Whipping Girl (chapter 12)- Bending Over Backwards: Traditional Sexism and Trans-Woman-Exclusion Policies

An excerpt from Julia Serano’s book, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Published in 2007 by Seal Press.

PDF here.

FOR NON-COMMERCIAL USE ONLY.

…………………………………………………………………..

Bending Over Backwards: Traditional Sexism and Trans-Woman-Exclusion Policies

Prejudice usually can’t survive close contact with the people who are supposed to be so despicable, which is why the propagandists for hate always preach separation.

-Patrick Califia

OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS, a major focus of my trans activism and writing has been the issue of trans-woman-inclusion in lesbian and women-only spaces. I first heard of the issue back in 1999, around the time that I was beginning to call myself transgendered-about two years before I began my physical transition. At the time, I was voraciously reading everything I could get my hands on related to trans experiences and issues. As I read, I kept stumbling upon past instances of anti-trans-woman discrimination from within the lesbian and feminist communities. These included derogatory antitrans- woman remarks by influential feminist thinkers such as Mary Daly, Germaine Greer, Andrea Dworkin, Robin Morgan, and of

234

course Janice Raymond (who, in addition to writing the anti-trans screed The Transsexual Empire, tried to convince the National Center for Health Care Technology to deny transsexuals the right to hormones and surgery); stories about transsexual “witch hunts,” in which committed lesbian-feminists like Sandy Stone and Beth Elliot were publicly outed, debased, and exiled from the lesbian community solely for being transsexual; and of course, transwoman- exclusion policies, such as the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival’s euphemistically named “womyn-born-womyn-only” policy, which was retroactively instated in the early 19905 after an incident in which a woman named Nancy Burkholder was expelled from the festival when it was discovered that she was trans.2

While I found it disappointing that people who identified as lesbians and as feminists would come down so harshly on another sexual minority, I cannot say that I was really surprised. After all, practically every facet of our society seemed to hate or fear trans people back then, and these incidents seemed more like a symptom of society-wide transphobia rather than something unique or specific to the lesbian community. And as I was giving thought to becoming involved in trans activism myself, there seemed to be plenty of other, more practical and relevant issues for me to take on.

But in the years that followed, I experienced a number of changes in my life that would considerably reshape my views on this matter. For one thing, there was my physical transition and the countless social changes I experienced as a result of being perceived as female. But for me, being trans didn’t merely involve learning how to navigate my way through the world as a woman. I have the privilege of being appropriately gendered as female, so in my day-to-day life, when I am forced to come out to someone,

235

nine times out of ten it is not as a transsexual, but as a lesbian. It happens every time somebody asks me if I am seeing someone and I reply, “Actually, I have a wife.” It happens every time Dani and I dare to hold hands or kiss in public. It happens when Dani is not around, but someone assumes that I am a dyke anyway because of the way that I dress, speak, or carry myself.

After my transition, I began to write not only about being transgendered, but about my experiences living in the world as a woman and a dyke after years of being perceived as a straight man. Not surprisingly, most of what I wrote had a definite feminist bent. It seemed impossible for me, as a trans woman, to discuss my journey from male to female without placing it in the context of the differing values our society places on maleness and femaleness, on masculinity and femininity.

Unfortunately, many people tend to artificially separate feminism from transgender activism, as if they are distinct issues that are in no way related. However, I have found that much of the anti-trans discrimination that trans women come across is clearly rooted in traditional sexism. This can be seen in how the media Powers That Be systematically sensationalize, sexualize, and ridicule trans women while allowing trans men to remain largely invisible. It’s why the tranny sex and porn industries catering to straight-identified men do not fetishize folks on the FTM spectrum for their XX chromosomes or their socialization as girls. No, they objectify trans women, because our bodies and our persons are female. I have found that many female-assigned genderqueers and

FTM spectrum trans people go on and on about the gender binary system, as if trans people are only ever discriminated against for breaking gender norms. That might be how it seems when the

236

gender transgression in question is an expression of masculinity. But as someone on the MTF spectrum, I am not dismissed for merely failing to live up to binary gender norms, but for expressing my own femaleness and femininity, And personally, I don’t feel like I’m the victim of “transphohia” as much as I am the victim of trans-misogyny.

This idea-that much of what is commonly called transphobia is merely traditional sexism in disguise-moved to the forefront of my mind as I began to be invited to do spoken word performances at various queer women’s events around the San Francisco Bay Area. While I was welcomed very warmly by most of the women who attended these events, I would sometimes come across certain women who would act dismissively toward me, who seemed bothered by me being there, who acted as if they were granting me a special favor by tolerating my presence, who would make offhand and inappropriate comments about my trans status as if to remind me that I was not a real woman like they were. This sense of ownership and entitlement about being a woman or being lesbian seemed hypocritical to me. After all, as soon as we would walk out the door, all of us would face similar discrimination for being women and for being dykes. But what was most frustrating about the way that many of these women dismissed me was the fact that they seemed to have no problems at all with female-bodied folks expressing masculinity and with trans people on the FTM spectrum attending their events. In other words, they didn’t have much of a problem with transgender people per se, just so long as they were male- or masculine- identified rather than female- or feminine-identified. This privileging of trans men over trans women is not merely a bias held by certain individuals, but rather one that is often

237

institutionalized within queer women’s culture and organizations. These days, it is not uncommon to see the word “trans” used to welcome trans men (but not trans women) on everything from lesbian events to sex surveys and play parties. And even at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, women are no longer defined based on their legal sex, appearance, or self-identification, but on whether or not they were born and raised a girl. And while-some performers who identify as transgender and answer to male pronouns are invited to take the festival stage each year, someone like myself-who identifies 100 percent as female-isn’t even allowed to stand in the audience.3

As with most forms of prejudice, trans-woman-specific discrimination within the queer women’s community seems to proliferate even more in the absence of trans women than in our presence; this is no surprise, as bigots are typically too cowardly to dare have their views openly discussed or debated with the very people they despise. While anti-trans-woman sentiments are generally expressed outside of my view, I still hear about them all the time from my trans male and queer female friends, who often tell me about self-identified dykes in their community who openly discuss lusting after trannybois and trans men one minute, then in the next, deride trans women for being “creepy” and “effeminate.”

The popular spin given to this preferential treatment of trans men over trans women states that trans men have been raised female and therefore should have a place in women’s and lesbian communities, whereas trans women have experienced male privilege and remain physically male on some level, and therefore should be excluded. However, this argument makes little sense when examined more closely. After all, how can someone who identifies as

238

female and currently lives as a woman have less in common with women than a male-identified person who has male physical attributes and currently benefits from male privilege? The premise that trans women should be singled out because we “used to be men” is highly suspect. Rather, I believe that this preference for trans men over trans women simply reflects the society-wide inclination to view masculinity as being strong and natural, and femininity as being weak and artificial. In other words, it is a product of traditional sexism.

