 22, 2009


I wonder why there isn't an examination of female to male transgendering in the article or here?

First of all, there aren't that many, they have always made up a very small percentage within trans circles. The numbers supposedly have been increasing slightly in recent years though. One theory for that increase is that sexism is increasing and more young women feel that they can't express their internal character if it directly contradicts society's genderized expectations. Or it could be that more visibility is required, from a public relations stance. Janice Raymond, author of The Transsexual Empire, suggested they served the function of tokenism, to make transsexualism appear "more natural" if it effected more than just males. She made the point that when she tried to verify the actual number having consultations with doctors etc, the number was always smaller than originally claimed, which does support her tokenism theory. There is no reason to inflate the numbers, after all.

Secondly, since males have always been the dominant class, appropriating male behavior etc is more acceptable without any other excuse being necessary. So the need to switch genders is not there.

Third. It's much harder to make a medically constructed dick functional. It take many more surgeries and the results are still far below expectations.

Fourth. Just as radical feminists still consider mtf to be male both by biology and socialization, they also consider ftm to be female.

Fifth. Our society prefers that effeminate men turn themselves into second class girls, but our society still doesn't think girls should have all the rights and privileges of the default human. Of course this is going to affect how the potential ftm is treated by the medical establishment.

Sixth. When is the last time you saw a little boy wearing a pink shirt with sparkles on it? In our society, boys are simply not allowed to wear, to perform, to be anything that smacks of icky girlishness. If he would attempt, he would be ostracized, harrassed, or worse. In our society, if a boy wants to do any girly activity or express any girly trait, he is assumed to be gay or born in the wrong body. The idea that a boy would quite happily wear a pink sparkly shirt is anathema. When our society gets to the place of enlightment where any boy can wear a pink sparkly shirt and bows in his hair with total impunity, and some other boy claims he was born in the wrong body -- then and only then could it be said that socially constructed gender expectations were not affecting his decision.

Hey mods, let's notice that you allowed a one link post, pushing a certain agenda. Cos I sure as hell did.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 8:46 PM on December 22, 2009


Wow, bravelittletoaster... I'm now convinced you're a troll. Or else incredibly bigoted and blind to your own prejudices. I cannot continue reading this thread after your last post. I wish you well and will light a candle hoping for your enlightenment.
posted by hippybear at 8:53 PM on December 22, 2009


kigpig, my point was that in making the claim that "feminists should be against transgendered folk" the burden of proof is on you, to show that being against transgendered folk is a logical consequence of feminist thought, not on everyone else to find the logical inconsistency between feminism and a bigoted attitude to transgendered folk. You have so far failed to do that in a convincing manner.

bravelittletoaster: how do you reconcile the feminist idea that a female doesn't need a dick to pick up a hammer, with the transgender idea that a female needs a dick if she wants to pick up a hammer? Those two concepts appear mutually exclusive.

False premises. It's probably fairly uncontroversial to say that the idea that a female (or male, or anyone else for that matter) doesn't need a dick to pick up a hammer is a feminist idea. However, to claim that the inverse is a transgender idea? That doesn't even make sense. You can have a feminist idea (to an extent) as feminism is a (wildly varied and divergent) set of beliefs and ideas. Transgender, however, is not a set of beliefs and ideas, but a descriptor for people who feel they have the wrong physical sex (forgive the imprecise and frankly rubbish definition). There is no implied common feature to transgendered people beyond that, certainly no implied common set of beliefs or ideas. The very notion of a "transgender idea" is logically incoherent.
posted by Dysk at 8:55 PM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


When your only rebuttal is insults, you've lost the debate? The other techique used (besides insults) is to refocus the discussion -- instead of addressing the actual criticism, people with no refutation available will change the subject and talk about how the feel about they criticism.

I think you missed the one where in the face of criticism you complain to the mods/threaten to call the Internet Police, but yes, essentially.

Brother Dysk: Well, yes and no - there are transgender activists and activist groups (like Riki Wilchins and Transexual Menace) groups and there is transgender academia and literature - for example Kate Bornstein's My Gender Workbook. That said, there's really nothing in any of that to suggest that gender reassignment is being advanced as the necessary first step to expressing any masculine characteristics. The idea of a transgender idea isn't totally incoherent, but I think the statement that that is a transgender idea is.
posted by DNye at 9:13 PM on December 22, 2009


Jimmy Havok: "Irony: women who object to having society force them into a particular role because of their chromosomes try to force others into a particular role because of their chromosomes."

Yo, the vast majority of violence against trans women is perpetrated by men. Men. Not feminist women. The implied criticism of all feminists because of a few radical feminist assholes is inappropriate.

bravelittletoaster: "Third. It's much harder to make a medically constructed dick functional. "

Well, thank fuck for silicone!
posted by kathrineg at 9:14 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


My intention is not to minimize, but to reframe in order to help me understand this:

When I was younger, I had wisdom teeth. Most of my life they had been no problem. One day, however, they began erupting through my gums and became impacted and infected and I was possessed of the certainty that something was going horribly wrong in my mouth. For a period of time, I was in agony and most waking moments were spent either trying to dull the pain in one manner or the other or pretend it wasn't there and just go about my life. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't spend the rest of my life in this pain and made an appointment with my oral surgeon to have them removed. After healing, the world was a better place on all levels. Food tasted better, I smiled more, I was a generally happier person.

In time and because I took scrupulous care of the surgery sites, they healed perfectly fine and now, many years later, it's hard to remember that pain. I'm still very conscious that, at one point, I had four additional teeth in my mouth because my tongue knows exactly where to look. It filled me with great surprise to discover that some people still have some or all of their wisdom teeth or, in some cases, were born without them!

It didn't surprise me as much as discovering in another metafilter thread that, all these years, while I'd just been going about my business in a public restroom, others were in the stall next to me apparently trying to combine wiping with Olympics-class gymnastic maneuvers, but still surprised.

Now, I suppose, because my scars have healed I could go through life claiming I was born this way and only those with access to my medical records would be the wiser. Or, I could say that I identify with those who were born without any wisdom teeth while looking askance at those who kept their wisdom teeth. Or I could feel very privileged that, at the time, my parents had amazing dental so I had access to good dental surgery and all sorts of painkillers prior to my choice.

But why does it matter? Doesn't the mere consideration of it as something more than a choice I made at a point in the past to make my life considerably less painful pretty much always doom it and myself to a "Have vs Have Not" situation? Isn't the beginning of classification always a losing argument if the goal is individual recognition? If I understand that my life is better because I don't have my wisdom teeth anymore, why should the business of the mouths of others concern me to the point of taxonomy?
posted by quakerjono at 9:17 PM on December 22, 2009


In case anybody needs a recap, the feminist idea is that healthy girls don't need a dick (and healthy girls don't need to believe they are a boy), in order to do well at traditionally boyish things. But the transgendered idea is that if a girl feels like doing boyish things, then she must be a boy and needs a dick.

If the transgendered are asserting that only people with mental disorders feel the need to switch body parts, then they have my deepest sympathy. And I and all the other rad fems will leave them alone because it's not cool to fool with mentally disabled people, no matter how functional they are.

