Two feminist blogging carnivals were published this week:
Both carnivals contain plenty of excellent posts to ponder, provoke and especially to disturb. Which brings me to the posts that provoked the rest of this post:
I note a disturbing contrast here between the way in which the two carnivals are dealing with discussions of the transgender experience and transphobia: the Carnival against Sexual Violence includes a post about how yet another murder of a transwoman [triggers] is being reported as the accused “being enraged beyond all reason” about being “duped” about the dead woman’s womanhood (and what this means for all women), while the Carnival of Radical Feminists, (edited to add: implicitly aligning all radfems with the trans-exclusionary radfem (TERF) activists, which I resent), links to yet another post from Miss Andrea that argues that transgenderism should be regarded as just another fetish and that transwomen are wrong and probably deliberately deceptive for claiming that it’s anything more fundamental in respect of gender identity.
I don’t pretend to have any magic wand to wave to reconcile those who accept that people can have a gender identity discordant with biological sex and those who don’t accept it. All I can do is explain my own views, and explore aspects of chains of logic offered by others that perhaps they haven’t fully considered, in the hope that this may lead to further examination of what appears to be very strong prejudices.
Now, on to one argument that Miss Andrea has used repeatedly and has received much praise for as an exercise in logical deconstruction: that transfolk, in reinforcing the gender binary by identifying as the opposite sex rather than presenting as more androgynously genderqueer, somehow undermine the classic view of gender as a social construct. The argument appears to boil down to “when feminists say gender is a social construct, they mean it isn’t “real”, therefore if we say that men can become women and vice versa, then we’re arguing that gender is real, and thus feminist gender theory disappears in a puff of smoke”. This simply does not compute, unless one has a very hazy grasp on the concept of social constructs in the first place.
Social constructs are not “unreal” rather than “real”, they are artificial rather than natural. Artificial things are not “unreal”, otherwise you, dear reader, are not “really” reading this blog. Constructs are made rather than found, that is the crucial concept (eta: and things that are made can be remodelled).
Each of the major social hierarchies of race, gender and class is socially constructed in terms of who is regarded as inferior to whom. Each of those social hierarchies is also based on certain objective physical signifiers – skin colour/physiognomy and sexual characteristics and material acquisitions – which are used to justify the assignment of “inferior” characteristics in those hierarchies (e.g. blacks/Irish are stupid, women are weak, poor people are lazy). But the fact that those physical signifiers exist has no necessitating natural correlation with the assignment of social inferiorities, and it is in the assumption of innate inferiorities that the gender binary is socially constructed on the physical framework of sexual dimorphism. The only innate aspect of the gender binary framework balancing on top of human sexual dimorphism regards who can give birth/suckle infants and who cannot, everything else about gender roles is cultural, not natural.
Miss Andrea argues that “guys in frocks” are merely buying into gender essentialism, but I don’t see how arguing that only those born with ovaries1 can ever be regarded as “real” women isn’t doing exactly that. It’s treating gender as inalienably aligned with biological sex, whereas those who have a trans* history are those are saying that their biological sex has not been sufficient on its own to make them feel comfortable in their assigned gender role. That strikes me as the very opposite of biological essentialism; even in cases where a transitioning individual adopts genderised dressing stereotypes, because the whole point of gender being a social construct is that those stereotypes are artificial rather than essential in the first place.
Of course transgender behaviours are an exercise in artificiality – but is it fundamentally any more artificial than cisgender behaviours? If reifying gender by dressing so very femininely is so fundamentally awful, then why so much criticism reserved mainly for the transwomen who do so, and so little criticism by comparison for all the ciswomen who embrace all the rituals and accessorised impedimenta of femininity?
It’s also important to note that choosing to display conformity to the social expectations of their transgender identity may literally be a matter of survival as much as preference for people who are gender-transitioning. It strikes me that arguments such as Miss Andrea’s are feeding back into exactly the same sort of attitudes about transwomen being out to fool the rest of us that end up bringing on the rage that results in their murders, especially when some of the commentors there respond to a challenge from a transwoman by simply mocking her as a “little boy” and asking “do you miss that penis you had chopped off?”. The contempt just drips from every pixel (eta: of those comments), and why exactly? Isn’t that sort of contempt and disgust exactly what led to Allen Andrade beating Angie Zapata to death when he found out (through an act of sexual assault) that she wasn’t a born-woman?
To demand that those in gender-transition step back and only adopt more androgynous, genderqueer identities rather than “appropriating” womanhood is to demand that they put themselves at greater physical risk, surely? Transwomen who “pass” are far less likely to be attacked when going about normal livelihood and leisure activities than transitioning individuals who are obviously “guys in frocks”. Is this what it comes down to? Back off from our women’s space and no I don’t care if you die because you have nowhere safe to go? The callousness of this appals me.
Now, I also understand that some women who identify strongly as born-women find the concept/presence of transwomen disturbing, confronting and even threatening. They speak of transwomen who identify as lesbians displaying all the sexually predatory behaviours with respect to women that entitled sexist gender-normed masculine men do. I don’t doubt that there are some transwomen who exploit women sexually, and it is right to criticise them for doing so, but are those shits sufficient reason to reject every single transwoman as a potential sister? Not for me.
There are also those who argue that women-born-male can never share some of the most fundamental gender experiences that result from gender socialisation as feminine from birth through childhood, and thus can never be “real” women because they lack this shared experience. This shared-experience is largely true, but I wonder just how crucial this distinction really is. What about those who realise their trans identity very young, before school age, and whose family fully support them in their transgendering as girls? Surely women raised in hypothetical all-female non-sexist communes would also lack the shared experience of a genderised second-sex upbringing, but would any Women Born Women group exclude them because of that? So is this difference in upbringing enough to demand that people in gender-transition divorce themselves from womanhood entirely? Not to me.
Yet, one point of Miss Andrea’s that I think she does get right is that many of the definitions offered with respect to gender transition by various organisations promoting trans* acceptance are hazy and overly generalised, to the point where any departure from gender conformity is labelled “transgender” by some, which I agree is over-reaching if it is argued to apply to boys doing ballet and girls playing football. Not all challenging of gender norms is necessarily about transitioning gender versus extending expectations of gender.
In contrast however to Miss Andrea’s assumption that this reflects an appropriation of women’s and particularly feminist experience, I argue that this more accurately reflects a lack of a proper vocabulary to discuss gender roles without falling back on the assumptions of the gender binary construct. That vocabulary will never develop or gain traction in these discussions while some people simply mock those who have gender-transitioned as fraudulent cross-dressing fetishists.
1. For the sake of brevity, I have ignored here all those women-born-women with vaginas and breasts who don’t actually have ovaries because, unbeknownst to themselves and the world unless they get tested, they are not XX women e.g. XY women with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, and XO women with Turner’s Syndrome, as well as intersex individuals with rarer conditions, all of whom further complicate biologically essentialist arguments. [back]
Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, language, social justice
This is a magnificent and clear argument and also a great summary of the issues here – I never really understood the position that trans people are anti-feminist or anti-female, but you explain it very well.
Like you, I can’t agree with the POV that transgender people are reinforcing the gender binary, particularly when people like Dr Zucker are working so hard to actually reinforce the gender binary and deny trans identity. There are so many ways to be a woman (or a man) that denying one particular way seems quite peculiar.
To clarify my personal position – I am cisgendered female, childfree, but dressed as a boy, with the support of my parents, for over four years, aged 7 to 11. As far as I can remember, I didn’t want to be a boy, I just didn’t want to be a girl.
This is beautiful. A couple of years ago I did get swayed a bit by arguments regarding the experiences of women-born-women, and also concerns regarding whether or not transwomen are able to shed male privilege, but the more I’ve read on the subject– including blog posts by transwomen– the more I’ve come to feel that these arguments are rooted in transphobia– or at least that my acceptance of them was. That’s not to say these things are never issues, but, as you so rightly point out, there is no reason to believe that they are so widespread that it justifies denying all transwomen their womanhood– in the same way that we wouldn’t deny a cisgendered woman her womanhood simply because she (or women around her) engaged in behaviours that we considered harmful to women.
I have noticed that arguments about the invalidity of gender expression of trans* people are often bolstered with anecdotes about what one or more individual activists have done which is kind of red flag for me. If you have to resort to universalising individual instances of behaviour to an entire group that is a sure sign of that your objections are distorted by prejudice and fear IMO.
The argument about shared experience seems particularly pointless to me. There is no such thing as typical experience for women and assuming that there is causes untold problems among feminists it seems to me. If the argument is that ‘not the same’ necessarily means that a transwoman for eg benefited from male privilege then my experience is that it is severely curtailed at best and possibly non-existent. One of my high school pals transitioned some time after school. As a gender non-conforming bloke , G was subjected to constant bullying and physical assaults and it was pretty clear to me that, lowly as my status as a frizzy haired, stocky, loudmouthed girl was, my friend G got the shorter end of the stick. I really struggle to see how, even prior to reassignment, she profited very much from being xy. She was maligned and excluded by guys and girls alike.
Using biologically essentialist arguments to enforce narrow limits upon other people’s self definitions and self-expression is what the patriarchy does to women. Women should not be down with that.
I thought-experimented this by imagining a girl brought up and homeschooled on a lesbian separatist commune. Not a whole lot of the girlhood experiences that the rest of us get, no exposure to being on the sharp end of the gender privilege equation – but I’m guessing that “trans critics” wouldn’t exclude her from their womanhood party.
I have, at times, felt some of the power of those arguments myself. Like a lot of arguments that rationalise bigotry, they can seem superficially reasonable, until you examine where such rationalisations lead. Where they lead is to the marginalisation of people with a trans* history, and not much better for those who are intersex, then that marginalisation leads to dehumanising, so that they start being called “it” and treated as if their death wouldn’t matter.
There’s already too many women whom the patriarchy/kyriarchy treats as if their deaths wouldn’t matter. Becoming complicit in the marginalisation and dehumanisation of transwomen doesn’t help ciswomen, it merely makes us accomplices in an atrocity.
What a fantastic post!
Just wanted to add that cisgender women who identify as lesbians can display sexually predatory behaviors as well. Cis women can be abusive, including towards other women. I have a female friend who was raped by an ex, cis female partner. The presence of a penis, or the presence of a penis at one time, does not a rapist make — a lack of respect for other people’s boundaries and desire to control other people does that. We just happen to live in a gendered world where masculinity encourages those kinds of behaviors by men. It doesn’t mean that women can’t have them.
Cara made the point I was going to make – or at least part of it.
I’ll also add that the negative stereotypes that mAndrea and her commenters are perpetuating are coming from people who have made their investment in marginalizing and excluding trans women from womanhood very clear. Under those circumstances, they’re going to exaggerate.
I agree with your assessment of mAndrea’s logic, and I really appreciate that you say
Isn’t that sort of contempt and disgust exactly what led to Allen Andrade beating Angie Zapata to death when he found out (through an act of sexual assault) that she wasn’t a born-woman?
I’ve said the same and the response was that since it’s men doing the killing, and not radfems, then radfems can’t be held responsible for reinforcing the systemic oppression that contributes to dehumanizing of trans women.
One thing (out of many) that’s troublesome about mAndrea’s arguments is that she’s talking about transsexual women, but she’s dragging gender variant people into the mix, and complaining that the definitions are inconsistent. And yes, there are many problematic definitions of transgender on the web, to the point that I don’t believe there is an accepted definition of transgender – but, really, transgender is just an umbrella term for several different groups (transsexual men and women, transmasculine and transfeminine spectrum people, genderqueer people, bigenders, two spirits, and so on). So part of the problem there is that mAndrea doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
My point being that the one point you refer to as valid really isn’t. She’s mislabeling.
She’s also deliberately ignoring all of the medical literature available on transsexual people, and picking and choosing the convenient bits. For example, there are four primary adherents to the idea of transsexual women being divided into “homosexual transsexuals” (early transitioners, always attracted to men” and “autogynephiles” (late transitioners, always attracted to women, labeled as having a fetish).
Of these four, you have Michael Bailey, who’s book The Man Who Would Be Queen rightfully earned him censure and criticism for his unethical use of human subjects as well as the complete lack of actual science used to support his conclusions. Paul McHugh, who claims to have originated this model is also the man responsible for closing the John Hopkins gender clinic, has stated that transsexual people should be “cured” through psychotherapy (this has never worked), and as a Catholic, has assisted the Catholic Church in producing documents that reject the validity of transsexual treatments and transsexualism as a medical condition. Anne Lawrence is a late transitioning trans woman who defines herself as an autogynephile. At one point, she deliberately examined a woman’s genitals while that woman was unconscious and unsuspecting (Anne was the anaesthesiologist), committing sexual assault. And Blanchard, well… he likes to diagnose trans people by doing fun stuff like attaching electrodes to their genitals and measuring their arousal in response to images… and, well, just google Jurassic Clarke.
None of these four practice medicine ethically, and these are the only people who seriously propose that a normal manifestation of transsexualism is a fetish, and even at that they’re not proposing that all manifestations are fetishes.
Also, there was this quote from mAndrea’s comments:
Basically, fetishist MtF collude with every other misogynist man and choose to participate in the dynamic in an alternate way. They spin it as a handicap when it’s really a male-entitled sexual fantasy that actively oppresses women just as any other pornsick man does. It’s the rape and total control over a synthetic female body, giving him and any other man he includes full access to treating women the way they both love to fetishize treating women. They then strengthen the conditioned response to female parts with their misogynist sex. That’s why you see so many misogynists patronizing MtF prostitutes, and MtF prostitutes happy to do it.
Sexist men look out for each other and will cooperate to control women’s bodies in any novel way they can think of.
KA, the commenter in question, is saying that trans women transition so we can have access to female bodies, and so we can become prostitutes and allow other men to rape our female bodies because we are get off on degrading female bodies.
K.A., that was a most brillant analysis, and needs a wider audience then what is available here. Hopefully other readers will carry your idea to other blogs, because it was perfect.
Quoted comments start here
I’d like to see that idea spread to other blogs too. The blatant slut shaming, the rape apologism. This is feminism?
Darnit, stupid grammar. “because we get off on degrading female bodies.”
I also forgot to mention how mAndrea’s stated justification that trans women cannot be trusted to describe our experiences honestly included a statement that rape victims cannot be trusted to talk about being raped. It was in her first or second “transgender” post.
I am surprised that you are not aware that sometimes blog owners respond with hostility to verbally abusive comments.
“The contempt just drips from every pixel, and why exactly?”
Perhaps you should ask mAndrea. Then again, you could probably find the answer in some of the commenter whose comments you no longer allow.
There is political fallout from changing the legal language that applies to discrimination.
Women shelters in Britain have to get a special dispensation to permit them to turn away men. Given that the current Trans activist definition of “woman” is anyone who identifies themselves as woman, it is easy to see the harm that would be done if it were codified into law.
It is a hard discussion to have, but a necessary one. mAndrea, as well as several others, are trying to have that discussion. Others prefer to namecall anyone trying to have that discussion.
We simply have to find a way to put an end to the global human rights crisis that is violence against women. Oddly enough, we seem to be bogged down in figuring out who is and isn’t a woman instead.
It is an issue of trust, I think. For me, personally and politically, I do not trust people who have been conditioned from birth to hate me. As a result I am very skeptical of the demand for trust from the male born.
I was referrring there to comments made by blog-visitors(regulars?), in response to the very first comment from a transwoman, which was not abusive, although it was certainly argumentative, and which led to the very next commentor saying:
That’s the contempt to which I was referring.
You’ve lost me here. There are very few banned commentors at Hoyden, and as far as I know none of them are radfems.
That doesn’t mean that I’ve never declined to publish a comment that contravened our comments policy in some way, but that’s not the same thing.
I’ll address your other points in a separate comment.
Thanks for this, tigtog. Out of curiosity, does the argument from the radical side just focus on MtF women? If so, then that also completely ignores every other shade of the gender spectrum…but I guess FtM, genderqueer, and other trans* people are also feeding the patriarchy.
As for the comment that Lisa Harney points out, I’m just appalled. Completely and utterly appalled.
[dons flameproof suit]
I do see the potential difficulties arising in the special case of women’s crisis shelters and non-discrimination law, I agree that it’s a hard discussion, but it’s a discussion that should be able to take place without so much Othering, surely? In my view mAndrea doesn’t actually help that discussion substantively when she makes mistakes about social constructs theory, cherrypicks trans* activist statements, and simplifies a very complex issue down to just a “fetish”.
This is the old “why are you worried about (teeny-tiny) X when you should be worried about (huge-horrible) Y” argument that we don’t accept from anti-feminists against feminist criticisms. This is not an either-or matter, it can be both-and.
Relying purely on sex to decide whether to react to another person with trust or distrust is a very blunt instrument. This ignores that the world is also full of women who have been conditioned from birth to hate women (including themselves).
Think of all those anti-feminist exceptionalists like Schlafly, Malkin, Coulter etc who write continually about how other women can’t be trusted to make decisions about their bodies and their lives, how other women are weak and stupid, not like them because they’re not like those other silly women. Think of how many other women just like them there are in every community. It’s just not as simple as XX can always be trusted and XY can never be trusted.
thebewilderness is not being completely honest in this instance. That is, ignoring the essentialist assumptions that trans women – who often know from a very early age that we’re trans/identify as girls – socialize exactly like men who are not trans, the concern around the Gender Recognition Act allowing men to pose as trans women and gain access to women’s shelters completely ignores the requirements for taking advantage of the GRA:
This is somewhat more stringent requirements than simply saying “I’ve changed gender,” or “I’m legally considered a woman” (more accurate than “I’ve changed gender” in most cases) although trans women who haven’t yet met the requirements may also have need of a shelter, and I would be surprised if there were no shelters that made room for them. But I believe most shelters have screening processes? And do these shelters screen for the possibility that abusive lesbians might access the shelter to track down a battered partner, or even gain access to the shelter as a battered partner to keep the partner she abuses from gaining access to the shelter’s services? Why are trans women held responsible for the possibility that men might* pose as trans women to try to gain access?
It seems that a lot of arguments about keeping trans women out of DV and rape shelters masquerade as maintaining a safe space, on the assumption that trans women act exactly like extremely misogynist men (an assumption that is scattered throughout mAndrea’s posts and comments, as well as thebewilderness’ comment here and several other blogs in both posts and comments), that trans women are inherently triggering to all women who have survived rape or domestic violence (due to the assumed presence of a penis), and must be held responsible for women who might be triggered by their presence – and that this consideration which is not a matter of safety – trumps all concerns for trans women’s safety, and doesn’t seem to acknowledge other possible triggers – and anything can be a trigger. This does a disservice to survivors by tokenizing our trauma as a reason to exclude trans women from shelters and other woman-only spaces, by making survivors the linchpin of this discriminatory standard.
And while some might argue that I’m cherrypicking to find the worst statement, I’d argue that I’d have to be cherrypicking to find a reasonable statement. mAndrea’s posts about trans people are nothing more than concern trolling at best, and frequently descend into vicious hate speech. The comments I posted are representative in terms of vicious, malicious stereotyping.
* A large number of shelters in the US and Canada accept trans women, and I can’t find any evidence that this has ever happened. If it has happened, why hold trans women accountable?
Lisa, that’s exactly the same question, about screening processes for abusive lesbian partners, that occurred to me.
The various hypotheticals about men simply saying “I’m a woman” and shelters being legally compelled to take them in seem to rely on the slippery-slope fallacy of imagined worst-case scenarios, and, as you say, take no note of the restrictions that the GRA very sensibly places on legal recognition of gender transition.
“It’s just not as simple as XX can always be trusted and XY can never be trusted.”
Had I actually said XX could always be trusted, your refutation of my statements might make sense.
Instead you have claimed that I said what I did not and then refuted what you say I said.
Further,my concern that we get this discussion moved forward and to a conclusion that will not put women at risk, so that we can address the problem of men murdering women is not: “the old “why are you worried about (teeny-tiny) X when you should be worried about (huge-horrible) Y” argument that we don’t accept from anti-feminists against feminist criticisms.”
But thanks for dismissing what I actually said.
Lisa, I have no idea why you think I am a liar, but y’all have certainly demonstrated why the necessary discussion won’t be taking place.
you’re right, you didn’t say that all XX women could be trusted. I was extrapolating, and I accept your assertion that the extrapolation was unwarranted.
I perceived your concern as originally stated as asserting that we couldn’t both address violence against women and examine the legal recognition of gender transition at the same time. You say I misread you, I’m sure that’s possible, but can you see how what you wrote could be perceived that way?