My appreciation for the ways in which traditional sexism shapes popular assumptions about trans women started to really take shape during 2003 and 2004, as I became involved in Camp Trans, an organization that works to end the exclusion of trans women from women-only spaces, most notably the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. In my work on this issue, I learned firsthand how the occasional anti-trans-woman sentiment I would come across in the relatively trans-friendly Bay Area was just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the women who travel from all over the country to attend Michigan think nothing of wearing their suspicion or hatred of trans women on their sleeves, and they will often make extraordinarily ignorant and insensitive comments about trans women in their attempts to justify our exclusion. I am sure these women believe that they are protecting the values of lesbian and women’s space by opposing our inclusion at all costs, but in reality the specific points they make generally undermine feminist goals and beliefs rather than support them. After all, at its core, feminism is based on the conviction that women are far more than the sex of the bodies that we are born into, and our identities and abilities are capable of transcending the restrictive nature of the

239

gender socialization we endure during our childhoods. I have yet to meet the person who can explain to me how refusing trans women the right to participate in women’s spaces and events is consistent with this most central tenet of feminism.

Indeed, some of the most common arguments used to deny trans women the right to participate in women-only spaces also happen to be the most antifeminist. For example, many argue that trans women should be barred from women’s spaces because we supposedly still have “male energy.” But by suggesting that trans women possess some mystical “male energy” as a result of having been born and raised male, these women are essentially making the case that men have abilities and aptitudes that women are not capable of.

Another popular excuse for our exclusion is the fact that some trans women have male genitals (as many of us either cannot afford or choose not to have sex reassignment surgery). This “penis” argument not only objectifies trans women by reducing us to our genitals, but propagates the male myth that men’s power and domination somehow arise from the phallus. The truth is, our penises are made of flesh and blood, nothing more. And the very idea that the femaleness of my mind, personality, lived experiences, and the rest of my body can somehow be trumped by the mere presence of a penis can only be described as phallocentric.

It’s distressing that such phallocentric arguments, along with related arguments that harp on the idea that trans women “physically resemble” or “look like” men in other ways, are so regularly made by lesbian-feminists, considering that they are based in the society-wide privileging of male attributes over female ones. In what is now considered classic research, sociologists Suzanne Kessler and

240

Wendy McKenna showed that in our culture, when people (both women and men) gender others, we tend to weigh male visual cues as far more significant than female ones, and almost invariably consider the penis as being the single most important gender cue of all [i.e., its presence trumps all other gender cues; the presence of a vagina does not elicit a similar effect].4 In their words, “There seem to be no cues that are definitely female, while there are many that are definitely male. To be male is to ‘have’ something and to be female is to ‘not have’ it.” 5 Kessler and McKenna view this privileging of male cues as resulting from male-centrism (similar to how people often favor using the pronoun “he” when speaking generically). Taking this into account, it becomes rather obvious that when cissexual women deny trans women the right to participate in women only spaces because of their own tendency to privilege any “mannish” or “masculine” traits we may have over our many female attributes, they are fostering and promoting male-centrism.

Of course, trans-woman-exclusion cannot be justified solely on the basis that some of us look or act “mannish” or “masculine”- otherwise, butch women would have to be excluded as well. Indeed, in recent years, as feminism itself has shifted away from gender essentialist theories and toward more social constructionist ones, the basis for trans-woman-exclusion is more frequently our male socialization rather than our male biology. This approach also provides convenient intellectual cover for those who wish to include FTM spectrum folies (who were socialized female) in women’s spaces. But once again, such an approach runs counter to the precepts of feminism. After all, feminists regularly insist that women are capable of doing anything men can despite having been raised as girls and encouraged to take a subordinate position

241

to men. Thus, women Can (and often do) transcend their female socialization. It remains unclear why these same feminists would paradoxically insist that trans women are unable to similarly transcend our male socialization.

The fact that socialization is a specious argument became obvious to me during an exchange I had with a trans-woman exclusionist who insisted that my being raised male was the sale reason in her mind for me to be disqualified from entering women only spaces. So I asked her if she was open to allowing trans women who are anatomically male but who have been socialized female– something that’s not all that uncommon for MTF children these days.” She admitted to having Concerns about their attending. Then, I asked how she would feel about a person who was born female yet raised male against her will, and who, after a lifetime of pretending to be male in order to survive, finally reclaimed her female identity upon reaching adulthood. After being confronted with this scenario, the woman conceded that she would be inclined to let this person enter women-only space, thus demonstrating that her argument about male socialization was really an argument about biology after all. In fact, after being pressed a bit further, she admitted that the scenario of a young girl who was forced against her will into boyhood made her realize how traumatic and dehumanizing male socialization could be for someone who was female-identified. This, of course, is exactly how many trans women experience their own childhoods.

Another popular reason used to justify trans-woman-exclusion is cissexual women’s fears that we will somehow make women only spaces unsafe. For example, it’s common for trans-woman exclusionists to express concerns over the possibility that we might

242

assault other women-an accusation that is entirely unfounded, as there is no credible evidence to suggest that trans women are any more violent or abusive than women as a whole. Even in San Francisco (the U.S. city most likely to have the highest percentage of trans women per capita), there has never been a single police report of a trans woman harassing another woman in a bathroom.’ Others argue that trans women could potentially trigger those who have survived physical or sexual violence at the hands of men-a suggestion that is offensive not only because it is rooted in the male-centric tendency to view trans women as “men” (which is the result of privileging male attributes over female ones), but because it denies the fact that many trans women ate physically violated and sexually assaulted for being women, too. But what I find most dumbfounding about lesbian-feminist arguments that trans women might somehow threaten cissexual women’s safety is how eerily similar they are to the arguments some heterosexual women have made in the past in their attempts to exclude lesbians from women’s spaces and organizations.8

This is why it’s so disappointing for me to see members of my own dyke community practically bending over backwards, embracing hypocrisy, in a last-ditch effort to prevent trans women from entering lesbian and women-only spaces. Women who are appalled by the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuality seem to find no fault with Michigan for enforcing a similar policy regarding gender. Women who have struggled against patriarchal ideals of what makes a “real” woman think nothing of turning around and using the word “real” against trans women. Women who would be outraged if an all-male panel were to discuss women’s or lesbian issues in Newsweek or Time magazine see

243

nothing wrong with the fact that, in the last few years, several of the largest lesbian and feminist magazines have run articles and roundtable discussions on the issue of Michigan and trans-woman-inclusion without inviting any trans women to participate.” It’s sad to see women so desperate to prevent trans women from attending Michigan that they will actually try to make the ridiculous case that this “womyn’s” festival was never actually meant to be an event for women, but rather for those who were born and raised as girls.

I am sure that a lot of the same people who support Michigan’s trans-woman-exclusion policy, or who sit on the fence on this issue, would have a very different opinion if it were their own inclusion that was being debated. Can you imagine how angry these very same women would be if the largest annual women-only event in the world was run by straight women who decided to exclude queer women from attending? Can you imagine how insulted they would feel if they were told that they were not allowed to enter women-only space because they were not “real” women, or that their attraction to women might threaten the safety of other women? Can you imagine how condescending they would find it if straight women talked to them about being queer-positive one minute, then turned around and purchased a $400 ticket to a “queerfree” women’s event the next?