Unfortunately, in it's current form, transgenderism directly conflicts with feminism and upholds the patriarchal biological essentialism argument. Which is the ONE and ONLY argument which creates and perpetuates sexism. Which is why demanding that feminists support that crap is seriously fucked up.

If you peruse that fabmatters site I linked earlier, there was a post there which made the point that transgendered people don't even understand the BASIC definitions used in the BASIC beginner theories of feminism. Check this out: Here we have a bunch of people confused about their bodies as it relates to gender, and instead of checking the available literature, they make shit up which allows them to do what they wanted all along. Which is why I keep comparing them to alcoholics.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 9:18 PM on December 22, 2009


This post is rude and ignorant (and may be triggering) but I think the comments are interesting and worth perusing for anyone with an interest in this issue from both (all?) "sides".
posted by kathrineg at 9:26 PM on December 22, 2009


bravelittletoaster: "But the transgendered idea is that if a girl feels like doing boyish things, then she must be a boy and needs a dick. "

No trans person has ever caught me doing anything boyish and tried to insist that I stick a dick on. Even when that boyish thing is, say, packing or strapping-on. They don't particularly care what I do!

It's almost too bad...being accosted with a stick-on phallus would've made Differential Equations a lot more awesome.
posted by kathrineg at 9:30 PM on December 22, 2009


I find it... instructive that the post kathrineg just mentioned as "rude and ignorant" shouts out to the blog bravelittletoaster keeps instructing us all to take to heart as a bellwether for what feminism ought to think of transfolk.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:37 PM on December 22, 2009


It really is a small world...which is why I try to discourage people from making generalizations about feminists as a whole based on a few loud, obnoxious, and often ignorant people.
posted by kathrineg at 9:39 PM on December 22, 2009


And by "it is a small world" I mean that there is a small group of people who are loudly perpetuating many the bigoted "feminist" stereotypes and assertions about trans women. Lots of sturm und drang, very little substance and very few allies.
posted by kathrineg at 9:41 PM on December 22, 2009


the transgendered idea is that if a girl feels like doing boyish things, then she must be a boy and needs a dick

This is not "the transgendered idea." The transgendered idea is that if you feel that you are a man but do not have a penis, you should be able to take advantage of what modern medicine can offer or assume whatever characteristics define maleness for you personally. Without being beaten or shamed.
posted by prefpara at 9:57 PM on December 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Or, to put it another way, I love doing man stuff. I am entering a traditionally male profession, I'm assertive, I'm argumentative, I did some amateur plumbing last week. I don't feel like I need a penis to do those things, and neither do transsexuals feel that they need to assume a particular gender identity in order to do stuff. Transitioning is not about doing something, it is about being true to yourself. If you are a man with a vagina, and you feel that this violates your concept of what it means to be male, why the fuck does your choice to conform your body to your male identity turn some feminists, and some posters in this thread, into hateful bigots? I will never understand this.
posted by prefpara at 10:10 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hey mods, let's notice that you allowed a one link post, pushing a certain agenda. Cos I sure as hell did.

bravelittletoaster, if you want to talk about policy write us an email or take it to Metatalk. Don't pull this driveby-metacommentary crap in the thread.
posted by cortex at 10:20 PM on December 22, 2009


kigpig, my point was that in making the claim that "feminists should be against transgendered folk" the burden of proof is on you, to show that being against transgendered folk is a logical consequence of feminist thought, not on everyone else to find the logical inconsistency between feminism and a bigoted attitude to transgendered folk. You have so far failed to do that in a convincing manner.

I agree that the burden of proof is on the one making the assertion. I thought the thread was built upon it but to summarize:

-feminism asserts that being a woman is on the losing side of privilege
-feminism asserts that femininity as in the stylings and expectations of women are social constructs and not an inherent characteristic of what it means to be women
-feminism asserts that we are not defined by our genitalia as a person
-transsexuals are defining themselves or at least a seriously important part of themselves by their genitalia whether intended or not. Transvestites are defining themselves in part by mannerisms and styles of attire attributed to women.
-ergo trans people are at odds with these tenets and if one is to maintain a consistent feminist stance they should be against trans people.

This isn't the best example to demonstrate the problems of feminism (because this doesn't make feminists a major issue faced by trans folk, and with a few minor adjustments the inconsistency can be erased) but probably the one where the most people who adopt the label of feminist would be sympathetic to. Of course one could dismiss the axioms I laid forth and state that I simply don't understand feminism. But of course this is the biggest issue with feminism: it deliberately doesn't have well laid out principles or a goal and they change on convenience even mid argument. It's more important to claim to be on board with team feminism than to lay out specific moral principles and actually have coherent internally consistent ideological principles that resolve them.
posted by kigpig at 11:02 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


bravelittletoaster: how do you reconcile the feminist idea that a female doesn't need a dick to pick up a hammer, with the transgender idea that a female needs a dick if she wants to pick up a hammer? Those two concepts appear mutually exclusive.

False premises. It's probably fairly uncontroversial to say that the idea that a female (or male, or anyone else for that matter) doesn't need a dick to pick up a hammer is a feminist idea. However, to claim that the inverse is a transgender idea? That doesn't even make sense. You can have a feminist idea (to an extent) as feminism is a (wildly varied and divergent) set of beliefs and ideas. Transgender, however, is not a set of beliefs and ideas, but a descriptor for people who feel they have the wrong physical sex (forgive the imprecise and frankly rubbish definition). There is no implied common feature to transgendered people beyond that, certainly no implied common set of beliefs or ideas. The very notion of a "transgender idea" is logically incoherent.


Er. You seem very bright, and I don't know how to say this without it sounding like I'm being a smart-ass. Yes, it's a premise, yes it's valid. If it's false then you actually need to prove it's false because that paragraph up there didn't do it. A basic tenet of feminism, perhaps even the most basic, is that girls don't need a dick to do well at boy things. I think you agreed with that part, though.

But if you want to claim that a basic tenet of transgenderism isn't "a girl needs a dick in order to do boy things" then by golly I'd be thrilled to pieces if somebody could explain precisely what the hell they DO claim. I've spent years now trying in vain to get them to put forth a logical assertion, a tenet, a basic premise, ANYTHING, and they shuffle around their excuses like so much fluff trying to find a justification which works. The REASON they cannot put forth anything which resembles a basic tenet of transgenderism, is because they realize that if the thing isn't logical it's going to be shot down in about two seconds.

Here's the thing: A group cannot claim discrimination if they aren't a group. It's just a bunch of random individuals who happen to occassionally experience the same random unfairness which befalls us all. If they are a group, then what precisely does the members of that group have in common? What is the group asserting about itself in relation to others? This question might attain a degree of urgency for you to find an answer if we phrase it like this: On what basis is anyone else engaging in discrimination?

You can't claim "discrimination" unless there is a "group" being acted against by others, and those others are acting because they "hate" whatever it is that the group is asserting -- even if the only thing being contended is their humanity. But they're not claiming to be human, they are claiming to be a different gender than their biological sex. So whatever their assertion is, it has to do with gender. So what is the assertion? Unless that's all, so the assertion becomes: they are discriminated against because they contend they are a different gender from their birth sex.

