"I’m an endangered species. I shouldn’t be anymore."
July 11, 2013 6:21 AM   Subscribe

"In some bizarre alternate reality, however, I’m seen as a villain who invades “real” women’s spaces and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes. A small but vocal band of activists known as “Radfems” see transgender women like myself as a blight on the feminist movement, but — because their views are not representative of the feminist movement as a whole — many trans*-inclusive feminists refer to them as TERFs, or Trans*-Exclusionary Radical Feminists." -- Counterpunch and the War on Transgender People, by Samantha Allen.
posted by MartinWisse (25 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: If this is a conversation MetaFilter is going to have that is going to go well, you need to start with a different post than this. Leave the edgy make-people-mad quotes out of it and explain why it's something interesting you think people will want to talk about. -- jessamyn



 
Oh god.

I read about Brennan elsewhere a few weeks ago (I think I ran across something about her after following links in another recent trans* fpp) /clicks through links/ Oh hey, yeah, she's one of the "trans people will destroy the lesbian community" people.

Which, no, I don't think that's a thing. From my (incredibly privileged) spot in San Francisco, there are plenty of dykes, and a strong trans* community, and a lot of political and social crossover. Brennan and her ilk are awful; they're also getting older, and the Kids These Days are really unlikely to pick up her torch. Thank goodness.
posted by rtha at 6:37 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Penises are not inherently male just as vaginas are not inherently female. Our bodies are not objective pieces of matter that pre-exist the inscription of social meaning; rather, our “beliefs about gender” inform the very notion that a penis is a male sex organ

I don't think this is true.
posted by Diablevert at 6:37 AM on July 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Would you care to elaborate, Diablevert?
posted by sibboleth at 6:41 AM on July 11, 2013


Of all of the predators (for the lack of a better term) of trans people, I find it kind of puzzling that the author is honing in on radical feminists as the group that is out to get trans people. To me, it's like atheists focusing on a small sect of Jehovah's Witnesses as the ONE GROUP who is going to destroy us all.
posted by Leezie at 6:43 AM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ugh, just the mention of radfem makes me angry. Grow up and stop worrying about what other people have in their pants.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:44 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Leezie, my take on it is that the trans* community and the lesbian/feminist community seem to be natural partners in defending and promoting gender rights.
posted by rebent at 6:48 AM on July 11, 2013


"There are not two sides to a debate about whether a group of people should exist."

This needs to soak into media consciousness, stat.
posted by menialjoy at 6:49 AM on July 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


Would you care to elaborate, Diablevert?

I don't think biology is entirely mutable. That there exist exceptions to a trait which defines a class does mean the trait does not define the class. American school buses are yellow. Men have penises.
posted by Diablevert at 6:54 AM on July 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Leezie, my take on it is that the trans* community and the lesbian/feminist community seem to be natural partners in defending and promoting gender rights.

I agree. But, my point remains the same - there are seemingly so much bigger fish that are the problem right now. The focus on internal dissention seems misplaced to me.
posted by Leezie at 6:57 AM on July 11, 2013


Of all of the predators (for the lack of a better term) of trans people, I find it kind of puzzling that the author is honing in on radical feminists as the group that is out to get trans people.


I think that people who consider themselves feminist and LGB-positive but aren't that aware of trans* issues already know to ignore the right-wing religious conservatives and the dudebros who find trans* people inherently hostile to their sense of masculinity, but when a Trans*-Exclusionary Radical Feminist joins the discussion ... often it's easy to find something persuasive in those arguments. It is easy to feel like the idea of an innate gender identity isn't consonant with your whole feminist upbringing about how gender roles are meaningless. And that's when this hypothetical feminist might start demanding that trans* people have a fully worked-out theory of how you can reconcile those things, without stopping to consider that it's more important to listen to people's lived experiences than to have a complete worked-out theory of gender.

And this often happens in spaces that are supposed to be feminist, that are supposed to be LGBT-positive. So, I don't think it's the wrong battle to fight.
posted by Jeanne at 6:58 AM on July 11, 2013 [14 favorites]


A small but vocal band of activists known as “Radfems” see transgender women like myself as a blight on the feminist movement, but — because their views are not representative of the feminist movement as a whole — many trans*-inclusive feminists refer to them as TERFs, or Trans*-Exclusionary Radical Feminists.

It's late and my eyes are glazing over, but this looks like the "I know you call yourself X but I'm going to call you Y to show you that you're wrong" strategy that is (a) juvenile and (b) very strongly associated with people who hate on transfolk.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:59 AM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


> the trans* community and the lesbian/feminist community seem to be natural partners in
> defending and promoting gender rights.