As much as I am bothered by the long history of trans women being expelled from the lesbian community during the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s, I am willing to chalk that up to the fact that the transgender movement hadn’t fully come into its own yet, and there were few people who were able to articulate a clear message for transgender rights and inclusion at the time. But now, in 2007, there is no legitimate excuse for trans-woman-exclusion in lesbian

244

and women-only spaces. Most LGB groups have long since added Ts to the ends of their acronyms. And while there was a time when trans-inclusion debates only took place on the outskirts of the queer community, they now take place in workplaces and courthouses all across the United States. In the last twenty years, nine states (Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Mexico, California, Maine, Illinois, Hawaii, Washington, and New Jersey) and scores of cities and counties across the country have extended their nondiscrimination laws to explicitly include transgender people.” It’s downright embarrassing that so many folks within the queer women’s community, who generally pride themselves on their progressive politics, have managed to fall behind Peoria, Illinois, and El Paso, Texas, in recognizing and respecting trans people’s gender identities.

But trans-woman-exclusion in lesbian and women-only spaces is not merely a trans rights issue-if it were, I would consider it to be important, but I probably would not have devoted so much of my time and energy to it. The main reason why trans-woman-exclusion evokes such passion and frustration in me is precisely because it is both anti-trans and antifeminist. And as a feminist, it gravely disturbs me that other self-described feminists are so willing to overlook or purposefully ignore how inherently sexist trans-woman-exclusion policies and politics are: They favor trans men over trans women, they rampantly objectify trans female bodies, and they privilege trans women’s appearances, socialization, and the sex others assigned to us at birth over our persons, our minds, and our identities. And what saddens me even more than the irrational transmisogynistic fear and hatred displayed by the vocal minority who most adamantly oppose our inclusion is the apathy of the silent majority of queer women and feminists who enable that prejudice: those

245

who continue to attend women’s events that exclude trans women; those who excuse or choose not to confront antifeminist/anti-transwoman comments and actions made by members of their own community; those who tacitly give credence to antifeminist/anti-transwoman rhetoric by referring to the issue of trans-woman-exclusion as a “controversy” or a “debate.” I would submit to them that there has never been a legitimate debate regarding this issue, as the overwhelming majority of dialogues and discourses on this subject have taken place among cissexual women in the absence of any trans women.

Perhaps the most naive and condescending refrain apologists for the trans-woman-exclusionists make is that these apologists are working hard to change these women-only organizations and spaces from within. This is a seriously flawed notion. If you look back at history, there has not been a single instance where people have overcome a deeply entrenched prejudice without first being forced to interact with the people they detest. Mere words cannot dispel bigoted stereotypes and fears; only personal experiences can. The queer rights movement would not have made the progress that it has if activists merely relied on queer-positive straight people to lobby on our behalf, to speak as our proxies. Social progress was only made through both the frontline work of outspoken activists shouting, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” and that of committed straight allies who absolutely refused to tolerate antiqueer remarks and discrimination from members of their own communities. Similarly, I entreat all feminists and all queer women to recognize that the divisive issue of trans-woman-exclusion will continue to be with us as long as we fail to directly confront and repudiate antifeminist/anti-trans-woman policies and rhetoric wherever they exist.

………………………………………………………………

RED TEXT NOT IN ORIGINAL.

Advertisements

38 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

38 responses to “Whipping Girl (chapter 12)- Bending Over Backwards: Traditional Sexism and Trans-Woman-Exclusion Policies

  1. Ok, I’ve taken the liberty of making RED some of the text that I want to talk about, but I’m putting my comments in the comments (where they belong, along with other people’s comments, optimistically speaking).

    Ok, Pages 238-239:

    feminism is based on the conviction that women are far more than the sex of the bodies that we are born into, and our identities and abilities are capable of transcending the restrictive nature of the gender socialization we endure during our childhoods. I have yet to meet the person who can explain to me how refusing trans women the right to participate in women’s spaces and events is consistent with this most central tenet of feminism.

    That isn’t really how I would describe feminism. YES, it our goal to transcend “the restrictive nature of the gender socialization” (reminder, Serano: trans women do NOT endure that during childhood). HOWEVER, it is not clear that we ARE able to do that. In fact, as to radical feminist dogma, I think it’s been made quite clear that we can NOT. There is, first, the “glass ceiling” (public/material limitations), and, secondly, how exactly can one be entirely DEPROGRAMMED?? She cannot be. And that is the problem. NO one can be entirely divorced from the social conditioning they received as a child prior to consciousness! It’s a psychological impossibility. Unless you’re into hypnosis and messing with the subconscious and whatnot—though, that’s not exactly a science.

    This actually references the issue surrounding AGENCY—how much agency can oppressed people really have or exercise? Oppression is not only material, but spiritual. That’s the problem.
    Page 239:

    But by suggesting that trans women possess some mystical “male energy” as a result of having been born and raised male, these women are essentially making the case that men have abilities and aptitudes that women are not capable of

    Abilities and aptitudes?? NO! No, no, no. Male energy is not about natural-born talents! It is yet another by-product of socialization. Learned behaviors and a subconscious sense of entitlement. That’s what is meant by “male energy.”

  2. Page 239

    This “penis” argument not only objectifies trans women by reducing us to our genitals, but propagates the male myth that men’s power and domination somehow arise from the phallus

    Feminists do not care about objectification of male-born bodies. I’m sorry, but it is not a concern. The feminist concern is about HOW male-born-bodies are perceived by women who are victims of sexual abuse. Logic is besides the point here, only emotional safety matters. And apparently, THAT is not a concern of trans women.

    Page 241-242

    concerns over the possibility that we might assault other women-an accusation that is entirely unfounded, as there is no credible evidence to suggest that trans women are any more violent or abusive than women as a whole.

    WAIT, this is NOT about YOU!! Who cares if such fears are objectively reasonable based on highly “scientific” studies?? It’s about how a trans woman might be received, emotionally, by female victims of sexual assault. Don’t trans women care about other women’s PTSD triggers?

  3. Page 241

    Thus, women Can (and often do) transcend their female socialization. It remains unclear why these same feminists would paradoxically insist that trans women are unable to similarly transcend our male socialization.

    Serano, stop using the pomo sex-pos feminist view as being representative of lesbian-feminist ideology. Feminist-lesbians (usually RADICAL feminists) do NOT believe that women can transcend their female socialization. This argument is therefore dead on arrival.

    On the rest of page 241, Serano uses the responses of one woman to delegitimize the whole feminist position on this issue. This is a manipulative arguing tactic that I will not honor as having any persuasive authority.

    Additionally, the scenario of a born-male who is socialized as female is only partly true. The child is unable to express gender until they’re at least 2 years old. At the risk of repeating myself, socialization BEGINS IN THE WOMB. It begins PRIOR to consciousness and the development of a social identity! Ok, so even if a trans-to-be child’s family respects their gender expression, NOT everyone does (schools, neighbors, other kids, etc.), AND the child received male social conditioning prior to the initial transition, no matter how young they may be.

    And the scenario about the male-socialized woman is just really far-fetched.

    As far as I’m concerned, ideological inconsistency has not been established.