I also wish for a conclusion that won’t put women at risk, and that will address the problem of men murdering women, I just don’t want to exclude transwomen from consideration as victims of male violence by further marginalising them.
So, with regard to the anti-discrimination aspects of the GRA, do you acknowledge that it in no way will require DV shelters to admit men who just “say that they are women”? And that an abusive transgender partner of a woman already in the shelter should be able to be excluded using exactly the same screening procedures that exclude abusive lesbian partners of women already in the shelters?
I believe you have said something dishonest because you’re eliding the truths and realities about trans lives in favor of characterizing trans women as being indistinguishable from misogynist men. This effectively erases the fact that trans women are also targets for misogyny.
I believe there is a distinction between saying that you have said something that is not completely honest and saying that you are a liar. It’s the difference between talking about what someone does and what someone is. For example, you’re making a “what they are” assertion about trans women when you say we’re raised from birth to hate women. You’re claiming to know our deepest feelings about the sex we happen to be members of. In contrast, I am specifically responding to what you said and not what I believe you may be thinking. Do you believe it is completely honest to claim to know what someone else thinks and feels?
I’ll rephrase my first paragraph for clarity:
Better? My intention was not to call you a liar – and I apologize that it came across that way* – but to point out that you’re glossing over information that doesn’t support the idea that trans women are not different from extremely misogynist men. Also, that you weren’t acknowledging that it is significantly more difficult to change gender under the GRA than to simply say “I’m a transsexual woman.”
I also didn’t mention this: But the GRA requires a commitment to live in your preferred gender for your entire life. It’s not reversible. A man who tricks his way into the GRA is forever and always afterward, legally a woman.
* And thank you to tigtog for pointing out why my phrasing was problematic
Lisa: Definitely hear that. Full disclosure, I didn’t go and read it as I really was not in the mood to raise my blood pressure exponentially. The logic just boggles my mind. Completely boggles my mind.
Admittedly, the discussion between tigtog, Lisa, and thebewilderness here is out of my league as it addresses Australian law (and my apologies for being Amerocentric and uninformed prior to this point). That said, the idea of any abusing cis-man being so determined that he would be able to successfully pretend to be a transwoman to get into a shelter, especially considering the legal bindings and the prejudice already existing against transwomen seems so very improbable; to the point, imo, where I think it would be far more productive to focus on eliminating the cultural mindset that leads to domestic violence in the first place.
Minor detail: the law in question is being proposed in the UK.
Which proves how I need to read these things a bit closer and not lose my credibility…sorry all.
What you said about cis men posing as trans women to gain access to shelters is completely relevant, whether you know anything about the GRA or not. This is a question that DV and rape shelters in the US and Canada were already dealing with when Vancouver Rape Relief was telling Kimberly Nixon that trans women couldn’t be allowed around women escaping from rape or domestic abuse. In 2000, 45 of 62 surveyed shelters in Vancouver, BC allowed trans women and never had to deal with a man posing as a trans woman, and Canada didn’t (and doesn’t) have a GRA.
Bene, it’s not as if no one here ever did the same! It’s a small detail.
Your major point was more important, so apologies that I didn’t acknowledge it.
Exactly, yet this is seriously put forward as if it’s going to happen all the time.
I’ve been crossing paths around the blogosphere with thebewilderness for years, on many issues we are of like mind, and I admire the way she writes. But I can’t admire her contribution to the mass of marginalising stereotypes of transwomen as just another subset of misogynistic males, and I don’t think such marginalisation will make women-born-women safer from violence in any way.
Some of the same arguments advanced about restroom and shower room usage. Except this time, the people raising the spectre of men sneaking into women’s spaces to rape them include James Dobson of Focus on the Family.
Plus, bonus: The terrifying possibility that civil rights for trans people will expose us to bisexuals in the restrooms!
Lisa, we crossposted. The DV shelter hypothetical really does seem to be a woefully fallacious argument.
re: the points about shelter and safe space access.
Womens only shelters have had these issues of who to permit and how to screen for years in terms of:
– csi-gendered women who abuse, including feminist shelter workers,
-csi-gendered men who’re genuinely seeking help as survivors but by harrassing women’s services due to the taboo’s around male survivors
-teenage male children of women seeking shelter who threaten younger children or don’t but are outside age and gender based limits.
Why should transwomen – such a demographically small group and often contributors to survivor services – be singled out as the “threat” issue and worst case scenario fear?
Isn’t there transphobia & patriarchy in burdening this demographic with so much blame for demands on support services – compared to demands for people of any gender outside shelter networks to UPTAKE responsibility for creating alternative supports for survivors?
Transpeople are murdered much more than csi-gendered women. Where is their “safe space”?
Amazing, wonderful post. Brava!
Brooklynites last blog post..Sight.
outfox: very, very true.
Indeed, outfox: excellent points.
In case anyone’s wondering, no trans-exclusionary radfems (TERFs) have submitted a comment in response to this post other than thebewilderness. I haven’t been declining to publish any comments from any TERFs on this thread, there just haven’t been any others.
I’m hoping that the TERF terminology catches on, because there’s plenty of radfems who are not trans-exclusionary, and I’d like that distinction to be very clear.
I think my attitude comes down to – there’s a woman in there, what does it matter what package she comes in?
I don’t understand the idea that a man would voluntarily choose to live as a woman and give up his rights in the patriarchy simply as a way of getting at women. I find it quite bizarre and a little concerning.
I can understand thebewilderness’ concerns regarding trust, but do she really think that all men are conditioned from birth to hate women – is this what the patriarchy means for radfems? If not, where does the conditioned to hate from birth thing come from?
It’s a common trope, although I wouldn’t say that all radfems subscribe to it. Greer’s famous quote that “women have no idea how much men hate them” comes to mind as a possible source, although I doubt she was actually the first to say it. Like a lot of soundbites, it masks many complexities.
My radical theory hat is more inclined to the view that men are socially conditioned to view women as inferior from birth, and that in a depressingly large number of men this leads to contempt and thus to hateful acts. To extend that to the view that no man can ever be trusted by women because of their hate for women strikes me as extremeover-reach, even if it wasn’t ignoring that trans women, particularly those who presented as gender-ambiguous since a young age, have generally not had a normal masculine upbringing anyway.
Some links I just dropped in a post over at FF101:
An open letter to cis-feminists: a post about cis feminists overlooking violence against trans women in favour of arguing about gender theories
Radical Feminism and Cis Privilege: dehumanising trans* women is not a feminist act
Questioning Transphobia: a blog devoted to discussing hostility towards gender transition
Thank you very much for attempting to help, I have to admit the whole issue is very confusing. I wouldn’t call my grasp of the situation “hazy” though, more I like I just eliminated all the extraneous bits, starting at square one and working my way up.
I remember reading a comment written in beautiful academia-speak at a well-known blog which was explaining transgenderism, and it did sound like it contained an important idea, yet most of the visitors couldn’t understand it. Someone asked for a simplified version, and the author admitted that it wasn’t possible. But we’re talking about sociology here, not physics; and if somebody can’t put the idea into simple words, then we have to ask ourselves why activists can explain every other injustice under the sun easily, but transgenderism alone requires word manipulation?
So if you really want to help me understand, then let’s start here:
”Social constructs are not “unreal” rather than “real”, they are artificial rather than natural.”
What is the difference between “unreal” and “artifical” when we are referring to a concept which has no physical form? Ideas do not have physical form, so ideas are either true, false, or possibly inaccurate. Ideas can never be “artifical” — at least that is not how I understand the concept of ideas.
— and because of this particular framework, it becomes possible to arrive at the truth, using logic. Is the suggestion that I not use logic? Personally, I find it very helpful to weed out the bullshit.
mAndrea, let’s examine the unreal/artificial distinction in terms of a different non-physical social construct: marriage.
Marriage is not a tangible object either. It is an artificial social construct, that carries with it a few commonly understood physical signifiers such as a wedding certificate and matching rings, and that affects the way that some social interactions and consequences eventuate once a marriage is recognised to have taken place.
Is marriage “unreal”?
OK, here’s my simplified version: transgender people are people.
This is my “square one”. If you use a different one, you may come to different conclusions.
I would say that you eliminated the most important aspects of transsexual issues: The people themselves. You explicitly dismiss what real trans people have to say about themselves. You also ignore the majority of medical literature on the subject – including actual case histories – most of which directly contradicts your claims, and the literature that doesn’t tends to be held in low regard. How can you produce logical conclusions if you exclude the most pertinent information on a subject?
Also, what tigtog said about marriage. I’ll add law, government, national borders, ethics, and the concept of ownership.
The truth is, identities aren’t simple. The world of the mind is not simple. I can boil down my stance on bisexual rights by saying ‘My right to love and screw any consenting person of any gender should be respected’, but that doesn’t explain the hundred nuances that go into it.
Feminism has already established that the societal definitions of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are faulty, and that one shouldn’t be expected to behave in Manner X due to being born with a certain assigned sex. Trans issues are not that far of a mental leap from there.
Exactly. Social constructs are far more than merely “ideas”. Social constructs give rise to a raft of legally defined rights, responsibilities and obligations between people, and a further raft of social conventions and expectations. How can social institutions that profoundly affect the lives of so many people, because
theyone’s assigned position within these constructs determines theone’s allocation of resources, not “exist”?
Yet some radfems are arguing that the theory that gender is socially constructed is exactly equivalent to saying that gender doesn’t exist. That is absurd. Things may be physical fictions and still be sociological facts.
Of course social constructs exist as conventions of our shared social imagination, and people manoeuvre within, between and around them in different ways. This ability to manoeuvre within/between/around social constructs is the only way that people can “progress” up the social ladder, in fact. People can convert from one religion to another, people can change their citizenship, people can move between social classes. A person with pale Irish-white skin can be an Aboriginal Australian because the genetic lottery fell that way for her in a family where everyone else is dark-skinned, yet she can go anywhere in the world and call herself White and not a person would argue.
mAndrea and the other TERFs are arguing that gender alone, out of all these social constructs, cannot be manoeuvred within/between/around? How does that follow?
One of the disadvantages of debates with people on the other side of the planet is that they skive off for trivial things like sleep just when one’s in a right proper mood for a bit of rational expression of divergent opinions! 🙂 Anyway, in the absence of mAndrea for the moment, I’d like to explore another claim that I don’t find logically consistent.
The insistence that there is a necessary contradiction between TERF claims that trans* people are reinforcing the gender binary and trans* activists’ claims that trans* people are challenging the GB, the insistence that this is a mutually contradictory EITHER/OR situation, is way too simplistic.
I mean, we all know that the gender binary is reinforced from many directions in many many ways, don’t we? Why can’t a person challenge the GB in one way (by saying they are not fixed as the gender assigned at birth) while not challenging it in every way (friends/careers/hobbies), and even reinforcing the GB in some other ways (identifying as one half of the conventional binary rather than some intergender identity)?
Tell me, random Hoyden reader – you as an individual, do you reinforce the GB or do you challenge it (eta: in everything you are and do)? Or are you a person of many facets, some of which conform to gender norms and some of which don’t, so that in fact you BOTH reinforce gender norms AND challenge them in different ways?
Take some samples from me:
GB Reinforcements: I’m married, I have long hair, I live as part of a nuclear family, my male partner is the primary breadwinner, I’ve always been the primary child-carer (see footnote).
GB Challenges: I’m educated for an independent career. I don’t wear makeup or high heels or skirts in winter. I kept my birthname when we got married. I don’t pretend that I’m dumber than men I meet just to make them feel better.
How about you?
Footnote: this would have worked out differently if my major post-natal depressive episodes and subsequent undiagnosed mood disorder hadn’t entirely disrupted our plans for him to take some time in that role once the kids were weaned.
GB Reinforcements: Long hair, I’m wearing nail polish right now, I am sliding into my “I love femmey clothes” phase, I wear makeup if I have a job or job interview,
GB Challenges: I often wear jeans and t-shirts, I often go without makeup, I almost never style my hair beyond brushing it, I’m lesbian.
Where trans fits in: I think that trans challenges (and often threatens) people’s sense of gender. I notice that people often start talking about how they personally don’t want to change sex, as if my presence implies it’s a possibility. Of course, it does break the gender binary, since the binary assumes male (at birth) = man = masculine and female (at birth)= woman = feminine.
Take the Fox News comments about Isis – just from looking at her, she appears to reinforce the gender binary. She appears fairly feminine, she looks female, she is a woman. Yet, Fox News spent a full segment trashing her, calling her “he or she” and dwelling on the shape of her genitals, talking about “The Crying Game ’08.” This isn’t stuff said about binary-reinforcing women – although she’s still reinforcing in other ways, if people don’t realize she’s trans.
GB Reinforcements: Het and partnered, one offspring. Wear jewellery for more formal occasions, and own one lipstick. Practise a supposedly “feminine” craft (soapmaking). Used to practise more a typical femininity. Like flowers, wear purple and pink a fair bit. Like to have my house reasonably clean when my mother-in-law visits. Bite my tongue, smile when I’m not cheerful, say “sorry” when I’m not. Sometimes.
GB Challenges: Wear practical clothing, with no exceptions these days. Haven’t owned heels higher than Doc Martens for decades. Eat and drink whatever the hell I want, and never take part in Diet talk. Played “masculine” sports, back when I did sport, and didn’t pull punches. Talk in my natural voice. Have a bunch of degrees, including one in a traditionally male-dominated profession, and don’t dumb it down. Minimal epilation. Share child caring (I probably do a little less, though that has much more to do with my disability than with sexual politics). Bring more income into the house than my partner. Men do the vast majority of cleaning and kitchen work in this house.
aha, that is interesting.
”Is marriage “unreal”?
I see what you are getting at, maybe, but marriage is a social construct and so we go in circles.
The idea of marriage is an idea, an interpretation, so I’d have to say no and yet the rights and obligations that it entails represent real activities and so I might have to say yes. But then the next question is marriage like gender? In other words, is the comparison between marriage and gender accurate? If we ask a few more questions we can find out. Are activities the same as physical bodies? Is “doing” the same as “being”? And so I’d have to say the answer is no.
Let’s doublecheck to see if I got that right. How ’bout if we ask: are activities the same as belief in a physical body? No, that doesn’t work at all.
Triplecheck. How ’bout if we ask if activities are the same as feelings? Nope.
Let’s do it from another angle, just to be sure. Is the idea or interpretation of marriage the same as the idea or interpretation of gender? This I think is what you were getting at but in order to ask this question we have to add some premises which themselves must be proved or disproved. You see how we keep backing up?
Up til now we could be fairly loose in our definitions and it wouldn’t matter, now it’s tighter and it makes a difference. We need to know what we mean by gender.
Is gender attached to a physical body, or specific body parts, is it located in the brain and if so does it matter which bits, or is gender associated with an existential quality? The answer depends upon the definition, and so we go in circles.
I’m really not trying to be inflexible, it’s just no matter from which angle the problem is approached, it doesn’t appear to make any sense. I’ve already thought through all those and the answer is still no as far as I can tell. I understand that wasn’t the response you wanted — sorry ’bout that. I’ll keep trying.
You said, ”the gender binary is socially constructed on the physical framework of sexual dimorphism. … everything else about gender roles is cultural, not natural.”
So I’m assuming you mean that gender is dependent upon the perception of bodies, and that this perception orginate in culture, which is also perception. Another word for that is interpretation, and so we come to your own minor conclusion that gender is subjective (if I undersood you correctly).
But subjective things are automatically invalid. We need something else, something objective instead.
Btw, I have blogged a total of 35 posts; only lately have I had more than a few visitors so I don’t have much practice with moderation. Considering that I’m only now discussing such a highly contentious subject and many of the transfolk insist any disagreement at all is “phobic” blaming me for some of the comments is a little inappropriate. Are you always this hard on inexperienced blog hostesses? That was not a fair comment, Tigtog.
I really don’t enjoy being a control-freak. And I did actually say something when I returned to the blog and saw how things had deteriorated.
To equate that comment with murder? Do you believe in consistency, Tigtog? Do you equate the countless insults MEN GIVE TO WOMEN on a daily basis on every message board accross the planet to murder??? How can you even say such a thing? And then to blame me for it???
You can’t even see your own hate. Seriously, read that again, Tigtog, see if you can find the hate. I’m almost afraid to draw it to your attention, for fear you still won’t see it.
I have a post up at the recent carnival of radical feminist. When I read the article by Miss Andrea I was beyond disgusted. I have decided that is along as this kind of hate continues to be promoted I will no longer allow any of my work to be published there. I want nothing to do with this kind of hate. There is nothing feminist about this.
Renees last blog post..Belts, Children and Discipline.
The idea that trans women shout down all disagreement as “phobic” is a straw man. The idea that someone who is not trans in any way is somehow positioned in society in a manner that makes them a better judge of what a transphobic statement or action is than trans people is semantically identical to the idea that men are better judges of sexism than women.
There’s an entire possibility you haven’t considered (or considered and rejected): The fact that you are not yourself trans probably contributes to the fact that you have difficulty understanding what trans people are saying. Instead of trying to place the blame for this lack of understanding on trans people, I suggest you examine your own privilege in assuming that you – as a cissexual woman – are in any position to describe or define trans people’s life or decisions in a manner that strictly makes sense to you, but requires you to ignore what trans people say about their own lives.
You also keep conflating transgender, genderqueer, and transsexual when you talk about definitions, and this is almost certainly contributing to your confusion.
Finally, while you’re defending that you’re not responsible for the comments on your blog, could you explain what you mean by your response to K.A.’s assertion that trans women love to go into sex work and allow themselves to be raped by misogynist men? The part where you say “that was a most brillant analysis, and needs a wider audience?” I’m trying to figure out how this fits into your logical and rational assessment of trans people.
Where did I blame you for what the commentors said? I blame them entirely for their own words. You have let them stand though. You have not deleted those comments, or edited them to remove the most abusive words, both operations that wordpress makes extremely easy.
If you don’t enjoy being a control freak and don’t want to see such comments on your blog, perhaps you should disallow comments altogether? Choosing the option requiring moderator approval for every comment would also prevent any nasty surprises sitting on your blog while you are busy elsewhere.
You don’t read carefully, do you? I said such comments display and bolster the same attitude, not the same act. And yes, I absolutely do believe and often say that misogynistic abuse from men online displays and bolsters the same attitude that underpins the rape culture and murderous violence towards women. If you do not share that belief about the verbal abuse from many men underpinning the acts of physical violence by fewer men, I hardly see how you can describe yourself as a radical feminist. So I am, actually, entirely consistent there.
This is a highly emotional response from you, by the way, isn’t it? Aren’t emotions subjective? You just said:
Should I have actually ignored your expressed outrage because it’s not objective, and apparently only objective things are valid?
See, I don’t think you actually believe this, you’re just using it as a rhetorical trick. Otherwise your life must be a desert, with no validity granted to subjective things like love, joy, loyalty, compassion, pride, empathy etc.
You also asked, specifically, to start at the basics of the concept of a social construct:
Yet you have not stuck to addressing the concept using the basics of the unreal/artificial distinction, you have leapt right back into the broader debate on gender in particular without adequately addressing just the logic of the distinction as it applies to that example alone.
I’m perfectly willing to debate you on purely logical grounds if you will actually follow the logic with integrity (oh dear, another subjective thing). Shoddy rhetorical tricks with logical fallacies like the “shifting the goalposts” you’ve attempted above don’t work so well on people who’ve studied rhetoric as well.
Strictly speaking, it is a borderline Ad Hominem Tu Quoque, actually. With a side-serve of Poisoning The Well and Red Herring. The straw man in this thread came earlier, where she decided how my arguments regarding social constructs were going to go and knocked that edifice of her own assumptions over with a feather.
Ref:Index of Logical Fallacies
I think you might be having a little pot/kettle issue there.
You’re right. I’m usually better at distinguishing that, but I’ve never taken formal debate classes and occasionally make the wrong call.
the bewilderness, I read mAndrea very carefully, always. That’s how I noticed that she was attributing statements to me that I did not in fact make in her how-dare-you effort.
Therefore, instead of defending an alleged statement that I never in fact made, I expanded on the argument that I actually did originally make.
Lisa, I didn’t mean that as a slam against you. I just found it amusing how much was wrapped up in that particular little gem.
I didn’t feel slammed. I just felt slightly embarrassed for not getting it right.