Yeah. My take is that conservation should be a natural issue for conservatives but that hasn't worked out so much either.
posted by jfuller at 6:59 AM on July 11, 2013


I find it kind of puzzling that the author is honing in on radical feminists as the group that is out to get trans people.

I think you kinda missed the point of the article. It's not that the author isn't fully aware of everybody else who's transphobic, as she provides several examples in her first two paragraphs. The big deal with transexclusionary radicial feminists is that these are people who should be on the same side, should be allies, that instead are just as bigoted as all the usual suspects. Worse, that these same groups have an influence on the broader left to such an extent that people can genuinely believe that there is a debate to be had between "trans women should be included in feminism" and "trans women are really men wanting to infiltrate our movement".

To be honest, it's not just radfems, quite a number of more "mainstream" feminists have had problems accepting trans women as well. I can sort of understand, if not condone, the mindset of feminists who have just won some slivers of freedom balking at having to include those they're socialised to see as men or "fake women". But that's an attitude that should've died out in the seventies or eighties.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:59 AM on July 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Men have penises.

Trans 101
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:59 AM on July 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


American school buses are yellow. Men have penises.

And it's precisely that kind of reductive reasoning that is causing these issues.
posted by opsin at 7:00 AM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, my school bus in New Jersey was blue.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:01 AM on July 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


It's late and my eyes are glazing over, but this looks like the "I know you call yourself X but I'm going to call you Y to show you that you're wrong" strategy that is (a) juvenile and (b) very strongly associated with people who hate on transfolk.

Not at all. It's actually being precise in your language and realising that not everybody who identifies as radfem (which is not a synonym for really extreme feminist, but rather a particular political form of feminism) is actually transphobic or transexclosionary, so it makes sense to call those that are something that isn't tarring all radfem people with the same brush.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:02 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am completely clueless as to why transhate exists. I mean, I may be an edge case having been involved with one for several years. But I mean they are people that do things and have needs, like me.

I also don't understand how subgroups can turn on themselves so rabidly.
posted by Samizdata at 7:02 AM on July 11, 2013


I've seen this discrimination first hand (not on the internet) and it is laughably pathetic. If your ideology does nothing to expand your understanding of other people, it is no better than the ideologies you protest.
posted by Teakettle at 7:02 AM on July 11, 2013


Diablevert: "Penises are not inherently male just as vaginas are not inherently female. Our bodies are not objective pieces of matter that pre-exist the inscription of social meaning; rather, our “beliefs about gender” inform the very notion that a penis is a male sex organ

I don't think this is true.
"

This is a thread about certain types of feminists excluding trans women from society and waging war on us in the courts and in politics. The SECOND COMMENT is about something else entirely.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:02 AM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


And it's precisely that kind of reductive reasoning that is causing these issues.

Actually, intolerance is the main cause of intolerance. Putting more footnote markers into your definitions won't make people more tolerant.
posted by DU at 7:03 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ironically, American school buses have yellowness imposed upon them after construction.
posted by emmtee at 7:03 AM on July 11, 2013 [34 favorites]


And I'm pretty sure that without my dick I'd still be a dick
posted by Teakettle at 7:05 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am completely clueless as to why transhate exists.

Gender identity can be fragile. There are people who want black and white, peas-don't-touch-the-carrots rules, to feel safe. The idea that gender or even attraction is fluid and worse, mutable is viewed as an attack on identity, untenable chaos.
posted by bonehead at 7:07 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I was confused about that line from the article,

Penises are not inherently male just as vaginas are not inherently female. Our bodies are not objective pieces of matter that pre-exist the inscription of social meaning; rather, our “beliefs about gender” inform the very notion that a penis is a male sex organ.


I had to read that a few times, and I'm still not sure what Samantha Allen is trying to say. Is it that gender is not what we are made of, but rather what we make of it? I agree with that sentiment. But I'm not sure what she means in the next line. Our bodies really are objective pieces of matter, and they do pre-exist social meaning; we humans had bodies long before we had social structure.

Since then, for better or worse, we've attached all kinds of social roles and meanings to those of us who produce ova and to those of us who produce spermatozoa. And one of the glories of modern life is how we can hopefully transcend this base biology and our earlier cultural structure associated with it. I produce neither ova nor spermatozoa, yet I care for and nurture my beautiful children. And those children will receive nothing but full-throttle support from me when they grow up and express and explore their identities in whatever way they choose.


But a little later in the article, I read the following,

One of the most famous images of Catherine Brennan shows her holding a sign, addressed to transgender women, reading: “Sorry about your dick.”

Yeah, that's kind of a dick move, Catheine. I don't want my children or anyone's children to have to deal with that kind of shit. You might want to rethink that.
posted by math at 7:08 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


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