  4. Page 242

    But what I find most dumbfounding about lesbian-feminist arguments that trans women might somehow threaten cissexual women’s safety is how eerily similar they are to the arguments some heterosexual women have made in the past in their attempts to exclude lesbians from women’s spaces and organizations.

    OMG, irrelevant! Stop derailing with emotional appeals, they’re manipulative and not logically persuasive.

    Page 242

    Women who are appalled by the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuality seem to find no fault with Michigan for enforcing a similar policy regarding gender.

    Yeah, the MILITARY (a public institution that is funded by our tax dollars) is not comparable to MichFest (a private annual event). They’re totally different and it’s NOT hypocrisy, but thanks for the lame analogy.

  5. Thank you for posting this. I’ve been meaning to read Serano, because that’s where most of the trans-activist arguments seem to come from.

    I find this entire chapter problematic. Essentially, it’s just one big brush-off. Serano goes through the various reasons why women/lesbians exclude transwomen, but simply dismisses them without really addressing them.

    Also, I take issue with the way Serano has framed “woman-only” solely as being “trans-exclusive”, and nothing else. Because in many circumstances, it isn’t.

    The point behind Michfest being woman-only is NOT to exclude transwomen. It’s woman-only because women find value in being together without males – it is first and foremost AFFIRMATIVE for us, not exclusionary to them (that is simply a byproduct).

    But naturally, male-socialization means that transwomen simply cannot comprehend that women might find value in being alone together, without them. All they can see is the exclusion, the part that affects them. Because the male-experience will always, always trump the female experience.

    And it’s the same thing at play in pretty much all of Serano’s arguments.

  6. That isn’t really how I would describe feminism. YES, it our goal to transcend “the restrictive nature of the gender socialization” (reminder, Serano: trans women do NOT endure that during childhood). HOWEVER, it is not clear that we ARE able to do that.

    Yes exactly. The point is, even if the idealistic goal is to transcend gender socialization, it doesn’t mean it is irrelevant. It still matters. Right now.

    And I also disagree with Serano’s definition of feminism. I’ve always understood feminism to be the liberation of female people from male oppression. Pretty simple, really.

    And part of that may include transcending gender socialization, but that is not the whole story. And that is something every trans-activist in feminism overlooks (that I have come across, anyway). They make feminism all about gender (which they have to I guess, otherwise there is no place for them). But once again, I think the ‘gender’ red-herring has overshadowed the point of feminism (and I am thinking of FCM’s and your gender post here).

  7. reminder, Serano: trans women do NOT endure that during childhood

    My bad. I meant that trans women do not endure the KIND of childhood socialization that FABs do.

    Also of interest, there are SEVERAL mentions in the book about the long-lasting effects of childhood gender dysphoria on trans children. Yes, that sucks. But it underscores the feminist point about how formative girlhood is for FABs.

    Additionally, Serano describes how living AS a woman is different from what she thought it would be. She gives the example of street harassers: when she was not passing as a woman and observed this happening to other women, she thought it was rude and annoying. When she herself was perceived as woman and personally subjected to such harassment, she realized how aggressive and intimidating it was. VERY DIFFERENT. I think it’s illustrative of the fact that trans women are not able to fully appreciate the importance of girlhood either. Maybe we need to work on articulating this.

  8. I keep seeing things in every paragraph that bother me. Like this:
    Women who have struggled against patriarchal ideals of what makes a “real” woman think nothing of turning around and using the word “real” against trans women.

    Ugh! The point is that FEMALE people have struggled against being defined by MALES under the patriarchy. Can Serano not consider, even for just a second, that for female people the idea of transwomen demanding access to our spaces might also seem like just another attempt by males to define us and tell us what’s what?

    To me this conveys a complete inability to empathize with female people (the irony, huh?)

    Also of interest, there are SEVERAL mentions in the book about the long-lasting effects of childhood gender dysphoria on trans children. Yes, that sucks. But it underscores the feminist point about how formative girlhood is for FABs.

    That’s a good point. It highlights the way discussions between feminists and trans activists so often consist of moving goalposts – where early gender dysphoria in transwomen counts, but girlhood is dismissed.

    I agree the harassment example you mention would useful in highlighting this – because we can use it to show how something women have long complained about, they never really understood, until they started passing as women and experienced it themselves. Therefore, it is a reason for them to trust us when we speak of other experiences we have. First and foremost, trans activists need to give us the benefit of the doubt, and LISTEN to what we say about our own experience. Because we can (and do) articulate our position, but I get the sense that it is brushed off without really being heard or addressed (as in the entire Serano chapter).

    I’m wondering what approaches we could take to achieve this … is it even possible? I just don’t know that we can advance the conversation further without them truly, honestly listening to us and accepting our experiences as valid. And if are unable to achieve this, the only alternative would be for us to take a hard-line “Sorry, women-only, and no debates!” kind of approach until they take it upon themselves to listen to us of their own accord. But that just seems like it would be exhausting for all concerned.

    I don’t know … I’m feeling quite despondent about all this tonight. I saw a trans-activist say elsewhere that my blog is widely considered to be “hate speech”. My blog is pretty uncompromising, and they may not like it. But I think very carefully about everything I publish, and I don’t think it is inflammatory or hateful (not any more so than the above chapter is towards FABs/lesbians/separatists, at any rate!) I just feel like there is a huge unwillingness for trans-activists to listen to anything they find inconvenient or challenging.

    I’m sorry UP, I have totally veered off course, but I needed to vent. (feel free to edit this).

    • There is no need to edit anything, my dear Miska! One of the things that I really respect about you (in addition to your mind-blowing talent with complex articulation) is your unfailingly even and rational tone. As a very emotional person, I get all fired up and passionate!! Exclamation points!!!!!!! Like, when I got super-extra-mad about the transabled on your blog!!! Grrrr!!! That wasn’t really productive… 😉

      What you say here is entirely TRUE. I will try to post the section about Serano’s experience and description of street harassment here for further discussion. Thank you for picking up what I was putting down– I think it deserves wider discussion, at least amongst ourselves:

      I just don’t know that we can advance the conversation further without them truly, honestly listening to us and accepting our experiences as valid.

      Amen.

  9. SheilaG

    I think the bottom line of all of this is very simple: do radical lesbian feminists have the right to create safe spaces and events for women? Do women have to cater to people who think they can walk into a women’s event like Michigan and make women who want to get away from men feel somehow ill at ease. Do women have the right to create spaces that are for women only? I would seriously question why it is that the pathetically small spaces left in the US that were created for lesbians be open to formerly male people. And here’s why: our club is not open to everyone. We have a right to determine entrance requirements.

    Women have the right to protect women who have been abused sexually by men. I would never ever want to go to a trans-woman gynecologist, for example. Lesbians are not attracted to men, and frankly, I think a lot of the trans-invasion of lesbian spaces really is about these people’s hidden or not so hidden agenda to get sexual access to lesbians.

    The most radical thing women can do is to create a world where men are not admitted, and to be clear about this. I don’t see trans-activists attacking large male only organizations, for example, and I’ll tell you why, men would fight back. A men’s music festival would go over to camp trans and trash it royally for blasting offensive music loudly at a men only music festival. Lesbians seem to be fair game for everyone.