And we're right back to my first question, which was already answered:

Why must I acknowledge someone's self-identity as being "real" to them?

DYne: And that's not a stupid question, certainly. I'm not sure there us any way to compel someone to acknowledge another's self-identity - so, by extension, there is no "must". ..., but there is, I think, a "should".


So you do recognize that I am not compelled to recognize their gender, it is only a matter of politeness -- which you apparently assume suffices for a rule of law and a matter of national policy. And the only thing that truly matters to you is how YOU fweel about it. Nobody else's fweelings matter, and logic doesn't matter, and justice doesn't matter. Jesus you're a fucking idiot.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 11:04 PM on December 22, 2009


kigpig: "But of course this is the biggest issue with feminism: it deliberately doesn't have well laid out principles or a goal and they change on convenience even mid argument."

Welcome to human beings, dude. We change over time and we are often disorganized and we often disagree with each other and yet, we still achieve good things.
posted by kathrineg at 11:06 PM on December 22, 2009


Excuse me. Apologies for mentioning your IQ.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 11:06 PM on December 22, 2009


I don't think I will excuse you, littlebravetoaster. You can't handle this argument, and it's pretty clear that you won't be able to in the future. What was it you said in your early and so imaginatively punctuated engagements? Ah, yes:

How does it go? When your only rebuttal is insults, you've lost the debate?

If the best you can manage is calling me a fucking idiot, then I don't imagine your explanations about how you and your friends on top of the mountain are right right right, as proven by logic, are going to convince. Which is pretty much as it should be, since they are not convincing. Perhaps if you didn't just capitalise BASIC, but also used a larger font? Maybe that would make your random collocation of abuse and flannel totally unassailable. I certainly don't imagine that it would be a practical use of my time to try to explain to you the difference between "must" and "should" in ethical terms and the imaginings of your rage-out.
posted by DNye at 11:19 PM on December 22, 2009


bravelittletoaster, there's no objective test to verify another person's sexual orientation, either. Do you demand that gays, lesbians, and bisexuals prove that their self-identity is valid? Feeling a profound sense of alienation from one's own body doesn't necessarily have anything to do with logic or the tenets of any ideology, so I don't understand why you think transgendered people have to justify themselves to you in those terms when (presumably) others don't.
posted by Drop Daedalus at 11:29 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


bravelittletoaster, your arguments are seriously flawed. I missed my flight to Minnesota so instead of eating delicious butter cookies, I'm going to point out some of the particular ways in which you fail. You can thank me later.

Do I repeat myself? Very well, then I repeat myself, your comment is large, but it does not contain multitudes.
if you want to claim that a basic tenet of transgenderism isn't "a girl needs a dick in order to do boy things" then by golly I'd be thrilled to pieces if somebody could explain precisely what the hell they DO claim.
--Refer us to a source for your assertion about the "basic tenets of transgenderism", besides yourself. Feel free to link, quote, or transcribe messages from a divine being.
--One can easily criticize your specious claims without being omniscient or speaking for all trans people. I can tell you that a bird is not a fish. I can't name every fish. That does not mean that bird is a fish.
--You assert that you have knowledge of a basic claim of "trangenderism". Them you assert ignorance of what "they" claim.
--Your pronoun lacks a clear antecedent ("they")
I've spent years now trying in vain to get them to put forth a logical assertion, a tenet, a basic premise, ANYTHING, and they shuffle around their excuses like so much fluff trying to find a justification which works."
--You have claimed that you know of at least one basic tenet of "transgenderism", and yet you state that "they" have not put forth any tenets
--Your pronoun lacks a clear antecedent ("they")
--Your characterization of "them" (whoever "they" are) is condescending and unpleasant (okay, that's not really attacking your argument, but damn you're being unpleasant)
The REASON they cannot put forth anything which resembles a basic tenet of transgenderism, is because they realize that if the thing isn't logical it's going to be shot down in about two seconds.
--Refer us to a source for your assertion about the inner workings of "they", besides yourself. Feel free to link, quote, or pull something out of your ass.
--Your pronoun lacks a clear antecedent ("they")
--You assert that you have knowledge of a basic tenet of "trangenderism". Them you assert that "they cannot put forth anything which resembles a basic tenet of transgenderism".
Here's the thing: A group cannot claim discrimination if they aren't a group. It's just a bunch of random individuals who happen to occassionally experience the same random unfairness which befalls us all. [...]If they are a group, then what precisely does the members of that group have in common? What is the group asserting about itself in relation to others?
--You have claimed to have knowledge of the way that "they" think. If "they" was meant to refer to trans people, then you have already asserted that they do have something in common, the way they think about "transgenderism".
--You use the pronoun "they" to refer to a group of people who share characteristics. Then you assert that they do not share characteristics.
--Your pronouns have antecedents. Gold star.
This question might attain a degree of urgency for you to find an answer if we phrase it like this: On what basis is anyone else engaging in discrimination? You can't claim "discrimination" unless there is a "group" being acted against by others, and those others are acting because they "hate" whatever it is that the group is asserting.
--You refer several times to your intimate knowledge of the shared characteristics of "they", then you imply that "they" have nothing in common
--You claim ignorance of discrimination against trans people (I guess) although you have made several discriminatory assertions about trans people
--Refer us to a source to support your premise that discrimination is not possible without "hate". Feel free to link, quote, or use scare "quotes" for no apparent reason.
[...] even if the only thing being contended is their humanity. But they're not claiming to be human, they are claiming to be a different gender than their biological sex.So whatever their assertion is, it has to do with gender. So what is the assertion? Unless that's all, so the assertion becomes: they are discriminated against because they contend they are a different gender from their birth sex.
--You assert that "they" cannot put forth a basic premise or claim, then you describe them as putting forth such a claim
--You write that "they" make no assertions, then you base an argument on what you claim that they assert
--You state that "they" have nothing in common, and then you state that they all "contend that they are a different gender from their birth sex"--a significant enough commonality for you to generalize about what "they" think and "they" contend
And we're right back to my first question, which was already answered:

Why must I acknowledge someone's self-identity as being "real" to them?

DYne: And that's not a stupid question, certainly. I'm not sure there us any way to compel someone to acknowledge another's self-identity - so, by extension, there is no "must". ..., but there is, I think, a "should".

So you do recognize that I am not compelled to recognize their gender, it is only a matter of politeness -- which you apparently assume suffices for a rule of law and a matter of national policy.
--You can't tell the difference between politeness and morality
--You took someone's statement about what you, personally, should do, and claimed without basis that that person wants their opinion about your behavior to affect the "rule of law" and "national policy" (unless you're a lot more important than you seem).
And the only thing that truly matters to you is how YOU fweel about it. Nobody else's fweelings matter, and logic doesn't matter, and justice doesn't matter. Jesus you're a fucking idiot.
--You can't spell, or you're insufferable (possibly both)
--You assert with no basis that DYne does not care how you "fweel", does not think that "logic" matters, and does not think that "justice" matters.
--You state that Jesus has a below-average mental capacity. Or perhaps you don't know how to punctuate.