I use the reference I linked to to check the names myself, Lisa. I can usually spot when a fallacious rhetorical manoeuvre is being made, I don’t always remember the technical term off the top off my head.
I don’t consider myself a radical feminist, and I do believe that verbal abuse and misogynist language absolutely supports a spectrum of behavior which leads to rape and murder. Even though many of the men who say these things will never be physically violent to any woman, just the act of using that language supports the systemic oppression and violence that justifies to some men that they’re entitled to physically abuse, rape, and murder women. I think that this is a quintessentially feminist attitude toward language.
This is also why when I see feminists using the same language that Andrade used to describe what he did to Angie Zapata, I question what exactly they’re trying to do – they’re using the same language that supports a spectrum of of behavior which leads to the rape and murder of trans women, who are also subject to the misogyny in the previous paragraph.
And what do I receive as an answer? “We’re not the men attacking and killing trans women.” As if the only oppression that counts is attacking and killing?
Yes, and it was originally radical feminist theorists who articulated that theory of language contributing to and supporting oppressive sexist behaviours.
True, I was just saying I think that if you’re a feminist, that seems like something that should be a concern. I know it’s a concern of mine, and I don’t consider myself radical.
Just pointing out the irony of people who identify as radfems arguing that their negative language usage doesn’t contribute to anyone’s oppression.
It’s fair to say that most quintessentially feminist principles arose originally from radical feminist theorists, who did the heavy lifting on analysis and deconstruction of social traditions positioning women as inferior, and whose conceptual frameworks filtered through to the broader base of women’s movements.
mAndrea’s TERF arguments use radical and post-structuralist terminology, at least in post-titles, but the arguments appear to reject the actual practice of deconstruction as either Heidegger or Derrida employed the term. It’s not a synonym for destruction of a concept, despite common misuse of it in this way. It also seems futile to attempt to deconstruct trans* without having adequately deconstructed gender first, and it appears to me that continually bringing gender back to genitals, as the TERF arguments do, is a long way from a deconstructed view of gender in any way, shape or form.
Renee: I asked for a link to me to be pulled from the current carnival, and received a rapid response, which I appreciated. You can request for current work to be pulled as well as resolving to not take part in the future.
Regarding deconstructing gender and sex, I wrote this awhile back. If I were to rewrite it, I think I’d do it differently, but I think my core argument is still useful.
I don’t think it would support mAndrea’s attempts to deconstruct gender, although I think gender deconstruction could happen. Still, I’m not even sure if what I wrote truly qualifies as deconstruction.
Also, apologies in advance for the unqualified references to radical feminists in post and comments, though.
”You also asked, specifically, to start at the basics of the concept of a social construct:
What is the difference between “unreal” and “artifical” when we are referring to a concept which has no physical form?
Yet you have not stuck to addressing the concept using the basics of the unreal/artificial distinction, you have leapt right back into the broader debate on gender in particular without adequately addressing just the logic of the distinction as it applies to that example alone.
I’m perfectly willing to debate you on purely logical grounds if you will actually follow the logic with integrity (oh dear, another subjective thing). Shoddy rhetorical tricks with logical fallacies like the “shifting the goalposts” you’ve attempted above don’t work so well on people who’ve studied rhetoric as well.”
It’s a shoddy trick to merely name fallacies without actually, oh I don’t know, proving one exists.
You were using an analogy, remember? So a comparison becomes mandatory and now we know what? We know that your first step in this post is wrong.
” have, at times, felt some of the power of those arguments myself. Like a lot of arguments that rationalise bigotry, they can seem superficially reasonable, until you examine where such rationalisations lead. Where they lead is to the marginalisation of people with a trans* history, and not much better for those who are intersex, then that marginalisation leads to dehumanising, so that they start being called “it” and treated as if their death wouldn’t matter.”
You should know better with this one. You don’t get to change the premise just because you like the conclusion. It possible to support them equally well when it’s a fetish or mental illness.
”the bewilderness, I read mAndrea very carefully, always.”
I am flattered thank you.
It possible to support them equally well when it’s a fetish or mental illness.
I’m not 100% clear on what you’re saying here, mAndrea, but if you’re insunating that being trans* is a fetish or mental illness to support your arguments, then isn’t that exactly the same line of reasoning used by homophobes to both justify and deny their homophobia?
I assume that you would not accept such arguments as a reason to marginalise gay, lesbian and bisexual people. I assume that you accept the word and experiences of GBL people over any theories presented by people who claim that homosexuality is some kind of mental disorder, so why do you then privilege your own theories over the actual reported experiences of trans*people?
Classifying being transsexual as having a fetish or a mental illness is one of those areas where you ignore both transsexual people as well as medical professionals who have written about transsexual people. The “gender identity disorder” classification in DSM-IV is not itself evidence that transsexual people have a mental disorder, any more than the inclusion of homosexuality until approximately a decade before was evidence that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people had a mental illness.
Using “fetish” and “mental illness” in stigmatizing ways (and the way you describe trans people is stigmatizing) is also ableist.
It’s also extremely difficult to take your statement that “it’s possible to support them equally” when you spend so much time and effort describing trans people in demonizing, inflammatory, stereotyping language.
Further, stating that you do not believe that trans people should be subject to oppression and should be able to live the lives they want does not actually buy you a free pass to say whatever you want about them, no matter how cruel or vicious. You’re still responsible for what you choose to say.
I’m still wondering why you enthusiastically agreed with the statement that trans women love to be prostituted women and allow themselves to be raped.
It seems strange that you’re so willing to speak at length about trans people, but you don’t seem willing to speak to trans people.
Eh? I don’t think that word “premise” means what you think it means.
If you have a set of beliefs, and acting on them leads logically to consequences you do not support, you go back and examine your beliefs.
Ah, Liam. I take a few hours away from my computer and miss out on pointing out the premise thing. Shame.
now, onto mAndrea’s other claims:
You declared one matter of debate closed unilaterally (the “reality” status of social constructs) and moved onto another matter (gender specifically) without notice or justification. That’s moving the goalposts.
You also assumed what future directions my argument would take, rebutted your own presumptions, and declared that I was therefore wrong. That’s a classic strawman, indeed so classic that it’s actually rarely seen in such a textbook form.
Where exactly am I using an analogy? Marriage is not an analogy of a social construct, marriage is an illustrative example of a social construct, useful for examining the point under debate at that time, which is the “reality” status of social constructs. You, I might remind you, are one of the group arguing that social constructs are not “real” because they are not tangible. If you don’t like the example of the social construct of “marriage” then lets look at the social constructs of “the rule of law” or “race” instead. There’s no point in progressing any further with the debate until we can establish some consensus on
the very firsta foundational premise.
So, to put it formally, we have established one axiomatic premise: gender is a social construct. We both say this.
*Your* next point from there has been, repeatedly (and I can go and find cites if you insist) along these lines, that as a social construct gender does not therefore truly exist and thus [foo], as if this statement too is axiomatic.
I have challenged the assumption that social constructs do not “truly exist” is an axiom, and claim it as a matter for debate. A debatable premise invalidates the consequent elements of your arguments until we establish an agreement on this premise, so that this is now the point that must be established to our mutual satisfaction before the debate can be furthered.
I certainly do not concede that you have adequately shown that social constructs do not truly exist.
Let’s go back to mAndrea’s very first comment:
I missed pointing this out initially, but it looks like we have another foundational premise that needs to be debated: that a social construct is equivalent to an idea.
Again, I disagree. Simplest illustrative example: “god(s)” is an idea, while “religion” is a social construct based around ideas of godhood and assumptions that humans may influence god(s) to view them with favour though rituals and other acts of “faith”.
Now, the existence of god may be true/false or possibly inaccurate (T/F/I), but are those T/F/I categories relevant or useful ways to evaluate the existence of a religion? We can’t point to a god, but we certainly can point to a Jew or a Buddhist or a Muslim. Social constructs are far more than just one idea.
My contrary premise: religions, and all other social constructs, all with their assumptions and expectations of human interaction within those social constructs, exist because humans mutually agree that they do. Corollary: because the agreements that underpin social constructs are generally arbitrary and artificial, the nature of these agreements may change over time in response to challenging circumstances (including new ideas).
The problem with dismissing the complaints of the radical lesbian separatists is that many of those complaints are based in fact. Please consider that women such as myself have similar complaints and are women of transsexual history. The simple fact of the matter is, women of transsexual history are treated with the exact same disrespect and with the exact same tools of oppression by the “transgenders” as women by men throughout the patriarchy. Now Lisa will continue to dismiss everything I say as not true but if you examine closely what she says you will notice she uses the life experiences of those like myself rather than the majority of transgender identified people to do so.
If a group the transgenders insist is a part of their movement finds the majority (not the vast, but definately the majority) to be essentially misogynositic and gynophobic and themselves defined against their will and silenced when we object……..maybe there is a fire under all that smoke.
These are NOT simple issues. I started my own transition many years ago as a trans-activist who had been a lifelong feminist (European second wave) I fought the same battles for universal acceptance but no longer can do so. I used to use the same arguments as Lisa with the Janice Raymond crowd, I no longer can do so having seen far too many examples of what they are talking about. I have experiences the vast majority of hatred, prejudice, acts of violence and even physical rape from the “transgender” community and I am far from alone in these experiences.
The way you describe yourself and others in the comment above seems unnecessarily cryptic, and I’m having difficulty understanding your exact meaning and claims.
Regardless, prejudging all members of a grouping based on the alleged actions of some is difficult to describe in any other way than unjust and bigoted.
That’s because I’m talking about transsexual women – and you know exactly what “transsexual” means.
I dismiss much of what you say because you offer individual anecdotes as evidence that no trans woman should be allowed in woman-only spaces, and you keep redefining the terms I’m using so as to imply they either don’t make sense or that the terms I’m using automatically applies to every gender variant person in the world, especially the ones you don’t like.
I would appreciate it if, when referring to my arguments, you do not try to shift the meaning of the words I use, nor try to shift perception of my identity.
TERF discussion would be a lot more substantive when discussing trans rights activism if there was more refraining from the assumption that it’s exactly the same as trans awareness/acceptance activism. To continually act as if any trans awareness advocate is speaking for the trans rights movement strikes me just the same as acting as if Camille Paglia speaks for all radfems.
The UK’s Gender Recognition Act, as shown earlier in the thread, uses a very strict definition of transitioning to apply to those who wish for a certificate that means that their driving license will say F instead of M, or vice versa. The GRA does not cover simple gender variance, even though trans awareness/acceptance advocates do include gender variance under the trans umbrella conceptually.
Please keep your terminology distinct, Cathryn.
We’re writing about this on the CA NOW blog: http://www.canow.org/canoworg/2008/08/transwomen-are.html
Thanks, Elena. Good to see the discussion spreading.
At this stage I’m perhaps the only person still interested in nailing down a rebuttal to the whole ”social constructs are just subjective ideas” premise (which is the premise that provoked this post), but as short and punchy soundbites seem to be what is preferred and even demanded, let’s try this:
Social constructs are the systems of interaction that humans develop in response to shared ideas.
So, the foundational ideas might well be challenged as false, but the systems exist nonetheless. To say that “gender doesn’t exist” because the idea of gender has no factual basis in biology is arguably philosophically correct when looked at in certain lights, yet it does nothing to wave away the reality of the gender system as a social construct.
Therefore any argument that uses “gender doesn’t really exist” to imply that the gender system doesn’t therefore exist and use that implication as a basis for its further postulates is invalid.
1. So what is “the idea of gender” that underpins the gender system? I’d posit that it is the notion that the physical differences between the sexes directly reflect a division of talents between the sexes and that those different talents necessitate a clear division in social roles and labours.
Tigtog, I’m interested too, but you’re doing such a good job of it that I find it difficult to add anything. 🙂
What I see in the gender system’s insistence on a rigid social binary between the sexes is that there are enormous social incentives (both positive and negative) to be very identifiably either a Man or a Woman, with woman, as we know, cast as the Other in contrast to Man as the Norm.
In particular the persecution placed onto gender variant people as “things” and “its” makes it very hard for humans, as members of a gregarious species, to feel psychologically innovative enough to create an identity that is radically different from the accepted two ways of identifying/behaving. It’s a truism that everybody wants to fit in, somewhere, rather than always being the eccentric outsider. A minority will embrace the eccentric outsider persona avidly, but most people are psychologically unable to do so. People don’t even make conscious choices about this, mostly – these reactions to social conventions mostly take place on the subconscious level.
Yet over at mAndrea’s this perfectly normal subconscious psychological reaction to social realities, that of wanting to fit in, to have one’s body reflect one’s social identity, is being mocked as a sign of a fetish.
Thanks for keeping comments open. I forgot how much fun it is to argue with you, everybody else is like shooting fish in a barrel. Two things, no three, before we continue.
1. The extent of my study of logic consists of reading a couple webpages, so I tend to be grossly ignorant of proper form. I shall go read another one if it makes you happy.
2. It isn’t necessary to hate someone just because a disagreement exists. Some of my bestest friends will argue and curse me to high heaven, and I don’t care and neither do they. Folks with lessor spine are exempt from that treatment.
3. I wrote a rilly mean post about you. lol I suspect you are tough enough to find it amusing.
”I missed pointing this out initially, but it looks like we have another foundational premise that needs to be debated: that a social construct is equivalent to an idea.
Again, I disagree. Simplest illustrative example: “god(s)” is an idea, while “religion” is a social construct based around ideas of godhood and assumptions that humans may influence god(s) to view them with favour though rituals and other acts of “faith”.
Now, the existence of god may be true/false or possibly inaccurate (T/F/I), but are those T/F/I categories relevant or useful ways to evaluate the existence of a religion? We can’t point to a god, but we certainly can point to a Jew or a Buddhist or a Muslim. Social constructs are far more than just one idea.”
Frankly, I wasn’t going to write about this until much later, but we might as well do it now. Also decided to post my ultimate conclusion as well, since it will make the transgender folks happy. I guess I do like proper order, after all.
Tig dear, this is awkward for me, for you are about to go down a road that while interesting, does not suit my purposes (which is yours as well whether you realize it or not). I can’t decide whether I should encourage you to wonder off the path or give you a clue. I probably should let you wander around, because I’m evil, but then I’d have to waste my time arguing a deadend point just to prove to myself that I can run rings around your arguments on trans.
So I shall be nice and lazy simultaneously, but mainly lazy.
Logic does not deal with that which is subjective. Once something is proven to be subjective, it is garbage. Social constructs are garbage. We need that which is unchangable. That is my goal, that has always been my goal, it will always be my goal.
My goal is itself unchangable. I, however, am very changable. I am not my goal. lol
I swear to god transgenderism is an extremely existential argument and I don’t know how much you want to get into it. I keep waiting for the trans philo student to take a crack at it, and she never does — perhaps because she’s already concluded the result?
Anyway, I don’t think there is enough difference between an idea and a social construct to matter; they might even be the same thing under certain circumstances. A social construct is merely an agreement to hold the same interpretation, either of a physical entity or another idea.
A “Jew” is simply someone who agrees to share an interpretation: social construct.
What is an idea? Pure thought, that’s all. And it’s either (T/F/I)
Hmmm, so they are different, interesting! But would we have to add a caveat? There appears to be different types or categories of ideas. Scientific fact, which tends to change back and forth until eventually a concensus is reached, ie gravity. Opinions about vague things which are unknowable, like god? What else?
But social constructs are worthless for my purposes. I actually need that which is unchangable. I’ve been digging for that rock for months, Tig, and transgenderism is founded upon shifting sand. ‘Course, philosophy can turn a table into a chair, and in turn render that invisable, so…
Do with this what you will, this deadend path is not for me. ps~If you want to be helpful, find something unchangable. And humble apologies if none of this made sense.
I know you won’t answer me, mAndrea, but I really am curious as to how you draw your understanding of what “transsexual” is almost entirely from your own experience, which does not actually include the experience of being transsexual.
And I want to know why you agree that trans women want to be raped by misogynist men. Do you like maintaining misogynist arguments to justify rape? “She really wanted it?”
I also want to know is how is it feminist to attack and belittle a minority that you are an oppressor to, as opposed to talking about real oppression that affects women?
What’s your investment in this idea that being trans is a fetish or mental illness and isn’t actually a real human variation? What do you gain by making these assertions about human lives that you have made clear you are deliberately ignorant about? What would you do if a man told you his misogyny was based in logic and rationality while your responses were too emotional to be trusted? Why are you using misogynist men’s “how to silence a woman” tactics to discuss trans people?
This is why trans people won’t engage your arguments: Because we don’t owe you an explanation, or an education. We don’t owe you the kind of argument that tigtog is indulging here. Your arguments don’t deserve consideration from the people they’re about. As tigtog has pointed out, they’re riddled with inconsistencies and fallacies. Your premise defines your conclusion. Your conclusion is categorically wrong. Even the worst of the articles at Questioning Transgender is still more consistent than your posts have been. You have added nothing new. Your arguments are, in my opinion, ethically bankrupt.
Lisa, I have certainly noted the very pointed way that mAndrea has refused to engage you here, on all your points, but especially regarding her response on her blog to K.A..
Interesting – I don’t particularly ever remember having a prolonged debate with mAndrea’s current ‘nym before, nor with the other ‘nym that has posted to this blog with the same email address using the same internet provider. I’ve seen the mAndrea ‘nym commenting around other femblogs for a while now, of course, and we’ve had a few exchanges on those blogs where we may have noted a disagreement, but when did we debate any issue previously? Refresh my memory with a link, perhaps?
Anyway, last year you posted this at Hoyden on another discussion:
I think you’ve learnt this kind of game very well indeed, but not how to stop it, only how to play it yourself. Your style is to overwhelm with a series of statements in rapid succession that are structured so as to discourage close examination of the underlying premises. When I call you on one and refuse to move on until we actually examine it closely for once you declare it a dead-end argument. And then you throw out another piece of obviously stupid crap which has to be painstakingly refuted, one point at a time, i.e. that you need something unchangeable, because apparently you just do.
I think you seek to declare this refutation a dead-end argument because you can’t substantiate your own claims, and you’re hoping that if you demand debate on the next claim loudly enough perhaps folks won’t notice that you never actually proved your point on this one.
A “Jew” is simply someone who agrees to share an interpretation: social construct.
And perhaps it’s the same with womanhood– in most cases, we agree to share it because we were born into it and socialised into it because of our genitalia, but in some cases there are people who feel that this interpretation fits them better than the gender assigned to them at birth.
But social constructs are worthless for my purposes. I actually need that which is unchangable. I’ve been digging for that rock for months, Tig, and transgenderism is founded upon shifting sand.
But isn’t it more that gender itself is founded on shifting sand, and it’s just that people who transgress the socio-cultural boundaries of gender that make us realise how shifty those sands really are?
I’m curious though– why are social constructs worthless? We all need to live with them– even in the most utopian society we would need them in order to communicate (because language itself is a social construct). What exactly do you see your purpose as?
‘Course, philosophy can turn a table into a chair, and in turn render that invisable, so…
Well, many philosophers, like Plato, search for the essentials of an idea– the absolutes, much as you seem to be doing. People who study semantics, however, will tell you that there is no essential “table”– that one word refers to a collection of ideas (something that you eat off of, a workstation, a place to rest your combs and brushes, something with four legs, something with three legs, something resting on trestles, something round or something square)– searching for one type of definitive “table” is useless, but that doesn’t make it a useless concept. And all of language is like this– no signifier matches perfectly with one essential signified. All we’re left with are collections of ideas that are defined in relation to each other.
Personally, I think that looking for something unchangeable is a deadend path– meaning is never set in stone. The only useful thing to do is to examine how these social constructs work– to look at the discourses surrounding them, and to work out which of those discourses work. They will always be a bit squiffy around the edges, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t work with them.
If you’re searching for an absolute, for an essential, you’re going to be searching forever. But if you accept that social constructs are real things– even though there is nothing transcendental behind them– then you have a starting point.
And when we recognise that trans*women are disadvantaged by the same set of discourses as ciswomen– indeed, trans*women are even more likely to feel the brunt of them, it seems only logical to recognise that they are, in fact, part of the social construct covered by the term “women”. Not every trans*woman is going to express her womanhood in ways that are conducive to the cause of feminism, and not every ciswoman does either– but we’re all part of the same construct, nonetheless.
Wow mAndrea, your attitude towards human beings makes me feel sick to my stomach, and no matter how much you sharpen your knives and carve me up for whatever wilful idiocy you see in my stance, nothing will move me from never wanting a part of your nauseating glib meanness to people who get raped and murdered for existing the way that they do.