    I don’t think people like Sarano have the faintest idea about the high incidense of rape or child abuse among lesbians. They naturally think, like most men I might add, that it is all about them all the time. This proves to me that their inability to respect women’s spaces and women’s rules reveals a nasty and hostile attitude toward women who just don’t want to deal with formerly male people.

    It’s the entitlement and arrogance, the barging in, the outrageous idea that lesbians would want to be around people with penis’ at a music festival where women were camping out in the wood. Just what gets into these people anyway.

    Lesbians really need to get back to the basics… of serving women, of being about women’s culture. We are not in this to wait on men yet again, or to even care what they think. We are at these places to celebrate and be with each other, after having to deal with a very female hostile world most of the time.

    This is not negotiable. Private organizations in the US can create rules of exclusion. But when it comes to women’s space these days, this is debatable? I don’t think so.

    • I don’t see trans-activists attacking large male only organizations, for example, and I’ll tell you why, men would fight back.

      Sheila, that is PRECISELY what my partner was saying over dinner last night. Ahhh, great minds! 🙂

      • Actually, I was also making a somewhat crude analogy to white people trying to get into POC-only events and what if the white people lived with POCs and took medicine to make their skin darker. Would I feel badly for the white person if they were excluded from the POC event?? Um, no. Would I blame the POCs? No. Would I even feel badly for the white perosn if they were assaulted by POCs while attending an event where they were unwelcome? NO. I most certainly would not.

        My partner thinks this is a function of my unconscious assumption that said white person is a MAN and I have NO compassion, whereas I DO experience some twinge of compassion for a trans woman in a similar position (not enough to agree that she should be allowed in!!!, but just that that would suck for her).

  10. SheilaG

    Serano admits that when she passed as a woman she felt street harassment was aggressive and intimidating. Well, how does she think camp trans looks to women? It looks like trans-women who were once men, are guess what, aggressive and intimidating towards women who come to Michigan for one week to be completely free of men.

    Since she didn’t know what street harassment was really like for women, chances are she would have no idea why lesbians want women only space to begin with. Again, the hidden agenda is formerly men wanting sexual access to women 24/7.

    I don’t believe negotiation with these people is a good idea. They don’t get it, still think they are men who can crash the party, still can’t take being told NO. We need to stand tall and say, it’s private land, we set the rules, you go and create your own festivals. Or how about you create spaces and do all the work, cooking clean-up etc., and perhaps invite lesbians to talk with you. If you want to be women, then learn to be of service, not the domineering arrogant people that you are.

    Men are going to do anything to preserve their right to sexual access to women, even going as far as chemically changing into women. They have not grown up as girls, have no idea how girls have been raised in this culture, and really have no clue about what is really happening with women.

    The ignorance of radical feminism and its purposes is staggering. Their agenda is to destroy what little remains of radical feminism, it’s that simple. I suggest they try mixed organizations. There are plenty of spaces where men and women socialize within a queer contect, there are pathetically few that are still truly women only.

    Again, the bottom line… if you were once a man, you simply don’t respect women when they say NO, and I call that a kind of psychological rape mentality at work here. PS I am sorry Miska that you are getting so much grief at your blog. Just put your foot down. They are not interesting in listening to women at all, they believe they know it all. Remember, they used to be men.

  11. SheilaG

    Great minds indeed. 🙂

    The attack on radical feminism, but giving male only clubs like the Vatican, the Masons etc. get a free pass. Yeah, right, attack the women, attack the marginal lesbians, because male dominance is about wiping out the resistance movement, and that is what radical feminism is, it is a resistence movement against male colonization in all its forms.

  12. SheilaG

    Transwomen activists could show good faith. They could really try to be women, and to serve and create. They could fundraise for women’s causes, they could create jobs for women with their formerly male privilege. But attacking lesbian scholars, trashing our culture, trying to destroy women’s studies classes?

    I think many transwomen I met are very well intentioned. And they respect women’s only spaces. They do enjoy the company of a lot of mixed spaces, and can be friends and allies. But they have to respect the word NO. Just as white people have to respect POC’s NO. You don’t change your skill color and expect to know a POC’s life experience, that would be arrogant and stupid.

    Radical feminism is attacked by everyone out there. I’m amazed its lasted so long given the hostility and relentless slander against a freedom movement. It’s not surprise that men in patriarchy come up with ever new (or not so new) tactics to infiltrate lesbian nation. Trojan horse anyone? Maybe they should bear gifts at least. 🙂

    • I think many transwomen I meet are very well intentioned. And they respect women’s only spaces.

      That’s been my Real Life Experience too! It’s very unfortunate that these SUPER VOCAL, pushy, and presumptuous trans women are representing trans women as a whole.

  13. Aw, thanks UP. And I love your writing style! I always feel so hyped-up and energized when I read your stuff. And I must say, I certainly didn’t feel even and calm when I wrote my last post, that’s for sure. lol.

    And I would love to read more about Serano’s harassment experience and how it can highlight the validity of FAB experience. So often I think when trans activism and feminism are discussed we focus on the problems, but it is important to discuss what we FAB women can DO about the situation too. This is an area that I think requires more discussion and focus.

  14. Transwomen activists could show good faith. They could really try to be women, and to serve and create. They could fundraise for women’s causes, they could create jobs for women with their formerly male privilege. But attacking lesbian scholars, trashing our culture, trying to destroy women’s studies classes?

    That’s just it, isn’t it? It’s matter of good faith. But I see very little good faith coming from the trans activists. They never give FABs/lesbians the benefit of the doubt. What I see instead is bullying, intimidation, and silencing tactics. And it works on a lot of women, but for the ones it doesn’t work on, all it does is create resentment.

    And I think the strongest indication that they are bullies is demonstrated by them going after the lesbian community. They’ve chosen it because they know it is a soft target. Lesbians can’t count on the wider queer community to back them up, they can’t count on feminism and they can’t count on straight women.

    And I also think that transwomen focus on lesbians because lesbians are the most woman-identified of all women – their validation is worth the most – nothing convinces males more that they’re really women than having lesbians accept them as one of their own. And that is why they will never stop aggressively seeking validation in the lesbian community.

    (Also UP and Sheila, please call me out if I am off here, in any way. I am het, but I think the trans attack on the lesbian community is of urgent concern, because if lesbians are not free to be left alone as lesbians, then NO woman is free. And I will do anything I can to defend the rights of lesbians to have lesbian-only space, and exclude anyone who doesn’t fall into that definition – as defined by by THEM!)

    It’s not surprise that men in patriarchy come up with ever new (or not so new) tactics to infiltrate lesbian nation. Trojan horse anyone? Maybe they should bear gifts at least. 🙂

    That’s so funny, Sheila – I actually referred to trans-activism as “the Trojan Horse of the feminist movement” in my last post, but after consideration I took it out in case it sounded too inflammatory or hate speech-y. And you’re so right! What gifts are they bringing to feminists/lesbians? At least the Trojans got a wooden horse out of the deal, ha.