Feel free to use this feedback to improve your arguments! I'm off to chug a beer whilst hiding from roving bands of gender-norm enforcing trans men.
posted by kathrineg at 12:19 AM on December 23, 2009 [16 favorites]


Oh gosh I was going to go to bed. In my opinion, radical feminists do not hold any personal views towards transfolk beside sympathy. The conflict rests entirely with the mysteriously missing premise which they claim to not have. People would prefer to believe that those mean ole feminists are hating on transfolk, (and thereby avoid addressing the actual criticism) when the fact is simply that it's difficult to express sympathy towards someone when an argument is in progress.

When you are arguing with your significant other, do YOU stop arguing to give them a big fat juicy kiss, and then go back to arguing?

Why you keep expecting me or any other feminist to periodically stop and blow them kisses, is more about your own personal and irrational expectations, then anything else. Now ask yourself why you keep being so irrational, because I ask myself that all the time. ;) Why is this ALWAYS about your fweelings? How do you fweeeeeeeeeel? Now let's move on and discuss transgenderism in the contest of civil rights. You guys can't! You truly can't discuss anything other than your fweeeeeeeeeelings.

the transgendered idea is that if a girl feels like doing boyish things, then she must be a boy and needs a dick

This is not "the transgendered idea." The transgendered idea is that if you feel that you are a man but do not have a penis, you should be able to take advantage of what modern medicine can offer or assume whatever characteristics define maleness for you personally. Without being beaten or shamed.


Hello. Why does someone feel they "are a man and need a penis and should be able to". You left something out, there. People don't get a new body part unless they fweel they neeeeeed one.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 12:25 AM on December 23, 2009


"context of civil rights".
posted by bravelittletoaster at 12:27 AM on December 23, 2009


Oh gosh I was going to go to bed...

Go to bed. Trust me. It won't seem nearly so important tomorrow. Right now, you are deeeep in the long grass.
posted by Ritchie at 12:31 AM on December 23, 2009


Oh gosh I was going to go to bed. In my opinion, radical feminists do not hold any personal views towards transfolk beside sympathy.

Your opinion is not supported by the evidence. Should I link to blogs that use the word "t****y", say that trans women want to be sex toys, imply that trans women are ugly, etc.? Do you actually read the information that is being put out there by self-proclaimed radical feminists?

When you are arguing with your significant other, do YOU stop arguing to give them a big fat juicy kiss, and then go back to arguing?

Yes, you should try it. I also avoid calling significant others ugly, claiming that they want to be sex toys, or calling them mentally ill in an attempt to dismiss what they're saying or feeling.

Why you keep expecting me or any other feminist to periodically stop and blow them kisses, is more about your own personal and irrational expectations, then anything else. Now ask yourself why you keep being so irrational, because I ask myself that all the time. ;)

I don't think anyone expects you to blow anyone kisses. You don't seem friendly. Nor do trans people necessarily want your kisses. It seems like they would suck. I can't speak for them, though. We already noticed that you are irrational. If you know that you are irrational, why don't you listen instead of talking?

Why is this ALWAYS about your fweelings? How do you fweeeeeeeeeel? Now let's move on and discuss transgenderism in the contest of civil rights. You guys can't! You truly can't discuss anything other than your fweeeeeeeeeelings.


Wow. I'm amazed that people have successfully lobbied for legal protections for trans people, when we all know that they're all crazy irrational fluffy hysterical crazies. The misspelling isn't cute, by the way. It's condescending and it makes you sound like a bully.

Hello. Why does someone feel they "are a man and need a penis and should be able to". You left something out, there. People don't get a new body part unless they fweel they neeeeeed one.


Oh gosh I was going to go to bed. In my opinion, radical feminists do not hold any personal views towards transfolk beside sympathy.

I don't like your definition of sympathy. It is sucky.
posted by kathrineg at 12:38 AM on December 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh Lord, where to start.

"radical feminists do not hold any personal views towards transfolk beside sympathy"

In the case of some, maybe even many of them, this is undoubtedly true. Like most generalities, however, it is not true for everyone. It certainly does not explain, for example, the entire issue of Off Our Backs which was devoted to hysterically claiming that MFTs were all straight men in a secret plot to steal lesbian women, and FTMs were all traitors and dupes who were reducing the limited supply of butch dykes.

"When you are arguing with your significant other, do YOU stop arguing to give them a big fat juicy kiss, and then go back to arguing?"

Sometimes, yes, to let them know I still care about them even though we're arguing. Your line of reasoning is especially suspect in the context of an argument that has gone on for decades. At some point, the other party is going to figure out that you never really loved them after all.

"Now let's move on and discuss transgenderism in the contest of civil rights."

OK. Transgender people frequently experience bias during application, employment, promotion and termination. This result in chronic unemployment and underemployment for many transgender people, especially those who do not "pass" well. Transgender people currently are not legally protected from being fired because of their gender identity and expression. Transgender people are often targeted for hate violence, and hate crimes against transgender people tend to be particularly violent. It has been estimated that transgender individuals living in America today have a one in 12 chance of being murdered, compared to a one in 18,000 chance for the average person. In cases where a hate crime is reported, police response is often inadequate. Transgender people also frequently suffer discrimination in health care. Anti-transgender discrimination also occurs in housing, credit and public accommodations. These are all issues that need to be addressed. The perception of transgendered people as mentally unstable, traitors to the cause of feminism or gay rights, or people with "fake" genders who should be regarded with scorn or pity, feeds these problems by promoting discrimination from the left as well as the right.

"You guys can't! You truly can't discuss anything other than your fweeeeeeeeeelings."

Oh. I guess that was all about my "fweeeeeeeeeelings" then.

"Why does someone feel they 'are a man and need a penis and should be able to' ... People don't get a new body part unless they fweel they neeeeeed one."

And here we get to the heart of the problem.

If I interpret you correctly, you are essentially saying (in a rather nasty way) that you should not be obligated to regard transpeople as their gender of choice, rather than their gender of birth, because people do not have a civil right to be perceived as they wish to be perceived; in your opinion, doing so would be only a matter of "politeness" done to acknowledge someone's "fweelings" (ugh -- really?) on the matter. And you do not wish to be polite, because ... well, frankly because you seem to be kind of rude, but let's continue.

Now, other people have in fact seen this as an issue of civil rights. For example, the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity states that "Each person's self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is intergral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom."

So -- how can a self-definition be a matter of civil rights?

Well, first to establish a few things -- civil rights issues can be both about things that are chosen or options (e.g. religion) or inborn and innate (e.g. race). So, for the purposes of civil rights, it doesn't matter whether someone chooses to be transgender or simply is transgender; all that matters is whether or not this is a right.

Next, I believe (or at least am hoping) that you have no issue with the fact that anyone has a right to declare themselves a certain gender. The issue is whether they have the right to ask that other people acknowledge that.

This is not for the moment dealing with the slippery slope argument; we are not talking about people who declare themselves male or female at a whim (although that question may become much more interesting if technology advances to the point that people *can* change their gender down to the chromosomal level at will.) We are at present discussing people who have spent many years of effort, often endured great prejudice, and sometimes undergone surgery to alter their gender.

Of course, effort alone does not confer a civil right. So what does?

Civil rghts are the class of rights that protect the ability of individuals to participate in the civil life without discrimination or repression. They include individual political freedom, procedural fairness, equal access, protection from discrimination, and protection from oppression.