Just to clarify something in my last comment:
The only useful thing to do is to examine how these social constructs work– to look at the discourses surrounding them, and to work out which of those discourses work.
The last part of this doesn’t quite make sense. 😛 It should read “The only useful thing to do is…to look at the discourses surrounding [social constructs], and examine where they intersect.
I also don’t think that womanhood is only defined in relation to oppressive discourses– just that examining the way these discourses affect both cis and trans* women brings the matter into sharp focus for me.
So I’m just kind of curious here. Is it the transgender assertion that gender is a social construct?
Because half the arguments appear to assume that as the premise, and then the other half appears to assume the opposite. Seriously. Half.
And then midway through the arguments, about half of each of *those* turn around and assume something completely different.
Yanno, it’s kinda sad that after quite a few months now of looking at transgender arguments, I can’t even find a consistent first premise. I keep thinking I’ll be able to figure it just through percentages, but no. I have to ask.
This is why we can’t have nice things. That came out a little more brusque than I intended.
Your question appears to assume that there is only one theory of the transgender experience thus there should be one view on gender. I’m not sure that’s a valid assumption at all, and it certainly doesn’t bother me if there are competing theories. Why does it bother you?
The rest of the world doesn’t necessarily agree that gender is a social construct, why should all trans people agree? Your own arguments continually reference biological sex when arguing gender, particular with your focus on genital arrangements, so it seems that you don’t entirely accept it yourself.
This is why I assert that you are fundamentally hazy on the concept of social constructs altogether, and should cease using constructivist discourse to argue your case for trans-exclusion (I’m sure that you can find other premises from which to argue your case, and then we can debate those). Your attempts to apply constructivist discourse so far are working to undermine the concept of gender as a social construct at the very root, a stance which I oppose.
If that is your intent, of course, you may as well carry on and we will all know where we stand.
More broadly, in a world where parents regularly get huffy if one calls their infant girlchild a boy, or vice versa, the psychology of viewing humans as either one or the other is deeply established at a very early age.
All the theorising in the world doesn’t change the way that most people view gender on a totally subconscious level. It takes a great deal of consciousness raising for most people to view gender as separate from sex in any way, and a lot longer for that to filter down to the subconscious sufficiently to actually change the way that we use language extempore when we respond to people, or to change the assumptions we make about people based on our originally acculturated subconsciousness.
To demand that this one thing about the permutations of the human psyche make some objective sense based on something unchangeable seems preposterous to me. The human psyche as a whole makes very little objective sense in any way at all, surely. Unless you’ve got an unchangeably objective theory of The Mind hiding in a pocket somewhere?
Our general discussion of the gender binary and gender transition (distinct from the debate in this thread with mAndrea on social constructs and their reality) has moved to this Germaine Greer thread, as is the way of blogs.
I have challenged the assumption that social constructs do not “truly exist” is an axiom, and claim it as a matter for debate. A debatable premise invalidates the consequent elements of your arguments until we establish an agreement on this premise, so that this is now the point that must be established to our mutual satisfaction before the debate can be furthered.
How bizarre. I didn’t even challenge the idea that social constructs “exist” or not “exist”. If anything, the thing I go on about is that feminists like to claim that gender is a social construct, and so I take that to mean “gender” doesn’t exist.
Would you like to debate that instead? 🙂
Are you always this snotty? It isn’t necessary to be rude you know.
If you personally would prefer to argue about whether or not a social construct is an idea, enjoy yourself but again I don’t see a purpose. What happens after you prove or disprove it___? Joy, now do something with it either way it doesn’t matter.
Figuring whether or not a social construct is real, otoh, that has a purpose, we can do something fun with the answer and think you for pointing out “marriage” substitutes for “gender”.
”Your question appears to assume that there is only one theory of the transgender experience thus there should be one view on gender.”
oh there for brief shining moment the clouds parted and sunshine illuminated my eyes, but alas it is gone. I think you’re trying to say that:
1. gender is real, in a vague sort of way.
2. everybody has their own version of what gender means to them.
3. inconsistency is acceptable for you, but not for me.
Except the word “hazy” is usually applied to those supporting arguments which taken together supposedly validate transgenderism but which upon examination are all so inconsistent as to lack a unifying premise.
Anyway, last year you posted this at Hoyden on another discussion:
I think you’ve learnt this kind of game very well indeed, but not how to stop it, only how to play it yourself.Your style is to overwhelm with a series of statements in rapid succession that are structured so as to discourage close examination of the underlying premises. When I call you on one and refuse to move on until we actually examine it closely for once you declare it a dead-end argument. And then you throw out another piece of obviously stupid crap which has to be painstakingly refuted, one point at a time, i.e. that you need something unchangeable, because apparently you just do.
Project much? Well a year’s time has taught me that in order to stop the game one simply alters the rules held by the referee who enforces the game as it unfolds. I am looking for the rulebook and the referee, but no rulebook exists. All the arguments (the rules) are made up on the spot and no effort towards consistency is observed — truly the mark of special priviledge. But who is the referee in charge of the game? Why it’s camptrans, how shocking.
Do you know of any other ideology which has no unifying theory? Once again, transgenderism is a special exception. But in some ways it doesn’t matter, for folks are mesmerized by crying transgendered eyes. When girl eyes cry of an injustice, everyone always demands proof, do they not?
Your attempts to apply constructivist discourse so far are working to undermine the concept of gender as a social construct at the very root, a stance which I oppose.
So gender is not a social construct, according to you. And if gender is not a social construct, then the only other option must be that gender is biological, according to you.
Thank you, again.
So you asserting that feminism’s claim that gender is a social construct means that “gender” doesn’t exist is not you claiming that social constructs don’t exist? Not quite sure how that works.
Some styles of argument just bring out the urge in me. For recreational purposes.
Ideologies tend to have shared goals, not unified theories. There’s no Grand Unifying Theory of Physics either, by the way.
As to your last point, that’s sheer sophistry based on some imprecise grammatical construction on my part. Nicely played, but not particularly productive. My stance, as repeated many times now, is that gender is a social construct, and that social constructs are real systems that people have to navigate.
There’s no such thing as “transgenderism.” Being trans is no more an ideology than being a lesbian. Everyone explains their personal experiences in their own way. This is one of the basic errors in your attempts at logically deconstructing the concept of “transgender” – you’re using how everyone who fits under the transgender umbrella (and many who do not) describes their experiences, acting as if they’re all transsexual – and, in fact, not acknowledging the distinction – and then complaining that everyone doesn’t describe gender or their experience of being trans in identical ways. If you stuck to actual transsexuals (whom you’ve made clear are the real targets for your hate speech), you’d find a great deal of consistency in their narratives, if not their beliefs.
Also: Just as misogyny is not limited to violence, but also includes the many ways that men tell women who we should be and what we should be doing, the many ways that men try to exert assumed authority over us just because they’re men and they believe that grants them the entitlement to do so, transphobia is not limited to violence, but also includes the many ways that cis people tell trans people who we should be and what we should be doing, the many ways that cis people try to exert authority over us just because they’re cissexual and believe that grants them the entitlement to do so. Oppressors do not get to define the terms under which the oppressed describe their oppression.
Also: Why do you think that trans women want to be raped? Does misogyny only count if it’s used against some women?
Are you aware that the APA has made a blanket statement acknowledging that transsexual people have a legitimate medical condition that requires treatment for quality of life? That the only treatment that works is hormones, surgery, and living as a member of the new sex? That every other treatmen ever attempted has failed? How do you reconcile that with your assertions that it’s all a fetish or mental illness? Are you aware that medical professionals with trans people make a distinction between transsexual people and people who want to transition because of a fetish or because of various mental disorders? That they’re capable of making that distinction?
Are you only engaging Tigtog because she’s giving you just enough room to keep shifting the goalposts, or are you ignoring me because you can’t actually answer any of my questions without making yourself look worse?
BTW, Tigtog, this isn’t aimed at your argument style here, just that mAndrea is taking every inch she can manage from the arguments she bothers to address.
Lisa, no doubt most readers here see the way that mAndrea keeps shifting ground in this thread, and while it may be a rather entertaining display in some aspects, those readers are probably fairly unimpressed with the refusal to engage your points at all.
Good catch on the ideology label, by the way.
Can you refute that, mAndrea?
Yeah, I didn’t mean it like it was news to anyone, just clarifying what I wasn’t trying to say.
First the trans supporters get made when I don’t “listen” to them, then they get when I don’t “talk” to them, then they get mad when I do. Make up your freaking mind! But Tig is fabulous because she has a plus-sized brain, so hard to find these days…
From the wiki:
Transgenderism qualifies on all points. Thorry. and T is definitely “abstract” — it alone lacks a unifying or foundational premise. The only other ideology which rests their basic claim to validation upon “because I said so” is Patriarchy.
From Lisa Herney: ”Also: Why do you think that trans women want to be raped? Does misogyny only count if it’s used against some women?”
Tig why do you permit libelous comments to remain on your blog? Because I never said anything like that at all, ever.
Ideologies tend to have shared goals, not unified theories. There’s no Grand Unifying Theory of Physics either, by the way.
As to your last point, that’s sheer sophistry based on some imprecise grammatical construction on my part. Nicely played, but not particularly productive. My stance, as repeated many times now, is that gender is a social construct, and that social constructs are real systems that people have to navigate.
That’s actually why I came over here today, I figured that it wasn’t quite what you meant, but sometimes it is hard for me to understand exactly what it is you *are* getting at when the subject is transgenderism. After five!! readings of one!! paragraph, I finally got your point and now don’t really feel the urge to argue to the last breath whether something is “real” or not. I was *assuming* you were leading up to something else and so my own filter was skewed.
Most of these folks don’t make any sense to me, Tig, you do because your language tends to be much more precise and I appreciate that. But that precision can also have negative consequences when one assumes you meant exactly what you did say, or is looking for the base of a future argument.
And to a certain extent there’s almost no point in discussing particular points with most transgendered themselves because they pprntl fl tht f T sn’t nrmlzd s nn-mdcl cndtn th wll smhw r nthr spntnsl cmbst. t’s s th nl ptns r t b gndrzd fml r d — w t gnr thr prfctl wrkbl ptns thr, pl.
Frnkl, t’s ths nsstnc tht thr s nl n ptn bsds dth whch lds m t blv t’s n xtrm ftsh. Trl rsnbl ppl wld cnsdr ll th pssblts nd nt dsmss thm t f hnd.
Um, physicists would freaking kill their own grandma for a unified theory.
[Moderator note: content in breach of the comments policy has been disemvowelled]
Lisa, you continually insult me. I believe anyone who advocates physical violence is quite frickin disgusting.
Stop insulting me, and I would be very happy to talk with you. Tig did it once, I did it back as a joke, and that was the end. I repect Tig quite a bit, which is the ONLY reason I keep coming back.
mAndrea, sorry you’ve spent so long in mod, I’ve been out since quite early this morning.
Now, re the definition of ideology you offered (note that in arguing definitions of ideology here I am not necessarily accepting that the transgender experience qualifies as such):
Change in society is a shared goal, not a premise or theory (the two terms are not synonyms, by the way). That an organised collection of ideas forms around a shared goal does not mean that such ideas constitute a unifying theory, and a collection of ideas by definition cannot be a unifying premise, as you use the term here:
As mentioned by Liam earlier, you keep using “premise” in ways that make me come over all Inigo de Montoya: I don’t think that word means what you think it means. If you keep on asking for a premise when what you actually want is a theory, or what you actually want is something else which is neither, then no wonder you are not actually getting what you want. Agreeing on defined terms before engaging in further debate is Procedure101, because otherwise people just end up talking past each other.
Definition of “premise” from nizkor.org’s section on construction of an argument:
Definitions of theory from answers.com (you appear to be using theory in several different ways interchangeably, so we need to determine which of these six senses is the one which you are using)
So, once you’ve shared which of those sense of “theory” is the one that you are using, I’m curious as to how you would describe the unifying or foundational (another two words that are not synonyms) theories of some long-established ideologies, if you are so sure that they actually have them. It should only take you one or two sentences each, if such indeed exist. Can you give me three examples?
You agree with a commentor on your blog who did say that, m Andrea, so therefore you must also think it.
Indeed they would, but sadly wishing does not simply make it so. And yet, planes are not falling out of the sky because the GUT does not exist, and our computers are still working so that you and I can go back and forth on definitions of terms.
Gee I personally sure would miss it if you stopped swinging by to say that Tig has an extra large brain (and yet post on her behaviour being ‘similar to an idiots’ and continuing to insist she doesn’t *quite* meet your exacting standards of logic) but that the rest of us are slack jawed yokels. Who would we get to be snide, contemptuous and dismissive about trans issues while claiming hurt feelings if you didn’t keep coming back to tell us how profoundly stupid we are? (Please feel free to pull this comment mods if that tipped the snark-o-metre to far)
Please explain how any of this does not apply to being a lesbian, including, for most lesbian women, “because I said so,” as you put it? Or how about lesbians not having a unifying or foundational premise? Or how about depression? That seems to be an ideology by the terms you use above. Or fibromyalgia?
You’re rejecting the simplest explanation – or rather, a parody of the simplest explanation. To do that requires you to privilege your beliefs about what trans people believe over what trans people say about their own lives.
Do you have a better reason than “it’s patriarchal?”
Why do you want to require that trans people be able to explain in detail why we’re trans? Why do you even think that’s a reasonable demand? Can you explain your sexual orientation and why it’s not the same as everyone else? In detail? The problem with this requires that any given trans people understand neurochemistry, endocrinology, psychology, and you want all of this explained within a radical feminist framework? Of course you’ll never get an answer you like.
No, you didn’t say it. K.A. said it. You responded, “K.A., that was a most brilliant analysis, and needs a wider audience than what is available here.”
Or perhaps you were agreeing with something else, but didn’t take time to disagree with K.A.’s assertion that trans women are misogynist men out to control women’s bodies, even if they have to turn their own bodies into women’s bodies to do it. The post immediately above your agreement isn’t analysis – it’s K.A. complaining about her boss.
The exchange is quoted and linked here, earlier in this discussion. I wonder why, if you find physical violence disgusting, you didn’t say anything about that victim-blaming, slut-shaming, “trannies love to get themselves raped” comment, and congratulated K.A. on her “brilliant analysis?”
Okay, so what makes you think that trans people don’t consider other possibilities? What makes you think that trans people don’t spend much of their lives pre-transition trying to find ways to live with this? When you did your research, did you try to learn anything about pre- and post-transition suicide rates? Five times higher than the national average?
Or read what the AMA has to say about treatment for trans people?
It’s not so much transition or die as it is transition or deal with chronic depression and other fun side effects of trying to live with a deeply unpleasant relationship with your own body.
Yes, there are people who transition because they fetishize the idea of becoming women. Anne Lawrence is one, and there’ve been others. Some of them do try to generalize their own experiences to all trans people, even though they’re not transsexual women themselves. That kind of fetish is a contraindication – anyone who seeks transition for that reason is not diagnosed as transsexual, but some are still able to transition.
Why do you feel that you’re entitled to explanations and justifications? Why, in any conversation about trans people that you insert yourself into or start, do you feel that your needs are so important that you can demand that random people you don’t even know should justify themselves to convince you not to write reams of material explaining what they really are?
And why do you think you’re qualified to describe who trans people really are, what trans people really think, and why trans people cannot be trusted to tell the truth about our own experiences when you’re coming at this from the perspective of someone who’s never had the experience of being transsexual? What grants you your insight? Not logic – because if you stick garbage in, you get garbage out. If you exclude all the information about trans people that you find inconvenient, how can you expect to get accurate results? You’re dismissing information on the basis that you don’t like it (Or that you think it’s “patriarchal”).
FP, you managed to stay just within the snark-o-metre by characterising only mAndrea’s comments on this thread, rather than characterising her person. Comments that are on the record here are totally fair game for some snark.
Just a reminder to all here (including me) to watch comment length. It’s getting a bit much to expect others to wade through.
Tigtog @101: thanks, glad to hear it, cos I just cannot hold in any longer how much this:
in light of mAndreas comments here made me laugh a LOT. Pot. Kettle. Snotty.
m Andrea has deleted the comment agreeing with K.A. from her blog (K.A.’s comment here). Not willing to stand by your own words?
A pity I didn’t think to take a screencap of it when I first read it (although I wouldn’t bet, as mAndrea appears to be, that nobody else did), but I would nonetheless be perfectly willing to make a statutory declaration witnessed by a JP that I personally did read these words from mAndrea (as quoted by Lisa upthread) below K.A.’s comment on that page:
Oops, jumped the gun there. The comment is not deleted, but it sits below a later comment of K.A.’s instead of the one which is linked above. I agree with Lisa that it is obviously referring to KA’s comment at #13 rather than at #17, because the comment seems to echo the language in Jokerine’s comment at #16′ “I’m sceptical of your analysis K.A.”.
*raises hand* Pardon me, I’m a bit thick, but I lost track of where exactly we were in the argument about twenty-five comments back.
I’m also irked, and forgive me if this has been addressed, that ‘transgender’ as a term (and as part of whatever the heck ‘transgenderism’ is) appears to be used in the sense of referring to only people having engaged in transition. Yeah, maybe the only issue we’re focusing on is the (impossible for me to grasp) idea that MTF trans people are engaging in some kind of extreme fetishism. Beyond that being problematic, lumping that as ‘transgenderism’ does a number on every other gender expression that can fit under the umbrella term of transgender.
Way to marginalize at the same time as being highly offensive. Ten points from the US judge.
Here’s a premise for trans thought: gender is a social construct, and is never static throughout cultures or even within cultures.
Select snippets from the snotty as hell (and linked to on this post) post “Tigtog’s behaviour is similar to an idiot’s PART ONE” (which never really did adress the central premise of the title) are below. Some seem perhaps ‘slanderous’ or ‘libelous’ to me, others just plain rude and ridiculous. I just thought that since mAndrea has been swinging her accusations a little wildly on here, that we might benifit from some of her select words:
That’s what m Andrea relies upon, through use of sloppy terminology and arguing assumed future directions of arguments instead of only what has actually been stated.
Are you using “transition” to specifically refer to hormonal/surgical transition? We haven’t yet got around to pinning mAndrea down on exactly what her definition of “transition” is.
I agree with this. I can’t speak for all trans people, and many hold opinions that range from biological determinism to complete social construct, but yeah. I believe that the definitions of “man” and “woman” are definitely constructed, and vary a lot depending on where you are in a given culture, never mind going from one culture to another.
Also, apologies for my long comments. I’m…wordy. I forgot to not be wordy.
I also have a screenshot.
I was using it to refer to SRS and hormones, as well as in the sense of ‘living as other gender’ without those interventions. But either way there’s so many shades of grey. I’ve heard certain people who engage in the butch/femme dynamic referred to as falling under the transgender umbrella term, as well as genderqueer people and those who even just don’t express within the socially accepted ‘normal’ range, and…you get the idea.
Can of worms, though.
Feminism: the idea the females are human.
Lesbianism: the idea that lesbians are human.
Transgenderism: the idea that transwomen are women.
So would it be technically correct to say that T’s first principal is a special pleading? Except all of the supporting arguments for transgenderism lack consistancy in their contentions, so could we even say that there is a first principal at all? It’s all so very confusing. Obviously my own understanding is no match for Tig’s grasp of the subject. oh woe.
The official trans organizations insist that we can’t limit ‘transsexualism’ to just those pre- or post- op because some can’t afford treatment, so the official organizations say we should take the word of any man who at any time claims to be transgendered. I’m just following their own rules.
There is nothing wrong with transgenderism, you know. The only thing inaccurate is the reason.
So now we are looking at a principle rather than either a premise or a theory? If you don’t use a consistent label, let alone an accurate one, for what you ask trans people to provide then how can you expect to get a meaningful answer?
You suggest that those are first principles – would every feminist/lesbian/trans woman agree with you that these are the only possible candidates for first principles?
As to what your understanding of trans issues versus mine may be, how can it be accurately determined when you use terms so variably between posts? Your terminology is so imprecise and slippery that it is difficult to pin down exactly what your claims are, which is why I’ve hardly got to arguing anything beyond definitions of basic vocabulary at this point.
So, what exactly do you mean by “official” trans organisations? How representative are they? Do they have elected office-bearers, and if so, how many trans people are voters in these organisations? Where can we find a link that shows that these organisations do in fact say what you allege them to say?