    Thank you for the encouraging words about my blog, too.

  15. I don’t believe negotiation with these people is a good idea. They don’t get it, still think they are men who can crash the party, still can’t take being told NO. We need to stand tall and say, it’s private land, we set the rules, you go and create your own festivals.

    This is what I am starting to feel too. What I see so far is that trans-activists are actually incapable of negotiating, because to do so means they must listen to lesbians/FABs/feminists first. And they don’t. This is something they must change before any real progress can be made.

    I think there may be ways that FABs can better articulate ourselves so trans-activists are able to hear us, and these are worth exploring. But ultimately we can’t MAKE them listen. And if it comes down to it, then they will have to simply be told no, this is not for you, and you can’t come in.

    It’s possible (and I’m starting to think, quite likely) that trans-activists will never choose to listen to lesbians/FABs until they have no other option left to them.

  16. SheilaG

    What does FAB mean?

  17. FAB= female as born
    FAAB= female assigned at birth

    For trans activists, there is a difference–I suppose it’s a nod to the intersexed or some semantic distinction that highlights how gender is forced on us (assigned)!

    But for feminists, there is not a meaningful difference. SOCIALIZATION=gender for feminists. Therefore it doesn’t matter what your biology is, only the gender that you are taught to be by forces external to yourself.

  18. Or how about you create spaces and do all the work, cooking clean-up etc., and perhaps invite lesbians to talk with you. If you want to be women, then learn to be of service, not the domineering arrogant people that you are.

    Seriously! Show some feminine hospitality, people! And no, that’s NOT a double standard– chivalry is the foundation of woman-identified culture!

    The ignorance of radical feminism and its purposes is staggering. Their agenda is to destroy what little remains of radical feminism, it’s that simple. I suggest they try mixed organizations. There are plenty of spaces where men and women socialize within a queer context, there are pathetically few that are still truly women only.

    Yes to both things you’ve said here, Sheila. The ignorance and misrepresentation of radical feminism is staggering. Looks willful to me. Especially from Serano, who is obviously very well educated and very, very smart to boot.

    Secondly, YES, lesbians have little support from anyone save ourselves. As Miska said:
    Lesbians can’t count on the wider queer community to back them up, they can’t count on feminism and they can’t count on straight women.

    TRUE!!! Not off in any way. Thank you very much, Ms. FAB.

  19. SheilaG

    Yes Undercover, I do echo the idea of chivalry female style. Or I have always called it hospitality… serving and being of service in a profound way to other women, and to serve lesbians is the highest calling in many ways.

    So if women are about peace and service… just look at the gazillions of lesbians in social work, non-profit work, church work, teachers, nuns, nurses… just look at what lesbian culture has invented… the whole discipline of social work! Among other things. This is what lesbian nation looks like. Michigan Music Festival is a non-violent haven for women who love women. It is not for men, or MTFs who were not raised as men. Trans women can create music festivals, they can invite lesbians to come, they can serve the meals, they can serve the women. No they cannot lead, they need to learn to serve. If they want to boss around and lead, it is their male conditioning that is doing this. It is the very evidense that they haven’t transitioned at all really.

    But do I see a concerted part on MTF activists actually trying to BE OF SERVICE to lesbians? NO, I see them taking, trashing, voyeuristically present, and sapping energy out of the room in a constant ME ME ME… it’s all about ME. That’s what I see on the activist level. There are many transwomen I’ve personally met who don’t do this, who are kind, who fit it, and don’t dominate. But the ones who speak for the many, arrogant plastic women.

    I see actually not much honesty about what it would take to be women who provide safety as women to other women. Attack radical feminism, attack lesbian feminism, and attack feminism. Attack the very foundations of liberation for women, and this is your contribution as MTF activists?

    And then, lesbians, wake up women. We are being attacked by these very preditory people, who think they know it all. Sounds like men to me. That know it all arrogance, the complete lack of knowlege of how gender is enforced on people by a culture that says men are # 1 and women non-humans. So then you wonder why “as a MTF strange men ask you to smile… it’s because you are still acting like a man, don’t know your place as the inferior to men, and therefore have no idea that you have chosen second class citizenship, and at the same time, you then attempt to destroy the very liberation movement lesbians and feminists created for themselves to end this tyranny of the male. Not that is a convoluted political suicide that only male born people could ever invent.

    This arrogance causes my blood to boil with a rage beyond rages.

    So as I said before, if you really want lesbians and radical feminists to listen to you, why don’t you serve women. I do mean this literally. Create a camp trans that is a hospitality tent, serve the meals, serve the women, and listen, just shut those male born mouths and listen. If lesbians can see your sincerity, if they can see that MTFs don’t know jack about a life raised as a girl in a womanhating culture, then really, you do have some sort of hidden agenda. You do believe you have male entitlement, you do have some motive that is not in the best interests of lesbian sisters everywhere.

    I could go on. But geez, having men say “hey smile dearie” was the sexist b.s. of the 70s, it’s from the Gloria Steinem days, and you don’t KNOW THIS Serano? My goddess on a flying carpet you are one arrogant dumb sexist, or perhaps you really were born as an adult, and had no childhood of girl conditioning, and being a man, therefore you don’t know anything. You are either playing dumb or you really are dumb. What’s it going to be?

    Rant rant… this nonsense makes me so mad I could….

  20. thebeardedlady

    I am very angry at the moment about trans activists’ demands on feminists’ time and attention and their utter lack of regard for women’s safety and well-being. I used to think that an alliance was possible, but not anymore!

    Anyway, on Serano:

    Can you imagine how angry these very same women would be if the largest annual women-only event in the world was run by straight women who decided to exclude queer women from attending?

    The thing is that she has this backwards. FAB women excluding trans women is NOT analogous to straight women excluding lesbians.

    Actually, it’s analogous to lesbians excluding hets, i.e. a less privileged group defending a private space from a perceived threat.

    On another thread I was lambasted for saying that the women’s centre where I work, which serves almost exclusively Muslim women, would not be able to serve a trans women without destroying access for the majority of our clients. I was told I was transphobic and they said that it was the same as white people trying to exclude black people. My argument is that it’s EXACTLY opposite. It’s black people excluding white people. Which may happen for very good reasons, and it’s actually racist to insist that black people serve white people.

    This points to a complete lack of understanding of both the lived experiences of women, and of male privilege and how it works.

    Lesbians may have good reasons for excluding straight women from some gatherings. I’m a non-practising heterosexual, but I would NEVER in a million years try to gain access to a lesbian-only space. Why would I want to? If women say they need something in order to feel safe, loved and protected, then I, as a woman and a feminist, can only support that. Now what would make me campaign against a lesbian-only event? What would my motivation be? Surely if I harrassed the women and accused them of discrimination, and used aggressive tactics and tried to shame them by comparing them to racists and called them bigots, that would only serve to make them more resentful and suspicious of me. Why shouldn’t I just listen and respect the choices of those women? Even if I felt sad that I couldn’t join in, why ever would I want to try to ruin it for them?