Let's assume that political freedom (of expression) includes the above-mentioned right to declare your gender. Procedural fairness, equal access, and protection from discrimination are of concern to the transgendered, as noted above, but are not the specific issue here (except perhaps the last one.)

So -- here's the question. Is it oppressive to tell someone, "You are not who you say you are. You cannot be who you say you are. It is impossible. You are at best deluded. No matter how hard you work, what you do, what you say, what you try, you are not who you claim to be."

Well, that is not oppressive if and only if that statement is in fact true. But is *is* oppressive if the statement is false. Not just about someone's feelings -- genuine oppression. Consider situations when the statement would of course be false, when applied, say, to someone's education, profession, or religion.

Which means the question becomes not "Why should I acknowledge your feelings?" but "Is it possible for someone to change genders?"

And the thing is ... gender is much more fluid and confusing than people would like to believe. It is a strange combination of genetics, epigenetics, social constructs, appearance, and perceptions. If you define it strictly by chromosomes, that breaks down quickly when faced with a number of obvious real-world cases of people whose chromosomes did not match their genitalia. Defining it by genitalia breaks down for the intersexed. Defining it by appearance or behavior broke down a long time ago.

So if it is fluid, that means it can change. If it can change, that means telling someone it can't is a lie. And if it is a lie, then that is oppressive. And if it is oppressive, then it falls under the category of civil rights.

On a final note -- as I mentioned above, the day may some day come when people are able to change their apparent or chromosomal genders with what we would consider easily. And when that day comes, you will be left in the cold dust of history, with people wondering what on earth you were going on about and why it was ever considered an issue.
posted by kyrademon at 1:21 AM on December 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


bravelittletoaster: People don't get a new body part unless they fweel they neeeeeed one.

Perhaps. But even so, I'd posit that a majority of FTM transsexuals don't feel that they need one for the reason you're implying. From the transgendered people I've spoken to about this (which is admittedly a small sample) it is in order to feel comfortable in their own bodies. It is not a case of feeling a need for a penis 'in order to do boy things' at all. Their actions, mannerism, et cetera have not changed majorly with surgery - they just feel more correct.

So yes, false premises.
posted by Dysk at 1:59 AM on December 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


As far as Germaine Greer goes, she was great in her time but she's become increasingly weird and off-putting. See also: her ridiculous take on female genital mutilation

Also see her enthusiasm for dabbling around the edges of kiddie porn.

Julie Bindel

Oh, right, the "feminist" who compares heterosexual women to Nazi collaborators.

(A quick browse of her Guardian articles suggests she's pretty much obssessed with her transphobia)

I tend to think that most discussions of transgender people shy away from mentioning FTMs because there's less revulsion -- you can't freak out your audience with words like "castration" and "mutilation" -- and these types of articles thrive on outrage and controversy fueled by their readers' disgust.

TBH I'm surprised that the feminists who have a problem with transfolk aren't more outraged by people moving FTM because, all things being equal, they're going from the less privileged position to the more priveleged position in the visible sense; much like the outrage you'd see directed at blacks who "pass white" or the abuse bisexuals take from some (depressingly large number of) gays and lesbians.

Do you have any idea how few truly positive role models there are in popular culture for transwomen? I have yet to find a single one that isn't at some level a mocking stereotype.

How did you find Wanda in the Sandman series, if you don't mind me asking a potentially-dumb question?

Ironically, this is why mental health professionals no longer refer to service consumers by their diagnosis, because the stigma of being "a schizophrenic" -- or, having a "mental condition," as you put it -- immediately and unfairly conjures an image of someone straight-jacket bound in a rubber room.

I've noticed this with a relative of mine who's a young kid diagnosed with Aspergers - there's a lot of assumptions at school about who must be at fault for any problems in his vicinity...

As well as hugs for loquacious, can I have hugs for Sidhedevil, who, as she so often is, is my favourite MeFiFeminist.


See this article on how the US military puts women in combat roles but denies them any of the benefits of combat duty.

It's probably worth noting that any millitary disadvantage in most Western nations for men re: millitary service is the likelyhood of being drafted against your will to fight in a war you disagree with and getting your face shot off (and if you're reading this and want to argue that's a privelege, well, frankly, you're a fucking idiot), which is a big difference to the ability to volunteer for service. Although the latter may have the same outcome as the former.

posted by rodgerd at 2:42 AM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sincerely humbled by the time and care taken in responding to a person I had written off. I hope it proves rewarding. On a related topic, are there any radical feminists around who can and wish to provide a coherent restatement? What we have at present puts me rather in mind of how Baby Jane Hudson might have approached a mid-career change to union representation...
posted by DNye at 3:53 AM on December 23, 2009


But the transgendered idea is that if a girl feels like doing boyish things, then she must be a boy and needs a dick.

I'm going to repeat this bit of bravelittletoaster's because it seems to me to be emblematic and representative of the vicious, hateful, willful ignorance of trans people, of their ideas and their feelings and their actions, as carried out- as perpetrated- by that small cadre of transphobic radical feminists. There is no effort to understand here. There is no sympathy, no love, no pity. There is only willfully blind, deliberately chosen hate. bravelittletoaster has complained that people simply respond to her hate, and not to the rationalizations she has come up with, and shouldn't be surprised; we don't generally dignify the Ku Klux Klan's "justification" for their vile racism, either.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:56 AM on December 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


I don't know that it makes much of a contribution at this point, since we seem to have veered in one specific direction, but, as a cisgenderd feminist scientist, my understanding of transgender as a concept has been greatly enhanced by the writings of Ben Barres, a FTM man who is also an MD, PhD and tenured professor of a whole of lot of things at Stanford. He wrote a now famous (infamous?) rebuttal of Larry Summers in Nature about his experiences being both a female and a male scientist in US academia. (also a nice rebuttal for those questioning the continued existence of the patriarchy in upper middle class America from someone who has the rare knowledge of experiencing it from both sides).

In general, what I have learned as I've learned about feminism, is how to build the big tent by just being accepting and non-judgmental of other people's choices that don't hurt anybody. This includes not judging whether not a woman had a "good" reason for having an abortion, not judging anyone based on their sexual proclivities, and, obviously, not judging someone who is not hurting anybody else by seeking to live comfortably in their own body.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:07 AM on December 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


Oh holy god.

It seems like it's basically impossible to salvage this thread, since -- like many other threads on trans people -- it's sent up the batsignal and lo, a defender of womanhood has arrived to tell me that my entire life is a lie. This isn't the first time bravelittletoaster has utterly derailed a trans thread, and if it were earlier than a billion comments in, I would plead for people to ignore her. But it's way too late now.

How did you find Wanda in the Sandman series, if you don't mind me asking a potentially-dumb question?

I haven't read Sandman, but my partner has, and Wanda sounds like a reasonable effort. In the end, though, she still sounds like a victim, which is basically the same narrative as the trans woman murder victims in detective shows.