See, I was always under the impression that all the isms were about equity. TransgenderISM being the radical idea that trans people are human.
Instead of, you know, sociopathic monsters that plan to undermine everything being a woman stands for. But what does being a woman stand for? How does this not end up being problematic when you consider that a core tenet of feminism is that there is no societally based standard definition of ‘woman’?
Or is there now, and it involves having bits? (Because some ciswomen don’t have certain bits, or have slightly different bits, but are still ciswomen by the societal definition. Are we testing chromosomes now at the gate of MichFest?)
This is what I can’t wrap my brain around.
I guess if we have to use a word like “Transgenderism” I would say that boiling it down to “the idea that trans women are women” is extremely limiting and misleading. It ignores the fact that trans men exist and perhaps even erases the idea that they do exist. This is nothing new, as many people tend to believe that most trans people are middle-class white women who may be straight or lesbian. But I would estimate that trans men in equivalent numbers to trans women.
The “transgender umbrella” also doesn’t only cover transsexual men and women, but also genderqueer people who identify along the trans masculine or trans feminine spectrum. There are people who choose to forego surgery or even hormones, people who see themselves as bigendered or two-spirits (not the same thing) and identify as both men and women.
It’s a huge disservice to a large number of people to narrow “transgenderism” down to “trans women are women.”
I’d say “trans people are human.”
You’re not in any position to judge that. To do so requires telepathy. The ability to read my (or any other trans person’s) mind.
Suppose I already found the principal, which is “Transgenderism: the idea that transwomen are women”.
Anyway, here is the post which discusses how hazy the official defs are, and here is the list of official orgs I used to write the post. If you can find a more official trans org, please let me know. A third link in my post is now crashing my browser, so I didn’t insert it here.
“Transitioning” appears to defy objective definition because in order to include everybody who truly fits, people who don’t fit would have to be included — same problem with “transgender”.
No Lisa, sorry. ‘All people are human’ is a true statement. ‘All transfolk are human’ is a true statement. But on what basis is the claim for rights being made? Only the transgendered are demanding the right to be a gender. Everybody else wants full humanity. Do gay folks want to be legally recognized as writhing bundles of slinky fabulousness?
I understand that most tranfolks don’t want to acknowledge such a very simple truth, but refusing to see the obvious only makes them look ridiculous. There is a good reason for validating T, you just haven’t found it yet.
I’m getting really fed up with folks needing a disclaimer btw. What kind of an idiot assumes ‘not valid’ equals ‘violence is good’?
That’s cemented it: you’re just desperately bad performance art.
No-one, but no-one could equate “gay folks want to be legally recognised as writhing bundles of slinky fabulousness” and “transwomen want to be legally recognised as women” with a straight face.
I was using your language:
But I actually disagree with two of these assertions.
Feminism is the radical idea that women are human.
Lesbian rights – which is also gay and bisexual rights – is the idea that being attracted to members of the same sex is equally valid to being attracted to members of the opposite sex. That is specifically the core of GLB rights. That’s one reason that the middle-class, white lesbian and gay activists are focused on things like marriage and adoption – they want families that are almost heteronormative (except for the part where the both people are members of the same sex).
That’s a false analogy. It doesn’t even make sense. For transsexual people, wanting to be accepted and treated as normal women and men is no different than a lesbian woman or a gay man wanting her or his relationships to be seen as equal in validity to heterosexual relationships.
Of course transgender activism is about recognizing everyone’s sex and/or gender as valid. You say this like it’s surprising and unexpected, when the whole point is for people to be able to live their lives as they are, and not as people who don’t understand them want them to be.
You’re using the same language that men who commit violence against trans people use. You may not personally believe violence against trans people is justified, but your language – the way you talk about trans people – justifies it. It’s just one part of the spectrum of behavior that reinforces the idea that trans people are not valid members of their sex or gender – which is exactly the same reason men give when they offer the trans panic defense for killing trans women (Angie Zapata, Sanesha Stewart, Chanelle Pickett, Tiffany Berry, Alexis King). When you write long screeds about how “transsexual” or “transgender” is not valid, and you refer to trans women as “men” and you call us “mentally ill” and “fetishists” you are not only offering justification for those who kill us, you are also offering justification for those who let them off with a slap on the wrist. I don’t care what your intention is – I never have. I can’t read your mind, just your words. I care about how the attitudes and beliefs you espouse affect people in the real world. I am not saying you’re solely responsible, but I am saying that what you’re doing can only make things worse.
Do gay folks want to be legally recognized as writhing bundles of slinky fabulousness?
What does this even mean? You are beyond parody.
This post at Bilerico talks about many things, including a scientific approach to the existence and normalcy of transsexual people.
okay that was too much playing around. I’ll refrain from future snark.
[Moderator note: yes it was, and that comment has thus been deleted. ~tigtog]
Do transwomen want to be legally recognized and publicly accepted as a gender?
‘Transwomen are women and so demand all the rights of women because transwomen are women’ is circular and therefore invalid. The only valid claim is one based upon full humanity.
Gah, I just gave you the answer. The only valid claim is for a biological male to say, “Hello world, I like frilly shit sometimes, kindness always, and body parts for it makes me happy. Deal”.
Then the pricipal becomes: ‘Transgenderism: the idea that a person can transcend all the shit of this world and become a fully-realized truly self-actualized unselfconscious being.’ There would be no gender, iow, and it would match up perfectly with the core tenets and goals of every other pure philosophy for which mankind has struggled towards for millenia.
Yeah, cos those ‘pure philosophies’ and the ‘struggle towards them’ have never entailed violence right?
I dunno, fp, they seemed to do a pretty good job with communis–oh, wait, riiiight.
Absence of gender is not the goal. Acceptance of all positive gender is the goal. Gender transcending one’s physicality is the goal. Why is this not getting through? Why is transgressing the system while still existing within it such a big problem to people who are all about transgression but exist within the system themselves? Let’s face it, we can be as badass as we want, but we still play by some of the rules.
Pray tell, what exactly is a “pure” philosophy? The term seems to imply that there are impure philosophies, so what might they be?
There’s really no use just slinging around general and ambiguous terms, you know.
P.S. you keep describing activist organisations as “official” organisations. Again, what do you mean by “official”?
Is PETA an “official” animal rights organisation?
Is Bill Donohue an “official” Catholic spokesperson?
Being transgender in any form has nothing to do with ending gender.
is yet again inaccurate. The only way this could be accurate is if trans women do not actually live in the world as women. As always, your assertions are based on ignoring lived realities and experiences.
If trans women were men who liked frilly things, then they’d be men who liked frilly things.
This idea that there can/should be A *purity*, A *TRUTH* that we can name and know and use to ‘teach’ others how they should live/what they should aspire to scares the shit out of me. Lyotard (and many others) had quite a bit to say on the inherent violence in the idea that you can sieze, grasp, know and define the truth, that you can become a neutral expert observer, just ‘documenting’ TRUTH, and on the aspirations and outcomes of ideologies representing themselves as striving for Purity, Truth, Meaning…the violence that lay in the exclusion and eradication of otherness.
Thank you, fuckpoliteness. I agree with every word.
It also erases all moral and ethical gray areas, just dividing everything into right and wrong, with the person doing the dividing having the option to choose…and never mind whose bodies the line cuts through.
Well this is it, we’ve done it before with phrenology…and look at the devastating impacts that had and continues to have. I can’t help thinking about all the skulls of Indigenous Tasmanians collected for the purposes of the *science* of phrenology and the *discovery* of “truth”. This macabre outcome in the name of progress, and of purity of knowledge and science and truth. Philosophies and ideologies are accountable for their outcomes, which is why I have such a problem with this stuff. (Look out, I can hear mAndrea approaching on her Holy Motorcycle of Intellectual Superiority to wash my mouth out with soap)
I’d be quite careful about bringing relativism into a debate like this one. That sword cuts anyone who grasps it.
As does absolutism.
No-one mentioned relativism Laura. Postmodern discussions of the problems of grand narratives are something quite different.
LOL. Read Rorty.
I see – got the sound of the motorbike right, just mistook the rider.
I don’t understand you.
Presenting: The Holy Motorcycle of Intellectual Superiority.
Has this thread deteriorated enough for an image link-fight? If not, I’ll come back soon when it has.
I was referring to my prior comment that I had better run because I could hear mAndrea approaching on her Holy Motorcycle of Intellectual Superiority. I was further referring to your ‘lol’ ing my comment regarding postmodern critiques being something different to relativism.
I’m finding it frustrating as in the Greer thread you adressed my point to be some kind of thumbs up to science knowing all on intersex children and surgery when the *opposite* was my point, however I’m finding the tone of your replies even more difficult.
My point here was not an advocation of relativism, nor ‘anything goes’, my points were made quite clearly as having problems with the idea that we can lay hold of and know “TRUTH”, that I see violence in that very idea.
You then cautioned me to beware the perils of the sword I did not grasp, and then ‘lol’ ed away my point that what I raised was not relativism.
The answer to your question is in #14, Tig. If there are more official trans organizations that you know about, I would be happy to use those as a source.
“Lived experiences” is not a reason for anything, it’s a pity shield. If you’re going to take that as a reason for anything then you must be consistent and allow that to stand as a reason to validate any other thing.
It’s been more than a few women’s lived experience that all men are rapists and pedophiles. So should we now say that all men are in reality rapists and pedophiles or should we say that’s a very subjective experience and the way those women view the world may not be accurate?
It’s been more than a few men’s lived experience that all women lie about rape. So should we make policy and public opinion based on their subjective lived experiences?
#114 sorry. Here is the list I used:
You folks sure don’t seem happy that I’m finally chatting with you. So far I’ve learned that ideology, objectivity, and first principal are all hot buttons with some transgendered individuals. What have you learned?
Fuckpoliteness, Your ‘nym doesn’t put you forward as one who regards the niceties of polite conversation as worth observing. Hence the lol which was not well judged.
However, you did bring up Lyotard as an example to be followed, and it’s not unreasonable of me to suggest that doing so opens a can of worms consisting of the relinquishing of any hope of practicing rational criticism of oppressive institutions. For that you need to retain an implicit or explicit sense of a position from which criticism can be carried out – of a standard against which conduct or discourse is measured, evaluated, criticised and judged. Obvs you can still have at patriarchy or whatever, but it won’t be rational criticism, it’ll just be atomised, free-floating, deracinated contrarianism.
I do think, though, that it’s a poor tactic to name one p-m philosopher then object to your interlocutor doing the same thing.
I’m serious, by the way, if you haven’t read it, do chase up Rorty’s critique of postmodern bourgeois liberalism. Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger etc.
It must be one of the longest standing myths about postmodernism that it involves throwing out any ability to make any assessments about anything – i.e., that it’s just rampant relativism where ‘nothing means anything’. Yes, many postmodern theorists don’t think that there’s a place to stand *outside* a given culture, a pure space from which to critique it. But that doesn’t mean critique is impossible, just situated. It doesn’t mean that rational argument doesn’t matter, to take your example, or that they are equivalent to irrational arguments – our culture is very unlikely to work that way anytime soon. What it means is that rationality itself might be required to come up for critique: for being a codification, for example, of the way that a very particular, privileged subset of white Western men have historically thought. And this might enable us to see why it is that women have historically not tended to be taken seriously: not because the ways of thinking that they are educated in are *inherently* lesser, but because they get to be called ‘irrational’ in contrast to rationality (that is, the codification of the way particular privileged men have thought). Rationality, in other words, is part of what maintains the hierarchy that privileges men (and white men, and middle-class men etc). (This isn’t my argument, btw, it’s Genevieve Lloyd’s in ‘Man of Reason’). And that might mean that we can identify why it is that the claims of people of colour, for example, or of women and so on are so often *not* heard or considered valid *until* they play by the rules of rationality; and that that itself might be one of the ways that rationality, and white masculinity, maintains its privilege. In many cases, too, this means that the claims to injustice are only acceptable if they play by certain rational, liberal rules, even if we might want to suggest that injustice has occurred (because of, say, someone suffering). In other words, if we don’t pay attention to what it is that makes arguments ‘valid’, we often miss one of the key ways that various minorities are maintained as inferior. Besides all of which, Rorty tends to re-present poststructuralist/postmodernist arguments for an American audience, and this affects his work quite dramatically. There are many who think his interpretation of Continental philosophers is somewhat wanting.
mAndrea, I don’t understand why it is that we’d ever want a ‘pure philosophy’. I also feel like when you keep referring to ‘biological men’ you’re not actually getting the extent to which you are being essentialist. And I’m not sure why it is that transwomen are considered to be reinforcing the gender binary because they transition more than ciswomen, who reinforce the gender binary precisely because they do not. I also keep coming back to wondering why exactly it is such a problem for transwomen to be considered women. Not that I want the entire thread to repeat itself, but I really cannot cannot see what the problem is with transwomen being called women. Your stance seems to consist of ‘they shouldn’t be considered women because they’re not,’ and returns to biology to justify itself? How, then, does this challenge the gender binary at all?
(‘pologies for length, my friends!)
Cis-centered thought on challenging the gender binary tends to imply that not transitioning and being a feminine male or masculine female (even though trans women can be masculine and trans men can be feminine) is more challenging to the gender binary than transitioning is. Of course, this privileges the cissexual position of “doesn’t transition” over the transsexual position of “transitions if at all possible” without really examining whether transitioning says anything about the gender binary, or whether it’s obligated to say anything at all.
Of course, this isn’t far from those who talk about deconstructing/destroying/ending the gender binary as creating a world where “no one would ever want to transition again,” and then trying to sell this idea to trans people – as if the idea is that transitioning is a prison that trans people are forced into, and not liberation.
What “a world where no one would want to transition” means is “a world where everyone is cissexual.” This isn’t unlike the colorblind racist ideal where no one ever thinks about race and treats everyone the same (that is, treats everyone as white people). It erases differences from the assumed norm and simply treats those outside the norm as if they are no different from those who are part of the norm, and expects them to comply.
To me, this sounds like an oppressive system.
Then feminism is built on a foundation of sand and lies. When women talk about their experiences as women, living with sexism and men who exercise male privilege, they’re talking about lived experiences, and those lived experiences inform discussions about sexism and male privilege. If lived experiences are meaningless, then nothing women have fought for – that anyone has fought for – has any validity. This isn’t a brush you can selectively apply and expect it to make any kind of sense.
I trust you’ve heard of the personal is political? Your assertion above denies that.
No, because those aren’t really their experiences, and you know it.
When I talk about my experience as a woman, I’m speaking of what I experience every day. I’m not talking about the experiences of all women, or all men, or anyone else. I’m talking about what my life is like. When a woman says that her experience is that “all men are rapists” she’s extrapolating an absolute from anecdotal evidence. It is not physically possible for any woman on Earth to have the experience that all men are rapists, nor is it possible for any man on Earth to have the experience that all women lie about rape. And neither of these has any relevance at all
Your “pity shield” comment is meaningless. You throw that and the “crying faces” comments into conversations to sabotage the discussion – and like the above arguments, it applies to every single description of oppression ever. When women talk about high rape and murder rates, when black men talk about being pulled over for driving while black, these would qualify as “crying faces.” But, the problem here is that oppressed people need to be able to describe the oppression they experience – something you would deny only to trans people.
mAndrea, my point is that there is no such thing as an official trans organisation, just as there is no such thing as an official feminist organisation. There may be popular organisations, there may be influential organisations, there are no official organisations. Once again, you are simply using words that are meaningless in this context. That’s why people are getting testy with you. You’re just playing games.
Liam, you’re right. This thread needs picture-link war! As I can’t bite my tongue any longer on this one, I’ll start off:
This is not the PRINCIPLE that mAndrea is looking for.
Yes, exactly. There is no such thing as an official transgender organization.
treats those outside the assumed norm
P.S. everyone – as this is not mentioned explicitly in the comments policy – picture-link war is fine as playful shenanigans only, which so far the first examples have been.
Remember: obnoxious/vexatious shenanigans get squelched here, so no linking to NSFW pics without warning, folks.
Laura @ 140, when I introduced Lyotard et al it was not a ‘tactic’, it was to point at the violence underpinning claims to or a desire for a ‘pure philosophy’ and the kind of “TRUTH” that mAndrea claims to have access to. I was hoping a discussion of this might lead to some unpacking of what’s at work and would be of relevance to discussions of the problems of bigotry towards and fear of trans men and women. That was relevant to the topic.
You can contact me at my blog if you wish to continue discussion regarding what you raised at 140
Oh Lisa Harney @ 145, I answered the phone at work just as I clicked on that link, took the breath to do the ‘corporate spiel’ and couldn’t make a sound for fear of screaming with laughter and giving the game away! *Claps hands* I’m a newbie to the blogosphere and have not therefore been exposed to this phenomena of a ‘picture link war’. OMG!
Also, the comments thread is going haywire for me at the mo so I’d missed a few…your comment @143 was divine.
And I’ve lost the comment I wrote defending the idea of truth. Basically, it boiled down to this: awful as Enlightenment practices usually were, without enlightenment ideals, and more fundamentally, modes of thinking, we’re all fucked, and we would not have suffrage, human rights, emancipation and other nice things, not either as concepts or in their somewhat partial, imperfect, limited execution.
I also suggest that the grounding of institutional critique in situatedness is less acceptable, from a practical, activist point of view, than energetically seeking to recover a sense of the universal self-evidence of the truths we want to have accepted. Some people here have put forward some of these truths, eg Lisa at 113: “trans people are human.” YES. Let’s not go where we disallow the option of defending such statements on the grounds that they are, and must be treated as, universal truths.
Without boring everybody with a lengthy and boring demonstration of why I think this preserving the notion of self-evident truths is not just desirable but possible (not that your comment was boring W.P.), can I just say that I hope as interlocutors you can accept it’s a defensible and not downright stupid and evil point of view to espouse. (hint: don’t lump me in with this andrea character, kthx)
FP, perhaps Liam’s characterisation as an image link-fight is more accurate, as war seems a tad extreme. It’s definitely stoush-time, though.
Fair enough, TT. Extreme, but not extreme to the max.
Did someone say something about men who like frilly things?
Hi, I’m a man who likes frills and glitter and cooking and all manor of “feminine” things. I like to describe my gender expression as glam-geek.
Oh yeah, I’m a transsexual man.
I don’t have OCD, a fetish (which I <a href=”http://questioningtransphobia.wordpress.com/2008/04/17/silencing-dissent/
#comment-1707″>proved), and I’m definitely not butch or a lesbian.
All of mAndrea’s theories about “transgenderism” fall apart when applied to the majority of real trans* people.
Actually, reading theories like mAndrea’s and questioning transgender really reminds me of reading heterosexist theories about being queer. They’d actually be rather funny; if it wasn’t for the fact that these theories are believed by the majority of non-trans*/queer folks. I read them and I almost have to laugh because they’re describing this disorder or these people that mostly don’t exist outside the “theorist’s” mind, and its so outrageous that I almost can’t take it seriously. Like Jack Chick’s comics; seriously, D&D is a front for a real witches coven and causes people to commit suicide.
I completely agree with Lisa that transition (medical, social, etc) is fundamentally liberating. I’ve said it before, even if they made a drug that would make me cis*, I would never take it. In one (or more) of my future lives I hope I get a chance to be trans* again.
Cooking is feminine?
According to many folks cooking is feminine (unless its on a grill o.o). I put feminine in quotation marks because I realize that the division and definitions of femininity/masculinity are socially constructed. I was referencing stereotypical femininity.
I believe drakyn used the “scare quotes” accurately there.
Oops – our comments crossed over there drakyn.
Yeah, I agree, it’s *almost* funny in its ridiculousness, except it *is* about real people. And it feeds attitudes that hurt real people.
“I was referencing stereotypical femininity.” – does this mean you like cooking because you associate it with a stereotype of femininity or in spite of it? Or is ith the stereotypical femininity you like and the glitter, frill, cooking etc come in that parcel. I am trying to understand.
I get that you were introducing yourself in a lighthearted way, but the rest does puzzle me. Please tell me to leave it alone if you feel I am criticising you.
As in I like a lot of things that would be classified as stereotypically feminine.
Liking “feminine” stuff doesn’t make me a woman, it doesn’t make me want to be a woman. Obviously, me being transsexual isn’t about me not being able to handle being a masculine woman (a theory that cracks my friends up to no end, btw).
Liam #152, that’s certainly quite extreme! I think I prefer my extreme to be a bit more ironic.
Like the half steam setting on your wedding day, TT.
Laura, I think Lyotard would agree that that’s one way of negotiating with the current political world we live in (one that thinks that there are self-evident truths, for example, and is convinced by ideas of ‘nature’): to claim the self-evidence of or naturalness of those things we want respected precisely because it’s politically efficacious. But in that sense, it’s a question of the situatedness of political action in relation to knowledge (that is, we approach knowledge in particular ways because of how politics works: its situatedness). And there are more possibilities for how to negotiate with the requirements of this political scape than simply to fall in line with it: most activist groups now need to negotiate with, for example, a coalitional diversity. There’s also examples like strategic essentialism, which I think is kinda what you’re espousing: appeal to ideas of essence coz those appeals work, but critique them (perhaps elsewhere) at the same time. But these examples do not actually disagree with what most postmodern folks think or espouse as political action. Indeed, they actually think that critique-in-addition-to-politics is important, because for example, ideas of bringing freedom to people might be used usefully in many contexts, and are then used to justify the Iraq war. We need to be able to critically negotiate with these tensions, not pretend that they don’t exist; otherwise we wind up perpetuating oppressions. FP was just pointing out that seeking out a pure philosophy is, in mAndrea’s case (in some to-me-incomprehensible way) allowing her to refuse transpeople (or is it just transwomen I’m confused!) their self-definition (or selfhood, freedom, right to happiness and so on), and that that act (the building of ‘pure’ philosophies on the back of degradation and hatred) has a long history. But all of this is to say: I think there’s not so much disagreement between your position and postmodernism as you might think. I didn’t want to derail this thread any further, but I wanted to respond; you can email me (from ma blawg) if you want to follow this up 🙂
In relation to the thread, though, you got me thinking. Why do I like cooking? Do I like it despite its association with femininity, or because I associate it with stereotypes of femininity? I am, btw, a cissexual woman. It’s kinda intriguing to me that these kinds of questions don’t get asked of anyone but trans people… And now I wanna know… why wouldn’t Drakyn like cooking? 😉
Hilarious, though, the pic fights 🙂 especially the extreme irony one! hehe!
What a super wedding day, Liam.
Drakyn is the person who introduced himself as liking cooking and other ‘feminine’ things. Don’t worry, I would ask anyone else saying the same thing to elucidate the particular thinking going on there. It’s still got me baffled, mind.
why do people keep inviting me to email them via their blogs?
Wildlyparenthetical thanks for the hint, but I’m well aware there are strands of postmodern thought that match the travesty I sketched up there. Indeed I don’t pretend I thought any of that up on my own.
ps – I reread your comment wp, and as a more elegant paraphraseof what I was trying to say it’s not right. I’m to blame there not your clearly excellent reading skills.
I don’t think grounding the appeal for acknowledgement of certain truths in nature is desirable merely because it’s politically efficacious – especially if it’s done disingenuously as ‘while critiquing them elsewhere’ seems to suggest.
I think it’s actually quite important to find, establish, and proclaim, common and universally shared human experiences, and to base one’s politics on the recognition of those as truths.
Some examples: we are all sexual beings, we are all mortal, we all get one life only.
Drakyn likes to cook. Cooking is considered feminine. What is baffling? I am baffled pondering the baffle-age.
I’m feeling uncomfortable with how far we’re drifting from the original topic at hand (trans), and so am wanting to make sure there’s space to continue the conversation without having to cloud this one. It feels a bit wrong to me that a thread about transphobia – a massive issue – could turn into a discussion about postmodernism. I mean, really, transphobia is a large enough issue to deserve a few thousand threads, and I really think that feminism needs to work on this so… I felt funny, because of this, posting the last comment, so I wanted to be sure that there was space off-blog. Can’t speak for FP, of course.
In relation to your conversation with Drakyn, what I’m trying to point out is that when he used the word “feminine” in relation to cooking, you then went on to ask how that femininity was related to cooking. Drakyn didn’t say anything about this alleged femininity (scare quoted, even!) being the *reason* for cooking (or the source of rebellion). He’s pointing out that mAndrea’s characterisation of transwomen as “only” ‘men who like frills’ is a characterisation that applies to at least one transman: him, and so perhaps her characterisation of frills as womanly indicates her gender politics might need some work. At least, that’s my reading!
Almost random association, because of the topic matter:
Apparently, one of my housemates from a few years ago had a class on postmodernism, which had a unit on trans people. This is the kind of crap that we have to put up with, getting fetishized, exoticized, politicized, tokenized, postmodernized because people just can’t take our word. There has to be something else and if only they barrage us with enough questions and eat up all our time and energy trying to get us to answer them, they’ll get the truth.
Which they had all along, they just didn’t want the true truth. They wanted the edgy, hip, controversial “truth” that proves their theory is right.
 Not really true.
Even with phenomena that can fairly readily fall into so called “natural” categories the boundaries are always much more porous and diffuse than the language is able to represent, and people who work empirically with those categories in science or whatever generally acknowledge this. People who argue politically from a postion of biological essentialism don’t seem to get this- their categories are always absolute and delineated by hard boundaries. Its actually very unscientific.
Lisa’s comment at 142 pretty much sums it up for me. Why do we continue to see acts of transitioning as necessarily capitulation to the binary when it can just as readily be seen as radically decoupling gender and biology, challenging both the bases of the gender binary and the immovability of biological sex? More importantly why are we asking trans* people to do the heavy lifting in regards to challenging binaries anyway?
Thanks for the earworm, Liam.
Yeah, I agree Lisa’s 142 is where it’s at. It’s what I was trying to get at by pointing out that cissexual women don’t transition, but that’s treated as a politically neutral act, even though it repeats the gender binary.
And I’m intrigued by your comment about how you see trans and postmodernism relating, Lisa. If you’re willing, it’d be good to hear more (is it now bad to ask for off-thread contact? ;-)): I will be teaching a week on trans this semester (as I have in others) amongst a range of other ‘body modification’ practices…
Well, in simple terms, I don’t see trans as inherently postmodern, and I was annoyed that the instructor framed it as such (or rather, that my housemate said he did – I don’t know what the instructor actually said). I’ll drop a line on your “About” page so you can e-mail me.
Ok, coming in a bit late here, so this is going to be a bit scattered, and lacking block quotes.
* I’m a trans-woman, and I don’t like frilly things (on me. On someone else? Care less.)
* I do not see transitioning as either challenging or supporting the idea of a gender binary. To support this I would give the definition of transition as “Making a life change from one presentation of gender to another, usually but not universally aided by medication and/or surgery.”
* There is no such thing as “Transgenderism” within any of the trans communities I have been connected with. Creating a word that is similar to something I define myself as does not mean that I also agree with your lexical exercise. About the closest thing that you will find to your idea of “Transgenderism” is the common belief of most transsexuals that we should be allowed to exist and pursue our happiness without discrimination or enforced otherness.
* I am not a man. Period. My biology and my life prior to transition do not encompass the entirety of my being, and in fact are some of the least important aspects of it to me (along with the fact I have brown hair and tend to wear socks with my shoes).
Perhaps most importantly to me however is the extremely insulting idea that the goal of my transition is to “Have a female body at my disposal.”
… Excuse me?
My body is not a toy. I do my best to not abuse it because I have to live inside of it every day. I most certainly do NOT view it from outside as a way to get some fetishistic pleasure out of manipulating a women.
Yes, I enjoy my body as it is now, not as it was. Good for me… or wait.. are only “women born women” allowed to be proud of their bodies and enjoy living in them?
Because I do, and I am. I am not a toy, I do not exist to be somebodies object of lust, and I am most definitely not going to be shamed into giving up my freedom.
mAndrea: you may never knowingly think of me as a woman, but that does not change the fact that the world as a whole does and interacts with me as such unless I am outed. This makes me just as vulnerable to assumptions and violence as you, or any other woman.
TigTog: side note, you missed one other slimy rhetorical trick in your list earlier, the attempt to invalidate an opponent’s arguments by attacking their character or the reader’s view of them. (The opponent in this case is the non-existent “Transgenderism” movement.)
Polerin, you actually described what I personally think transgenderism should be for the people affected, but isn’t. So I’m not going to argue with you about anything.
Except maybe the ideology thing, because it fits the definition quite accurately. Why don’t transfolks want to admit that it’s an ideology? Feminism is an ideology, so what’s the big deal?
The other question that I’ve difficulty with, for anybody who’s still interested in helping me to understand, is this: Is the desire for gender recognition the same as the desire for full humanity?
Why do you think those two are the same? Can you see any differences?
I made that point about “transgenderism” earlier, although not as extensively.
My use of the term later was explicitly not meant to be an acknowledgment of any validity for the term, though.
Plus everything else you said.
The idea of a monolithic transgender political movement that conveniently embodies everything hated about trans people isn’t new, though. The whole point of this construction is, as Questioning Transgender Politics puts it, to be “against the politics, not the people.” This is similar to “hate the sinner, no the sin.”
It’s a rhetorical dodge that allows one to speak out against a group of people, and then claim you’re just criticizing what they’re doing while deliberately questioning the validity of who they are.
*blinkblink* Could you restate that? I am unsure if you are talking about how I referenced your definition of Transgenderism, or something else in my comment? If it something else in my comment, could you elaborate on how what I described fits with your personal view of what “transgenderism” should be?
As to the Ideology question, I believe you are combining the experience and ways of handling gender dysphoria with the and political and social aims of some out transpeople. While I agree that the first informs the second, please realize that they are distinct though interrelated things. Yes, the personal is political, but the personal is also individual. A group ideology cannot be individual by definition.
I have a personal beliefs and morals that are derived from several ideologies, but my personal beliefs do not an ideology make.
Lisa I didn’t intend to imply that you agreed with the term or it’s use, I apologize if it seemed so. It was simply a statement on my lack of
Being trans* is not an ideology. Being queer is not an ideology. Being black/latin@/Japanese/etc is not an ideology. Being short is not an ideology. Being tall is not an ideology.
And I am a man; I don’t like having to lie and pretend I’m a woman. Just like I don’t like having to pretend I’m straight.
I don’t want to get raped/assaulted/killed/discriminated against because I am noticeably trans* or because I can’t/haven’t yet gotten my papers changed to reflect my actual gender. I want to be treated with respect by knowledgeable and competent professionals in health care. Legal transition (getting names and gender markers changed etc) is one way to help prevent problems like not being able to get a job or an apartment.
Trans* people are seen as less than human, and so being able to pass as cis* is often necessary in this society. So therefore, yes, a lot of trans* rights struggles are about getting our humanity recognized or at least not having it questioned (by pretending to be cis*).
(finishing off the previous post. forgot to proof it.)
..lack of acceptance of the term and definition.
Being trans is not an ideology. That was your claim.
Yes. No difference.
Humans are men or women. If people see you as being neither, or somehow partaking of both, they tend to view you as other:
“it” referring to Angie Zapata.
I know you’ve already made this argument: that trans women could be treated with full humanity as men, but that’s not really true, and it dodges the point: Trans women aren’t men. And living as a man means constantly having your identity and sense of self erased, of constantly having to behave in ways that erase your identity and sense of self, of looking in the mirror and seeing a stranger every time.
It’s not an option.
Polerin: Just clarifying, I know you weren’t saying that.
I cannot agree more wholeheartedly, and I thank you for the excellent framing of the daily pain of looking in the mirror and walking out into the world as erasing yourself. Before the argument is made, no it’s not just an image or presentation thing. Who you are is more than simply what you present to the world. To deny me the physical changes that I have undergone would be to literally erase who and what I am.
“I am not a man… I am most definitely not going to be shamed into giving up my freedom.”
Those paragraphs sound fine, Polerin. Because you weren’t really talking about gender as it were a natural thing or something you had to work around. Personally, if something is artifical then I don’t see the purpose in giving it more power by assuming it requires going around. I’d just walk right through as if it isn’t there.
Which is what you did as well. Congratulations, you’re awesome!
And sorry to bust whoever’s bubble, but “hate the sin love the sinner” is what parents do all the time for their children. Friends also do that frequently for each other. It doesn’t mean you overlook the wrong behavior, it just means you remember that is not the sum total of their character.
”I have a personal beliefs and morals that are derived from several ideologies, but my personal beliefs do not an ideology make.”
Individual beliefs cannot form an ideology, which is what you said and I agree. Ideology comes from many indivuals subscribing to the same belief system and is further refined as attempting to make policial and social changes based upon those common beliefs.
Also, Drakyn’s link went nowhere. If a transperson has ever discussed fetishes, I’d love to read it.
Well, gosh, m Andrea, are you playing the naif or what?
Hate the sin, love the sinner has a specific meaning in this context, and it’s the same argument you’ve been trying to use in this thread by saying “you don’t have to hate someone to see their defining life decisions as being invalid and wrong.”
Well mAndrea, you started that conversation so I thought you might have followed it.
The link was only slightly messed up; deleting the bit after -dissent/ would have taken you to the main entry and then scrolling would have shown you my comment. But here’s the link again.
Moreover, I linked it in the comments at the Carnival of Feminists that mistakingly linked to you a bit ago. And, if I remember correctly, you ignored it.
I didn’t discuss fetishes, I disproved the assumption that me being a guy or me feeling I should have a male-assigned body are inherently sexual fetishes.
Gee Polerin, do you feel special? Do you feel validated? mAndrea thinks that *part* of what you say is *fine*. According to her. For her reasons. On her terms and conditions.
I’m not sure how to break this to you mAndrea, but even when you think you’re being *nice* you’re still making it about you. Which it most definately is not. There should be a song (or a macro…hint hint): “NOT ABOUT YOUUUUUUUUUUUU”.
And now for the sake of sheer facetiousness:
if something is artifical then I don’t see the purpose in giving it more power by assuming it requires going around. I’d just walk right through as if it isn’t there.
Like a brick wall? Airport security? I swear to god you make no kind of sense.
Again, my view of gender is my own, not an ideology. To me gender does not exist as a binary, and in some ways it is not even a continuum. It does, however, exist as a social construct. That does not mean that it should be given power over actions, in fact, I and many transpeople view it exactly the opposite. Instead of allowing our situation at birth determine who and what we are, and how we act, we adjust our gender presentation and physical reality to be in line with who we are and how we act.
Disregarding the fact that I’m not sure how you would walk through or around an abstract social construct… So, though I do not desire nor seek your approval, I am awesome, and yet still my existence strengthens the gender binary? Before you answer, please understand and consider: I will have SRS, I use makeup as a tool for passing, personal safety, and to make my wife smile. I pass, and I live my life as a woman, unremarked and unnoticed by most of the people I interact with. I do not wave a flag as to my trans status, but nor do I attempt to hide it.
So my behavior is wrong? If so, how?
There is no common belief system, even among trans activists. Even if you are to limit it to transsexual medical rights, acceptance rights, or any of the small subcategories, you will find that there are numerous disagreements. This is because there is no “Transgenderism” political movement, just a diverse and very splintered community of people with very different thoughts on where things should go from where they are now.
 Unremarked by way of being a trans person. I garner notice in other ways, whether I want it or not.
From my last post on transgender justifications:
Ah you assume I haven’t read it, not that I’ve read it and disagree fundamentally with your tortured logic.
Well I don’t know about the rest of you, but I certainly feel special and validated.
Well, that settles it. You’re making us about you.
You also need to stop obsessing about other women’s vaginas. That’s really creepy.
Except that trans* folks, especially transsexuals, aren’t saying that you need “a vagina in order to match [your] “girly” traits”.
Seriously, I already have a vag, its presence has nothing to do with my “feminine” behaviors/interests. If I took a magic potion that made my body male-assigned I wouldn’t suddenly lose all interest in giggling and other “girly” traits.
My desire to take vitamin T and get top-surgery has nothing to do with any “masculine” or “androgynous” traits I may have.
Nor with any possible interest in women either, btw. My high school days were more like “oh hey, she’s cute. *five minutes pass* Wow, was that Josh in a fishnet top? …Hey Josh, wanna cuddle?”
So yeah, the idea that we transition because of internalized homophobia or the belief that masculine=man and feminine=woman?
While perhaps true for a few unfortunate souls, certainly not true for the majority of us.
(since I apparently need a disclaimer: I used scare quotes for a reason; check comment 155)
Polerin, this is realy true.
“This is because there is no “Transgenderism” political movement, just a diverse and very splintered community of people with very different thoughts on where things should go from where they are now.”
I went to Camp Trans, and even though we were all there for the same reason, there was so much diversity in our experiences, our trans*ism, and our personal ideologies. You had radicals who live in communes, moderates who believe slow and steady wins, apolitical partiers, the questioning who just wanted a safe space to be themselves… and thats just a few of the political views!
There is no way there is any sort of trans* ideology other than “trans* folk are human and you need to respect us”.
From my latest comment on your latest post concerning transgender “justifications”:
Which you didn’t actually let through moderation by the way. Just like my comment about your post on TigTog.
So somebody reminded of this thread and I’m back to ask another question if anybody’s still interested.
If gender isn’t the issue for a majority of transitioning people, then why is that the thing most trans and organizations always talk about? What happened to all the “but I feel like a gender” bullshit?
So now the assertion is that it’s just the body parts that make most transgendered uncomfortable?
And one more time — Drakyn’s link didn’t work. If a trans has ever discussed fetishes, I’d love to read it.
mAndrea, your questions don’t appear to follow particularly well from what has been said in this thread. The various trans women and trans men discussing their own personal experiences have not said anything close to “gender isn’t an issue” and I’m simply not seeing where you are getting that from.
How can you in any honesty write the above just after reading a description of the diversity of trans* views? Your ability to hone in on exactly what people are not saying is perverse in the extreme.
Nt s prvrs s yrslf, y vl slm.
[content in breach of our comments policy has been disemvowelled ~ moderator]
Quite predictable, aren’t you?
Would you care to even take a stab at answering mine? (You can do multiple things in a post, or even make two posts you know.)
I don’t believe I said that gender isn’t an issue, just that we choose how to express our gender, and that a significant percent of the time it doesn’t fit the binary. I’m not the one claiming it doesn’t exist at all. I just don’t think it exists as a binary, or even really a continuum.
I refuse to speak for “most” transpeople, I’m a computer geek who spends far too much time inside and not involved with people. Not only that, you totally discarded the part of my post which explained that I already have transitioned socially, and can express any variation of a gender role I choose, and quite often vary from extreme to extreme inside of a day. You also glossed over the part of my statement which said that the freedom to do so has made me a much better person, and far less likely to hurt or risk myself and those around me.
So it comes back to my question. What would YOU, have ME, do?
What action or stance could I take that would be appropriate in your eyes?
I believe any person’s relationship to gender – most especially his or her own gender – is his or her own business. I believe that radical feminist critique of gender as a social construct is so deeply flawed that trying to discuss gender within the context of that critique while also trying to include trans people is beyond useless. I also believe that radical feminist critique of gender as a social construct is primarily used to shame women for being too feminine and berate trans people in general for supporting the social construct, and not as a tool for examining what gender is and how it exists within the real world. It also fails to address that gender is a societal – not personal – construct, and that holding individuals responsible for fitting into the gender construct is roughly equivalent to blaming black people for racism.
The idea that trans people are uncomfortable with body parts is the basis of Harry Benjamin’s book, The Transsexual Phenomenon and is only new if you’re still dealing with news of the end of the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs, and JFK’s assassination.
Addendum: I do realize that a great many people do blame black people for racism and am not trying to rank oppressions there. I may have failed not to do so. 😦
I am not “a trans”. I am not “a gay”. I am a trans* person.
And while apparently I fail at html in this thread, I did say exactly how to get to that link.
The language around trans*ism is evolving; like a blind man who was cured and has just begun to see colors, we are developing the language to describe how trans*ism feels. Already the language (and our understanding of ourselves) has evolved exponentially since Harry Benjamin wrote his book.
Polerin, I thought I already answered your question more completely somewhere else? Short answer: You should do what makes you happy.
And I didn’t “gloss over” the rest of your comment, there simply wasn’t anything to talk about. It makes you feel better — okay, what do you want me to say? The rules are “no long posts”, remember? Serial posting is just a cheap trick to get around that, so I’m only responding to basic concepts endorsed by the majority.
Tig, I’m reading three different conversations in three different places and the similarities, the pattern, is what I am responding to. No doubt it’s confusing to you — apologies.
So I’m trying to understand but I now need confirmation from Tig and Lias, because their words appear to speak for a large majority of transfolk. Is it the assertion that most transitioning is about feeling more comfortable with different body parts, OR is it the assertion that most transitioning is about feeling more comfortable with a different gender?