    I have NO sympathy whatsoever for Serano putting all this time and energy into camp trans. Why not make their own festival, and make it so lovely that everyone else wanted to join in?

    Sorry for the long post and all the steam coming out of my ears!

  21. The thing is that she has this backwards. FAB women excluding trans women is NOT analogous to straight women excluding lesbians.

    Actually, it’s analogous to lesbians excluding hets, i.e. a less privileged group defending a private space from a perceived threat.

    Yes exactly!

    But they have twisted everything around so it *looks* like Michfest is an example of –

    The privileged (“cis”) excluding the oppressed (trans).

    when actually, it is a matter of –

    The oppressed (females) excluding the privileged (males).

    How in hell did they manage to get away with this, and convince almost the whole of feminism to go along with it? The only solution is to continue to discredit the idea of “cis privilege”, which we all know is male privilege anyway. It’s a total sham.

  22. SheilaG

    My problem is, I don’t get lesbian feminism giving into to these wolves in sheep’s clothing. Are lesbians standing on solid group and kicking those damn fake women out of Michigan? Are the lesbians at Michigan serious about keeping their music festival safe from former men and their barging, raping ,invading mentalities?
    Are lesbian screaming at women like “Bitch” being kicked out of “queer” events just because she performed at Michigan?

    Do we have 1000 plus lesbians who can show up and defend lesbian sisters at a moment’s notice?
    Can we assemble 10,000 lesbians to show up at any event where lesbians are threatened? Can the 10,000 member lesbian defence force take baseball bats to camp trans and run they right out of Michigan forever? I’d like to see the looks on those formally male faces as 10,000 lesbians show up to defend their land. Now when are lesbians going to get real serious and real brutal about attacking any former men who dare to invade our spaces? Just when are lesbians going to be 100% for lesbian nation? I’m waiting for this day when women rise and really fight 100% on our own behalf, and BTW let’s top the dialogue with transwomen, geez. Enough is enough. We know they will invade lesbian feminism, attack our heroines, invade our lands, and just what do we intend to do about it? In the old days, we had large groups of lesbians who beat the shit out of men. If men came into our spaces, we threw them out in the streets, we terrorized the invaders.

    What are the lesbians of today doing? You know women, are we a bunch of chumps or do we intend to fight this war? Let’s get real. We don’t want transwomen in their attempts to sexually access lesbians… these are men, they act like men, they were raised as men, and they have absolutely no place in lesbian nation.

  23. SheilaG

    If women were raped by men, don’t you think their needs as women should be honored above transwomen? Aren’t women to be number one anywhere in the world?

    Why aren’t transwomen attacking gender segregated organizations and anti-trans groups like mega-Christian churhes? Why exactly to they feel they should be allowed onto private land that lesbian feminists worked so hard to build? And just what do they have to offer lesbian nation? More male dominance? More male raised ignorance? And why didn’t they act like radical feminists when they were men? Could they have been so unaware of the status of women before they transitioned?

    Is the very fact of women saying NO THE powerful statement of all time. What part of NO don’t they get? Lesbians created the Womyn’s music festivals, because back in the day, we used womyn as a code word for lesbian. The vast majority of women who attend Michigan are lesbians, not straight women. Just where do lesbians go to find safe spaces even to date other women?

    Where is the large lesbian world at lesbian exclusive events anywhere? And how did this dwindling lesbian space (every lesbian I meet laments the lack of ENOUGH lesbian space). They are weary of being overwhelmed by hetero worlds everywhere. They get sick of gay men. Everyone it seems gets to have space except lesbians.

    Transwomen need to get used to NO, and go create something new. The more Camp Trans harasses women’s land, the more I see them as the trojan horse of patriarchy.

    Serano falsely claims that lesbians don’t know transwomen personally, and that’s why they are so-called bigots. The trouble with this, is I have seen what transwomen do to lesbian groups, and I see young lesbians not feeling safe in the groups because formerly male people bring their pornified talk right into lesbian spaces, dominate and talk endlessly, and force lesbians in resentful silence. I’ve seen this again and again, and it looks like the same tactics of men silencing women. I’ve personally witnessed this behavior, and I’ve seen lesbians getting shortchanged yet again.

    Until Serano addresses these very real concerns of lesbians, I think she needs to get an education in radical feminism. I think she needs to think about the rape culture men represent, and what a male body represents to lesbians… disgust and horror, for one thing. And also colonization as well.

    Daly and Raymond warned lesbian nation 30 some years ago, and it’s sad to see how watered down lesbian space has become, how weak, how marginal. Guess lesbians have to go to yet another fundraiser benefiting everyone else but themselves, another AIDS bike-a-thon, another gay male priority event. Let transwomen take on male domination, not female controlled worlds. Let them fight against men, the main enemy of lesbians. Let them expose male tyranny and leave lesbian nation alone, so we can prosper and grow without their interference.

    When they take on male dominance, and male right wing christian led churches, and male dominated offices, and take on the sexual harassment in the streets and parks and spaces…let transwomen take over space and kick out men, let them clear the way for new women only spaces, let them do the hard work, instead of stealing from us.

    If just on lesbian or one woman does not want to deal with one penis, those women’s choices, those formerly raped women need to be honored and cared for, not formerly male people who are doing the psychological raping of women in a whole new way!

    This issue has really gotten my goat, hope I’m not being a blog hog. Sorry, I’m just riled beyond riled!!!

  24. Pingback: Lots of links … « fab matters

  25. Found this, had to share.

    Trans Inclusion Policy Manual For Women’s Organizations by Julie Darke & Allison Cope for the Women/Trans Dialogue Planning Committee and the Trans Alliance Society Winter 2002

    And no, I didn’t read it. Couldn’t possibly. Not after Serano.

  26. Until Serano addresses these very real concerns of lesbians, I think she needs to get an education in radical feminism. I think she needs to think about the rape culture men represent, and what a male body represents to lesbians… disgust and horror, for one thing. And also colonization as well.
    rape culture is what MTF simultaneously say exists, and does not exist. “it exists” is the reason they insist on using womens restrooms instead of mens: they are (rightly) afraid of being raped. by men. “it doesnt exist” is the card they play when born-women dont want to use the toilet next to a fucking man in a dress.

    something was said here (or multiple things, sorry i cant give specific credit) that made me become very afraid of whats coming next. sheila said in another thread that once lesbians allow MTFs into lesbian spaces, its only a matter of time before a lesbian is raped by a MTF in that space. clearly thats the case. i would add that rape is a tool that men have always used to PUNISH women. and transwomen want to punish born-women and FAB lesbians so badly they cannot contain it. i can see it now: a MTF raping a born-woman in the name of feminism. ugh, i just made myself sick. belated trigger warning. sorry.

  27. Imaginary

    Trannies (I refuse to use the word “womin” or “women”) are men, pure and simple. I am a youngen (aged 17) so I don’t have a whole lot of life experience, but as far as I can tell, there is no place to go that is safe for womin. In anti-feminist/mainstream groups, we have giant penises walking around and womin simpering and sucking up to them, too full of self-hatred to realize that they deserve waaaaaay better than the obsolete defecation on the earth that is the Y chromosome. In supposedly “progressive” circles, we got these assholes who think they understand what the hell it’s like to be a womyn.

    I think I’m going to start my own lesbo group, or at the very least a womin only club. After reading this, it’s been pounded into me that we have no place else to go. I am NOT going to let men have access to me without a fight.

  28. NotSo

    From Hot Seat Questions About Transgendered People (here:
    http://gender.org/resources/dge/gea01002.pdf, the last question)

    And I Quote:

    Q: Isn’t being transgendered just another deviant lifestyle?

    A: Scientific research and the self-reports of transgendered people suggest gender identity is innate. Transgendered people are born with gender identities that simply don’t match their physical sex. They don’t choose to be transgendered. Being transgendered is neither a choice nor a “lifestyle,” and thus cannot be considered immoral. Transgendered people may have choices to make with respect to how to manage their condition, but this in itself is not indicative of deceitfulness or psychological disorder.

    End quote.

    Gender identity is innate. Thank GAWD! I knew there was a reason I wash all the dishes at home and am expected to do all the cleaning, washing and scrubbing even though I have a full-time job as a schoolteacher and my brother sits around on his bum-hole all day.

    So, you know, that’s a relief because now I don’t have to feel the unfairness of it – I can just expect it as something women are BORN to do and it’s not a ‘choice’ I (am forced to) make. *Skips around like a damned mad princess*

  29. NotSo

    Also – from the Trans Inclusion Policy Manual link UP posted up there is little gem, which I have broken down into its constituent parts.

    “Feminist research also established that the biological differences between
    women and men are rather small and do not account for the substantial
    differences in gender roles and status.”

    Yes yes! So then? Obviously one rather coherent and solid conclusion is that these gender roles and statuses (sp?) are socially contructed, and there is a reason for this construction, and that reason is very closely tied to power and hence conclude if you please: PATRIARCHY!

    But no. Hahahahaha. We end up here:

    “Yet for many, just under the surface of this political and intellectual deconstruction of gender, was a bedrock of essentialism: the belief that somehow women were naturally more moral, peaceloving and egalitarian than men. This was openly celebrated by cultural feminists and secretly embraced by others.”

    Oh well-played! Excellent! Let’s use just a tiny tiny little block of feminism to dismiss ALL of the feminists, even though many have them have bought into our rabid theories about them. Which, finally, brings us to

    “And so, when courageous transwomen began knocking on feminism’s door, some feminists returned to antifeminist arguments, based in biology and appearance, to justify installing the lock.”

    You really have to admire the sheer bloody-minded determination and thought that must have gone into constructed this twisted, patchy and wholly specious argument. Witness, if you please:

    Anti-feminist Feminist: Look – we have vaginas and men say that’s bad JUST BECAUSE, rape us as punishment, then make us wash the dishes and pop out children even though we may not want any. Oh and we don’t get paid for any of that unless we’re willing to stick our heads down a toilet on camera so a dickhead somewhere can get off on it.

    Courageous Trans woman 1: Hey I have a vagina (that works/looks nothing like a vagina except that a man can put his peen in it)!

    Courageous Trans woman 2: Err wait, actually – I still have my peen.

    Courageous Tran woman 1: What? Oh — well that’s just because you can’t afford surgery. So you’re poor and you’re wearing a dress. I think that counts, don’t you?

    Courageous Trans woman 2: Oh quite! Let’s get these damn Michigan Womyn!

    Courageous Trans woman 1: Yeah! And then we can blame them for not letting us in in the first place.

    Courageous Tran woman 2: *totally fails to see irony*

    Also, I read up till:

    “The current phraseology is ‘women born women.’ We’re told that only
    ‘women born women’ are allowed into some space. Well, that’s a problem.
    Aside from the obvious absurdity of a newborn infant being called a
    woman, the phrase ‘women born women’ just throws us back into the
    what’s-a-woman question.” — Kate Bornstein.

    Then I just got bored and exhausted. Maybe next time. Thanks for the space to rant!

  30. Hexydezimal

    Couldn’t help but stumble upon this blog post in my search for a PDF version of this book (no, I have not read it).

    Bit of an echo chamber in here or what?

    I have refuted plenty of these arguments, so it gets tiresome. It isn’t hard to find refutations to many of these on one’s own, so you’d think they would not continue to be repeated. The problem here is that people spend too much time demonizing us and far too little realizing how they would feel in our positions. Suffice to say, find one of us who has the know-how and the compassion to care (like myself) about others and — this may surprise you — ask us questions! Some of us really do care about you and your concerns, and you would be surprised at how much can be misunderstood about us. Feel free to email me (hexydezimal@gmail.com), and I’ll arrange to chat with you.

    As a mild-mannered lady who is a good friend to many women in real life, I don’t much care for being despised, hated, and censored everywhere that I go on the Internet. Please quit lotting all of us together as if there’s some kind of transsexual mold. There is not; we are all very different, and there can be a surprising amount of in-fighting at times.

    We are all human beings just like everybody else. Just like you. Many of us just want to live our lives in peace, but people tend to pay attention to those few who want to be disruptive. I live in Michigan, and I respect if there’s a ‘woman space’ that they don’t want me in. Agree with it? Certainly not, but I don’t have to agree with a decision to respect it.

    • Hexy, I’ve been seeing you around! Call it an echo chamber if you like, but trans activists figuratively OWN most of the major feminist media outlets. FFS, look at what happened to Dirt at The Magazine Project! If I drop a trans-critical comment over at Feministe, or Feministing, or Jezebel, or Shakesville, or really ANYWHERE, I will be called a bigot.

      Serrano’s book carries an incredible amount of STREET CRED in the trans community. Whether I agree or disagree, I think it’s important that we all understand what she’s saying. And for radfems, we deserve space to articulate our disagreement.

      FRG acknowledges and appreciates your respectful disagreement.

      Here’s the deal:

      When I criticize trans politics and ideologies, it’s . . . motivated by rational [fundamental] disagreement with the [following] ideas:

      * that anyone can transcend their gendered social conditioning
      * that g/jender identity has a biological basis or is an otherwise essential trait of humanity
      * that it is politically and socially unproblematic for individual people to voluntarily pass as members of lower social class (male to female, white to black, able-bodied as physically disabled)
      * that individual solutions (sex reassignment surgery) can materially impact structural inequalities (coercive forces of gender normalization)
      * that there is NO difference between bio males and trans men or between bio females and trans women

      Thinking trans people are freaks or immoral etc. is NOT the same as believing that trans survival techniques (and the I-dentity movement) fall short of political and/or social progress.

      And that trans ideologies are disrespectfully dismissive of FABs unique social experiences, I might add. But that’s the deal.

      I recognize that there is a particularly virulent strain of radical feminism that takes a more personal approach/attack to trans women, but I prefer to keep it logic-focused. People are complex. Thank you for the invitation to email. I don’t have any questions at this time, but it is a kind and hopeful gesture for you to offer us here. Thank you again.

  31. Barbara Di Bari Visconti

    What’s the good of “caring about us and our concerns” if in the end transsexuals still want to get their own way?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s