Julia Serano notes that most media portrayals of trans people -- generally women, trans men being not raunchy enough or something -- fall into the categories of "pathetic transsexual" (a victim, a depressive, often old/unattractive, someone who has wasted their life, and probably someone who will be dead by the end of the second act) and "deceptive transsexual" (the vamp who seduces men before revealing her little secret, often killed afterwards in a "gay panic" moment; think The Crying Game). Finding a character who doesn't fit into either category is a challenge. The character of the deceptive transsexual is probably the most insulting, since in the real world many trans women go out of their way to reveal their trans status to potential partners and are beaten and killed all the same.

Coagula/Kate Godwin, from the Pollack-era Doom Patrol comics (she took over after Grant Morrison, and helmed what is to my mind an underrated run that nevertheless feels a little derivative of Morrison's work), is a good character. Yes, she starts out as a sex worker (like a lot of trans women in fiction) but she evolves, directs her own destiny, doesn't get to be anyone else's motivation, and in general is an actual person before she is trans. Rachel Pollack is trans herself, however, so this is not especially surprising.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:27 AM on December 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Well, catching up on things here is almost as good as caffeine for a wake-up.

Although having a cup of coffee doesn't usually make me furious, so there's that.
posted by rtha at 6:01 AM on December 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd try to participate but it seems like bravelittletoaster and his axe derailed the thread (which was already off-kilter pretty hideously) pretty far back.
posted by kalessin at 6:05 AM on December 23, 2009


Justinian asked me a question waaay upthread, and I wanted to address it.

Are you good with this hypothetical person using the women's locker room and showers at the local gym where you and many other women are naked much of the time? It seems to me that this is where the rubber meets the road and not what we here on an internet forum are fine with. It's easy to say we regard anyone who identifies themselves as such as a woman when we have no real skin in the game. It's harder when I guarantee that a great many women would be very deeply uncomfortable with the situation I outline.

For a couple of years in college I lived in a co-ed society's house, and the bathroom was co-ed. I showered in a stall next to guys. I brushed my teeth next to guys. I tried to remember to shout "Flushing!" when I flushed so that whoever was taking a shower didn't get scalded (it was an old house).

There was an unspoken agreement that people would spend as little time as possible totally naked in areas of the bathroom where other people could see them, and also that staring and comments weren't okay. It was fine to wear nothing but your towel while you brushed your teeth at the sinks after taking a shower.

I don't know what women's locker rooms are like these days (I am allergic to gyms), and I don't know how much nudity is okay. That said, I personally wouldn't have a problem sharing a locker room with this hypothetical person if their behavior was within bounds. I'd be disturbed to share a locker room with someone of any gender who stared, made comments, etc.

I know that there are a lot (most?) of women out there who would not share a locker room with someone with a penis. That's fine - I don't think they're hateful or mean just because of that. For me, it would really depend on this hypothetical person's behavior.
posted by rtha at 7:01 AM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus you're a fucking idiot.

I don't know why exactly you decided to come back to mefi, bravelittletoaster, but you are now done here.
posted by cortex at 7:08 AM on December 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Are you good with this hypothetical person using the women's locker room and showers at the local gym where you and many other women are naked much of the time?

It's happened. No big whoop. At my old gym in DC there was a woman on the same schedule as me that was definitely XY and not post-op (don't know if it was pre-op or non-op). She was a woman. That's all.

It seems to me that the hypothetical MtF who is really in it to ogle naked women is an outlier. To go to that extreme is an indication of something very different than transsexualism.

Also, is this any different from sharing a locker room with a person of the same sex chromosome genotype who is gay? Does that bother you?
posted by Pax at 7:16 AM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't have much to add at this point other than to thank the posters who have kept this thread from totally falling to pieces, except that this:
I would just like to say that my job has mandated that I treat transpeople, which has turned into beings hundreds of trans patients, and the vast majority of them wouldn't recognize sexism if it bit them on the ass. Whenever one of them talks about how a client roughed them up during sex, they giggle like mad dogs because that's how they think women should be treated. Even as the nurse is trying to stop the bleeding caused by "rough sex".

They view that as confirmation and validation. They're fucking stupid as hell. And whenever someone like myself or Greer or Bindal expresses our frustration in writings which are intended for other radical feminists, liberal dude nation always responds the same way. By avoid focusing attention on the REASONS why we object to transgenderisn, and instead making the only issue one of how evil we are. As if no actual reasons exist. Listen to yourselves some time.

The only time they actually cry about their bruises, is when they're trying to advance their agenda with sympathy.
Is quite possibly the single most offensive comment I have read on Mefi.
posted by jokeefe at 8:12 AM on December 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


I want to ignore for the moment the careening seven-car pileup that this threat turned into, and give a shoutout back to loquacious' brave, honest, illuminating post. It's kind of amazing to me that people are so invested in parading their polemical abstractions that they can ignore this kind of powerful first-person testimony. Honoring each person's right to describe and name their own experience -- that is what feminism is about to me.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:52 AM on December 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm coming to this thread late, so I'm not sure if this has been brought up yet, but I wanted to ask about Gender Taxonomy. I remember learning about this in an undergrad class (except there were only 7 indices taught to us then), but it has always stuck with me. I'm curious about how accepted/recognized this taxonomy is? It seems to challenge society's binary notion of gender in a BIG way (which is a good thing). Claiming categorical belonging to one of two gender paradigms (male or female) assumes that all NINE indices are in 'agreement', which, when you think about it, is more rare than we might traditionally assume, correct? And if we go with a strict predicate logic, deviation from even one of these components in the taxonomy...means what exactly? I guess my point is, our current societal definition of gender is incredibly problematic, and seems to largely ignore the scientific definition. Also, we all seem to be talking in this thread with varying levels of self- and other-awareness of and identification with selected features from this taxonomy.

For example, saying things like, "Being a woman, I..." is likely operating based on one's self-knowledge about component's #2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9, but possibly without knowledge or prior conscious thought about #1, 3, and 6. It's interesting to me, because it demonstrates that even when we recognize that gender identification is more complex than traditional notions (as is being discussed here), it seems that even our weighting of the elements of the taxonomy is very different between the societal view (where visible sex characteristics seem to trump all) and the scientific view (which includes the taxonomy, but also seems to have problems of its own...thinking of disputes involving Caster Semenya, etc.).

I'd sure appreciate some insight and suggestions from people who know more about this than I do. Over the last several years, I've been learning a lot, but I'm still relatively new to gender discussions. Also, please forgive and correct me if I'm way off base with some of the data and/or thoughts expressed here.

And, loquacious, thank you. That was brave and beautiful and I'm so glad you said what needed to be said.

Below is the excerpted text from the Wikipedia page:
  1. chromosomes: 46xx, 46xy, 47xxy (Klinefelter's syndrome), 45xo (Turner's syndrome), 47xyy, 47xxx, 48xxyy, 46xx/xy, and others
  2. gonads: testicles, ovaries, one of each (hermaphrodites), ovotestes, or other gonadal dysgenesis
  3. hormones: androgens including testosterone; estrogens — including estradiol, estriol, estrone; antiandrogens and others
  4. genitals: primary sexual characteristics, see diagram for the "six class system"
  5. secondary sexual characteristics: dimorphic physical characteristics, other than primary characteristics (most prominently breasts or their absence)
  6. brain structure: special kinds of secondary characteristics, due to their influence on psychology and behaviour
  7. gender identity: psychological identification with either of the two main sexes
  8. gender role: social conformity with expectations for either of the two main sexes
  9. erotic preference: gynophilia, androphilia, bisexuality, asexuality and various paraphilias.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:07 AM on December 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry that my responses to brave little toaster furthered the derail.