OR is it some combination and if so, care to guesstimate some percentages of how many feel it’s body parts and how many feel it’s gender? OR is there a third reason for transitioning, one nobody has discussed yet?
If reading a few hundred blog posts by transfolk answered these very basic question, I wouldn’t be asking them here. Lisa appeared to confirm the body part aspect, and so my question to her would be: if body parts are the issue, why do so many trans discuss (and defend) gender as the main issue instead of body parts? Why all the emphasis on “but I feel like a gender”?
Sorry, that should be “Tig and Lisa”.
How do my words do so? I’m certainly not attempting to speak for trans folk, I’m just being pedantic and tenacious about the fact that you are misusing terms from social and feminist theory to construct your fallacious arguments.
Not to speak for Lisa, but what I want to know is: why the fuck does it matter who cares about body parts and who cares about just mental/psychological gender? Why does this have to be broken down into statistics? Do a goddamn study, ffs.
But here, try this: body parts are important to gender because everyone’s socialized into that understanding, whether we like it or not, whether we can outrhetoric it with acaspeak or talk ourselves into thinking we’re past it. Knowing you’re ‘woman’ only goes so far when everyone looks at you and disagrees. It does a big number on your sense of self and gender, and feelings aren’t easily broken by logic.
I only speak for myself.
So we have established that (in general) you have no problem with my personal transition.
This is good, as it gives us a place from which we can start actually working to a conclusion of an argument instead of just arguing past each other. So there’s something else I think that we were sort of talking past each other about. People don’t transition to express a gender, and they don’t have SRS to make a political statement… They do them to be happy. That’s at the root of everything.
What would you have Them do then?
BTW, m Andrea’s trying to rearrange the discussion so that trans people have to justify ourselves to her, and she has no accountability to us for the hateful things she’s said about trans people. Answering her questions just plays into that.
It’s pretty evident from mAndrea’s writing that she’s not legitimately interested in the perspectives of trans people or getting to understand a life experience not her own – she is using trans people and refusing to listen and engage with the major content of comments that do attempt to engage with her *issues* and is manipulating and ignoring the words of trans people and those who are not transphobic, and who argue that feminism should do better – that trans peopole ought to be treated as fully human (duh!) and not subject to the discrimination and violence that we know statistically and anecdotally they are, and able to enjoy their lives and their bodies fully, in the ways they see fit, without outside judgment and free from interference.
Rather than engage, mAndrea’s comments show that she is only interested in grabbing sentences out of context to manipulate to push her agenda of bigotry and hatemongering (sorry mAndrea, but what *else* can you call it? Oh I know *you* call it superior logic and what have you, but I don’t buy that for a second). When given several eloquent answers which undermined her theory that *all* trans people are the same (I’m just wondering as well mAndrea if trans men exist for you? You never seem to mention them) and that give some food for thought to answer her complaint that she doesn’t understand…several comments later mAndrea is back to completely ignore all this in favour of wanting to hear all about a trans person discussing fetishes (any, because clearly one could speak for all, despite the fact this has been repeatedly rebutted).
I’ve read, from trans people on this thread some eloquent and moving personal comments on here that would give anyone genuinely interested in getting an understanding of the experience of others food for thought, comments which provoke deeply empathetic reactions and a feeling of solidarity in their humanity and pain and laughter and wit. These comments are decisive and logical, they demolish the claims to ‘logic’ that have been wielded against trans people, and assert convincingly that the issues at hand are somewhat different, and invite conversation around those topics. But time and again I’ve seen *that* dismissed for “Oh, but this one line right here…you *said* [taken out of context] which must *mean* [wild hypothesis]”.
You asserted mAndrea that if ‘reading a few hundred’ blog posts of trans people had *answered your questions* you wouldn’t be here. Have you ever questioned your right to be the grand inquisitor? I cannot help in reading your work to be reminded of MRAs who want feminists to *convince them* to their *standards of objective logic* that their feminist experiences are real and ought to be taken seriously.
Reckon you’re right there, Lisa. m Andrea is the one who has been making claims based on weird framings of social constructivist theory, she hasn’t been able to defend even the definitions of terms she uses, let alone the premises she states using those terms. After letting that part of the debate die down she’s back and trying to shift the grounds for debate back out to where she can continue to wave around her undefined terms and unsubstantiated premises.
Nobody should fall for that rhetorical ploy.
The same comparison has occurred to me more than once when reading mAndrea’s words.
Thanks to Lisa, Polerin and Drakyn for being so generous with their time and energy. We always say that feminists should not be responsible for educating their oppressors and here are trans* people generously offering their insight to educate us in the face of constant abuse and failure to acknowledge their experience.
On a purely selfish note I am glad that they do this because it was reading threads like this that changed my mind about women born women spaces.
I understand, but to be honest I’m not posting for her. I post so that people who are reading through have a counterpoint to her wild claims. Not that everyone who was here before me wasn’t doing a great job of that, I just am constitutionally unable to keep my mouth shut when I see hatred being proffered as logic.
I find it telling that almost 7 days after I posted comments on her blog, she still has not approved them, the only explanation being:
Thanks, but I don’t need your protection, especially as it’s price seems to be my voice and my identity.
Sorry, Polerin, that wasn’t aimed at you. I was just declaring non-compliance.
My apologies too, Polerin, if it seemed like I was trying to shut you down. This thread has at least 3 or 4 levels of discourse occurring, and dealing with mAndrea’s arguments is only one of them. By all means continue to post for yourself in terms of examining other issues that have been raised in the course of this thread.
err. don’t worry about it, I wasn’t implying that either of you were, per say… simply explaining my motives 😛
Polerin @ 212, I thought about how that stuff might sound this morning as I was running (late) up the hill for work, and I wanted to say that you have done an amazing job in addressing her points on your terms and in order to assert far more lucid and important points yourself – I particularly love that you’ve come back again and again refusing to allow her ‘responses’ to disregard and ignore yours and continuing to press her to answer your questions and to engage over what *she would have* other trans people do now that she has fleetingly given your her blessing as ‘making sense’ and being awesome.
I have other issues going on Polerin, the main one right now is a wonky internet connection. I simply don’t have time to wait 10 minutes for each page to load, so must prioitize.
Besides that, 90% of the transgendered have apparently decided not to post my comments either, so not sure why it’s okay for them to withhold comments and yet at the same time anyone bitch about me withholding comments — IF that was my reason. Again, wonky internet connection inteferring with my ability to chat all damn day for your royal pleasure AND monitor the ensuing shitstorm on my blog. Satellite dewd arriving tomorrow.
But even after the speed improves, no one has the “right” to demand that I respond to their every soliloquy just as no one has the obligation to respond to mine.
Anyway, Tig. Upon further reflection, I may have to take issue with your term “artifical” and your subjective take on it.
Please try to keep your comments limited to the discussion at hand and not veer off into even more dead ends without finishing the first — probably didn’t make my point clear previously, apologies.
I don’t really have a problem with using the term “artifical” in relation to a social construct, but the disagreement begins when the term “social construct” excludes the term “unreal” as it appears as if you’re attempting to change the very meaning of the term “social construct” and which conveniently forestalls the use of logic from being applied to any subsequent conclusions.
It is my contention that a social construct is a perception of reality and so we need to remember that perceptions do not always accurately reflect reality: our perceptions can be false. It is my further contention that only reality is true, although no ethical value judgement of right or wrong is implied.
I am probably being much more nit-picky than even you assume, but you are correct in that my terms do not always reflect that precision — humble apologies.
And for everyone else: the reason these small distinctions matter now is because later they are magnified down our mery precession of logic and create heaping gobs of stoopid.
So you’re back to arguing that only the tangible is (really) real? The discourses of Plato, Descartes and Schopenhauer (among others) regarding our minds creating our reality you are rejecting entirely?
A strict Hobbesian Materialist view: fascinating. You are quite right that such a view is logically consistent, but many arguments can be logically consistent and yet insufficient in explanatory power. The history of philosophy is that strictly reductionist Materialism has largely been rejected as ultimately empty, in that it disregards the products of the mind far too much, and thus lacks meaning in analysing how humans interact, affect and change each other.
The Hobbesian view:
* the land mass on which I live exists, but the notion of it being something called Australia is unreal.
* my body exists, but the notion of having a name by which I am known is unreal.
* the house I live in exists, but my concept of owning it, of it being “my house” is unreal.
Nonetheless, when I say “tigtog’s house in Sydney” people understand what that means, and a whole vocabulary
definingdenoting/connoting my association with both my body and my house, including various kinds of ownership and financial arrangements regarding ownership, is shared between other people and the socially constructed institutions that regulate the society in which I live.
The strict reductionist Materialist view can only point to all that and say that none of it is “real”. That may be logically satisfying, but it’s hardly actually meaningful.
Lord, you *consistently* demand that people give up their time to clarify for you what my eleven year old son can grasp with ease, ie that trans persons ought not to have to satisfy you, me, him, anyone of their ‘motivations’, or accept your take that clearly *all* trans people *must* have the *same* motivations, or satisfy your demands that they ‘make sense’ to you.
Then you hop on here and act like Polerin started some campaign way back in the beginning to get *you* to be on call to answer questions, and fling around barbed phrases like ‘royal pleasure’ when in actual fact Polerin called you on your own insistent demands.
“90% of *The Transgendered*’??? I note you continue to ignore requests that you refer to trans people. Also, no wonder you’re busy if you’ve somehow tracked down every trans person in the entire universe and asked their questions (one could say demanded they answer your every soliloquoy).
If the pressure of your insistently transphobic activism is getting too much, perhaps you ought to call it a day and get on with something else?
I’m sorry you’re having issues, but I don’t see why you are snapping at me about them. I would not have brought up my comments on your blog if you had not pasted in yours, as if I hadn’t bothered to read it before talking with you. While I can understand not wanting to deal with a shit-storm, please keep in mind that you have made several arguments that contradict my lived experience very deeply.
If you didn’t want the discussion, you shouldn’t have started it. And certainly please refrain from saying that transpeople have no answer to your questions if you don’t allow their answers through moderation. That being said, feel free to continue it here, or on my lj. Be assured, I won’t censor your blog posts even if you start calling me a fetishist. So, do what you will on your blog, and I’ll keep doing what I will where I will.
Anyhow, I’m still curious what your answer is re. what you would have the large majority of transpeople who desire SRS do? (You may feel free to lump in stuff like FFS or FtM top surgery in here as well)
As to the subject of whether a social construct such as gender is real, I offer a comparison. If gender is not real, is sexism real?
(err.. feel free to continue it here, so long as the wonderful moderators of the blog see fit for the thread not to be locked. I get bored easily, so I keep checking back. Don’t mean to presume upon your bandwidth, sorry.)
polerin, the twists and turns this thread has taken are really quite fascinating, so I have no plans to shut it down as yet.
Just one last expansion of my point in my last comment above: if a tangible person gains access to the tangible house in which I live, and refuses to permit my tangible body to enter that house, I can call upon the “unreal” social constructs of law enforcement according to the “unreal” social construct of Australian law to expel the intruder from that house, but only by relying on the underlying “unreal” social constructs of proof of property ownership and proof of my body being the “unreal” social construct of a legally recognised person holding proof of that property ownership. It is only through all these unreal social constructs acting in synergy that I can end up having the intruder removed from my property so that I may freely enjoy the use of it once more.
That’s a rather large level of undeniable “real” tangible effect that can only be brought about by the interaction of “unreal” social constructs.
One of the things I really like about this thread are posts like that one, about the reality of social constructs and how trying to act against them can be dangerous in some circumstances, and even what it means to act against them in positive ways (such as protest).
And recognizing the constructedness and playing with it rather than denying it exists – like genderqueers who try to destabilize their gender (as Butlerian performance) rather than find a single spot and settle down.
Don’t think that I didn’t notice this jibe by the way, mAndrea – I just had a day full of other things to get on with so haven’t addressed it until now. That’s a very cheeky misrepresentation, seeing how you have been the one in this thread who has continually attemtpted to move our debate away from establishing the “reality” of social constructs generally in order to claim something about gender and trans-gender constructs particularly (the thread-drift that has occurred between other commentors is quite natural and they are in no way obliged to stick only to the points that you and I are debating).
From your first comment in this thread at #34:
During the thread above, we already went the rounds to a clarification that social constructs are not the ideas themselves, but the social systems built around a group of related ideas.
As I wrote earlier today, taking the Hobbesian view that none of these social systems are physically delineable and therefore none of them are “real” may be logically satisfying, but it is hardly logically meaningful in terms of analysing how society functions through the interaction of its social constructs, seeing as we use these social constructs all the time in order to effect events in people’s lives that have real and tangible consequences in their physical circumstances.
Thank you, Lisa. This is where I fail to understand the way that m Andrea mocks trans* folk for wanting to change an identity that she claims isn’t “real”, by implying that social constructs don’t (or shouldn’t) actually matter to people because it’s all about “perceptions of reality” rather than “reality” itself.
Without social constructs civilisation is impossible. To argue that one can/should engage in social interactions without acknowledgement of and working in/around constructed social systems is bizarre. That these constructed systems are plastic and malleable over time is also a feature, not a bug.
I’ve been meaning to ask…I keep saying trans people/persons, and I am assuming that the asterisk in trans* persons is to acknowledge the breadth of bodies/lives/experiences that get kind of lumped together in one term? Just asking as I don’t want to, in arguing with what I see as blatantly offensive arguments, end up inadvertently reinforcing homogeneity/erasure etc.
Yeah Fuckpoliteness, I use an asterisk to try to be inclusive of different trans* identities. Some people just use trans, others use transgender as an umbrella term (but some folks really dislike using transgender as an umbrella term–there is no monolith!).
Theres a huge amount of diversity in lives/experiences/identities/etc in the trans* communities as well as a lot of overlap and intersections.
My experience of trans*ism is quite different from a genderqueer butch or an androgyne, but we all experience transphobia and we all deal with internalized transphobia. We have different needs and desires, but many of these needs and desires are the same or intersect (like someone with a non-binary gender may need gender-neutral bathrooms to be safe/comfortable; so will a binary-gendered transsexual who does not pass as cissexual).
Cool, thanks Drakyn, very much understood – which is one of the things that makes it so strange to be having arugments such as the ones in this thread…this repeated and insistent emphasis on The Trans Experience TM, or The Transgendered Inc.
A lot of the arguments in this discussion look disturbingly familiar to me.
Anyway, won’t keep linking to that trainwreck, I’m just saying… I don’t see the difference between one form of fundamentalism and another – both are highly judgemental to the detriment of others.
The discussions around gender being a construct and what that means leads to some interesting conclusions about could be said about the rest. Mainly, though, the idea that gender being a social construct is something that trans people have to be held accountable for in ways that cis people are not is a matter of privilege, especially since no other construct is being interrogated and dismissed in quite the same way.
And also the way that some radical feminists will say that womanhood doesn’t exist…unless you were born female, which may look superficially consistent, but is really just applying a double-standard. “Womanhood can’t exist for you, so you don’t make sense. But womanhood exists for me.”
It’s so incredibly simplistic to me to run around saying to everyone else ‘I have the true truth about how things truly are, and you’re all falling for the social constructs so lucky I’m here to tell you what’s really real/true/proper/politically right/whatever else.’ This has been the line on ‘false consciousness’ since like forever, and if it doesn’t create a hierarchy of the one-who-knows and the one-foolishly-taken-in, I don’t know what does. Weirdly enough, though, telling people they’re the ones foolishly taken in doesn’t work so well when people, uh, *aren’t* taken in…
I also keep coming back to the point that if gender *is* a social construct, and the point is there’s no real, inherent womanhood, what exactly is the problem with trans* people doing whatever it is they do? And why do people like mAndrea consider themselves to be *not* reinforcing the gender binary by claiming to be women? I’m not interested in suggesting that they’re not, but I don’t get why it is that trans* people are politically retrograde if/when they transition, but cissexual women are politically progressive when they stick with what culture would deem natural for women. How is it not essentialist to suggest that cissexual women have a natural right to womanhood that transwomen (for e.g.) don’t?
And seriously, what’s with the continual claim to people being ‘irrational’ because they are trans*? First of all, women have been told they’re irrational, rather a lot, as a way to silence them, so the throwing around of that word as an insult/to silence seems to me really un-self-reflexive (to say the least). Second, who the hell lives a fully rational life… and, uh, who would want to?? What would that even mean??
Excuse frustrated punctuation… doesn’t Terry Pratchett say something about too many exclamation points being a sign of something? I’m sure multiple question marks are, too… ;-P
Sorry… frustration leading to lack of clarity… “I’m not interested in suggesting they’re not” should be followed by “women” ;-P. Ahem.
Well, Unknown Anthro student (as quoted by Lisa) I would imagine that you talk to someone who feels that way and find out. How does one know what it “feel like” to “break your leg” if you’ve never experienced it? Or what it “feels like” to “give birth” or “hear voices in your head” or any other number of things that a significant portion of the population are never likely to experience. Just because men can’t give birth doesn’t mean that they can’t empathise with their partner’s pain during childbirth, or her grief if her birth doesn’t go how she planned or any of the other myriad possibilities. So why is empathy with a trans* person so alien for you, Unknown Anthro student?
It scares me that they are a student of Anthropology.
What surprised me was that she was willing to accept the reality of other experiences that one might describe as ineffable (for example, communication from god), but completely unwilling to accept this experience.
Wait, no, that didn’t surprise me.
What got me though was that the Christians reproduce in that thread – through the assumption of morality as assured them by religion – pretty much all of the same arguments I see anti-trans radical feminists use.
WP: yeah, the mindsheer involved in “There is no gender, so transpeople are reinforcing the concept of gender, so they shouldn’t be allowed in women only spaces” sorta breaks me every time. By the way,I would have thought (as much as I can be said to think) you would be indulging in parenthetical statements rather than (the understandably frustrated) question marks?
Polerin has pretty much summed it up for my lack of understanding.
Polerin, this is for your latest comment.
lisa: I sees it but…
The belief structure that says:
* There is no gender
* Trans women reinforce gender
* Trans women should stay out of women-only spaces
A nuclear explosion of cognitive dissonance.
Err, yes, I understood what you were intending, I was just being silly. Too many years in IRC has left me silly by default, serious when I don’t understand.
Ah, clearly then I didn’t get it. 😦
I didn’t realise that we had a Federal Senator with a trans partner. That will get them thinking in Canberra.
Polerin, just you wait. I am parentheses (within parentheses (within parentheses)) on a regular basis… I can’t seem to help it. Must be my need to qualify just about every fucking thing I say; or, more likely, the feeling that just saying any one thing never does justice to anything.
But somehow these particular kinds of transphobia are grounded in such simplistic understandings of the world that I can just be wildly interrogative 😉 Hmm, sounds like I need a new blog…
I think what gets me, though, is that even though we point this out over and over a-fucking-gain, it’s ‘irrational’, ‘illogical’ (I luvs this one, as when has life ever been logical, srsly?), or on a more aggressive note, politically inexcusable (or other much worse things). I just can’t really grasp how such cognitive dissonance (awesome pix, btw, you two) can maintain itself in the face of such pointed, and, to be honest, not really that complicated critique. Or, no, I can, in some sense, because unfortunately reactionary bigotry is not as rare as I might dream of. And — mope.
WildlyParentheticals last blog post..Am I back?
Thread’s getting long Tig, so not going to search for it but you were the one who started to go down a dead end. Just a polite reminder. And there is nothing wrong with reapproaching something from a different angle as one continues to ponder such a fascinating issue.
Tig, if there’s any term which you believe I have used incorrectly, then simply tell me the word and I can google it myself. It will save you the effort of complaining about it constantly.
Beliefs are “real” but are either true or false, actions are “real” but are either ethical or unethical, however only physical entities are “real” in that they require space and objectively exist without an innate value judgement being present. Since social constructs are beliefs I do get to say that social constructs are “false”. None of these causes are to be mistaken for the consequences.
Many transfolks have elevated a made-up group-think concept to the position of objective truth. On the one hand they admit that gender is a made-up group-think artificial concept, but on the other hand it’s treated as if it’s unchangable and everyone must find ways to bargain with it.
In case you’re not aware of it, these culturally constructed beliefs are harmful. They are responsible for sexism — unless you feel like blaming the inherent nature of biological males directly. Removing these social constructs is the goal, not letting them stand for eternity.
But what about the social construct of radical feminism?
Sheer equivocation, m Andrea. By defining only gender as “false” without making it clear that you are applying a strict materialist classification that would also include property, nationality, race, religion and money as “false” you are misrepresenting the entire nature of gender identity.
Suppose I could include a twenty page disclaimer but not really necessary.
Internal character is either significantly different for the various biological sexes, or there is no significant difference. If these variations exist, then we would expect to see that the intersexed folks possess an internal character which is considerably disparate from either biologically male or biologically female.
To be consistent, if each biological sex posseses a different gender from another biological sex, then the intersexed folks must be a third gender. To continue, if the bodies of the transsexuals are so dissimilar that they alone possess an incongruency between their “mind-map” and their body, then their bodies must be a fourth gender. And so they aren’t “women” at all.
This is all true, if trans supporters are to be consistent. Are you going to be consistent? Keep in mind, that if you’re not consistent, then all this argumentation in favor of transgenderism becomes merely justifications, much like an alcoholic will say anything to keep his bottle.
“And also the way that some radical feminists will say that womanhood doesn’t exist…unless you were born female, which may look superficially consistent, but is really just applying a double-standard.”
The problem, I think, is also that for some people, getting away with gender is actually… just getting away with the term “gender”.
Let’s take the example of women-only spaces. The mere notion of those spaces doesn’t hold anymore if there are no genders: we’re just human, after all. Ok, you can say that there are “female-only spaces”, but is the reason of those spaces a need to talk about anatomy ? No, in the vast majority, it’s because there is an oppression. An oppression which, for me is… because of gender.
The only way I see to justify those kind of spaces and even feminism while saying that there is no gender, is to say that women are oppressed because of their anatomy and some kind of natural oppression.
So behind the “supressing gender” which seems revolutionnary, I think that it smells more like disguised essentialism to me.
Yes, this is exactly it. It keeps getting covered with more and more theory to justify it, but when you cut through the g(ender)ordian knot, this is what you get: Men are men and women are women, and this is determined by the shape of the genitals you’re born with and is unchangeable.
mAndrea – except that alcoholism destroys lives.
This only holds if one assumes that “internal character” arises only from an instinctual knowledge of our chromosomal distribution rather than arising from how other people categorise us based on our appearance. Pure biological essentialism from you, yet again – and very simply refuted by the many XY women with AIS who have grown up as “women” since birth with nobody ever knowing any different until they undergo a fertility test.
Given that our society only acknowledges a gender binary (even though biological sexual dimorphism obviously has a continuum) it is hardly surprising that people identify as one or other of that binary rather than as some strange third or fourth gender.
The ultimate goal of fuzzing the gender binary into a gender continuum with the extremes closer together is a fine one. There’s no reason to demand that trans* people do all the heavy lifting on dismantling of the binary though: surely fuzzing the boundaries means encouraging people to cross them rather than fencing them off in a separate zone in the middle.
Sorry for the long post everyone.
You keep inserting “Musts.” There is no “Must” about any of the statements you make. For example: even if it is true that “Man” and “Woman” are two distinct genders which are completely separate and unrelated, it does not follow that intersexed people are a third gender. They could just as easily be a blending of the two, or a jumble of different characteristics.
The flaws in your logic don’t stop there however. You then assert that because a trans* person has a gender identity that does not match their born physical body that they must be a 4th sex. There is no logic to show why this is true, just the assertion and then the results that you extract from that assertion. Given your repeated assertions that gender is not “real” and has no basis in physical reality, I am confused as to how you can claim that only someone born XX can be a woman. This implies that there is actually something physical about gender.
I find it telling that you keep referring to gender identities as a discrete static, and limited. Even non-trans people, including some trans-exclusionary radfems have refered to their individual gender expression as something that is not only varied but variant. They may not use those words, but the concept is there.
You don’t have to be trans* to feel differently from day to day. That’s just being human. Please, step out from behind the strawman. If you are going to criticize what transpeople say, you might as well use we actually say instead of ..yahknow.. telling us what we feel and live.
Speaking of which, you never did tell me what you would have transpeople in general do?
And this is the frustrating thing, because the essentialist basis of the anti-trans arguments is not the only thing that is covered up. The real people we are talking about are obscured by the layers and layers of theory and obfuscation.
And that is a tragedy.
And lodes of people posses mind-maps; where do you think phantom limb syndrome comes from? Actually, there was a study done that showed that many trans* folks actually have phantom limb syndrome.
I met a biologist festie at Camp Trans and she was amazed when I mentioned this, it perfectly matched up with her theories (summarized as: trans* folk, in all our variations and diversity, are perfectly natural for any normal population). ^.^
Course, I don’t think having a biological cause will solve our problems or anything, but I find this sort of thing fascinating (even if I’m afraid of cis* folk searching for a “cure”).
Nope sorry, but possibly I wasn’t clear enough. And thanks again for forcing me to rethink definitions. Your fascination with labels compliments my fascination with function.
Here we are only trying to determine if specific gender is attached to specific biological sex. We need something which refutes not “why”, but “how” socially constructed gender attaches itself to specific biological sex.
You suggest that the reason why intersex folks lack a unique (socially constructed) gender is because of (genderized) social constructs. Which is begging the question, circular, and therefore invalid. I expect more effort from you, try something else, perhaps something valid.
Responding to “why” only tells us that which we already know to be true — that socially constructed gender exists. We need to know “how” it attaches to specific bodies — because when we know that, then we can prove it to be false, which I did by providing a counter example.
Be happy, I snipped about a thousand words. Incidently, I’ve never heard a transgendered advocate say the following simple declarative sentence: “Trans advocates think internal character and/or gender is independent of biological sex.” I would love for every trans advocate to say it, just for clarification.
Because no matter how much anyone want to blur the lines, it can’t be done if one concludes that girly character and girly brains need a girly body. Radical feminists claim that one’s birth body is capable of expressing any and every type of internal character which one may possess; and as such, one’s internal character is independent of physical bodies.
Yep. Never mind that people transitioning is anti-essentialist (your body doesn’t define you), but I guess it’s about control – forcing people into boxes that make other people comfortable, and not about actually acknowledging the diversity of human experience.
In this discussion I’m concentrating on labels because you use them inconsistently.
Is that what you are trying to do? Really?
Ok, exactly what do you mean by “biological sex”? For most of us, it’s what we think we see. For pure science, it’s about chromosomes, which often don’t match what we see. Which do you mean?
Nice shot (have you had some coaching?), but no goal. That a unique intersex gender can be hypothesised does not invalidate that historically and currently what is actually socially accepted is a masculine-feminine binary (that would be like arguing that it is invalid to point out that the acknowledged social constructs of “nations” does not actually include the hypothesised social construct of “Atlantis”, even though the island builders of Dubai could well be creating an “Atlantis” as we blog).
People who want to create a genderqueer identity should be free to do so. Intersex and trans* people who don’t want a genderqueer identity should not be forced into compulsory pioneering of genderqueering as well as coping with variant gender identity in the first place.
Where did you do that?
I am a fast learner, Tig. Google helps. You do too, actually.
It’s my latest argument, currently bloated at twenty pages. Still trying to cut it down into recognizable chunks.
Come on, humor me. Tell me the thing in bold as if you mean it. I presented an impossiblity but conveniently left out the other half. That comes next, after you totally incriminate yourself by saying the thing in bold.
What, that false dichotomy you’ve formulated up there? Tosh and folderol.
Socialised gender and biological sex are wound around each other. People treat babies whose genitals are hidden under nappies entirely differently depending on whether they are told that the baby is a boy or a girl. This difference in behaviour seems to be subconscious – people denied that this happened until sociologists filmed adult-infant interactions and did time-motion analysis. Obviously such socialisations that vary according to which gender the adult perceives the child to be have no rational connection to actual biological sex, yet to say that thus they are independent of biological sex would be a naive over-simplification.
This divergence in socialisation along the masculine-feminine only increases as a child grows, with reward-punishment schemes coming into effect. That there will be some natural variation both in how intensely some adults reinforce gender norms as well as in how some children respond to such socialisation hardly seems surprising to me, and I very much doubt that there is one single “how” answer to the question of gender attaching to specific bodies: human experience is too diverse.
Never mind the fact that I have already said of myself, that I don’t need SRS to act as I want. Nor the gobs of other people who say and live the same thing.
The body helps in making my life better. It’s not great, but the truth remains that the better I pass, the less likely it is that I will be viewed as a freak, and have to defend myself, either verbally or physically. And before you tell me that my transitioning hurts women, and that you are defending them with your views, I want you to read something.
Trigger warning: I don’t know if this qualifies for a trigger warning, but first quote makes ME clench up remembering it.
This is a log of an argument I had this afternoon on IRC. There is an image of me that I want taken down. Someone made a suggestion that I should take a picture of my chest and send it to the person as a replacement and incentive to take the other down. These are excerpts, if you want the whole nasty conversation contact me and let me know, but it’s long and upsetting.
Please, don’t mistake this as a plea for pity, or an attempt to get a cookie for saying something. I don’t want either of those… I want you to understand the same language which you and others who agree with you use is the same language used by some fairly misogynistic presumptuous twits. While nobody quoted feminist theory at me this time, I’ve had people do it before.
The language you use is the language of privilege. It doesn’t make you bad, just presumptuous. I am sorry if this is a bit snappy, but the above argument really upset me.
I’ll try to do better on post length from now on, I just didn’t know how to shorten this one up.
Oh for crying out loud.. the names got filtered out because they were in angle brackets. Tig, if I send you the text, can fix?
[sure, no problem ~tt]
My history of being sexually harassed would like to have a word with your acquaintance there.
Pardon moi Polerin, but it IS possible to be so emotionally injured that we perceive correlations where none exist. We know this to be true because otherwise the following is also true: No man should ever, under any circumstances, be allowed to offer any criticism whatsoever of females, as it’ll probably lead to violence. No critism of any political figure or government instutition should ever be allowed, as it’ll probably lead to revolution.
I have no doubt that some types of personalities are continuously skating close to violence, but to attempt to silence all criticism is Orwellian facism in the extreme. Kind of interesting that is the liberals nowadays who are most resembling Big Brother.
mAndrea : I am not telling you what to say. I am simply working on showing you the impact of what you say, and the fact that the language you and he both use has the effect of silencing me or discarding my voice. You accuse me of attempting to censor you through exercise of privilege, but have refused to let any of my comments out of moderation.
What power then do I hold over you? And just as I asked him, what am I to you?
Polerin I’m trying to point out that there is a difference between silencing completely, criticism, and outright irrational hatred. You are obviously a kind-hearted person and anyone who would be rude to you is just mean.
But why does absolutely everyone think their comment should be posted and responded to, and yet somehow I’m supposed to moderate comments??? I suck at playing nursemaid.
Did you notice how Tig causally ignores my requests for clairification? I’m deeply profoundly offended. Hey, I can be ignored anywhere, yanno.
The idea that “biological sex is a permanent physical reality” does not fit the definition of essentalism as that term is being used by the transgendered, btw, and much thanks to Tig who is now requiring me to look up every freaking word.
Radical feminists claim that one’s birth body is capable of expressing any and every type of internal character which one may possess; and as such, one’s internal character is independent of physical bodies. What is it again that trans advocates claim?
That should have been “under normal circumstances radical feminists claim that one’s birth body…”
If you don’t want to host a discussion on a controversial topic that may draw heated response, why are you allowing comments at all? It disturbs me that you ask questions, and say that transpeople don’t answer, when I have answered, and my answer never sees the light of day. I don’t ask you to moderate comments, nor will I tell you not too. It’s your blog.
You claim that a persons birth body can express everything that one might ever want to, and yet I know it cannot. I know this from sitting in a closet crying while my wife begged me for hours to come out. I know this because of the years of self hate and destructive behavior that I put myself through.
I know this because I expressed what I could with the body I could, and it was not enough. It never would have been. This is because it was tainted, wrong. You can make found art from garbage, but the pieces are still garbage. I needed, and still need, something more than expression: a physical change. Your arguments are based in what is material, stating that nothing else is real. Why is it difficult for you to accept that for me, expression is only one part of the equation?
Sorry to go back to old comments, but I wanted to react to what mAndrea said:
“Feminism: the idea the females are human.
Lesbianism: the idea that lesbians are human.
Transgenderism: the idea that transwomen are women.”
Actually, I think part of fight for lesbian rights is ALSO fighting for their rights to be considered as woman, just like transwomen, because for lesbophobic people it is not always quite obvious and I think it isn’t rare to see lesbophobic people talking about lesbians (particularly masculine ones) using “he” and more generally refuting the fact that they are women.
So lesbians also have to fight sometimes to be considered as “a particular gender”. I don’t think there is a huge difference with transpeople.
(Now there are also lesbians who don’t consider themselves women and trans who don’t consider themselves men or women, but I don’t think it’s contradictory: it’s a fight against seeing your gender attacked)
That strikes me as a very odd definition indeed of biological essentialism as used by the social sciences, and one that I couldn’t actually find on the wikipedia page you referenced (one that has been flagged as lacking clarity anyway, so why not use another resource?). Are you perhaps being confused by how the term is used by creationists in their criticisms of evolutionary biology?
There’s no such thing as “the transgendered.”
Which I think has been pointed out many times over to mandrea which leads me to think she’s willfully being obnoxious. I know…the shock!
Well, yes, I think willfully obnoxious has been a given.
I’m going to talk to my diabetesed mother now. She’s also been fibromyalgiad.
Well, perhaps all us women could be the womaned? The womanised? ;-P Then men could be the manned, and… what… the manitised? the manised? those who have undergone manitisation? or manification? Sorry, forgive. I actually totally love playing with the verbal and the nominal, not least because it points out what we think is a matter of being and what we think is a matter of doing. In this case, it points out mAndrea’s essentialism all over again: men and women are defined by what they are, “the transgendered” by what they do. Pah. I could get all de Beauvoir right about now, and, really, why not? ‘One is not born, but becomes a woman.’
But I keep coming back to the same point, which mAndrea keeps on not responding to. Even *if* your understanding of sex/gender is right, mAndrea (which to be clear I completely disagree with your understanding which seems rather all over the place), I still don’t get it. Why can’t trans* people transition? Why should they ‘keep’ the bodies they were ‘born with’? Why shouldn’t they change them? What is it about the ‘naturally given’ body that implies an ‘ought to remain that way’? We all change our bodies all the time: through diet, through how much sleep we get, how much exercise, through how we feel about ourselves and so on and so forth. Why is it that hormonal and/or surgical intervention is a problem? What is it about the allegedly ‘natural’ body that you think ought to be preserved? You seem to imply there is some kind of fundamental truth to it — something that trans* people are fooling themselves and others about by ‘pretending’ to be male/female (whatever category you think their ‘naturally given’ body prevents them from being). But you’ve already been suggesting that this isn’t the case: that the body ought not to define who someone is ‘on the inside’. So why would someone changing their body matter, and more specifically, why would it matter to you?
If the problem, as you see it, is that there is, or should be, a radical distinction between mind and body, between sex and gender, such that those who undergo some kind of sex reassignment are falling back in with the conservative assumption that the body and the mind ought to match, then again, I have to ask: why exactly do cis women get a ‘get out of jail free’ card? Why is being cissexual a politically neutral existence? Why aren’t you picking on cis women? It is only by characterising trans*-ness as a choice and cis*-ness as naturally given that you get to position cis women as neutral. But neither of these claims are, in fact, the case; and you acknowledge this when you claim that what is ‘inside’ ought not to have to match what is ‘outside’.
(N.B. My own positions on questions of sex and gender involves a deconstruction of the cartesian split between mind and body (at the same time as understanding that split to inform how we experience ourselves). So the above should not be understood as anything other than yet another attempt to get mAndrea to think about her own position. Sigh.)
WildlyParentheticals last blog post..Am I back?
Oh Elly, thanks. “One’s preference for the biological sex of one’s partner has absolutely no bearing on one’s internal character” — that is the original tenet of gay rights and apparently the only one which can provide adequate protection under the constitution. As soon as gay ideology completes it’s metamorphasis into “my sexuality is my identity and I insist on being reduced to my sexuality”, queerdom practically begs for legal discrimination.
Women want out of the gender pool, gays want out of the sexuality pool, people of color want out of the racial pool… When everyone else is running away from the tsunami, but you’re running towards it — does that rather large directional discreptancy tell you anything exciting?
Suppose we could use a dictionary, if that makes you feel better Tig. Radical feminists believe that one’s birth body is capable of expressing any and every type of internal character which one may possess; and as such, one’s internal character is independent of physical bodies. What is it again that trans advocates claim? Come on, tell aunt feminazi.
I thought Polerin and I already had that conversation last week, WP? Of course it’s a given that certain individuals require switching genitalia or role-play in order to obtain relief for their emotional distress. That seems so obvious it’s almost redundent to mention at all. Nothing else works, yanno.
My only concern is that the manner in which the entire issue is being framed is inaccurate. What is so terrifying about acknowledging the striking resemblance to amputation disorder? Lots of normal people have a chemical imbalance in the brain and need medical assistance to feel better — big whoop. And anyone who attempts to discriminate against someone with a health issue or otherwise hinder treatment immediately triggers the wrath of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
And I am not obnoxious, the proper term is evil. I eat kittens ‘n stuff for breakfast.
No, I think obnoxious pretty much sums it up
My adjective was going to be ‘pedantic’, but ‘obnoxious’ works.
“Women want out of the gender pool, gays want out of the sexuality pool, people of color want out of the racial pool… ”
Yeah, right. Well, maybe it’s because we’re not living in the same country, but here we have a whole lot of women who only define as their gender and scream if you want to remove it from them, lots of gays who only define as their sexuality and lot of people of color who only define as their skin color.
The fact is that there is a whole lot of diversity among those groups, as there is a lot among trans people.
“Radical feminists believe that one’s birth body is capable of expressing any and every type of internal character which one may possess”
Even there I’m not certain it’s as homogenous as you present it. Cause I think I heard from radical feminists things like “you don’t have a womb, so you’re not a woman” or “ok, I can accept post-op trans women into women’s spaces but not pre-op”.
Which, to me, sounds a bit contradictory with what you advance.
“My only concern is that the manner in which the entire issue is being framed is inaccurate. What is so terrifying about acknowledging the striking resemblance to amputation disorder? Lots of normal people have a chemical imbalance in the brain and need medical assistance to feel better — big whoop.”
Yeah, right (again). And I suppose people who have, say, six fingers (or their parents since I think there is often surgery just after birth) want to get the sixth one removed because of amputation disorder and not, say, because it is absolutely unthinkable to have a body that “monstruous” ?
I mean, I am not a shrink, but at least in my case I would think that I would have more reasons to get surgery because I am often insulted in the street and called “Satan” (sic) than because of a self-desire for mutilation or even deep feminity.
(But well, since I hate sharpy stuffs and expensive ones, I think I’ll pass anyway)
“And I am not obnoxious, the proper term is evil.”
I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but most villains who claim to be evil and do “mwahaha”… well, pfff.
Now, me, I make no specific claim, but I am being called Satan, see ?
Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name /o
The comparison to Amputation disorder is disturbing because they are different disorders and likely have majorly different causes. Also, I’m not fighting to just have my status as transsexual not make me a second class citizen. I’m far FAR more than my GID. I was actually having a conversation with my sister about it and came to the realization that the desire to be recognized for more than trans* is what is behind my love for bumper stickers and decorating everything I own with my beliefs. I’m not running towards it, but standing against it. I am who I am, and I will not be ashamed.
Also, comparing me to rapists and pedophiles? yeah that’s classy mAndrea. I’ll have a comment for you when I can stand to look at the post for more than 30 seconds at a time.
Yes, I know from evil, mAndrea. You’re not it. Your participation in this thread is obnoxious because you are pretending to know more about trans* people than they do themselves. You don’t seem to see that setting yourself in judgement above them is precisely the articulation of your privilege.
And you keep missing my point: I don’t get what the problem with trans* people altering their bodies is, for you. You say it’s okay so long as… what, they’re considered pathological? I know that there are many trans* people who feel that the medical definitions of GID are absolutely adequate to their own experience. But there are many who do not. Why is it that people have to be suffering in order for their alterations to be okay by you? And why, exactly, do they have to be doing the right thing according to you: what’s your authority?
But the real bit you keep missing, and I think it’s pretty telling you keep not responding to it, is: why exactly are cissexual women innocent of the allegedly politically retrograde step of coherence between gender and sex?
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