Here's a rad fem take on woman-born-woman-only spaces
posted by kathrineg at 10:28 AM on December 23, 2009


iamkimiam: "I'm curious about how accepted/recognized this taxonomy is?"

I'm assuming you mean the intentional use of gender-related terminology (i.e. man/masculine) in contrast to biological-sex-related (i.e. male) when pursuing this kind of discourse.

Two major contributors to the answer, I think.:
  1. Most people tend to think that using gender-related terminology is more polite and less awkward to use. In the linguistic paralanguage sense, I think that using biologically-related terminology tends to indicate that the speaker/writer considers emself to be a little bit of a remove from the subject or seems to disapprove of or somehow need to objectify the subject.
  2. (big and the rest of what follows) I think that generally in the kind of context like the one surrounding most of this thread (i.e. among a population of folks who seem to understand the variances in gender role assumption and presentation and how that's not always coherent with the expected role for a biologically-originated sex assignment for any individual), usually what Gender Taxonomy boils down to is careful use of the social classifications of gender to describe folks (assuming the speaker/writer respects the described subject's self-labelling) instead of using one's presumed knowledge of the described subject's biological sex(es). So for example, since I self-identified as masculine, I would expect folks referring to me in this discussion to refer to me with masculine pronouns and to describe me as a "man" (in general - there are notable individuals who might instead choose to refer to me with neuter pronouns and nouns instead based on my intersex condition, or they might also choose to use male biological sex-mapped nouns/pronouns if they were familiar with medical science's majority take on folks who have Klinefelter's Syndrome and decided that my self-labeling was "correct" even if they didn't agree with me about how I arrived at that conclusion). But I think that given the number of axes that Wikipedia lists (which I think are fairly accurate even if there's still possibly wiggle-room [and I'm not sure if I personally agree with all of these axes as being necessarily independent - a lot of it is based on what translates essentially as social doxa that is integral to our social understanding of the gender space and which is a large portion of unexamined postulates and assumptions that we continually enforce and reinforce as we go about our business]) makes it clear that this taxonomic space is perilous and fraught with dangers inherent in miscommunication based on the understandable assumption (that turns out to be wrong) that we all share the same assumptions and common vocabulary. For instance, I rarely mention Klinefelter's Syndrome because it exists in a knowledge realm that is specialized and rarely makes a difference for anyone but fairly specialized medical and gender/sex theory experts. But I do say "intersex" a lot because it is more commonly understood by my potential audience.
So anyway, I think that people think about it and use Gender Taxonomy in a limited sense in discussions like these. The major distinction folks seem to make (if any) is the distinction between biological sex and socially constructed gender identity/role. I think that differentiating between different flavors of biological sex (Wikipedia's points 1-6) and gender (Wikipedia's points 7&8) happens within specialized contexts between experts in the different distinctive fields of knowledge, and I think that erotic preference only briefly gets touched on in most cases, or when sexologists are around. :)
posted by kalessin at 10:37 AM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, is this any different from sharing a locker room with a person of the same sex chromosome genotype who is gay? Does that bother you?

Interesting question. I'm sure I have done so and that doesn't bother me. However, I'm pretty shy and it would certainly bother me if I knew in advance in the same way it would bother me to disrobe and shower in front of a woman I didn't know. And since it would be pretty obvious that the hypothetical person in question we are discussing has a, uh, penis then I would guess it would seriously bother many if not most women to disrobe and shower.

Additionally, my understanding from discussions of feminism here and elsewhere is that women are often made more uncomfortable than a man might be in some situations because of the perception of an omnipresent threat of sexual or physical violence. So, while I am shy and would thus be embarrassed by a woman or gay man being present while I showered, I would in no way feel threatened. A woman in the same situation with a person with a penis might reasonably feel threatened rather than simply embarrassed.

So I'm not sure it's fair to equate the situations. Women have successfully persuaded me that me walking down a street at night alone isn't the same as them walking down a street at night alone, and I would expect that me showering with a female stranger would similarly not be the same as a woman showering with a stranger who has a penis.
posted by Justinian at 11:01 AM on December 23, 2009


A woman in the same situation with a person with a penis might reasonably feel threatened rather than simply embarrassed.

Right, which is why I mentioned that this hypo MtF who does it to be threatening (or act on threats) is, at best, an outlier - that's really not what TG is about.

Someone who goes that far out of their way to put themself in a locker room situation has something other than TG/TS going on.
posted by Pax at 12:08 PM on December 23, 2009


Also, I should mention that I never saw this woman's genitals. All towel.
posted by Pax at 12:09 PM on December 23, 2009


Also, the straight women I've known have been much less "shy" (I'd say paranoid or uptight, probably) around lesbians than the men I've known are around gay men. I don't know why.

Certainly the women I've known have overall been willing to show non-sexual affection to other women. Also, my experience has been such that I have been around many lesbian athletes, along with many straight female athletes (I played Division I field hockey, trained for triathlons, etc). It's just a thing. Maybe gay male athletes are more likely to not be out.
posted by Pax at 12:13 PM on December 23, 2009



Also, the straight women I've known have been much less "shy" (I'd say paranoid or uptight, probably) around lesbians than the men I've known are around gay men. I don't know why.


I should have said "in a locker room-type or other intimate-ish situation."
posted by Pax at 12:14 PM on December 23, 2009


9. *erotic preference:* gynophilia, androphilia, bisexuality, asexuality and
various paraphilias.


I don't understand what this has to do with anything. Being attracted to men, women, both, or neither does not have anything to do with my own gender.
posted by desjardins at 12:16 PM on December 23, 2009


loquacious: good for you for speaking up. We're all people first, and shades of male and female second.
posted by mdoar at 12:40 PM on December 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Right, which is why I mentioned that this hypo MtF who does it to be threatening (or act on threats) is, at best, an outlier - that's really not what TG is about.

I suspect it's so rare as to be virtually non-existent. I'm not suggesting that there is an actual threat in such a locker room situation, only that women might reasonably feel threatened. Children being abducted and killed by strangers is also so rare as to be virtually non-existent but parents seem to worry about it constantly.

In any case, I'm just saying that what we are comfortable with in a theoretical sense and what we are comfortable with in a visceral sense are not always the same.
posted by Justinian at 12:41 PM on December 23, 2009


Being attracted to men, women, both, or neither does not have anything to do with my own gender.

But it may influence people's assumptions and projections about your gender. For example, men who are attracted to men may be seen as effeminate -- whether or not that is accurate.

Also, being attracted to transpeople or genderqueers (which is not listed on that axis) may be (or be seen as) a form of gender-variance in itself.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:43 PM on December 23, 2009


desjardins: "I don't understand what this has to do with anything. Being attracted to men, women, both, or neither does not have anything to do with my own gender."

That is a very good question that a lot of folks are asking gender theorists and medical professionals to answer/explain these days.
posted by kalessin at 12:53 PM on December 23, 2009


ottereroticist: "Also, being attracted to transpeople or genderqueers (which is not listed on that axis) may be (or be seen as) a form of gender-variance in itself."

Agreed. This is one of the reasons both my partner and I consider our partnership queer even though it's technically heterosexual (it would be that much more difficult for me, an intersexed person, to be in a technically homosexual relationship, especially if you are of the opinion that intersex variances are each their own separate sex) and also heterosexual in the spirit of the law.

This also leaves aside the social dynamic of how often I am misidentified in queer/trans communities as a post-surgical FtM transsexual.
posted by kalessin at 12:58 PM on December 23, 2009


Also, being attracted to transpeople or genderqueers (which is not listed on that axis) may be (or be seen as) a form of gender-variance in itself.

Hmm. I'm a hippie pansexual (man that term is dorky but useful) but I don't consider that to be a gender. Of course I am not the be-all-end-all.

Trans amorous is a term that I've heard used but I haven't been able to find great information about it.
posted by kathrineg at 1:14 PM on December 23, 2009


I want to ignore for the moment the careening seven-car pileup that this threat turned into, and give a shoutout back to loquacious' brave, honest, illuminating post. It's kind of amazing to me that people are so invested in parading their polemical abstractions that they can ignore this kind of powerful first-person testimony. Honoring each person's right to describe and name their own experience -- that is what feminism is about to me.

My thoughts and feelings exactly. Thank you for articulating this so well, ottereroticist. loquacious' incredibly brave and eloquent coming-out comment deserves the most emphatic praise. It moved me deeply. While reading it, I wept, cheered, seethed with rage, and cycled rapidly through a tangle of other emotions. I went to bed after reading it last night, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Today I came back to this thread with high hopes that the ensuing discussion would be appropriately respectful and the mood open and encouraging, such that maybe others who wanted to share their personal experiences would be moved to do so. I was sorely disappointed, though also grateful for the ongoing efforts of the patient folks here who are clearly doing their best to steer things in that direction.

From the bottom of my heart, loquacious, thank you. I'd favorite your amazing post a thousand times if I could. Your courage and candor are an inspiration. It's people like you who make MeFi my favorite place on the Internet.
posted by velvet winter at 1:20 PM on December 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


This, from bravelittletoaster, is I think the kernel of anti-trans thinking:
transgenderism directly conflicts with feminism and upholds the patriarchal biological essentialism argument. Which is the ONE and ONLY argument which creates and perpetuates sexism.

In other words, if you are rigidly committed to the idea that "womanliness" is purely a societal fiction, and there is no fundamental difference between men and women except for primary and secondary sexual characteristics themselves, it logically doesn't make sense to be transgender. How could you "know" that you are truly a woman when there is no such thing, aside from private bits that you don't have?

I can even understand why people hold this view. Biological essentialism HAS been used to justify patriarchy, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Evolution has been used to justify social darwinism, too. And the chain of logic that leads from rigid anti-essentialism to anti-trans bigotry seems like pretty good evidence against this rigidity, not in favor of the bigotry.
posted by msalt at 2:11 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know bravelittletoaster has been banned, but I want to make an attempt to respond to this comment, as much (much more, really) for my own benefit as for his/hers:

In case anybody needs a recap, the feminist idea is that healthy girls don't need a dick (and healthy girls don't need to believe they are a boy), in order to do well at traditionally boyish things. But the transgendered idea is that if a girl feels like doing boyish things, then she must be a boy and needs a dick.

As far as BASIC misunderstandings go, I think this is one. Insofar as there can be something one would call "the transgendered idea," it is nothing about having genitalia to be able to do things. I would phrase my admittedly limited understanding as follows: "My sense of self, both mental and emotional, is male, but by a cruel trick of biology I am physiologically female (or vice-versa)." Being transgendered can fall anywhere on a continuum, from keeping that sense-of-self private to wanting to be perceived and treated as the gender that matches the sense-of-self to receiving medical treatments to be physiologically transformed to as close as possible to the sense-of-self gender.

I think that what many of us here are trying to make clear is that there's nothing wrong with being anywhere along that continuum, that it in fact is (and should be acknowledged as) a BASIC human right that transgendered people not be oppressed or discriminated against for being transgendered, no matter where they fall on the spectrum, and that they're as deserving of respect and dignity as anyone else.

Also, I find it fucking embarrassing that people who claim to be feminists and to be working toward the BASIC human rights of women should oppose that same thing for transgendered people.
posted by Caduceus at 2:25 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been lurking on this thread since it started. Transphobia like bravelittletoaster's is really depressing, and trying to respond to it would've been too much. It'd really be nice if I could go even just a day without getting a message of hate from some part of the world.

But I had to respond to thank everyone who's said good things here. There really is a lot of hate out there, but also a lot of compassion. Hopefully the balance is slowly tipping towards compassion.
posted by jiawen at 2:46 PM on December 23, 2009


I concur with the sentiment expressed by velvet winter and others. Sadly this thread is trainwrecking, but it has otherwise been really enlightening for someone who was sympathetic to the plight of trans individuals but hadn't given it a lot of thought.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:04 PM on December 23, 2009


how do you reconcile the feminist idea that a female doesn't need a dick to pick up a hammer, with the transgender idea that a female needs a dick if she wants to pick up a hammer?

How do you reconcile the straw man you've constructed with the idea that YOU don't get to decide what others should feel about their own gender?

I don't know of any trangender theory that says females can't swing a hammer if they want to.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:14 PM on December 23, 2009


This has been the most informative train wreck that I have ever read on Mefi. In between the vitriolic bile spouting from hate-woman's toaster, there have been some fascinating, thoughtful, honest, and open posts. I've (knowingly) met trans women for the first time in the last few years and these issues are only beginning to become alive for me. and this thread has helped clarify lots of ideas.
posted by handee at 1:34 AM on December 24, 2009


FWIW, I'd be perfectly fine with a self-identified female using the same locker room as I, no matter their sexual orientation. But, then again, I wouldn't really have an issue with sharing a locker room with men. It's the whole "not in my club (locker room, school,...)" issue people have had over the years with race, gender, and sexuality and use to enforce the status quo. It's all stupid. Creepy people are creepy people, assholes are assholes, and so on, whether cis female, trans female, cis male, trans male, or anything else in the continuum.

At Arizona State Univ. in the early 90s, the basic feminism teaching platform was for the inclusion of all, the betterment of all, etc. The empowerment stuff was a means towards inclusion. But even then most women I knew at the time, on and off campus, would react in horror if called a "feminist", because the nasty, exclusionary, "you're ruining it for all of us" b.s. that made it into the nightly news or into print was embarrassing.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:25 PM on December 24, 2009


This thread is full of sharp edges. Why wasn't I warned?
posted by chairface at 8:29 PM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


*Gets to thread hideously late*
*Discards turkey bone, removes silly paper hat*
*Reads loq's comment*
*Weeps, throws roses, claps hysterically*
posted by Jofus at 11:19 AM on December 28, 2009


« Older On 27th November, Norwegian broadcaster NRK broadc...  |  Star Wars Weather... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments