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The Fallacy of Cis-Privilege November 16, 2009

Posted by FCM in feminisms, self-identified feminist men, thats mean, trans.
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for those who dont know, cis- (meaning “on the same side as”) has been used by transactivists to describe people who “arent trans.” according to them, people who arent trans possess special powers, called “privileges,” parallel to the unearned privileges possessed by whites and men, who socially, politically and relationally oppress women, and people of color.

but when transfolk and transactivists use “privilege” in this context, i do not think it means what they think it means.  specifically, their concept of “privilege” does not match up with my definition, or with any accepted definition of the word.

when a transwoman laments to a born woman, for example:

I wish I could understand where you are coming from, but I don’t think I ever will. I never had the privilege of growing up as a girl, with people automatically calling me she, her, girl, woman, etc. without having to think about it. I never had the privilege of being 5 years old and not having your mother beat the living shit out of you because you were trying on her makeup. I say this will [sic] all respect that is due to you: from where I sit, you are the one with the privilege.

what she has revealed is that her idea of anyones particular social or political privilege is “i have something you want.” in the case of born-men thinking that girls and women had it easy or preferable in that they grew up being recognized as female, it would be more accurate to say their idea of privilege is further diluted to mean “i have something you *think* you want” because theres no way a born-male could really know if he wanted to grow up like a girl, because as a boy/man, he doesnt, and indeed *couldnt* know what it was like.

to take a little tangent here, but to illustrate and underscore that point, i was assaulted by 4 neighborhood boys when i was 5, because i was a girl, and they wanted to look into my underpants. so, they trapped me in a camping tent that was set up in the backyard and wouldnt let me leave, and they said i could either give each one of them a kiss, or they were going to look inside my underwear. does this sound like fun to you, transwomen? frankly i would take a beating from my mother on any day of the week, rather than ever be trapped inside a closed space by a bunch of sexually predatory boys who gave me such a disgusting “choice.” i kissed them all and they let me leave. luckily.

but heres the problem with “i have something you want” = “i have privilege”. if i had a candy bar, and you wanted it, i would not have “candy-bar privilege”. if i had a nice dog and you wanted a nice dog like mine, i would not have “dog privilege.” you cant just say that any old goddamn thing i have that you want is a privilege. privilege means that there is *power* there, and girls and women dont possess any kind of gender-based power. exactly the opposite.

like race-based power, gender-based power operates in one direction only:  male-oppresses-female.  just as with the uni-directional operation of race-based privilege, in which whites oppress non-whites, girls and women will never oppress either men or women through a manifestation of gender-based privilege.  thats not the way gender-based privilege works.  distressingly, there is another trans-identified group on the scene of late, that wants us to believe that the disabled are privileged, because although they are perfectly healthy able-bodied themselves, the trans-abled “see themselves” as disabled and they want to be disabled, too.  but again, privilege based on physical ability operates in one direction, and one direction only: able-bodied-oppress-disabled.

heres a shweet little diagram crafted by miska, very accurately describing the logical fallacy of the concept of cis-privilege, whereby born-women *allegedly* possess a gender-based power to oppress men, and other women, because we have something that transfolk want or think they want: its the same problem as calling someone “privileged” if they have a nice dog, and you want/think you want one too:

privilege_dog

the fallacy of cis-privilege: a graphic by miska

you could replace “dog” with literally anything unable to raise its possessor into a position of social and political power, but that someone has and you want (or *think* you want).  dustbunny-privilege.  slightly-less-boxy-car-privilege.  glod-privilege.  (nope, theres no such thing as a “glod”.  but it works just as well to give me increased social standing as does a candy bar, a dustbunny, or a slightly-less-boxy car).

i call bullshit on that.  and as i have added to my FAQ, no, i am not cis-privileged.  and i refuse to give a shout-out to trans-politics every time i introduce myself, as too many feminists have lately decided to do (hi!  i am a straight, white, cis-female etc).  to require it (and oh yes, its become a requirement) is an utter manipulation and extortion on the part of trans-activists, and i am not falling for it.

h/t to miska of fab-matters.

Comments

1. Miska - November 16, 2009

according to them, people who arent trans possess special powers, called “privileges,”

and –

slightly-less-boxy-car-privilege

LOL. For real (I almost choked on my beer).

Fantastic post.

factcheckme - November 16, 2009

BEER eh? LOL i am just making my morning tea. i like your idea better.

2. factcheckme - November 16, 2009


That was not the privilege to which you refer. She wanted to live in a society that didn’t beat her for her gender identity.


LOL and on what planet does this society exist? and how is this MY fault, or any womans fault, that it doesnt exist here? we would all love it, too. doesnt make me privileged over you. you want something that even *i* dont have, if you want to have your gender identity be unproblematic for you.

3. Miska - November 16, 2009

You do, however, act like a transphobe and fail to unpack that privilege …

FCM did unpack that privilege. It’s in the post you’re commenting on!

BEER eh? LOL i am just making my morning tea. i like your idea better.

It’s late here! way past my bedtime, actually. but this is just too much fun. lol

4. thebeardedlady - November 16, 2009

Valerie,

Working class is not a privileged class.

Woman is not a privileged class.

It’s not that EVERY class has its own special privileges. You don’t get POOR privilege, LESBIAN privilege, BLACK privilege, DISABLED privilege, or FEMALE privilege.

Why? Because the LACK of privilege for these classes are the basis of our society. Our society (world) works by dividing people into classes and giving some of those classes an unfair advantage (privilege) over the others. This unfair advantage is made by forcing the unprivileged classes to SERVE the privileged, both physically and ideologically.

So the idea of working class privilege or female privilege is meaningless. As I said on the other thread, cis privilege exists – feminists call it MALE privilege and women DO NOT HAVE IT.

Clear now?

5. thebeardedlady - November 16, 2009

Morning tea? Beer? Where in the world are you all? I’ve just had my lunch!

factcheckme - November 16, 2009

lol @ tbl. i am in a top-secret feminist location that cannot be revealed for my own safety. (i wish i was kidding about that! i have been anonymous since i have been online, due to the nasty misogynist trolls, stalker types, and now, transactivists!)

6. factcheckme - November 16, 2009

valerie, so now androgynously-dressed cis-lesbians are cis-oppressed by cis-privileged straight women? WTF? or is “farmer” also a trans? (a born-male who sleeps with women and dresses androgynously)? the title of the article you cite is “lesbian riled by boot from ladies room.”

if our protagonist here is in fact “a born-male who sleeps with women and dresses androgynously” then why doesnt he use the mens room? because hes more afraid of men than he is women, even when the women are bitches? if so, thats male privilege that drove that encounter in the first place. in any event, it was clearly the male-bouncer that was expected to, and did ultimately, police this gender-bendy encounter. again, thats male privilege, to do the policing.

EDIT: on further reflection, i find it interesting that the bathroom-encounter seems to be an important indicator, in transpolitics, that women possess cis-privilege. but women not wanting men in their restrooms is because women know that men rape. these women are responding to transwomens (and all born-mens) MALE PRIVILEGE. in response, the transwomen are saying that the women have CIS-PRIVLEGE. lets just say that both are true. its telling that teh menz concerns trump the born-women’s concerns, even if each groups concern is presumed to be equally valid. of course, i dont believe for a second that the born-womens concerns ARE seen as equally-valid. and that is a manifestation of their oppression, and their issues taking a backseat to born-mens issues, always.

and i think its pretty clear that men do have male-privilege, and that transwomen still possess it, even after they have transitioned. if they still have working dicks, then they very much still possess the capacity to rape. born-women shouldnt have to deal with this *shit* (as it were) in the ladies room. how are we to know if you have a working dick or you dont?

7. Hello - November 16, 2009

“their concept of “privilege” does not match up with my definition, or with any accepted definition of the word.”

Isn’t “a conditional entitlement or immunity granted to a select class after birth” an accepted definition of privilege?

“but heres the problem with “i have something you want” = “i have privilege”. if i had a candy bar, and you wanted it, i would not have “candy-bar privilege”. if i had a nice dog and you wanted a nice dog like mine, i would not have “dog privilege.””

If you were awarded that ‘candy bar’ or ‘nice dog’ at birth through no merit of your own, and another group of people would never have access to candy bars or dogs, you *would* have a sort of privilege.

“privilege means that there is *power* there, and girls and women dont possess any kind of gender-based power. exactly the opposite.”

I can’t see how this isn’t an argument that affirms its consequent. I understand the argument that men *have* been the perpetrators of gender-based power, but no the argument that they are *uniquely capable* of it.

An aside: As a male POC, I find it confusing when you at say that you’re beginning to believe than men can’t be feminist but still continue to pepper your blog with racial outrage. I also disagree with the assertion that whites are uniquely capable of race-based oppression, but that’s not really in the scope of this discussion.

factcheckme - November 16, 2009

just as an FYI, user “hello” is actually “nom chompsky” who i spammed for being what i consider a rape-apologist in the porn-is-rape thread. he changed is username and posted this reply under “hello” after the exact same reply ended up in my spam folder under user name “nom chompsky.”

reply to him as and if you wish.

factcheckme - November 16, 2009


If you were awarded that ‘candy bar’ or ‘nice dog’ at birth through no merit of your own, and another group of people would never have access to candy bars or dogs, you *would* have a sort of privilege.


although you are trying to be clever here, nom chompsky, you kind of illustrate my point, which i intended to only apply to *this* universe. you know, the one in which we currently live. in this universe, where candy bars and nice dogs do not, in fact, raise anyones social and political standing. and neither does “being born female.”

if you want to discuss the merits of having candy-bars or dogs in some other universe where the acquisition of such actually means something, then thats another matter entirely.

8. Hello - November 16, 2009

I don’t see how I got classified as a rape apologist in the last thread. I don’t think a single one of my comments, even taken out of context could be considered “rape apology”. You said you moderated me for using “dictionary definitions” (which I did), and the term QED (which I didn’t). My argument was simply that “not all porn is rape”.

“in this universe, where candy bars and nice dogs do not, in fact, raise anyones social and political standing. and neither does “being born female.””

I’ll try to make my points separately so they don’t get jumbled up:

I don’t want to speak on anyone’s behalf so I’ll just say this: It is my understanding that one receives certain social and political benefits simply by having been born female-sexed and female-gendered rather than having a sex that doesn’t match their gender.

Privilege doesn’t necessarily imply social or political superiority. While in your usage, does, it seems like there is a fairly large common ground here. It seems to my (I guess naive?) understanding that if you acknowledged that in a certain definition you had privilege over trans people but that in your common usage of the word it was impossible, there might not be an agreement, but there wouldn’t be much cause for argument.

I’d like to stress that I’m not suggesting you do that. It just seems to me like a potential solution.

factcheckme - November 16, 2009


It is my understanding that one receives certain social and political benefits simply by having been born female-sexed and female-gendered rather than having a sex that doesn’t match their gender.


for one thing, its impossible to prove that people who later trans-identify were “born” with any particular kind of brain. for cis- to exist, then it must be innate, and is impossible to prove very much after the fact of their birth, WHAT their brain looked like, when they were born. (google ex-post facto studies). after he/she has been behaving a certain way and exposing oneself to certain environments for decades. for all anyone knows, trans-brains are identical to non-trans brains at birth. that would make everyone cis- (and therefore NO-ONE is cis-).

for another thing, your “understanding” is exactly the premise i am disputing. i dont think there are any such benefits, for women, because being born-women-recognized-as-women is to be born into an oppressed class. there is no gender-based power there for women to use to *any* ends, including oppressing others based on their gender. think of thier gender-privilege coin-purse as starting out EMPTY, and its never filled, by defintion. theres NOTHING THERE with which to oppress anyone. you cant even buy yourself a fucking coke.


Privilege doesn’t necessarily imply social or political superiority.


yes it does, in every other social and political privilege known to *man*. thats my point. trans-activists are co-opting the language of other social movements, and changing accepted meanings to suit their cause. THATS MY POINT. they are making this shit up, and they dont know WTF they are talking about.

9. thebeardedlady - November 16, 2009


for another thing, your “understanding” is exactly the premise i am disputing. i dont think there are any such benefits, for women, because being born-women-recognized-as-women is to be born into an oppressed class. there is no gender-based power there for women to use to *any* ends, including oppressing others based on their gender. think of thier gender-privilege coin-purse as starting out EMPTY, and its never filled, by defintion. theres NOTHING THERE with which to oppress anyone. you cant even buy yourself a fucking coke.

Privilege doesn’t necessarily imply social or political superiority.

yes it does, in every other social and political privilege known to *man*. thats my point. trans-activists are co-opting the language of other social movements, and changing accepted meanings to suit their cause. THATS MY POINT. they are making this shit up, and they dont know WTF they are talking about.

FCM, promise not to squat this thread as much as I did the last one! But I’ve got to say, YES EXACTLY.

People keep on coming out with shit about privilege, when they clearly don’t have any idea of what it means. And they refuse to educate themselves. I guess they don’t think a bunch of women would know shit about politics or sociology – why bother listening to us, right?

They ARE just making stuff up. They claim that it’s a privilege to be oppressed. It’s doublespeak. It’s bullshit. It suits them to do so – why? Well, I guess it’s been working for them so far.

What I don’t understand is why trans activists want to have anything to do with rad fems, given that our goals are just not compatible? A few days ago, I felt a lot more fluffy about this. Hey, maybe we can all work together! I thought. We just need to try to understand each other better. But the previous thread has convinced me that trans activists DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WOMEN’S RIGHTS. They only care about trans rights. And they seem pretty clear that if there’s a conflict, their trans rights should take precedence over our women’s rights.

Yeah, who gives a fuck about women in public bathrooms (or anywhere) trying to defend themselves from potential rapists? Because yes, trans women are as much of a potential rape threat to women as men are. Could be a lovely, gentle trans woman. Could be a raping, murdering asshole. How are we supposed to tell by looking? Where’s the respect and consideration for women who feel threatened and unsafe? Oh right, there is none – they just get called transphobic bigots.

The more I read and listen to trans activists, the more they sound to me like a bunch of MRAs. I’m hugely fucking triggered by so many things they have said in these threads. I cannot get over the complete fucking arrogance and entitlement that they can’t even get the basic 101 version of privilege.

10. thebeardedlady - November 16, 2009

It is my understanding that one receives certain social and political benefits simply by having been born female-sexed and female-gendered

Well, your understanding is WRONG.

Here’s 50p. Go and buy yourself a clue.

11. Hello - November 16, 2009

“for another thing, your “understanding” is exactly the premise i am disputing. i dont think there are any such benefits, for women, because being born-women-recognized-as-women is to be born into an oppressed class. there is no gender-based power there for women to use to *any* ends, including oppressing others based on their gender.”

Forgive my density, but is it your assertion that any oppressed class is incapable of oppressing others, when it comes to the reason that their oppressed?

“for all anyone knows, trans-brains are identical to non-trans brains at birth. that would make everyone cis- (and therefore NO-ONE is cis-).”

Does it, though? For all anyone knows, homosexual brains are identical to heterosexual brains at birth; that doesn’t negate their differences. Any confusion there is my fault; I shouldn’t have mentioned birth without considering it’s appropriateness to this discussion. That being said, I don’t think it matters whether trans people were born that way.

“yes it does, in every other social and political privilege known to *man*. thats my point. trans-activists are co-opting the language of other social movements, and changing accepted meanings to suit their cause.”

Isn’t it possible that there are multiple definitions of privilege? There are recorded definitions of privilege under which cis-privilege falls. While it’s a separate issue from privilege in the political sense, I think it’s at least a common ground.

12. Hello - November 16, 2009

“I guess they don’t think a bunch of women would know shit about politics or sociology – why bother listening to us, right?”

I’d say I learned far more about politics and sociology in my life from women than men. It’s not fair to take my disagreement with a particular person as endemic as some sort of anti-woman bias with a lack of any other evidence.

“They ARE just making stuff up. They claim that it’s a privilege to be oppressed. It’s doublespeak. It’s bullshit. It suits them to do so – why? Well, I guess it’s been working for them so far”

I’ve never claimed it’s a privilege to be oppressed. I claimed that it was possible for somebody to be both oppressed in one sense and privileged in another, but that seems to be fairly intuitive to me (as a black male, no less) and not at all “doublespeak”. I’m not sure how my comments warranted such derision.

“But the previous thread has convinced me that trans activists DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WOMEN’S RIGHTS. They only care about trans rights. And they seem pretty clear that if there’s a conflict, their trans rights should take precedence over our women’s rights.”

This is a generalization. A few commenters on one post on one blog aren’t necessarily indicative of every single trans activist or even most of them.

“I cannot get over the complete fucking arrogance and entitlement that they can’t even get the basic 101 version of privilege.”

I understand the basic 101 version of privilege. It’s condescending to assume that I’m arrogant and entitled and misinformed because I disagree with its application.

13. laughriotgirl - November 16, 2009

Privilege functions in a top-down manner. Laws and the attitudes of society make it so that each person within the society is indoctrinated. It is systemic and pervasive and invisible unless challenged.

A heterosexual woman IS homophobic because she was brought up in a culture that positions her relationships as valid. Even if she is single her whole life, her heterosexuality is sacred. If she decides to exercise her het-privs over a lesbian society will reward her and punish the lesbian. The single heterosexual woman can say that society punishes her because she is single, or because she refuses to reproduce – and that is valid, but is not the same as homophobia. She can state correctly that because she is a woman she has the same oppressions as a lesbian. It would be incorrect though to state that she is oppressed by homophobia in the same way a lesbian is. This is how cis-privilege works.

The bathroom is actually a good example of this. Using the bathroom is a human need – people gotta go. Positioning one woman’s need for perceived safety (please note that there have been 0 cases where a trans woman has assaulted another woman in the restroom) over the actual safety of a woman. Would you willingly use the men’s restroom? Would you feel completely safe doing so?

Here is a personal account on how this can play out. last weekend my friend “J” and I met in a local diner. “J” is not at all gender-conforming – she plays rugby and has a flat-top (she’s stocky and short-haired). She was confronted as she was leaving the women’s room, the cops were called, she had to show her ID to prove she was allowed to be there. I generally don’t have that problem. I don’t get confronted in the women’s room. In this case I have temporary cisgender-privilege over “J”.

Let’s turn it around. I get confronted in the same manner as “J”. I’m asked to show my ID, but because of systems of oppression, my ID says “M” (and until recently would for the rest of my life due to state law). Rather than getting “sorry ma’am” and a free dinner, I’d have a very likely chance of further victimization at the hands of the system, ejected from the restaurant, and potential arrest.

Both my friend and I can have the same oppression. In exactly the same way. Society provides her a stop-gap for further oppression by having her ID markers all match up. This provides her a level of protection I can only dream of having. Both she and I have or have had issues relating to public restrooms. Having a conforming gender presentation is a privilege that I think we all can agree on. The marking of trans bodies as automatically dangerous, potentially threatening, far to alien to be considered, or whatever makes it convenient to mark us as “Not Real Enough” puts us in danger of violence IN ADDITION TO the violence we get for being women. Without any of meager protections society wants to believe we provide to born females.

14. laughriotgirl - November 16, 2009

Wow, I didn’t think I typed that much. Sorry it’s so long.

factcheckme - November 16, 2009


Here is a personal account on how this can play out. last weekend my friend “J” and I met in a local diner. “J” is not at all gender-conforming – she plays rugby and has a flat-top (she’s stocky and short-haired). She was confronted as she was leaving the women’s room, the cops were called, she had to show her ID to prove she was allowed to be there. I generally don’t have that problem. I don’t get confronted in the women’s room. In this case I have temporary cisgender-privilege over “J”.

oh for christs sake, laughriotgirl. you arent even cis- and yet you claim that *you* have “temporary cis-privilege” over your butch-lesbian cis-friend?

how far are you willing to stretch this cis-concept to support your argument that born-women have gender-based power over you? that, i think is the question. *now* you are taking a “privilege” that is supposed to be innate, as in body-matches-brain-at-birth and saying that its temporary, and *not* innate, and asserting that transwomen have it in certain situations over women that are supposedly cis-. this is the most eggregious example of a logic-fail that i think i have ever seen.

and as far as you saying that straight women can opress homosexual women, *of course* they can. so can white women oppress non-whites. but hetersexual and race privilege are not gender-based. you are saying that women possess gender-based (cis-) privilege, and thats just not true, in any meaningful way, and in any way that honors any accepted meaning of power or privilege.

the fact that you are now arguing that its transitory, situational, and can be exerted by trans-persons over cis-persons highlights the ways that your very premise is inconsistent, illogical, and ultimately incorrect.

15. thinkaboutit - November 16, 2009

How many times was I sexually predated on as a child? Loads. Does this happen to little boys? Sometimes, yes it does. Does it happen to little boys with the frequency it happens to little girls? No, no way (statistics in the thread below, if you want a link).

And I agree a lot of heterosexual women are homophobic. So are a HELL of a lot of transwomen.

16. thinkaboutit - November 16, 2009

Yes you see Valerie here is your problem, the one you refuse to address again, and again, and again. I am a ‘cis’ woman yet I can pass for male to not very observant people – usually ones who don’t look at my face, which gives away my biological sex fairly quickly. Slightly more observant people assume (correctly as it happens)that I am a lesbian. Yet according to you I have all this ‘cis’ privilege.

What you are talking about Valerie is the privilege that is granted not to ‘cis’ people but to gender conforming people. There’s a difference, but none of you lot will acknowledge it. Very, very few women are completely gender conforming. And even then their privilege has a double edge. They may be socially prized in some ways, but they suffer in others. They must be gender conforming but not ‘sexy’ in any way, otherwise they are sluts who are ‘asking for it’. Oh and “too attractive” women are assumed to be stupid and incapable and everyone says they slept their way to the top if they’re at all successful.

17. thinkaboutit - November 16, 2009

Yes. Farmer’s being oppressed for not being properly gender conforming to a female role. Someone took it upon herself to police those borders.

Yup indeedy. Zoe Brain and her ilk.

18. thinkaboutit - November 16, 2009

Here is a personal account on how this can play out. last weekend my friend “J” and I met in a local diner. “J” is not at all gender-conforming – she plays rugby and has a flat-top (she’s stocky and short-haired). She was confronted as she was leaving the women’s room, the cops were called, she had to show her ID to prove she was allowed to be there. I generally don’t have that problem. I don’t get confronted in the women’s room. In this case I have temporary cisgender-privilege over “J”.

oh for christs sake, laughriotgirl. you arent even cis- and yet you claim that *you* have “temporary cis-privilege” over your butch-lesbian cis-friend?

Ditto. It’s gender conformity privilege, not CIS privilege.

19. laughriotgirl - November 16, 2009

It is not just born women – it is everyone privilege is a stystem that is impossible to avoid.

As far as my example on the transitory nature of some privileges. A gay man holding hands with a woman walking down the street has temporary het-privvies over two women hugging at the bus stop (regardless if they are actually lesbian or not). Me not setting off visual cues and not making a fuss about being trans in the bathroom allows me to participate in cisgendered privvies. This breaks down as stated by the systemic nature of all privileges. That is, they are always temporary, and in the end the one with the privilege will be rewarded or at least harmed less than the one without.

20. thinkaboutit - November 16, 2009

Also laughriotgirl, your account is EXTREMELY US specific. The law is very different over here, you can have ID stating whatever sex/gender you want it to state. and I have never, ever known of anyone being thrown out of a toilet either. But in my neck of the woods we do have transwoman rapists/murders since you ask.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/3161209.stm

And women (and men) have been assaulted in public toilets. Actually. But god forbid people should want to be safe eh?

21. thebeardedlady - November 16, 2009

FCM, don’t you get it yet? Words and concepts don’t mean what they actually mean. They mean whatever trans activists and men want them to mean. Our meanings are not important, because we are only women, and our centuries of study and activism and critique and law-changing and advocating and educating and defending and changing the world for the better mean NOTHING, because trans activists can just come along and say, hey, a woman was mean to me in a public bathroom, and our whole movement just collapses into so much meaningless sludge. And if we find that sexist, patronising and ridiculous, we are transphobic. It’s really very simple. We can’t win. Women never can.

22. redmegaera - November 16, 2009

Hi FCM
Have you seen this post by any chance? http://masteramazon.blogspot.com/2009/10/female-identified-butches-trying-to.html
As a lesbian, I worry about sex-reassignment surgery’s erasure of lesbian existence- not only in countries such as Iran (which has one of the highest rates of sex-reassigment surgery per capita of any country in the world) but also in the West. Trans activists seem to assume that any feminist critical of sex-reassignment surgery and the like presents as a gender-conforming woman, identifies unproblematically with the female sex-role and is perfectly comfortable with her female body in a world where that body makes her susceptible to all sorts of discrimination, violence and sexual assault. That is not the case.

23. maggieclark - November 16, 2009

Hi Valerie,

You write: “Yes. Farmer’s being oppressed for not being properly gender conforming to a female role. Someone took it upon herself to police those borders.”

Being targeted for not effectively living up to the gender norm “female” is not the sole purview of the transgendered: that’s the *entire point* being made here. Born-women experience this shit all the time. That’s precisely why we’re not benefiting from any special privilege here: We’re ALL victims of male privilege, inasmuch as it terms what is acceptable and what is not for the gender binary.

[Seeing the picture up with this article, I highly suspect the woman in question also had the double-whammy of racism against her, too: A woman in the washroom thought she was a) a man, and b) a black man, such that fear of violence (which is a central consequence for women of male privilege) was compounded by, at the very least, implicit racism.]

What we come down to now is a matter of degrees. By virtue of all the argumentation espoused in favour of cis privilege to this point, I’m starting to see a legitimate case for “beauty privilege” too. After all, women who are beautiful in the classic, gender normative way have been demonstrated to a) earn more tips in the service industry, b) achieve greater and faster elevation into and within the workplace, c) receive fewer challenges to their gender status than born-women who fit in less with that prevailing norm.

Now, of course, women who fit into that classic, gender norm physically also have to deal with the male expectation sets it accompanies — like being considered less intelligent, “easier”, and most certainly created for male use, etc — but who cares about that? They have some benefits over other women within the male privilege paradigm; therefore they have beauty privilege, and it needs to be checked before we can work together to tear down that overarching gender binary!

Can you see how frustrating this becomes when we insist that any one of us women has any more gender privilege than any other, when we all experience different shades of the same male-privileged gender oppression?

24. thinkaboutit - November 16, 2009

Yes maggie, I think racism had a lOT to do with it.

25. Hello - November 16, 2009

“FCM, don’t you get it yet? Words and concepts don’t mean what they actually mean.”

“Mean” can be a semantically loaded word, but I’ve been shot down whenever I linked definitions. Where should I derive my meaning? Should I take your words at face value because you’ve studied a subject, or am I not allowed to come to my own conclusions based on my own research without being accused of misogyny?

“They mean whatever trans activists and men want them to mean. Our meanings are not important, because we are only women, and our centuries of study and activism and critique and law-changing and advocating and educating and defending and changing the world for the better mean NOTHING”

Nobody has claimed that your meanings aren’t important because you’re women. The hidden implication in your statement is that most women agree with your assertion, an implication for which you’ve offered no proof.

Does every single woman have the same definition of privilege as you? If not, then it seems eminently possible that the disagreement is not due to your gender identity but rather due to a disagreement on the interpretation of a word.

26. Hello - November 16, 2009

“Being targeted for not effectively living up to the gender norm “female” is not the sole purview of the transgendered: that’s the *entire point* being made here.”

Would “gender-conformity privilege” be a less contentious label?

factcheckme - November 16, 2009


it seems eminently possible that the disagreement is not due to your gender identity but rather due to a disagreement on the interpretation of a word.


i frankly dont think its as innocent as that. i think that trans-activists have deliberately co-opted the language and indeed the very currency of feminism when they coined their made-up term “cis-privilege.” and that it DOESNT mean what they think it means, but they never bothered to tell anyone how THEY are choosing to define it. because they are depending on us to use OUR definition of it, because our definition of it is the only thing that would get them through the gatekeepers at the feminist door.

as i said on the sex-pos thread, its as if the transactivists needed some allies and some credibility for their movement, and sat down with a PR-firm who laid it all out: “look, men arent going to want anything to do with you, and conservative women arent either. all you have left is the feminists. whats the currency of feminism? because thats whats going to get you in the door.”

and they deliberately and calculatedly (and correctly) observed that PRIVILEGE is the currency of feminism. “great!” says the PR-firm hired by the transactivists. “now make one up, tell the feminists that they have it and you dont, and you will be in the door and onto center stage before anyone knows what happened.”

and damned if thats not exactly what happened.

27. maggieclark - November 16, 2009

Hi Hello,

“Gender-conformity privilege” breaks down any distinction in this regard between transwomen and born-women, because it’s experienced by women from all gender/sex-alignment histories. It’s a PC-way of saying “beauty privilege”, really — and I’ve already outlined how that notion further exacerbates the entire folly of presenting women as a hierarchical system of benefactors from the male privilege paradigm. Women should be fighting gender oppression at its source, but our ability to create effective, coherent policy to that end is limited when in-fighting like this determines what is and isn’t acceptably up for discussion. (For more on that, you’ll have to go back to the previous post, near the bottom of the comments.)

All the best,

Maggie

28. Hello - November 16, 2009

“Women should be fighting gender oppression at its source, but our ability to create effective, coherent policy to that end is limited when in-fighting like this determines what is and isn’t acceptably up for discussion.”

It seems, then, to make sense to accept people who are attempting to fight the same paradigms as you rather than dismissing their agency because of what genitals they were born with.

“It’s a PC-way of saying “beauty privilege””

Isn’t it different though? A woman need not be beautiful to conform to gender standards. And somebody who doesn’t at all conform to gender standards can be considered beautiful.

“their made-up term “cis-privilege.””

Male privilege is a made up term. As is white privilege. Or any term, really. The relative newness of a term doesn’t determine its efficacy.

“look, men arent going to want anything to do with you, and conservative women arent either. all you have left is the feminists. whats the currency of feminism? because thats whats going to get you in the door.”

In my (admittedly limited) experience it’s not nearly as insidious as all that. Why wouldn’t an activist woman want to join the feminist cause? I see it less as an infiltration than as a combination for a common goal.

It’s clear that in a lot of cases you have (some) different goals; but that’s true as well for people you dub “funfems”, and that doesn’t negate the veracity of their feminism.

factcheckme - November 16, 2009

welcome once again to “moderation” username “hello”. i absolutely require that your replies evince some critical reading-skills as well as basic comprehension, or said replies will not be published. this is your last warning.

29. thinkaboutit - November 16, 2009

Would “gender-conformity privilege” be a less contentious label?>

No, it would be a DIFFERENT label, that means something DIFFERENT, that I used way back in the comments in the last post if you’d bothered reading.

30. thinkaboutit - November 16, 2009

But to spell it out for you Hello, I am supposedly ‘cis’. But I’m not gender conforming. As many supposedly ‘cis’ people aren’t.

31. maggieclark - November 16, 2009

Hi Hello,

I get the feeling you didn’t read my original comment, or else you wouldn’t have taken “beauty privilege” literally — because I certainly don’t in either my initial or secondary use of it.

I also get the feeling you didn’t go back to read the last post, on account of this:

[“Women should be fighting gender oppression at its source, but our ability to create effective, coherent policy to that end is limited when in-fighting like this determines what is and isn’t acceptably up for discussion.”

It seems, then, to make sense to accept people who are attempting to fight the same paradigms as you rather than dismissing their agency because of what genitals they were born with.]

Dismissing their agency? Who on earth is doing that? If they are indeed fighting the same paradigms, then yes, absolutely, transwomen are feminist allies. But that’s the whole point of FCM’s last post: Transwomen are *not* intrinsically fighting the same paradigms — certainly not when attacking born-women for male privilege; and potentially not when their positive self-identification process affirms existing gender norms instead of deconstructing the place of gender binaries as a whole. (For more about that, again, you’re going to have to read the comments in the last post: this was already covered extensively.)

The problem arises when discourse about the various intersections and potential tensions between trans activism and feminism are considered Unspeakable — when it’s called cis privileged or even transphobic to point out that our different experience sets often place our means and aims in conflict.

But again, and finally, that’s already been hashed out in full on the last post. I recommend reading the discussion there.

All the best,

Maggie

32. thinkaboutit - November 16, 2009

It’s a PC-way of saying “beauty privilege”, really I don’t agree with this Maggie. It’s nothing to do with attractiveness, it’s to do with observing accepted markers of gender. Which are often confused with ‘beauty’ but aren’t the same thing at all.

33. Hello - November 16, 2009

“No, it would be a DIFFERENT label, that means something DIFFERENT, that I used way back in the comments in the last post if you’d bothered reading.”

I understand that. I was simply asking if that, different label, was less contentious than the “cis-privilege” label.

There’s no need to treat me condescendingly. In this case.

34. Trans-activism is incompatible with feminism « fab matters - November 17, 2009

[…] Factcheckme has further expounded on her analogy here. […]

35. who's cis? - November 17, 2009

I’m uncomfortable with being identified as “cissexual” and being expected to acknowledge “cis-privilege.” Who has the right to tell me that because I don’t identify as transsexual, my gender identity must conform well with my biological sex?

Biologically, I’m a woman, but I don’t feel like a woman. I don’t feel like a man. I feel like a human being. I don’t think like a woman; I don’t think like a man. I think like a human being. Some of my behaviors and mannerisms are classified by the culture I was born into as feminine, some are classified as masculine and some are simply neutral. So I’m declaring myself to have a new gender identity–that of a human being. I expect everyone to respect that and accord me all the privileges accorded to the default human being–the male.

Honestly, I have no problem with transsexuals. Certain behaviors, mannerisms, personality traits, etc., are defined by society as feminine and some are defined as masculine. So it’s natural that someone who has mannerisms, personality traits, and behaviors that are strongly identified by the outside world as being appropriate to the opposite sex is going to feel uncomfortable with the gender assigned to their biological sex and identify more with the gender that matches those traits. It’s understandable that they may wish to change their biological sex to match the gender identity associated with their mannerisms, personality and behavior or to simply to be identified as a person of the sex that matches their gender, without surgery. It’s a rational choice in a world that persists in identifying some traits as masculine, some as feminine and punishes those who don’t conform. Such people have the right to be treated decently, to not be abused and are entitled to the same human rights as any of us.

My problem is the idea that gender is inherent. Certain traits are probably inherent. But the traits themselves aren’t inherently masculine or feminine. They’re simply human. It is by assigning certain traits to each sex that we create gender and impose it on others.

36. maggieclark - November 17, 2009

Hi thinkabout it!

“It’s a PC-way of saying “beauty privilege”, really I don’t agree with this Maggie. It’s nothing to do with attractiveness, it’s to do with observing accepted markers of gender. Which are often confused with ‘beauty’ but aren’t the same thing at all.”

I was using the term beauty privilege flippantly, to demonstrate a point; and had the further expectation set that it would be perceived by Hello as a lighthearted indication that the substantive relevance of both terms to our present discussion on the cis/trans divide is equal. It clearly wasn’t interpreted as such by Hello, but I especially didn’t realize you’d formalized a fuller discourse on the term “gender-conforming privilege” already, so apologies for my flippancy therein!

All the best,

Maggie

37. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

Last year, a successful Pride march was marred at the rally in Trafalgar Square when a number of trans women were denied access to the women’s toilets by Pride security stewards. One woman was subsequently sexually assaulted after being told to use the male toilets. Roz Kaveney, one of the women targeted in the 2008 “ToiletGate” incident, explained how she felt Pride London had only ever provided a grudging apology under threat of legal action, and that she felt they had never taken the discrimination against trans women in the 2008 rally seriously.

-http://www.translondon.org.uk/PrideBoycott.html

So your idea Valerie, is that ALL women must be at risk of assault and murder in toilets, as the admittance of male persons should never be challenged? Because if they let in trans women, how do they bar access to ANY male? Anyone can say they are trans, after all. Oh and FAB males get assualted in male toilets as well, I remember one particularly horrible case where a teenage boy was raped in department store toilets. You know why? Because men are dangerous. So maybe we should let all FAB men in as well, in case another FAB men assaults them?

Think.About.It.

Oh and FWIW, I am a denizen of the gay ‘scene’ Valerie, and I have NEVER seen any toilets where trans women, are asked to leave. I’ve also never seen it any other public toilet actually. So can I suggest it happens a lot less than you claim (if it happened at all that is). Apart from anything else if somebody is undergoing ‘gender transition’ such an act would be ILLEGAL in the UK anyway.

38. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

America is not the world Valerie. I know you, and your US transactivist cohorts seem to think so (except when you are groping around for examples in the UK – presumably none in the whole of the US then? ).

39. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

But since so many trans women (like Zoe Brain) are homophobic Valerie, maybe you’d like to tell me why as lesbian I am expected to claim common cause with them and accept them as allies anyway?

40. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

I’ve addressed your point Valerie, now I’d like to see you address mine. Because I keep making it, and you keep ignoring it.

41. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

Some toilet related stories just for Valerie

Boy 13, raped in toilets

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/boy-13-raped-in-store-toilets-1174060.html

42. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009
43. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009
44. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009
45. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009
46. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009
47. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

A 17 year old girl raped in a toilet

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6626620.ece

You get the drift, I could go on for a LONG, LONG time. Put ‘raped in toilet’ into google BTW, which is how I found that little lot and you also get a LOT of porn.

Now Valerie, what you are saying is that your rights trump everyone else’s rights. There’s a conflict there I admit – but what is someone guarding a public toilet to do. And EVERYONE is in danger in a male toilet, Valerie, everyone. They’re dangerous places! So what about all the ‘cis’ males who get raped in them, don’t you care about them? Maybe we should let them into the female toilets so they’ll be safe – no wait…….

But we should never challenge anyone entering a toilet according to you.

48. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

I want to hear your solution Valerie. How we tell a ‘self identified’ trans woman from a rapist. Given that some of them ARE rapists.

Let’s hear it.

49. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

Incidentally, I would never say that someone hadn’t been sexually assaulted just because it was described as ‘alleged’. BUT:

here is the ORIGINAL account of this incident.

Official stewards who were running the toilets at Trafalgar Square announced that I, and any other transgender or transsexual woman, had to use the disabled toilets and was not allowed to use the regular women’s toilets. I pointed out to the stewards that I transitioned and had surgery before they were born; I was more polite than a polite thing. No dice.
I went and fetched a posse of transwomen and transmen and we made a collective fuss. Their response – and remember these were official stewards AT PRIDE – was to radio in “we’re being attacked by a mob of trannies! send backup”. They were joined by a policeman, who was a LGBT liaison officer, who claimed that we had to be able to show our Gender Recognition Certificates if we wanted to use the women’s loos and got quite upset when I explained to him that I had been involved in drafting the Act and that it did not take away rights that existed before it. At one point he threatened to arrest us for demonstrating on private property – those loos belong to Westminster Council, so you are not allowed to make a fuss there.
At one point it was claimed that they had instituted this policy a few minutes earlier because a man had attacked a woman; at another they said it was official Health and Safety policy. I don’t think it was particularly to do with how much I do or don’t pass – I think I got read in part because I am so tall and turned up in the queue among a particularly short group of lesbians

Note, no one is told to use the mens toilets, but the DISABLED toilets.

that Pride, FSM and Capita clarify the earlier incident from which the segregation of the toilets derived. If, as alleged, a transwoman was assaulted by a male in the women’s toilets, what happened to her? Was she taken care of and encouraged to make complaints? Why did no one connected with that incident try to contact the Trans Community stall thirty yards away to help us take care of her? We are glad that the Metropolitan Police are investigating the assault, but are shocked at the poor support given her on the spot.

Note also, that it is ‘alleged’ an anonymous transwoman was assaulted (and this is from a friendly account). Now I’m not saying the victim of a sexual assault has to ‘out’ themselves to prove they exist, or get a conviction or report the incident for me to believe them but even this sympathetic account seems based on chinese whispers.

http://www.transatpride.org/TransAtPride/Transphobia.html

50. Talia - November 17, 2009

Wow. A very interesting view and even more interesting thread of comments.

First, I would say that I am a trans woman. I’m still early on in my journey and have to switch gender roles daily.

This is the first I’ve come across this use of cis-privilege. I lean towards the thought that it is a misuse of the word to consider women privileged in this way. There is an advantage to being born in a physical body that matches, and it can make life easier, or it can make life hell. I know of one case, family with a son and a daughter. The daughter was abused by a paedophile grandfather. The son was not. If the son were later to be identified as trans, he (becoming she) would not have had the ‘privilege’ of that abuse.

I agree with FCM that it does come down to gender oppression. Society’s view of gender IS male defined. I have always found this to be wrong. We also live in a culture of fear these days, especially in the USA. “Blacks are criminals.” “Lesbians want to destroy the ‘family'”. Where do these arguments come from? Men, most often white men.

Who’s cis? summed it up nicely:
My problem is the idea that gender is inherent. Certain traits are probably inherent. But the traits themselves aren’t inherently masculine or feminine. They’re simply human. It is by assigning certain traits to each sex that we create gender and impose it on others.

There is scientific evidence to show that there are chemical differences in the brain that most likely lead to being transgendered. As with any study of brain and brain chemicals it is impossible with the current level of technology to properly test these. Regardless of ultimate cause the fact remains that gender mismatch causes all sorts of problems in those who have “GID”. Another term for another post as one could go on for hours on whether or not it’s a disorder.

For me, would I have chosen this? All things being equal, no. It has cost me my marriage of 10 years. Not an easy thing.

As for the whole ‘washroom’ thing I FULLY understand that there is a justified concern about people who appear male entering a women’s washroom. There is also fear on the part of a trans person presenting as the opposite physical gender of going in to a mens room. Are they mutually exclusive concerns? No. Does it require some compassion and thought from each position? Most definitely. Is it a privilege issue? Not a cis one. It’s a question of being able to be safe.

Would it have been a ‘privilege’ for me to have been born in a female body? Certainly not. Would it have been easier? Yes and no. In some ways yes, in some ways no. I WAS privileged to be born a white male. To deny that fact would be living in a dream world.

What we need to do is to stop the divisions between those of us who would fight the oppression. Celebrate our differences, they are what makes the world a vibrant place. There is room for all of us regardless of gender, sexual orientation etc. Flaming each other is not the way to move forward, it just plays in to the hands of those who benefit from the status quo.

51. Will - November 17, 2009

Again I continue to learn. My own experience leads me to this thought, please add to and/or correct:

Most trans activists I’ve known or known of were FTMs or lesbians which later came out as trans, had a partner who was trans, flirted with the idea of trans, etc. And almost every single one of them were women’s studies majors (the joke among FTMs is that so many of us tried to stay female we even went to school and studied what it meant to be women, etc) and/or self-proclaimed feminists.

So, your comment previously about trans activists taking your language because of some PR spin made me wonder. Is it trans activists or is it another arm of feminists that have pissed you off so much by misusing terms, etc, etc?

Please don’t get me wrong. I actually tend to dislike most “activists”, period. And trans activists are always putting words into my mouth when I bother to pay attention to them. I guess just what I’m asking is, isn’t it feminists who have led to this trans activisim anyway? If so, why aren’t you screaming at the feminists? Well, I guess you have in a way but, thoughts?

52. thebeardedlady - November 17, 2009

the whole fundamental premise of cis-sexism is that one’s birth-assigned gender is the most valid

Well, I think that ALL gender is invalid. Gender is a social construct, something which is forced upon us, and which I reject. So your gender is no more or less valid to me than my own.

The conflation of sex and gender is one of the big problems in these discussions. Sex is biological and ‘innate’ – it’s whether you have XX or XY chromosomes (with variations for intersex) and it’s what you are born with. Gender, on the other hand, is what society demands and expects of you, based on your biological sex.

Gender can be abolished, because it is not real. It’s there to support the inequality of women. Therefore, gender sexism and gender privilege can only work AGAINST women, never for us.

Therefore (as I believe has been mentioned once or twice) women do not have cis-privilege, are not cis-women, and are not cis-sexist.

Also, why not answer thinkaboutit’s questions and the points she raises, which seem to undermine your arguments massively?

factcheckme - November 17, 2009


Most trans activists I’ve known or known of were FTMs or lesbians which later came out as trans, had a partner who was trans, flirted with the idea of trans, etc. And almost every single one of them were women’s studies majors (the joke among FTMs is that so many of us tried to stay female we even went to school and studied what it meant to be women, etc) and/or self-proclaimed feminists.


hi will, thanks for reading and being respectful. i have to say, i really appreciate your tone, and the fact that you have obviously read both the article and the comments, before diving in and writing your own. i am sure other readers appreciate that too.

i write mostly about MTF because that has particular ramifications and irritations for me, in the way that specifically MTF transpolitics intersects with liberal “fun” feminism. but all transpolitics are problematic for feminism. i dont doubt that many of the FTM trans-identified persons you know self-identify as “feminists” because many MTF identify that way too. but you are right, the born-women who later transition have had the experience of being actual women, and many of them are educated in feminist studies and other studies, and many of them self-identify as feminists BEFORE they transition (how many MTF can say that?)

the short answer to your question i think is that these self-identified feminists that decide to transition arent radical feminists. they are some variation on queer theorists or liberal/libertarian lesbian politickers, who believe that gender is something malleable, and that female gender-traits are undesireable or unattainable, or want to thumb their noses at the patriarchy and its oppressive role for women, and they want to co-opt male privilege. note that these are very different motivations and experiences from MTF transpersons.

but radical feminists disagree strongly with anyone, born-male or born-female who would approach gender in this way, instead of trying to break down oppressive gender-based hierarchies that privilege men. and i and others have noted that there is a distressing erasure of woman as a sexual class by ALL transpersons. FTM literally have thier female parts cut off and thrown into the trash, and/or take hormones that render them infertile. MTF want all the alleged “benefits” to being a woman, but by design they dont have to take alot of the shit that comes with being born that way, and being impregnable (and therefore truly sexually oppressed, by men). i linked to an article on the problems with “queer theory” in the sex-pos comments. the author, redmagera, is on my blogroll if you want to visit her blog.

factcheckme - November 17, 2009

hi TBL, glad to see you here…i hope that you feel free to “squat” here like you did on the other thread, your comments are like a breath of fresh air, for real. i understand that it gets tiring though, even to he point of utter boredom. so participate to whatever extent you are able. you are always welcome.

53. maggieclark - November 17, 2009

Agreed with TBL on the very common born-woman perception of gender as invalid — and the consequent dissonance that creates between transsexual experience and born-woman experience within feminist discourse.

And Talia? Thank you so very, very much for your enlightening comment: I really appreciated reading it, and greatly look forward to any further comment you might have on any of these discussions.

That said, I really wish Valerie would answer the question I posed to her above, or in the last thread, but of course she’s not required to. In the absence of such answers, though, I’d like to pose a few questions more generally, about the kinds of issues I have trouble taking as Not Open For Discourse, or Cause To Be Termed Cissexist/Transphobic, in the feminist sphere. I greatly appreciate any and all insights therein — so thank you, in advance, to anyone who responds to them:

1) How does championing the transsexual necessity of surgery/hormones to achieve “womanness” within the feminist sphere affect the feminist mandate of teaching all women, including non-gender-conforming born-women, to question their desire for body modification surgeries (like breast enhancements or face lifts), love themselves just as they are, and otherwise explode the existing, oppressive gender binary?

2) How, in the sphere of feminist activism, are we to align the transsexual stance that transwomen were female from birth — just without the biology, and without the requisite physicality — when feminism as a whole sees “being woman” as a social construct foisted on born-women by the society we’re engaged with as we grow?

3) Pursuant to 2), how do we both accept (I stress again, “in feminism”) that transsexuals’ lived experience of femininity is that they were women at birth BUT that when they later strive to attain body modifications that are gender-norm-affirming, this is just the inevitable extension of their socially imposed perceptions about “what it is to be a woman”?

4) Why are good born-woman feminists expected to accept a list of privileges that does not conform to our perception of the lived experiences of born-women everywhere, when it is alternately considered transphobic and “othering” even to suggest that transsexuals may harbour residual male privilege that needs to be checked as part of their own, full transition into the feminist sphere?

5) Pursuant to 4), there are plenty of born-women who do not “pass” as a general rule, and a great many more of us who toe the line all the time with our choices, lifestyles, public presentation and actions — just the same as many trans persons do not “pass”, and many trans persons do. So why is it assumed that born-women are always identified by perpetrators of gender oppression as having “legitimate” gender identities, and all the “privilege” that supposedly arises therein?

Even if you only have the time to answer one of these questions, I would be greatly obliged. These are big, tough questions for me, and I would love to have them raised in mainstream feminist discourse: However, from my experiences to date, I have not seen them perceived as at all welcome — the argument being that questioning the actions of transsexuals in relation to feminism (as feminists already, rigorously question the actions of born-women in relation to feminism) is “othering”, “cissexist”, and/or transphobic. To me, this seems entirely counter-intuitive and unproductive. But what are your insights on such matters?

Many thanks in advance!

Maggie

54. Will - November 17, 2009

Can you point me to a resource for what “women as a sexual class” means? I’m uneducated there. Can trans folk be a sexual class? I’m assuming I can answer that question myself once I know what it is😉

Never having been a feminist, I didn’t realize there were different paths, as it were. Makes sense, though. There are always seperate paths within a group which tends to create so much in-fighting that usually no path is successful in getting the end result.

I mean I used to say “sure, I’m a feminist” but I never studied women’s studies or whatever. I guess I felt that having spent my whole life as a woman was good enough. That isn’t to say that the word didn’t get thrown at me (in a derogatory sense) many times. But that was by ignorant teenagers and 20-somethings.

Deconstructing gender all together sounds great. I don’t think we’re enlightened enough for it to really work anytime soon, though, sadly. Being trans (well, I guess really “being gender non-conformative”) has caused me to view first hand the ugly that happens when someone gets confused about what my sex or gender is supposed to be. They always want the “Truth”. So very much of our very nature seems to be hung up on what’s in our pants. Which, I guess is just a signifier for people to figure out how to treat us – thus the privilege part, right?

I don’t want to be disrepectful at all in what I’m about to say but I thought it earlier when I saw other comments on rape and the issue of MTFs in the women’s bathroom.

My whole life I was scared to death to get raped. Until I started transitioning, then I was scared to death I was going to get raped then killed (or killed then raped, who knows these days?). I can’t tell you with any certainty why at this point in time the thought of being raped is so much less a fear. Not meaning I don’t fear it will happen but that surviving it doesn’t feel like a question to me anymore, that I will endure and move forward with little residual issue over it happening is what I mean. I don’t know if that’s the hormones, the fact I’m taken mostly as male these days, or the pragmatic side of me that is more present. But if I had to guess, I’d say it was that I’ve been through so much already, scraped raw, walking around feeling beaten and bloody for so long and struggled so hard to get here, where I can breathe at least for now, that a “traditional” rape would merely be one more thing that if it didn’t kill me, well then, I’d survive it, too.

And if nothing else, I can point to that ability and say I’m glad I was born a woman. Because I don’t know if I’d still be here if I hadn’t been.

Which is another reason I don’t generally get along with FTMs. Because in many of their searches to find “male”, they lose, completely, “female”. I put my old self up on a shelf for a couple of years because I needed the breathing room to grow. I can never go back, not after seeing and feeling what I have, but I am working on melding both sides together.

And now I’ve rambled. Sorry! So, yes, women as a sexual class?

55. thebeardedlady - November 17, 2009

Hey Will,

This is a good resource for this sort of question:

http://finallyfeminism101.blogspot.com/

Dunno if there is something specific about ‘women as a class’, but it’s certainly the sort of question they welcome. Check out the FAQs first before asking, though.

(sorry if I’ve posted twice – I seem to have mislaid this comment!)

56. thebeardedlady - November 17, 2009

Hey FCM, thanks. I’m still hanging in here!

57. thebeardedlady - November 17, 2009

Deconstructing gender all together sounds great. I don’t think we’re enlightened enough for it to really work anytime soon, though, sadly.

What you call enlightenment, I would prefer to think of as consciousness raising, and that’s something that we are trying to do right here! One of the reasons why rad fems get so worked up about being told we can’t discuss something is not because we just want to say whatever we want, regardless of who it hurts, but because open and honest critical discussion is at the heart of consciousness raising, which is turn is at the heart of feminism.

What we can understand, we can strategise about. If we can work out why something in society is hurtful, or dangerous to women, by sharing our stories and experiences, as well as our thoughts, our reading, our analysis, we can figure out a way to alleviate the hurt.

Because we don’t have any power, either women as a class, or feminism as a political movement, it’s hard for us to effect change. But we still do a lot, as much as we can, both in academic work, on line, and as activists. Feminists help women deal with the suffering we experience in our lives, first by putting a name to it, acknowledging it, believing it, providing a space to talk about it.

Also, many feminists do defy gender expectations, and reject femininity. It is our living experience, not just our theory, that tells us gender can be abolished.

58. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

Most trans activists I’ve known or known of were FTMs or lesbians which later came out as trans, had a partner who was trans, flirted with the idea of trans, etc. And almost every single one of them were women’s studies majors (the joke among FTMs is that so many of us tried to stay female we even went to school and studied what it meant to be women, etc) and/or self-proclaimed feminists.

So, your comment previously about trans activists taking your language because of some PR spin made me wonder. Is it trans activists or is it another arm of feminists that have pissed you off so much by misusing terms, etc, etc?

To clarify my use of the word transactivist Will, I don’t mean activists who just happen to be trans. I mean the shouty people on the internet, who all exclusively seem to be MTF, and all seem to have it in for ‘radical feminists’ (whatever they are).

What the connection is with womens studies majors, who can say? I will say though that queer theory may have something to do with it IMHO.

59. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

Also, why not answer thinkaboutit’s questions and the points she raises, which seem to undermine your arguments massively?

My ex blog TBL was the least trolled feminist blog on the internet. I hardly ever deleted comments (about 3 probably). They just didn’t turn up in the first place after the initial debacle.

Funny that.

60. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

Can you point me to a resource for what “women as a sexual class” means? I’m uneducated there. Can trans folk be a sexual class? I’m assuming I can answer that

When I say women as a sexual class I mean those people placed in class ‘woman’. Which includes anyone perceived as female by society at large. You don’t have to be female, you can be intersex and still be in class woman, if you’re put in the binary sex category ‘woman’.

Sex in a patriarchy is binary, so trans people will be put into either woman or man and perceived according to how well they “pass” as either transgressive members of that class, or non transgressive members of that class.

61. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

There is scientific evidence to show that there are chemical differences in the brain that most likely lead to being transgendered. As with any study of brain and brain chemicals it is impossible with the current level of technology to properly test these. Regardless of ultimate cause the fact remains that gender mismatch causes all sorts of problems in those who have “GID”. Another term for another post as one could go on for hours on whether or not it’s a disorder.

There’s no scientific evidence I know of Talia. There is post mortem evidence that there are small differences in the brains of male to female transssexuals from other males, but there’s no evidence whether this was the cause of transsexuality, an effect of hormone treatment/removal of the male sex organs, or completely unconnected.

It’s impossible to prove cause and effect with brains, as you rightly state because the only way to to it would be to measure human brains immediately after birth, and then observe adult behaviour. No techniques exist to do this.

62. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

Um… no, the whole fundamental premise of cis-sexism is that one’s birth-assigned gender is the most valid, (as has been on display in the last two posts again and again and again, trotting out that argument, that you know my gender better than I do, by the way, is when transfeminists and trans feminists, (points of intersection there, wot?) call you transphobic,) so when you don’t conform, you violate that assumption, as Ms. Farmer did, and people assumed she was a male presenting as female, putting her in peril of sanctioned violence. She was attacked because she was believed to be a male-assigned, female-presenting, woman, not because she was engaged in gender variant behavior. Someone else was deciding for her what gender she was,

Well two problems Valerie.

1)First of all she’s not trans in any way, so she has ‘cis gender/cis sexual privilege’ according to you.

2)People did not believe she was a TRANS WOMAN. They thought she was a male presenting as a male, not a male presenting as a woman. Pure mistaken identity. They got her SEX wrong, not her “gender”.

Now as Maggie says, pure old fashioned racism may also play a part here since black women who don’t meet white femininity/beauty standards (cf Caster Semenya) may well be more likely to be deemed “masculine”.

But it’s got fuck all to do with “cis-sexism” Valerie. It’s got a lot to do with assumed gender norms. Those things your friends like Zoe Brain are so keen on. When people “read” me as male, they are looking simply at my (short) hair and my clothes. Just like happened to Ms. Farmer. I get called ‘Mrs’ and ‘Madam’ as much as I get called ‘Sir’ bizarrely.

63. m Andrea - November 17, 2009

HA! Another brilliant post deconstructing transgenderism! Apparently your observation was first noted in a comment you made to another post, a post I *still* haven’t read all the way through. *hangs head in shame*. Seriously, I get so tired of all the repeitious bullshit non-logic spewing from trans apologists, reading it all gives me a headache.

Cis-sexism is the automatic assumption that birth assigned gender is natural and correct and that others aren’t,

You’re confusing mental health with mental illness. Of course those who are mentally healthy have a privilege over those who don’t.

I’m really sorry to bust anyone’s bubble, but strategy-wise we need a bright line (and I don’t mean in the biological what’s-their-chromosone sense). I mean that in the “find a principle and do some logic” sense. Without a line, without a principle, we’ll be arguing about this for a thousand years — they’ll keep referring to every theory as an opinion. Well, mental illness makes a very bright line.

64. m Andrea - November 17, 2009

I also disagree with the assertion that whites are uniquely capable of race-based oppression, but that’s not really in the scope of this discussion.

You see? In order for the trangenderism ideology to stand as valid, all other accepted principles must be turned inside out and upside down lest they expose the fallacy of their ideology. THIS is why transgenderism is so dangerous to all females.

65. Hello - November 17, 2009

“You see? In order for the trangenderism ideology to stand as valid, all other accepted principles must be turned inside out and upside down lest they expose the fallacy of their ideology. THIS is why transgenderism is so dangerous to all females.”

Was this in response to me? I wasn’t saying that as a transgendered person (I’m not) but as a “POC.” Why you’re in such a rush to discount my personal experience on that I’m not entirely sure.

Your acceptance of a principle does not make my experience invalid.

66. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

Whites aren’t uniquely capable of racism. But they are (as the world currently stands) uniquely capable of race based oppression. People often confuse the two.

67. m Andrea - November 17, 2009

Considering that they’re mentally ill, it’s no fucking wonder that basic feminism is too complicated for them.

A heterosexual woman IS homophobic because she was brought up in a culture that positions her relationships as valid.

The equivalent of privilege is not phobia. Which if you would consult a simple dictionary on the difinition of those two terms, would easily clarify that for you.

68. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

And Valerie, you know what, my wee nephew used to love wearing dresses and playing with cuddly toys when he was small, didn’t like ‘boy’ stuff at all. Had he been unfortunate enough to have different parents he may well have been hauled off and treated for his ‘gender dysphoria’. They left him alone to do his thing and he’s a perfectly fine, lovely fully grown adult by now.

(and he’s neither trans nor gay, thorry Zoe).

69. thebeardedlady - November 17, 2009

In order for the trangenderism ideology to stand as valid, all other accepted principles must be turned inside out and upside down lest they expose the fallacy of their ideology

Well said. There is a huge lack of understanding of the terms we use to describe the sexist society we live in and women’s place in it. It comes across as very similar to the MRA approach, where they claim they are ‘oppressed’ because they don’t get to cry much, and cry ‘sexism’ whenever a woman mentions how obnoxious they are.

The bright line for me, though, is precisely this issue of ‘cis’ privilege and the fact that it is male privilege by another name. Getting a bunch of feminists to claim they have male privilege was a hell of an audacious move. There are some feminist sites where you can’t comment unless you first of all identify yourself as ‘cis’. So this, for me, is the line drawn in the sand.

I’m just NOT going to go around telling the world I have male privilege! I mean, for heaven’s sakes.

And reading that ‘cis privilege’ checklist was such an eye-opener. As Laurelin said on the other thread, it totally invisibilised women and trashed our experiences. It struck me as amazing. It reads like a list of demands – demands to be treated as they used to be treated when they still identified as men. They lost many of those privileges when they started identifying as women, but rather than recognising that this is because of SEXISM, they decided it was because they are trans. Why? Because, being male, they knew fuck all about sexism.

I think it’s really that simple. And that difficult. Because most of the trans activists we’ve seen around here absolutely avoid ANY discussion of male privilege whatsoever.

70. thinkaboutit - November 17, 2009

I love the way the Valerie/zoe et al, having got bored, presumably of trying to co-opt intersex people as trans are now trying to co-opt lesbians BTW.

71. thebeardedlady - November 17, 2009

My ex blog TBL was the least trolled feminist blog on the internet. I hardly ever deleted comments (about 3 probably). They just didn’t turn up in the first place after the initial debacle.

Impressive! It’s hard to argue with logic, especially when it’s substantiated with evidence and plenty o’links. /admire/

72. m Andrea - November 17, 2009

Certain behaviors, mannerisms, personality traits, etc., are defined by society as feminine and some are defined as masculine. So it’s natural that someone who has mannerisms, personality traits, and behaviors that are strongly identified by the outside world as being appropriate to the opposite sex is going to feel uncomfortable with the gender assigned to their biological sex and identify more with the gender that matches those traits. It’s understandable that they may wish to change their biological sex to match the gender identity associated with their mannerisms, personality and behavior or to simply to be identified as a person of the sex that matches their gender, without surgery. It’s a rational choice in a world that persists in identifying some traits as masculine, some as feminine and punishes those who don’t conform.

IF it is rational for non-conforming folks to crave the opposite gender, THEN it is rational for all humans who don’t conform to society’s expectation, to also crave sex-reassignment surgery “with all their heart from the day they are born”.

Logic fail. And I don’t mean that rudely, sarcastically etc. It’s simply not a valid argument to insist SRS is rational for a tiny few and not for all. And incidently, the inverse of that is the best proof for mental illness:

People don’t need to switch body parts in order to fit in, if they are mentally healthy. Even people on the extreme edge of gender NON-conformity do not require or crave the opposite sex genitals, if they are mentally healthy. Surely the rad fems in this thread are not assuming that all people with mental illness wander around unemployed and frothing at the mouth? The vast majority of people wanting healthy limbs amputated have jobs, friends, etc and are capable of having a rational discussion about the news of the day.

73. Jill - November 17, 2009

Honestly, after reading most of the comments both here and in the previous post, I can’t help but think a lot of this furious arguing has roots in two different uses of the word ‘gender’.

Feminists seem to use it to imply the social construct that is gender roles and expectations, and are upset at transwomen for allegedly working in favor of these rather than against them by claiming a female gender. Meanwhile, transpeople appear to describe the the idea of having a body opposed to what’s probably better described as internal sex (mental, if you will), but, as far as I’ve gathered, without implying that they’re any more fond of socially constructed gender roles than anyone else here. Then they’re annoyed because feminists, to them, want to abolish this concept, and presumably label their identities as ‘false’ as a result.

Does that make sense? It’s the impression I’m getting, at least. Not saying it all comes down to that (it clearly doesn’t), but it seems entirely possible that the arguing over the concept of ‘gender’ is simply a mutual misunderstanding.

Andrea, your comments feel particularly mean. While I can see how ‘mental illness’ can be an appropriate, if loaded label at times (I’m inclined to agree with the theory that there are innate brain differences), you seem to use it deliberately to offend and dehumanize. Also, the label often inherently assumes that the person in question isn’t in a position to make decisions for themselves, which, judging from most transpeople I’ve met, is absolutely not the case. If you don’t mind me asking, if you were in charge of it, what would you consider proper “treatment”? Would you deny transitioning in favor of something else?

74. Jill - November 17, 2009

Oh, nevermind, Andrea. I checked out your blog, including the links under ‘Transgender’, and I can only assume that you’re another one of those who think transition consists of “chopping off/gluing on” a penis or breasts, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The comparisons to BIID are moot because transsexuals do not seek to ‘amputate’ random body parts. Surgically removing ones such as breasts or the penis is simply a part of physical transition, and something not everyone even ends up doing, for all sorts of reasons. I’ve noticed the comparison somewhere else in the comments around here as well, and I really hope you all know enough about the subject you’re debating (furiously arguing about?) to understand that comparing it to BIID is absolutely ridiculous.

75. factcheckme - November 18, 2009


No, no, you don’t have to be cis to have cis privilege, and don’t automatically get it when you are cis.


you dont have to be white to have white privilege, *and* you dont automatically get it when you are white. you dont have to be male to have male privilege, *and* you dont automatically get it when you are male.

WTF? more evidence that “privilege” doesnt mean what you think it means. and it doesnt mean what you WANT it to mean. i have had about enough of this shit. for real. but…by all means, transactivists, keep sullying your own movement with these ridiculous claims. or, are you trying to co-opt another dubious kind of “privilege” by acting dumb?

factcheckme - November 18, 2009


It reads like a list of demands – demands to be treated as they used to be treated when they still identified as men. They lost many of those privileges when they started identifying as women, but rather than recognising that this is because of SEXISM, they decided it was because they are trans. Why? Because, being male, they knew fuck all about sexism.

I think it’s really that simple. And that difficult.


i thought it read like a list of demands too TBL. its funny that it struck you the same way. i was reading the list, and trying to get into whatever headspace i needed to be in, in order for it to make sense, because it didnt make any goddamned bit of sense to me, as i was reading it. checklist, as in “what i want to get when i go to the grocery store”? was the only way it made sense to me, because i didnt have any of the things on the list! LOL thats when i realized it was actually a list of demands. and that only someone with MALE privilege could look at the list and say “yep, i have that, yep, got that one too” and use it as a “checklist” as its meant to be used. and i think your analysis of that aspect of it is spot on.

76. Miska - November 18, 2009

And reading that ‘cis privilege’ checklist was such an eye-opener. As Laurelin said on the other thread, it totally invisibilised women and trashed our experiences. It struck me as amazing. It reads like a list of demands – demands to be treated as they used to be treated when they still identified as men. They lost many of those privileges when they started identifying as women, but rather than recognising that this is because of SEXISM, they decided it was because they are trans. Why? Because, being male, they knew fuck all about sexism.

Yes, this is such a good observation. That checklist is a ridiculous. I don’t think there is any one person in the universe (female OR male) who actually receives ALL those benefits all the time (though males obviously would get way, way closer to the mark than females).

Like, the stuff on the list – “Clothes generally fit me” … ?

Huh? What planet are these people on?

And (since it is the season) that checklist reminds me of a kid who goes to sit on Santa’s knee and brings an xmas wishlist the length of their arm. But you’re not supposed to do that. Santa asks you what you want, and you’re supposed to go “A bike.”

And its the same with class politics. Santa asks you what you want and you’re supposed to go “Human Rights”.

Not ask for “clothing-fittability benefits” and a million and one other things the majority of the world’s population does not routinely expect.

But, trans activists don’t want human rights. They want special rights.

77. thebeardedlady - November 18, 2009

No, no, you don’t have to be cis to have cis privilege, and don’t automatically get it when you are cis.

So, actually, you are only ‘cis privileged’ when a trans activist needs a word with which to insult or silence you?

78. thebeardedlady - November 18, 2009

Andrea, your comments feel particularly mean.

Dammit miss Andrea! You win AGAIN.

79. thinkaboutit - November 18, 2009

No, no, you don’t have to be cis to have cis privilege, and don’t automatically get it when you are cis.

So in what sense is it ‘cis’ privilege, then?

80. thinkaboutit - November 18, 2009

Well, see, if someone uses the women’s washroom, I tend to take that as a pretty good barometer of how they are presenting. Presentation isn’t just clothing, isn’t just mannerisms, it’s in larger actions as well.

Well you’re WRONG valerie, plain wrong, they thought she was a man in the woman’s washroom, not trying to ‘pass’ as anything but a man. READ THE STORY. Her supposedly ‘masculine’ appearance is referred to.


A masculine lesbian was kicked out of a Greenwich Village restaurant after a bouncer – who believed she was a man – saw her in the ladies’ bathroom, the woman charged yesterday.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/06/30/2007-06-30_lesbian_riled_by_boot_from_ladies_room-2.html#ixzz0XCOm4qQn

How exactly is someone who is thought to be a biological male with a supposedly ‘masculine’ appearance TRANS?

Give me strength oh anonymous deities. And give Valerie the sense to realise when she’s talking crap.

The story Valerie is ‘lesbian riled by boot from women’s room’. Not ‘biologically female masculine presenting faux transwoman riled by boot from women’s room. It happens to lesbians actually. It’s all that cis privilege we’ve got.

When you’re in a hole Valerie, stop digging.

81. thinkaboutit - November 18, 2009

Meanwhile, transpeople appear to describe the the idea of having a body opposed to what’s probably better described as internal sex (mental, if you will), but, as far as I’ve gathered, without implying that they’re any more fond of socially constructed gender roles than anyone else here.

That’s just not true Jill. It is certainly not true that ALL transsexuals advocate ‘socially constructed gender roles’. But FFS. Read Zoe Brain’s blog. Read the bit I quoted below about children who climb trees growing up to be boys.

It seems to me that there are two types of transsexuals. Those I’ve met IRL who all seem completely in touch with reality, and have no problem with the idea that they were born with male bodies and had them altered to resemble more what they wish their body to be.

And then we have the “I am a woman because of my gender” lot. People like Valerie who insist she was born female. Well she wasn’t. She may have felt her body wanted to be female, but it wasn’t, it was male.

Or the likes of Zoe (planet earth calling Zoe….) who insist that they somehow magically changed sex with no surgical intervention in a manner that only fish, gastropods and plants have been known to do heretofore.

82. thinkaboutit - November 18, 2009

And yet again Valerie:

She’s at risk because someone is angered because the gender they perceive her to be is at odds with her presentation. You don’t need to be trans for that.

No she’s “at risk” because she is perceived to be a biological male (which puts her in sex class ‘man’) presenting as masculine (completely appropriate for sex class ‘man’) in a woman’s toilet. So her perceived sex (not gender) is completely IN LINE with her ‘presentation’.

If you read all those links about women being raped in toilets are you saying they were all raped by transwomen Valerie? Or maybe some male looking males just walked in…..

You are funny Valerie, nearly as funny as Zoe Brain.

factcheckme - November 18, 2009


The comparisons to BIID are moot because transsexuals do not seek to ‘amputate’ random body parts. Surgically removing ones such as breasts or the penis is simply a part of physical transition, and something not everyone even ends up doing, for all sorts of reasons. I’ve noticed the comparison somewhere else in the comments around here as well, and I really hope you all know enough about the subject you’re debating (furiously arguing about?) to understand that comparing it to BIID is absolutely ridiculous.


jill, persons suffering from BIID do NOT, in fact, desire to amputate “random” body parts, just to self-mutilate in some random way (leg, arm, doenst matter as long as it bleeds!) no. they have “always seen themselves” in a very specific way, as missing both legs, the left arm, or as the owner of transabled.org, as paralyzed from L2. its as specific as a transperson desiring to amputate the genitals, or breasts. and the transabled also speak of the “surgery” (who they usually cant get any surgerons to perform luckily) as the beginning of a new life, and a transition. just like you do.

83. Jill - November 18, 2009

“Dammit miss Andrea! You win AGAIN.”

If you think someone wins by being mean, despite making objectively incorrect accusations, that’s a pretty screwed up definition of winning.

I’ve read a bit more on Andrea’s blog now, wading through a whole lot of crap, and it’s clear that the “transpeople affirm gender norms” argument is based on the assumption that people transition to fit these gender norms better. This is not true, and if you have anything that implies otherwise, I’m all ears.

Of course, I’m not just going to leave that statement without back-up, so here goes:

I’m a transwoman (sorry if my comments above were misleading about that), and I’ve undergone transition. The likes of Andrea like to think they can make accurate assumptions about my intentions, what goes through my mind, why I do things. Which is why the first thing I want to say is that, just like transwomen have little insight in what it’s like to grow up as female, so do faab women (using faab because that seems to be the least offensive to either side here, I’d otherwise use cis to imply that that doesn’t include transmen) know nothing about how growing up as trans is and what it does to you.

The first fallacy that needs to be picked apart here is that people transition out of a need to conform to gender norms, thinking that feminine traits mean one needs to be a woman, or masculine traits mean one needs to be a man. This completely ignores the rather simple fact that transpeople are as varied as anyone else, and if anything, it’s the psychological institutions that demand this. As I noted in some of the comments on Andrea’s blog, TBL, you already know what the Harry Benjiman Standards are, and you realize that facing them, most just play pretend to get past the gatekeepers and live completely normal, diverse lives outside of that. Seeing as you wrote and confirmed this in those comments, I have trouble seeing how you could possibly agree with Andrea on that transsexuals affirm gender norms, unless it’s due to the second fallacy.

That is, the idea that, for instance, transwomen ‘need’ a vagina to be women. Again, this complete ignores something that I’m 99% sure you all know of despite ignoring it, namely the dysphoria. ‘Gender’ dysphoria is much more than a matter of genitals. It’s a situation in which you’re incredibly uncomfortable with most or all characteristics of your body that do not match a female body image. Note that it’s not about a body image “as a woman”, but rather a matter of biological differences. A vagina is absolutely not needed to go with whatever so-called feminine traits one may or may not have, but it’s more often than not a very important part of a female body image. It’s a big difference that I hope you can all recognize.

Now, I won’t deny that there are people who make transwomen look bad. Every group has these. Some in particular that tend to provoke people (including me) are referred to as ‘HBSers’, followers of the Harry Benjamin Standards to the point were unless you’re extremely feminine and absolutely must have SRS, you’re ‘faking it’, or ‘deluded’. It’s important to understand that these are merely a fringe, and nothing close to representing transwomen as a group.

Actually, I really can’t stress the HBS enough and how much it hurts transsexuals, and feminism as well. It works on the assumption that there are male and female ‘mindsets’ that one must neatly fit into, and is an area where I think trans and feminist issues intersect, and allying against it would be a good idea. It’s the psychological institutions that spread the idea that transwomen must act ‘feminine’, not transwomen themselves (again, short of select fringes). People are denied treatment because they do not fit an oppressive idea of ‘man’ or ‘woman’, and I can only assume that irks feminists.

For specific examples, I’m bisexual. I showed up to appointments in fairly androgynous-looking clothes, and insisted that I had no intentions of dressing much differently later on. I told them that no, I had no particular desire to play with ‘girl’ toys as a child, nor do I like colorful dresses or most sorts of make-up. This confused them. I was not a stereotypical parody of a woman, and because of that, they decided to try to diagnose me with all sorts of psychoses instead. Because I was not hyper-feminine, but a balanced person with traits all over this oppressive spectrum, I was denied treatment for quite a while and assumed to simply be crazy. That’s where I think both trans and feminist activists need to make a move.

It’s worth noting that when I say I agree with the theory of innate brain differences, I do not mean anything behavioral, or anything like the “men are good at math, women are good with languages” bullshit. For an interesting example, you’ve probably heard of the phenomenon referred to as a ‘phantom limb’. When the brain insists that nerves should be where they aren’t, like when one has lost a limb, and manages to create a feeling of it still being there. Well, relevant phantom limb experiences are far from unheard of among transsexuals, and I’m not unfamiliar with it myself. That’s one of my main reasons for supporting that theory.

I haven’t covered as much as I wanted to yet, but I’m off elsewhere for now. If anyone has any issues with what I say or any questions, feel free. Not that I expect you to need an invitation for that, but.

84. Hello - November 18, 2009

“Whites aren’t uniquely capable of racism. But they are (as the world currently stands) uniquely capable of race based oppression. People often confuse the two.”

I agree.

However, I would also apply that to “men” and “sexism.”

factcheckme - November 18, 2009

“hello,” i swear to christ i will spam you if you continue to suggest here that women are capable of being “sexist” towards men. for some background, please read my “sorry, anti-feminists: theres no such thing as misandry” post. thanks.

85. maggieclark - November 18, 2009

Hi Jill,

I just wanted to thank you very much for sharing your experience as you did, in the interest of furthering productive gender discourse. I found it very refreshing, and relieving, as I absolutely hope transwomen and born-women can be allies in feminism.

I do, however, have a question about a part of this experience set that isn’t related in the story above, if you feel comfortable expanding on it later: Specifically, why was surgery/hormone treatment something you felt you needed to pursue? If you don’t consider yourself “hyper-feminine” why, for you, was it important to pursue an extreme physical differentiation?

Many thanks for your response!

All the best,

Maggie

86. Hello - November 18, 2009

“for some background, please read my “sorry, anti-feminists: theres no such thing as misandry” post. thanks.”

I have read your post. Several times in fact. Simply disagreeing with your assertion isn’t grounds for being spam, is it?

87. thinkaboutit - November 18, 2009

That is, the idea that, for instance, transwomen ‘need’ a vagina to be women. Again, this complete ignores something that I’m 99% sure you all know of despite ignoring it, namely the dysphoria. ‘Gender’ dysphoria is much more than a matter of genitals. It’s a situation in which you’re incredibly uncomfortable with most or all characteristics of your body that do not match a female body image. Note that it’s not about a body image “as a woman”, but rather a matter of biological differences.

Yes but Jill yet again we are arguing about ‘what is a woman’. And the answer is woman is a word, and a word means whatever you want it to mean.

If I understand ‘woman’ to mean a square wooden object with a flat top and four legs and the person I am speaking to has that meaning to then ‘woman’ means ‘table’.

The idea that there is some fixed definition of ‘woman’ into which transwomen can or cannot be admitted is the idea that I object to ideologically in all of this.

Because if you say someone is a woman, what makes them a woman? Well according to you it is their internal sense of “gender”. Fair enough, so what does THAT mean?

Well it seems to mean that there is some psychological experience/state which is common to all ‘women’. And this internal psychological quality MAKES someone a woman. Nothing else.

So someone KNOWS they are a woman because they have a strong internal psychological sense that they are a woman. This is commonly called ‘gender’.

Fine, except I don’t have a strong internal sense that I am a woman. So what does that make me?

Problem no 2. Can you read minds Jill? I can’t. So if you have a strong internal sense that you are a woman – how do you know it is the same strong internal sense that other ‘women’ have? You can’t, it’s not possible unless you can read minds.

So we come down to three possibilities.

One – a person has a male body and has a strong wish to have a female body.

Two – a person lives in the social gender role ‘man’ and wishes to live in the social gender role ‘woman’.

Three – a person has some kind of combination of the above.

Now you might say that any of these ‘makes’ someone a woman. But what does that mean in reality? It means they have those characteristics, no more and no less.

You might be a ‘woman’ Jill, but I’m not, count me out. I’m a female assigned at birth human being, place in the sex class woman by wider society. Real women do not exist.

88. thinkaboutit - November 18, 2009

Whites aren’t uniquely capable of racism. But they are (as the world currently stands) uniquely capable of race based oppression. People often confuse the two.”

I agree.

However, I would also apply that to “men” and “sexism.”

You’re kind of missing the point though. The prejudice means nothing without the power.

89. thinkaboutit - November 18, 2009

That and, if you’re going to start angrily correcting people for conflating sex and gender on this blog I have a few replies by factcheckme where she uses the two interchangably, but then, she doesn’t believe that trans women are women, do you?

If by ‘women’ you mean gender ‘women’ then no I don’t believe transwomen are women Valerie. I don’t believe anyone is a woman.

It’s this simple. There are two possibilities.

1) you are an adult human female (one commonly accepted meaning of ‘woman’)

2)you are in the patriarchal sex class ‘woman’.

There is no gender ‘woman’ Valerie. Women don’t exist.

90. Jill - November 18, 2009

Maggie, as I mentioned in the previous comment, this has all to do with a female body image. I’m pretty much incapable of seeing myself as male. I never was. Being referred to as “he” all my life sickened me, and on a related note, I think that’s why so many transpeople are particularly upset if they’re ‘mis-sexed’, as that turns into quite the sore spot.

For me, at least, the social part of transitioning was very small. I’m not a new person, just the same old person in a packaging that I can tolerate, so to speak. If anyone thinks it’s weird that I still play violent video games and (try to) skate, that’s their problem for thinking that’s male-exclusive, and likewise, anyone questioning me for wearing pants or minimal make-up can kindly fuck off.

It’s the physical part that I really cared about. With HRT, many minor and some major aspects of my body changed, in ways that made me much more comfortable in my own skin, and probably more relieved than I’ve ever been in my life. It’s as much about having a body I can tolerate as it is about not having one that I simply can’t. SRS is the only surgery I’ve had and I don’t want or need any more than that. I can now look in the mirror without feeling like drowning in a ditch, and that’s all I really need in that regard.

It’s worth noting that psychological institutions tend to put a lot more focus on the social part than the physical one. This was another problem for me. I really had no desire for a social ‘transition’ (i.e becoming someone else. It’s my body I have a problem with, not my personality). Unfortunately, a lot of clinics demand that you ‘present’ as female, which in the worst of cases equals dressing up in drag. What’s worse, many withhold treatment, including anti-androgens that could at the very least stop male development in the meantime, until you’ve ‘proven’ yourself to the patriarchy.

As a side-note, I concentrate mostly on MtF experiences here because that’s what I’m familiar with, but this most certainly applies to transmen as well. One thing in particular that I’ve heard of is that transmen are often accused of being “just lesbians” if there’s anything remotely not stereotypically male about them. That’s even regardless of their actual sexual orientation, of course.

Unless confirmed otherwise, you’re assumed to be attracted to your birth sex. ‘Gay’, if you happen to be a massive bigot and insensitive as all fuck. This is something that really needs to end; the idea that transsexuality is a result of feminity/masculinity and/or homosexuality up to eleven. It’s not.

I’m also glad to see you found my comment refreshing. There’s obviously a lot of enmity in here, and I was hoping that I’d be able to lighten it up at least a little.

91. thinkaboutit - November 18, 2009

A vagina is absolutely not needed to go with whatever so-called feminine traits one may or may not have, but it’s more often than not a very important part of a female body image.

Hmmm, it’s an important part of sexual response as far as I’m concerned. But I don’t have a female ‘body image’. I am female in the same way I’m white. Both have significance beyond being mere physical characteristics, but I don’t go round with the idea “I am a white female”. I’m just me. My vagina is as important a part of my “body image” as my feet. If either disappeared, I’d feel odd, but that’s because I’ve always had them.

92. maggieclark - November 18, 2009

Hi Jill,

Thank you so much for your response: It was a very thought-provoking read, especially because it’s the kind of read I’ve been unable to acquire elsewhere. Why? Because many people infer the very question “Why was it important for you to have surgery?” as intrinsically transphobic, and then productive discourse comes to a screeching halt.

In feminist spheres, this is an especially huge problem, because what makes surgery a perceived necessity for you creates huge problems, on an ideological level, for the messages we send to young born-women who also want to “throw themselves into ditches” if they can’t get breast enhancements, tummy-tucks, face-lifts, and other “reconstructive” surgeries to make them fit in better with what they perceive to be female ideals, and therefore bodies they can be happier with. Many born-women commit suicide, especially in their adolescent years, in part because of how much they hate their bodies, or how those bodies are read by the rest of society.

Within feminist discourse, the mainstream answer to this dysphoria is to push the message that women need to learn to love themselves for who they are, and the fantastic bodies they already have. The implicit message also being pushed is that gender normative values for the female ideal are bullshit, and need to be exploded. But this is an extraordinarily difficult message to marry, ideologically, with the life-or-death necessity with which many transsexuals defend their surgeries and hormone treatments.

Yes, these practices help create bodies transwomen are happier with, and individually that’s a great exertion of personal choice over your own body — which every person should have. But from a more overarching perspective, the kinds of surgeries pursued by transsexuals in the name of necessity, as a response to the desire to kill themselves if they have to keep their born-bodies, affirm certain gender norms that born-women struggle with extensively already.

So the question becomes, how does the sphere of feminism champion a transsexual’s need for surgery, without compromising the message of born-women suffering from an equatable hatred of their bodies as they stand?

This is the kind of question I strongly feel needs resolution within the sphere of feminism. And if you have time, I would very much appreciate any insights you might have in this regard.

That said, thank you again, very very much, for answering my first question.

All the best!

Maggie

93. Jill - November 18, 2009

Thinkaboutit, I never said that being a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ is a psychological state. That’s something I disagree with.

I think you’re the one who reads minds here, considering how you managed to bring up a ‘strong internal sense of gender’ when I never said anything like that. If others have said it, fine, but don’t apply it to me and my arguments. What I’ve said is that I can’t see myself as male, but I can certainly see myself as female.

If you want to go into semantics, fine. By various definitions of the word ‘woman’, you’re more of a ‘woman’ than me, I’m more of a ‘woman’ than you and we’re both just as much ‘women’, or perhaps neither of us are. I can certainly see how you don’t identify with some definitions of it, and if my assumptions are correct, I do not identify much with those definitions either. You’ll have to excuse me for still using the word, though I could try to use ‘females’ and ‘transfemales’ if that makes you feel better. In a way, they’re probably more accurate terms anyway.

By claiming you don’t have a female body image, I assume you mean that if you imagine your body, you can only think of something without any sorts of female characteristics. If not, then we’re misinterpreting each other. I’m just me, as well. I happen to have a female body (as close as I can get, at least), because, unlike the male body I was given, that’s me.

You state that you’d feel odd if your vagina or feet disappeared, which obviously makes sense. However, I’m not sure if I can agree with the sentiment that something has to be there at first and then disappear for one to consider it strange or awkward. My own experiences imply quite the opposite. Not having all sorts of parts and characteristics that my brain is sort of convinced I should have definitely feels odd, though thanks to my physical transition, I’m a lot more at ease with most of it, including what I can’t change.

To conclude, in my opinion, a psychological state of ‘man’ or ‘woman’ does not exist, and most definitions and concepts of ‘gender’ are socially constructed. However, I do believe there is such a thing as innate sex, and that the brain can develop to expect one set of sexual characteristics while the rest of the body develops differently. While I cannot prove this, a good bit of what little research there is points towards it, and my own experiences mesh well with it.

94. Hello - November 18, 2009

“You’re kind of missing the point though. The prejudice means nothing without the power.”

I’m not missing the point. I agree with your point, I was just making a different point analogically.

95. Laurelin - November 18, 2009

“Simply disagreeing with your assertion isn’t grounds for being spam, is it?”

Hello, my love, this is Factcheckme’s blog. Not yours. Whatever she decides is spam is spam. You are not entitled to space here, no matter how important you believe your drivel to be. Kindly remove your head from your arse.

factcheckme - November 18, 2009

thanks laurelin. and for the record, anything that lacks a basic understanding of feminism 101 is grounds for being spammed, on this blog and others. hello, please educate yourself. google “finally a feminism 101 blog” and settle in for some reading.

96. Jill - November 18, 2009

Maggie, I have to agree that it’s an important question, and I’m personally convinced that it can be answered without dragging either side down. Unfortunately, as of right now, I can’t say I know how that would be.

I think an important first step here would be to encourage more research, as there’s so much unknown about the subject, as well as many myths that need to be officially dispelled. Sadly, the loudest and most determined ‘researchers’ with an interest in this subject are almost invariably of the sort who are already convinced that transsexuals are “repressed homosexuals” or such, and are more interested in finding ways to ‘cure’ it. You know the sort I’m talking about. For an example, look up Ray Blanchard and his ‘theories’, which still have a foothold in some places, including among those who write that particular section of the DSM. It’s very much a reason for me and anyone in my situation to be afraid.

To be honest, I think what needs to change for this to be a complete non-issue is the way society creates all sorts of ridiculous physical expectations for women (and men, though not nearly to the same degree) to worry about not reaching. It’s an entirely unreasonable goal at this point, but hypothetically speaking, if society does not create such expectations, personal issues for other reasons would stick while ones solely imposed by society would not. But again, that’s not very helpful as the situation is right now.

From my personal, supported but not proven standpoint, it could be important to emphasize that my issues with my body have biological roots, and modifying one’s body because of it is no different from treatment for any other biological physical problems. Of course, it’s hard to really take this anywhere so long as it remains unproven, which is one reason why I’d like to see more (serious) research.

Finally, I don’t think body modification is bad per se. I am, however, concerned about intentions, and want people to do as they, themselves, wish. To put it simply and bluntly, breast augmentation because you, personally, want larger breasts is fine. Breast augmentation because you feel that society or something/someone else requires you to have larger breasts is not, and this is something that needs to end. Unfortunately, personal needs and societal pressure can often be hard to separate, though I do think it’s worth mentioning that it’s not like society pressures anyone into transsexuality.

…Unless, of course, you’re gay and live in a place like Iran. But I think we can all agree that that’s completely fucked up.

97. thebeardedlady - November 18, 2009

As I noted in some of the comments on Andrea’s blog, TBL, you already know what the Harry Benjiman Standards are, and you realize that facing them, most just play pretend to get past the gatekeepers and live completely normal, diverse lives outside of that. Seeing as you wrote and confirmed this in those comments, I have trouble seeing how you could possibly agree with Andrea on that transsexuals affirm gender norms, unless it’s due to the second fallacy.

Hi Jill,

Nope, never heard of the Harry Benjamin standards. Perhaps you’re confusing me with someone else?

Do I think transsexuals affirm gender norms? Yes, I do. Although I would add that I am talking at a societal, ideological level, rather than an individual one.

My position on this is that the views of trans activists as expressed on this thread are incompatible with rad feminism, in much the same way as I think the views of funfems are incompatible with rad feminism. And no one seems to be able to deal with the rad fem arguments without resorting to a very twisted, far fetched interpretation of concepts of privilege and power.

Privilege and power are not just words that can have any old meaning attached to them. They are theoretical models, dynamic models that express relationships within society. They are the basis of all freedom movements. If trans activists take the word privilege, and decide it means something else (which I can’t quite work out what that would be, but anyway) – fine! Take the word. The model still remains entirely valid and there’s no place in it for the notion of cis privilege.

So we either have to say, the model is wrong, dismantle it, privilege is NOT what we think it is. OR we accept that ‘cis’ privilege is not privilege at all.

The former is clearly a threat to feminism. Is the latter a threat to trans activists?

98. maggieclark - November 18, 2009

…Unless, of course, you’re gay and live in a place like Iran. But I think we can all agree that that’s completely fucked up.

Hugely fucked up! But also, I think, why many feminists are as wary of transsexual surgeries as they are of breast augmentation for born-women — because both clearly have real world outcomes of being praised by mainstream male power structures. Anytime the patriarchy stands up and applauds, feminists naturally expect we’ve played right into gender reaffirmation. So that can be quite disconcerting, and problematic for discourse.

Research sounds like a good start — but I’d argue discursive research is as important, if not more so, than the scientific kind. This comes from me being VERY leery about the use of science to explain away human diversity: as a queer-identified woman, I hate hate hate any suggestion that we seek out a gene that explains my (or any other person’s) orientation, because

a) if we find it,

1) if it’s not “turned on” in individual cases, does society get to say those people aren’t “really” queer?; and

2) if it is turned on will anti-queer persons then push to have it “fixed” like any other biological disorder?

and

b) if we don’t find it, after the queer community has insisted we have a biological justification for our orientation, then do we not open ourselves to a renewal about the legitimacy of the queer spectrum?

I’m not trans, but I would suspect these same fears would overlap quite easily into the pursuit of a “trans” gene. I also strongly feel that it’s wholly tangential to the pursuit of legitimacy for all persons to do with their bodies what they want to do, without the oppressive presence of social, gender-mandated dictates on individual persons.

In any case, I suspect we’re on a good track with conversations like this — so thank you again for partaking in this one with me. I hope to all heck more people weigh in on such topics — if not here, then hopefully in a more mainstream venue, where public momentum for community redress could actually start to build!

All the best,

Maggie

99. femspotter - November 18, 2009

“girls and women dont possess any kind of gender-based power. exactly the opposite”

Ehhh…it’s all in how you look at it. I feel very powerful as a woman with an inherent ability to become a mother and be a nurturer, either naturally or through adoption. I feel very powerful as a sexual force, enjoying the sexuality I share with my husband. I feel very powerful with a strong work ethic and an inherent ability to multitask. I went on a job interview once where the hirer told me she prefers to hire women because we’re better workers than men. I feel so powerful that if anybody ever told me or implied that I couldn’t do something because of my sex, I would stand up for myself and tell them what’s what.

The “privilege” I have is that I have always lived as a woman. I can’t even begin to imagine or fully appreciate how difficult it must be to feel like you’re wearing a sex costume every day of your life. I am privileged in that my gender corresponds with my sex and I’ve never had to pretend to be feminine so that children wouldn’t tease me for being a masculine girl or a feminine boy. And I am privileged because my parents provided me with the same opportunities as my two younger brothers.

GEEZ – I am really fucking privileged and powerful!!!😀 I need to remind myself of this more often.

100. thebeardedlady - November 19, 2009

Maggie and Jill, I appreciate reading your dialogue here, which so far has been kind and respectful on both sides.

It’s as much about having a body I can tolerate as it is about not having one that I simply can’t.

This interested me. It put me in mind of anorexia. It also made me think about how to so many women our bodies are intolerable. I think women learn to dissociate from our bodies – our bodies are the site of so much conflict and hatred. I think we often don’t feel ‘ourselves’ or have a presence in our own bodies at all.

Female bodies are underfed, even as babies. We are fed less quantities of food than male babies, weaned earlier. We are conditioned to be the ‘weaker sex’. We are expected to sit and be still, play quietly, act ‘modestly’ even when we have no idea why. I vividly remember being constantly told not to sit with my legs open, where my brothers could sprawl about any old how they liked. Even before we hit puberty, female bodies are the site of familial conflict, power struggles, and plain old hatred and abuse. I remember hating my body from when I was very small. I remember hitting myself as hard as I could, for hours on end, crying in pain, because I thought I was wrong and ugly, even though I was only a tiny child.

And then, throughout our lives, we are told that our female bodies are not ‘real’ women’s bodies. They are too ugly, pretty, fat, thin, hairy, droopy, perky, lopsided, dark, pale, blemished, muscly, tall, short… We learned that our female body was an inferior rip-off of a real, normal female body. Our female body was wrong.

And our bodies were never really ours, anyway. They were for men to use, to touch, to enjoy, to validate, appreciate, dismiss, attack, hurt, break, rape. Every image of our childhood told us that we were for men. That we should ‘save ourselves’ for the right man. That we should ‘give ourselves’ and be ‘taken’ by men. And that men would give us value, and meaning. Either men liked us, in which case we were acceptable, or they didn’t, and we weren’t.

And because of this our bodies were a site of conflict with other girls and women. Who is thinner, prettier, nicer looking? Who does she think she is, look at her, stupid bitch, just cos she’s pretty. And they were a site of conflict with our mothers, who were growing older and invisible as we became young women, and we fought and struggled and could not connect because we blamed our mothers for getting old, for failing at womanhood, something we thought we wouldn’t do. As if youth was a personal quality, a skill our mothers had carelessly lost.

And our bodies were always first. Never our minds, our talents, our interests, our compassion, our spirit, our humour, our intellect, our courage, our passion. Always our bodies, and often, only our bodies counted.

So, yes, female bodies are intolerable. How can we feel a sense of belonging, a sense of home, in a body so battle scarred and broken? It is hard. We see our bodies as something to make better, make healthy, make thin, make whole, make more beautiful. We make war on our bodies.

I guess that’s why it’s so hard for me to hear about trans folk who don’t feel at home in their bodies. I don’t think most women feel at home in their bodies. I think many women dissociate from their bodies, in a ptsd kind of way, especially if we have experienced rape, abuse, harrassment, cruelty, attempts at femininity, surgery, etc.

One of the projects of feminism is to reclaim the reality of our female bodies. Our bodies are painful.

A male transitioning into a woman’s body isn’t really, is she? Her body has no history. She’s trying it on like a dress. Oh it feels nice. You want a female body. You need one. But to women, our female bodies are a prison. All women are trapped in the wrong body.

factcheckme - November 19, 2009

teriffic post TBL. i agree with everything you have said here, and you sum it up beautifully with this:


A male transitioning into a woman’s body isn’t really, is she? Her body has no history. She’s trying it on like a dress. Oh it feels nice. You want a female body. You need one. But to women, our female bodies are a prison. All women are trapped in the wrong body.


i would just add the “problem” of menstruation, that only born-women will ever experience. its viewed as dirty, pathological even, and we are seen as mentally and physically incompetant 3 weeks out of every month because of it, between PMS and being “on the rag.”

THREE WEEKS OUT OF EVERY 4. wrap your minds around that, MTF. it really makes me LOL that they think they are moving into a better neighborhood, as it were, by moving into a “female” body. i guess if you take away everything that actual born-women experience, it might be an improvement, but thats something that a born woman will never know. being a born-woman is dirty, dangerous, and painful.

factcheckme - November 19, 2009

welp femspotter…i guess thats why you are a fun-fem. LOL the world you inhabit sounds pretty cool, i have to admit. but, i object to your interpretation of “privilege.” sounds like you have something (everything?) you want. which is about the same as the trans-interpretation of it (they think it means you have something *they* want). radfems however would tend to disagree with you both.

come to think of it, even feminism 101 takes the (apparently?) radfem tack when it comes to understanding privilege, which makes me even more suspicious of feminists who interpret “privilege” in this way. i mean really, WTF? just because you are happy means you are privileged? not under any definition i am aware of, and none thats accepted by feminists, critical race theorists, or anyone else i trust.

and is this what causes fun-fems, MRAs and everyone else to assume that raddfems are “unhappy?” bitter etc? because we keep calling attention to the ways being a woman fucking sucks, and how men are the ones with gender-based privilege, therefore we must also be unhappy? just thinking here.

101. maggieclark - November 19, 2009

TBL, that was incredibly well put. Thank you so much.

102. femspotter - November 19, 2009

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be me, right? LOL Radical feminists and I differ on one point: “all” or “some.” And I don’t hate. I think it’s a waste of energy when I could be loving instead. (Go to therapy much, Fem?)

I have run into my fair share of misogyny out there for sure. In third grade, I was treated with contempt by the band leader who didn’t like my choice to play the saxophone. “Don’t you want to play the flute, like the other girls,” he asked. No! The sax rocks!

My husband pulls out my chair and holds the door for me. That’s privilege, baby; and yes, I would imagine those aspiring to womanhood aspire to bask in chivalry.

I would like to reiterate that female privilege has also helped us avoid the armed services draft in multiple instances and afforded us some emotional leeway at work when we feel cranky. While I don’t relish being the girl who cried at work, I’m not ostracized for it either. A man could never get away with that!

I agree with so much of what TBL has written, poignantly I might add. However, again I say that a change of attitude is really what is required. If we could get more celebrated women, especially young celebrated women, to embrace their figure “flaws,” we might learn to love our own. We need more examples for our daughters like Queen Latifah and Tina Fey who are thought of as talented/strong/smart/funny first and beautiful after the fact. I just saw that movie “Precious” over the weekend. I loved staring at the lead actress’ face. What a beauty! Not a conventional beauty, but exciting to behold nonetheless.

103. Jill - November 19, 2009

TBL, if that wasn’t you, my apologies. I’m 99.9% sure it was your name I saw, but if you haven’t heard of the HBS before, it definitely wasn’t.

The Harry Benjamin Standards are the standards that more backwards individuals and clinics adhere by when ‘diagnosing’ transsexuality. If you don’t (and also didn’t, they think childhood femininity/masculinity is very important), you don’t qualify, because as we all know, there is no such thing as diversity among men and women, and all stereotypes are true. They then deny medical treatment based on this crap. This is why I’d expect feminism to have an issue with it.

I also assume you’re fishing for my opinion on cis-privilege, and by all means. I believe that cis-privilege is essentially any other privilege (but by far the most often male privilege) with applied transphobia. This is evident in how most will, for instance, use transphobic slurs much more often than misogynistic ones, but the actual oppression is done by people with privilege. It also explains why it’s easy to think women have this privilege, because while they’re limited in ways to express it, women can certainly be transphobic. Some can be rather vocal about it, but that’s about it in the vast majority of cases.

I also note that I believe transphobia to be a result of fear of being equated to women, which of course is thanks to male privilege. When women display it, I suspect it to simply be because that general attitude has poisoned society, and once it gains foothold, it doesn’t take privilege to have and believe in an attitude that only backs up said privilege. It’s by far the most common among more religious and conservative-leaning women, and at the risk of offending someone, I hate what that stuff does to people. I’d add feminists as well, but once you have an actual reason for it, it’s not phobia, even if I do not agree with your reasoning in that regard.

So basically, male privilege plus transphobia results in something that can easily be mistaken for general cis-privilege by the victims. To answer your last question, no, cis-privilege the way it’s usually described is dubious, and recognizing this should not hurt trans activists. However, it’s important to acknowledge that being trans puts you at the victim end of transphobia, and people who do have privilege have shown little hesitation to use it against transpeople simply because they happen to be so. If it was (only) misogyny, words like ‘tranny’, ‘freak’ and ‘pervert’ would not be the ones used.

Though, there’s one thing I feel the need to give special mention. Some have brought up bathroom situations where faab women have gone as far as to call the cops on transwomen using the same bathrooms. As much as you may argue that they’re just being afraid of men (and I can understand that), I really dislike how this is, for obvious reasons, only applied to transwomen who do not ‘pass’ perfectly well, and I can only presume to faab women in similar situations as well. If I’m not mistaken, there was an example of that.

It leads me to wonder, what about the many transwomen who ‘pass’ without question? What if they’re pre/non-op and still have penises? Could you possibly demand that everyone entering the toilet is inspected, just to make sure, or are you willing to make exceptions for when you don’t actually suspect that they’re trans?

For instance, I have a small frame, a round face, obvious hips, and hands and feet within typical female sizes (though the feet are just barely). You’d never suspect anything. If I was pre/non-op, I’d have a penis, which apparently would’ve made me a potential rapist. How do you feel about the possibility of such a presence without you knowing, at all?

If you don’t mind, I’d also like an explanation of how a penis, specifically, gives one the ability to rape. Female rapists are much, much more rare, but not unheard of. It does not take a penis to sexually violate someone, though I’ll give you that if you’re a fertile woman, it has the worst possible outcome.

Maggie, I definitely agree that one has to be concerned with research about human groups, and more importantly, how people can and will twist it to delegitimize them if given the opportunity.

Most research regarding the cause of transsexuality show that it’s most likely a result of a hormonal imbalance at some point during gestation. This is the primary theory regarding a biological cause of homosexuality, as well. Make of it what you will. In the end, it’ll either be biological, or it will not. If it is, people will twist it into a disorder that needs to be fixed. If it isn’t, the same people will twist it into evidence that it’s deliberately chosen as a result of lacking ‘morals’. With that in mind, I know that there will be dogmatic opposition regardless, and we might as well try to find out what the facts are.

As for the comment about the patriarchy standing up and applauding, presumably because of physical transition in this context, this is because the patriarchy knows no more about transsexuality than the people where who think it’s about adhering to gender norms. It’s not. If the patriarchy applauds, it’s because it thinks transwomen give a fuck about their definition of a ‘woman’. We don’t. That transwomen are super-feminine and walking stereotypes of women is a ridiculous myth that needs to die a horrible death.

104. thebeardedlady - November 19, 2009

@femspotter: What the fuck? You sound like a fucking MRA.

105. thebeardedlady - November 19, 2009

FCM, Maggie, thanks. I could have gone on and on with that post and regaled you with my take on menstruation, sex, pregnancy etc., but I talked myself down from the ledge and decided to get some sleep instead🙂

factcheckme - November 19, 2009

sorry, but getting doors held for you isnt privilege. chivalry is just more of the same in my book, getting women to give it up voluntarily, but if they didnt they would be raped, anyway! just makes it easier for the man. not that many of them even bother anymore. they now eschew “chivalry” quite literally to punish women for demanding to be liberated. kind of puts it all in perspective doesnt it? seriously, chivalry was the first thing to go, and i have heard more than one man say OUT LOUD that “you want equality, baby, hold your own fucking door.” but that only reveals WHY they used it, to begin with: to benefit themselves. and the fun-fems and girly-girls who miss the “good old days” of mens chivalry are being told that radfems are to blame. how convenient! make US be the bad guys, when we arent the ones women need protecting from!

and keeping women out of the military also isnt a privilege: women are always kept out of dirty, dangerous occupations, becuase THEY PAY BETTER, and THOSE jobs must be held for teh menz. of course, there are plenty of dirty, dangerous jobs that pay like shit, and women are welcome to those…cleaning bedpans and lifting patients comes to mind.

i love queen latifah and tina fey. good examples there. i wish there were more.

106. thebeardedlady - November 19, 2009

Maybe not an MRA. Maybe I’m just too tired right now to deal with your happy-go-lucky saxophone-playing-against-all-misogynist-odds sexy lifestyle and your chat about female privilege.

107. femspotter - November 19, 2009

TBL – What’s an MRA? Most everything I write is tongue in cheek. I’m not a radical. Hate me if you must.

My compliment to you was sincere.

FCM – my husband doesn’t hold the door for me to get lucky! He gets that anyway because I SAY SO!🙂 His mommy taught him to do that when he was little and he was a very loving son.

108. Jill - November 19, 2009

“My husband pulls out my chair and holds the door for me. That’s privilege, baby; and yes, I would imagine those aspiring to womanhood aspire to bask in chivalry.”

If you’re referring to transwomen here, I for one want little to do with ‘chivalry’. As I’ve mentioned in one of my other comments, I’m big on intent. If someone wants to hold a door for me, that’s great, but it had better be because they’re just feeling nice, and would’ve held the door for anyone else as well. From what I’ve experienced, it’s usually pretty easy to see which is the case, and when it comes to blatant ‘chivalry’, I have little patience.

And as a nitpick, I do not “aspire to womanhood” if that means anything like what I think it’s supposed to mean.

Also, I’m curious, what’s an MRA?

factcheckme - November 19, 2009

well in fairness TBL, i was the one who said that fun-fems, MRAs and transpersons all use the same concept of “privilege.” and they do. chivalry is a BIG one harped on by the MRAs, and they are the ones who eshew it most fanatically, while blaming women for the MRAs “new-found” assholish behavior. “fuck you cunts, you want equality, YOU hold your own doors, i’m not paying child support, and oh yeah, women rape (and otherwise victimize) men, like, all the time!”

factcheckme - November 19, 2009

MRA=Men’s Rights Activist.

factcheckme - November 19, 2009


my husband doesn’t hold the door for me to get lucky! He gets that anyway because I SAY SO! His mommy taught him to do that when he was little and he was a very loving son.


i dont have a problem with your husband, or his mother. but when viewed in context, i think its pretty clear what “chivalry” is all about, considering that we live in a rape-culture where men make the rules. women didnt write the rule-book on chivalry, afterall. men wrote the rules, to benefit themselves, as they always do. i question their motivations. (!) and the MRA commentary on the subject is telling.

109. maggieclark - November 19, 2009

Hi Femspotter,

It’s extraordinary to see so much positivity in your response; I’m very happy your life experiences have given you everything you seem to want, and hope that continues to be the case for you your whole life through.

On another blogging community, I posted a response to one of FCM’s posts, and the issue of cis privilege led to an interesting conversation with a woman who felt she could sign on to the cis privilege list because she felt she herself hadn’t experienced any of the items on the list first-hand. She left the conversation before explaining how she could sign onto a privilege list that she knows other born-women absolutely haven’t benefited from, so I’d like to pose the same question to you, if you don’t mind: Regardless of life working out in what you perceive to be your favour, gender-privilege-wise, do you recognize that this is not the case for all women, or even most women (more on “most” later)? And if so, do you feel a sense of feminist disconnect in championing what works for you to the exclusion of what works for other women?

I say “most” because studies have shown a staggering 1/3 to 2/3s of North American women (depending on the study) have reported violence against them in their lifetimes. And pay equity is quite demonstrably unequal in almost every country in the world. And right now countries like Saudia Arabia and the UAE are lobbying the UN to change the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to make women a distinct class, with “their own rights and responsibilities”, as opposed to be no damn different than men under international standards.

Moreover, “most” women are in favour of women being given the opportunity to serve in the military, if that is the choice of the individual women. (Very few people of either sex are in favour of drafts as a general rule.) We would just also really really like it if women who served in the military weren’t at much higher risks of being raped by their fellow officers, and often gang raped at that. So if you have no desire to serve in the military, that’s great; but I personally would want to champion a society where all women can pursue their own desires without fear of reprisal — especially emerging, as it often does, in the form of physical violence.

and yes, I would imagine those aspiring to womanhood aspire to bask in chivalry.

Again, I am very happy that chivalry has worked in your favour, but I physically recoil at the notion of “aspir[ing] to bask in chivalry” — literally recoil, because it’s a triggering concept for me. My first experience of penetrative intercourse was at the hands of a man who bought me dinner and flowers, and then told me I owed him sex. Chivalry has never been a pleasant concept for me since, as men have time and again expected things from me in response to being “kind” enough and “nice” enough to provide me with things I did not ask for, in the name of chivalry. I am very certain I am not the only woman who has a similar, triggering reaction to this notion of chivalry. Even if I hadn’t experienced this firsthand, if another born-woman told me of this experience set, how could I, as a feminist, not include that reality into my perception of whether or not something is an automatic advantage for women everywhere?

While I don’t relish being the girl who cried at work, I’m not ostracized for it either. A man could never get away with that!

If a man could never get away with that, it would be because traditional North American business structures as a whole have been predicated on male-dominant success indicators — the same indicators, by the way, which say that while a woman may be excused from her lower-level work because she’s had an “emotional thing”, this same “emotional thing” makes her a less reliable candidate for promotion within the corporation, so it’s best to pass on her for this nice, stable, cut-throat businessman over here.

Again, if that’s an acceptable compromise for you, as an individual, so be it, and I wish the very best for you: But I personally very much disapprove of an office environment predicated on success indicators that would keep any woman who wanted to move up the company ladder from doing so on the basis of a crying spell she had one day at work.

For these reasons, I am very curious about how you perceive the experience sets of other women in relation to your own pursuit of feminism. How do you handle the disconnect?

All the best,

Maggie

factcheckme - November 19, 2009


For these reasons, I am very curious about how you perceive the experience sets of other women in relation to your own pursuit of feminism. How do you handle the disconnect?


this is, i think, an exellent post, and an excellent question. i look forward to hearing the resopnse, if any. hopefully i will be around to publish any resulting replies, but if i am not, they will be published tomorrow.

110. Fenspotter - November 19, 2009

Womanhood = the state of being a woman, that’s all I meant.

FCM-I am sure our drafted Vietnam vets will be happy to know that they have been so well compensated for their involuntary service. Are you kidding? These guys are without ample medical coverage in many cases!

factcheckme - November 19, 2009


These guys are without ample medical coverage in many cases!


oh boo fucking hoo. hourly workers, domestics and pink-collar laborers are not given health coverage either. my point is that there are many dirty, dangerous jobs that women are allowed to do, and they are the ones that pay like shit. they also dont put the women in any kind of powerful or honorable role (also reserved for teh menz): quite the opposite actually. cleaning bedpans and lifting patients for example, while the docs wouldnt ever be bothered lest they herniate a spinal disk and be unable to perform *their* work. what a privilege for the women, to be barred from serving in the military! and, like, other good jobs that lead to careers!

dont make this about “supporting the troops.” for fucks sake. thats disgusting, fem. what a disgusting fucking manipulation.

111. Femspotter - November 19, 2009

Please stay on topic. You wrote that all military jobs were a privilege because of better pay. I dispute that point.

factcheckme - November 19, 2009

you are the one who derailed with your bullshit “why do you hate the troops?” sarah-palin moment. for anyone who missed it, heres what i actually said, in response to fems assertion that its a manifestation of “female privilege” that we havent been drafted into war:


and keeping women out of the military also isnt a privilege: women are always kept out of dirty, dangerous occupations, becuase THEY PAY BETTER, and THOSE jobs must be held for teh menz. of course, there are plenty of dirty, dangerous jobs that pay like shit, and women are welcome to those…cleaning bedpans and lifting patients comes to mind.

again, this isnt a privilege. its a consequence to men of keeping all the high-paying, powerful, and honorable jobs to themselves. a “downside” to male-privilege, perhaps, but NOT the same thing as female-privilege. again, the men made the rules here, to benefit themselves. they want the higher pay and might grudgingly accept the dirt and the grit and the grime that comes with it…then they also feel ENTITLED to medical care afterwards! how….trite. when women are doing some of the most dirty and dangerous shit work there is, and doing it for peanuts. or for FREE in the case of caring for family members. NOT a female-privilege, fem. theres no such thing.

112. Miska - November 19, 2009

TBL, your comment re females bodies is excellent

and femspotter –
I agree with so much of what TBL has written, poignantly I might add. However, again I say that a change of attitude is really what is required. If we could get more celebrated women, especially young celebrated women, to embrace their figure “flaws,” we might learn to love our own.

This strikes me as similar to the way women are encouraged to adopt self defense strategies in order to cope with the threat of rape. And it essentially puts the burden of responsibility onto women.

No matter how many self defense classes women take, it wont stop rape. Because for that to happen, MEN need to stop raping.

And it’s the same with female bodies.

A change in attitude on the part of women might help things some. But it wont fix the issue. Men are the ones that perpetuate the beauty standard and make our bodies loathsome things, shrouded in taboo. They need to stop feeling entitled to judge and assess every single woman and equating our worth to how attractive we are. They need to get over their squeamishness over female bodily functions and stop acting like our bodies are abominations.

Our bodies are battlegrounds, and MEN need to back the fuck off.

All the affirmations and “positive body image” self-help books can only go so far. We need to get to the root of the problem, and the root of the problem is MEN.

113. femspotter - November 19, 2009

I do feel a feminist disconnect, maggieclark, but it’s not because I think that the world is an equal opportunity place for all women as you suspect. See, on this blog, I find myself trying to make arguments and give examples for some scenarios that might make radical feminist thinkers pause and consider that their all or nothing approach to feminism isn’t accurate. For instance, the notion that chivalry is “all” bad can be combated by my mentioning that I have a gentle, loving husband who enjoys helping me feel loved and special by opening doors for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t open doors for others. I often open doors for men. “All” men are privileged can be combated by mentioning countless scenarios wherein men and not women have been drafted or kidnapped to form militia units or suicide bomb squads. This doesn’t mean that I am neglectful of scenarios wherein women are kidnapped and sold into prostitution rings. My brother is a psychologist (almost done with his Psy.D) and he volunteers at a VA clinic in Connecticut; one of the things he laments is the lack of medical coverage for these men and women who have suffered shell shock and are really robbed the rest of what might have been a happy life. He can’t help them. He is forbidden in cases where their medical insurance does not cover his services.

The problem with making any dispute at a radical forum is that it’s met with intense disgust and hatred. I and not saying that any of the points made herein are entirely wrong, but I choose to adopt a humanist attitude and look at the way the world works for all types/classes/races/sexes of people. Because I mention the draft, I am referred to as Sarah Palin, a woman who I believe has done more damage to women’s liberation than anybody else in the public spotlight. She’s wooed millions of people into loving her by virtue of her pristine femininity, playing up to the gender we want her to display, and then becoming a ridiculous spectacle of ignorance and stupidity. The fact that anybody can take her seriously as a political contender for 2010 means that we, as an American society, need to do a reality check. Palin may be “one of us,” but that doesn’t mean she should lead us.

Furthermore, I am not a feminist who would ever make blanket statements about the intentions of men, such as accusing men of wooing us through chivalry and then raping us anyway if we don’t put out. There certainly are some vile creatures out there that do that; but not “all.”

I often write about the woes of the women in this world on my blog, but I make it clear that I am a happy, lucky, blessed and yes, privileged person as a white, married, educated New Englander. And while I have endured some terrible things in my life, they are nothing compared to what those 90% of married Afghan women who are abused by their husbands or the many women who die in childbirth in Africa endure.
Me complaining about men as a whole population doing terrible things to women would be like someone swimming in the ocean and complaining about there not being enough water. My husband is wonderful, my best friend is male, both of my brothers are wonderful men because our father was a good man, etc. I have no basis for demonizing “all” men.

And even though most of the psychological and emotional wounds I have suffered in my life have come at the hands of other women – such as the mean girls in school who tormented me about being chubby or the women who I’ve tried to form creative partnerships with who use personal information about me viciously against me when they don’t their way, or my mother who is eternally competitive with me, etc. – I certainly don’t make blanket statements about women. I love being a woman. I love my sensitive, nurturing vantage point.

The basis for my feminist disconnect is that I am not a feminist who believes in rules. I don’t think women should have to adopt the established public career model if they can afford to stay home and raise their children. I don’t think that makes them bad women or in some cases bad feminists. I don’t believe in outlawing prostitution or pornography, though I think both should be regulated so that others cannot profit from the pain and suffering of women and men who go that career route. Here is where I am disconnected. I have been verbally crucified at academic symposiums for these beliefs.

I think there are more parts to your question that I should address, but I am running off to work. I hope that helps clear up my cheerful demeanor. I am not on anything; I am just an advocate for an alternate view.

And with regard to the central thread of this blog and its comments, I want to mention that I have a relative who is a male to female trans woman. She loves Marilyn Monroe. She loves makeup and jewelry and fashion. She would love to find a gentle man who would accept her as a woman and treat her like a lady with the chivalry that some find so contemptible. I wish that for her. And certainly I accept her as a woman. She is entitled to every bit of happiness that I have found.

114. thebeardedlady - November 19, 2009

Femspotter, I don’t hate you. I did genuinely think you were an MRA, though. It was only when FCM responded nicely to you that I thought I must have read you wrong. You do sound like an MRA, with all the chat about chivalry, and your ‘inherent’ nurturing whatever and female privilege.

I don’t really think you can ‘advocate an alternative view’ of feminism which includes marriage, beauty standards, chivalry, inherent female qualities of nurturing and sensitivity etc., to a bunch of rad fems on the internet and expect not to get a relatively hostile reception. Seriously, it seems kind of trollish. I go to work every day with women who have been systematically abused, separated from their families, raped, married off to strangers on the other side of the world, been denied basic health care and education and who require special permission from their husbands to leave the house. I live in the UK. This is the life of a woman in the first world.

Plus I can tell you honestly that every single female I have ever discussed rape with has told me that they have been raped. The official statistic is 1 in 4. Well, I don’t know a single woman, not one solitary woman, who has never been raped.

So your happy-go-lucky ways and exhortations for me to be nicer and stop being mean about the brave, tough men? Yeah, that definitely isn’t having much of an effect.

factcheckme - November 19, 2009

i would like to say re: femspotter that she and i have a friendly relationship off-blog, although we clearly do not see eye-to-eye on these issues. i thought that i was a little harsh, and fem obviously feels i was too harsh, but its funny that TBL thought i was being “nice” because she is right, most people that would come on here and say the things that fem has said would attract my most furious anger. and my response to fem was *not* my most furious, not by a long shot. i think that we will just never find any common ground on these issues, by definition. i am a radfem, and she is a fun-fem. i still like her though.

as for fem’s statement that some females are privileged, *of course* they are! but the point that the radfems are making is that females are not privleged by way of thier GENDER. this is where intersectionality comes into play. if a woman is privileged, (and all of us here are in some way privileged, as we are literate and have internet access) its because of another privilege independent of her gender: she is white, or educated, or wealthy, or het. but by definition, women do not possess any kind of gender-based privilege, just like nonwhites dont possess white privilege, but can be privileged in other ways.

i would also add that many of womens intersectional privileges come from our associations with MEN who share those characteristics. for example, white women dont really have much social and political power because they belong to master class female, no matter whatever else they may be. for example, most CEOs/CFOs etc are all still men, not women of any race. but white women associate, relate, procreate etc largely with white men, and white men *do* have significant power, over us and over everyone else. and we benefit from that, most definitely. heterosexual women are still relatively powerless because they are women, but benefit largely from associating with the MEN. clearly, lesbian women of color dont relate to white men in the same ways as hetero white women do. they also arent going to relate to black men in the same way as het black women are, its the black men who have all the power in black communities. thus, lesbian WOC are going to find themselves at the bottom of almost every totem pole, where het white women are not.

in a similar vein, when white men do well, *some* white women do well, assuming we are married to them, related to them, rely on them for anything, or have given birth to them. when white men do well, black women do not benefit (many white women dont either, but some of them do).

sometimes, white women are involved in female-only “collectives” and this have total power and control over others, and can exercise white/het etc power that way, as we have seen described by both sides of the OOB controversy of late. but usually, this is not the case, and white womens power comes largely from relating to white men.

but when we are talking about gender-based power, men are the enemy: we dont gain any gender-based power by relating to them. they are the source of our gender-based oppression, in fact, and they dont give any of thier gender-based power back. we only share characteristic “gender” with other women, and other women cant give us any gender-based power either.

115. maggieclark - November 19, 2009

Hi FemSpotter,

Thanks for responding. I really appreciate your taking the time to answer. You suggest that rad-fems are fixated on “all or nothing” approaches: I’d suggest this is just as much an “all or nothing” approach as anything you’d criticize in the rad-fem sphere. I for one don’t believe that all persons who pursue chivalrous actions are doing it to exploit women. I also strongly feel a woman’s right to choose includes a woman’s right to choose to be a stay-at-home mother. I am a humanist first, and that plays well into my wish, in feminism, for women to be treated like humans first.

Where the difference arises is that I, like most rad-fems, am fixated on the notion of choice — creating it and protecting it for all women. To this end, I can absolutely see why the way you frame your comments would bring out accusations of being an MRA, or troll, or what-have-you in most rad-fem spheres: Because by pointing out the special positive cases in isolation, you seem to be presenting those cases as the norm. (And you do make these positive comments without a confirming nod to the reality of the horrible outcomes many positive outcomes are surrounded by — so that reads as pointedly denying the very existence of the former.)

I’d suggest you might have a lot better luck providing crucial, thought-provoking commentary if you were to frame your argument more as follows: “While X number of Y cases do exploit women under the gender oppressive paradigm, I think it’s important to think about the (100-X) number of Y cases where women aren’t exploited by this mechanism; and here are some examples to this end.”

I’d recommend this because you do make an excellent point: In any theory meant to account for Why Things Happen, it’s important to account for Why They Don’t. And then it’s important to ask, “Can these cases be reproduced in a way that maximizes accountability?” Because while it is absolutely excellent that your husband is so fantastic (and my best friend is male, too, so I feel very happy whenever I find a woman who similarly has what’s often perceived as an “impossible” sphere of male-female interaction), the question remains: Is it possible to endorse chivalric actions without opening more women up to abuse than would be otherwise, were we to endorse an end to chivalric gender-norms as a whole?

In short, for many of us rad-fems it comes down to minimizing risk while expanding choice. And minimizing risk means recognizing high risk factors in the present, gendered society. While I think your arguments are relevant inasmuch as they could help ensure we’re targeting the right oppressive force in any one situation, I highly doubt you’ll get rad-fems thinking you’re anything but a women’s issues denier if you frame your comments in comments that don’t acknowledge the many horrible experiences women suffer the globe over under the current gender-normative structure.

That said, again, thank you for clarifying your thoughts in a more holistic perspective: They really helped my understanding of the great chasms we still need to bridge in the pursuit of constructive feminist discourse as a whole. I think the discourse as a whole could greatly benefit from more comments in that vein.

All the best,

Maggie

116. thebeardedlady - November 19, 2009

OK. This may well be the wrong place for this post, and FCM if you think it’s a de-railer, please delete. But I want to ask your opinions about something and I thought as it’s about privilege, it might fit here.

My understanding of privilege is that it is an arbitrary advantage conferred on a person for being considered, through no fault or credit of their own, a member of a dominant class. So, I see male privilege, white privilege, social class privilege, heterosexual privilege, and able-body privilege. I’ll come on to other privileges, as that’s kind of what I want to ask about.

Privilege works at a structural level within society, creating both divisions and norms, and perpetuating the idea of ‘natural’ advantage and entitlement. It is enshrined in law, in the criminal justice system, in institutional practice. Often we talk about privilege on the individual level, where it is perhaps far too complicated by personality and emotions to properly apprehend. But the important thing about privilege is that it works on the level of society in general and is based on class divisions.

Privilege is dynamic, and evolves, but essentially it means that if you are a member of the privileged class, you are the ‘default’ human, and most things in society will be geared towards your convenience / mobility levels / needs / desires. As a privileged person, you do not necessarily see or acknowledge your privilege. A man might, for example, think that women are making a big fuss about nothing, because *he* has never seen a woman being sexually harassed in the street. His sense of natural entitlement leads him to believe that if others are treated as less than he is, that must be through some natural or inherent lack within them, and therefore he sees others as less than himself as a matter of course. Society supports this belief in the way in which the non-privileged classes are conditioned to serve and give comfort to the privileged classes, are afforded less human rights and less protection from the law, etc.

And so it goes.

Intersectionality means that within an oppressed class, such as /woman/, white women benefit from white privilege and will behave with a sense of entitlement which is oppressive and offensive to women of colour. Such behaviours could include anything from silencing to racist abuse and violence.

However, white women are still oppressed through male privilege, even when they are oppressing others. There are different vectors or channels of oppression. White women don’t oppress women of colour through their gender privilege (which they don’t have), but through their ‘race’ privilege.

OK. I’m clear on that. (And I’m sure someone will tell me if they think I’ve got this wrong).

What is bugging me is the references to stuff like educational privilege, the privilege of having internet access, the privilege of having a job. Now, these things, to me, do not count as privileges in the sense I’ve described privilege above.

For example, education is not an arbitrary ‘quality’ or attribute of a human being. Anyone of any class can be educated, in theory, while not everyone can be white, or male, or straight, or able-bodied. There is a lack of choice, of fixed-ness about these categories which doesn’t apply to something like education, or having a nice house.

Now, I’m not saying that education isn’t a privilege in the sense that it’s an advantage, a huge benefit, a wonderful thing, and something that we should be grateful for and respectful of.

And I’m also very clear that education is an advantage which is far more readily accessible to those people in privileged classes. I am aware that some people do try to suggest that education or lack of education are to do with personal choice or innate ability, implying that those who are less educated choose not to be educated, or cannot be because of some natural lack in themselves, whereas, when someone is not educated, it is almost always due to their being a member of an oppressed class. The lack/denial of education is a way of perpetuating privilege and oppression.

What I’m saying is that I do not think ‘educated’ is a class. And therefore education is not a privilege in and of itself. It is an advantage that you are much more likely to have if you are privileged. But I don’t see that there is an arbitrary distinction based on education / lack of education, whereby an educated and uneducated class is created. For one thing, ‘uneducated’ would be a very unstable and transitory class, which would undermine the whole idea of the natural permanance of privilege so vital to creating ideologies such as racism and sexism.

Education is, in my opinion, a Good and Desirable thing. It is not something which is granted to someone arbitrarily, but something which is achieved. For many oppressed people, education means freedom from poverty. More education is generally positive and progressive. Whereas being born male or white is just an accident of birth. And having more males or more white people is not going to make the world a better place.

One of the issues we’ve been discussing about transsexualism is to what extent it is possible to move from one class to another. The implication is that one aspect of the definition of class is that it is generally a permanent, though arbitrary, distinction. After all, if one could freely move from black to white, female to male, social divisions (and therefore power and privilege) would be impossible to uphold.

So, education, or having internet access, for example, seem to me to belong to the ‘very good things/advantages more readily available to privileged people’ definition of privilege, as opposed to the one outlined above.

If that’s the case, then cis privilege (assuming we accept the idea of cis-ness in the first place, which is not a given) would also fit into this latter category. An advantage that some women have over others in certain limited spheres, such as getting replacement birth certificates. And by this definition, trans-ness is also an advantage some have over others in certain spheres, such as reproductive issues.

In this definition, we can’t really call it cis privilege, but we can say that there are advantages which some women have over others, for reasons which include their sex at birth.

I’m happy with that, but I think that also means we cannot talk about education or internet access as a privilege. We can talk about it as an advantage that some women have over others. But it isn’t a privilege in the sense described above.

That’s my understanding of privilege, and of course people may well disagree with what I’ve said. But I feel like it’s important to have clarity about this. Because if we call education a privilege, then why not being a fab woman? We can’t accuse others of playing fast and loose with definitions if ours don’t hold up to critical scrutiny. Is privilege a class-based system of oppression? Or is it an advantage that anyone (in theory) can have?

(I do want to stress though that I think there is an additional issue with cis-ness in that I don’t believe that there is any such thing.)

117. thebeardedlady - November 19, 2009

Aaargggh! sorry, it’s so long! Didn’t realise I was banging on quite so much. Delete, and I’ll try to condense into something more manageable. Thanks🙂

118. thinkaboutit - November 19, 2009

My husband pulls out my chair and holds the door for me. That’s privilege, baby; and yes, I would imagine those aspiring to womanhood aspire to bask in chivalry

Yes, I dream all day of a life when I won’t have to do all that onerous sitting down and door opening for myself. I often say to myself “Polly, life would be perfect if it weren’t for all this blasted door opening/sitting down malarkey”.

119. thinkaboutit - November 19, 2009

And here, having said most everything I’ve got to say, I must leave the conversation before my head explodes…..

factcheckme - November 19, 2009

hey TBL, if you really want me to delete, let me know. i am ok with the way it is. i think there are only a very few types of privileges, and you have hit on all of them (race/sex/ability are the big ones). access to education and resources (including internet) are indicative of first-world privilege, i think. an accident of birth, if you will. you are right though that we shouldnt be playing it fast and loose with the definitions. but i would definitely call being born in a developed nation a privilege. as in, something thats conferred upon you at birth, and has nothing to do with you, or anything good or bad that you did. and education, once it moves beyond “access to education” to actual degrees on your wall will affect your class standing. you are right though, its tricky when you start calling things that are transient “privleges.” race/sex/ability are the only ones (in the US) that we are willing to protect from discrimination, for exactly that reason: the others you can control, hide, choose, change etc. very few are innate.

to clarify, when i say that we are first-world privileged internet addicts, i am comparing us to people born in undeveloped nations, rather than to our own neighbors who may or may not have internet access, for whatever reason.

what do you think?

120. thebeardedlady - November 19, 2009

Hey FCM, I was just worried about spinning off into another derailment, but I’m happy for the post to be there if you’re cool with it.

The only thing I’d say about the idea of first world privilege is that it runs the risk of invisibilising people in the first world who genuinely don’t have the advantages that we associate with being born in the first world. Things like enough food to eat, decent life expectancy, access to resources, the internet, education etc. To be born in the first world is not necessarily to be born into privilege.

Having said that, I think that being born in the third world is probably to be born into oppression. The first world exists because the third world exists. So, yes, it therefore is a privileged class, even though the privileges are very unevenly distributed. I suppose because it is a much larger class. Also, many people who live in the first world don’t get first world privilege because they were born in the third world.

Yes, I wasn’t trying to be nitpicky, just trying to work it out, really. Hence the slow, lumbering trudge from point to point as I worked my way to my pitifully obvious and largely irrelevant conclusion…

factcheckme - November 20, 2009

TBL, apon reflection, i think that being born in the first-world might be the best example of a privilege there is. because (for example) americans use more of many different kinds of resources per capita than any other nation on earth. if you live here, you almost have to use more than your fair share of many resources, including fuel, building materials, and particularly if your diet is based on animal protein, which is very inefficient to produce (many people in many other countries rely on vegeable-based diets… you know, what we feed to our food!)

this is a way that someone living in privilege (as in, oppressing other people and having your very existance come at the expense of someone else’s, or someone else’s wellbeing) wouldnt necessarily even know it, and they might not think they have it good, and they may in fact have it pretty shitty (i am thinking about those people STILL living in FEMA trailers) but how many resources are they using simply for the fact of being alive in this country? how many resources are used and waste produced to build a FEMA trailer, as opposed to say a grass hut? even homeless people in the US are consuming resources, you cant NOT consume them (although some people use less than average). heres some interesting reading regarding the per-capita usage of some common resources:


While many of the environmental impacts of humankind closely map demographic indicators, this leaves out one vital component: consumption. The per-capita consumption of key natural resources varies hugely around the world. Typically, but not universally, the citizens of rich industrialized nations use more of the world’s resources and produce more waste. Sometimes they thereby deplete their own environments; sometimes other people’s. [Add] For many resources, the United States of America is the world’s largest consumer in absolute terms. For a list of 20 major traded commodities, it takes the greatest share of 11 of them: corn, coffee, copper, lead, zinc, tin, aluminum, rubber, oil seeds, oil and natural gas. For many more it is the largest per-capita consumer. A typical example is meat. China, with the world’s largest population, is the highest overall producer and consumer of meat, but the highest per-capita consumption in the world is that of the United States. The average United States citizen consumes more than three times the global average of 37 kilos per person per year. Africans consume less than half the global average, and South Asians consume the least, at under 6 kilos per person per year [1]. [Add]

http://atlas.aaas.org/index.php?part=2

note however that this in NO WAY gives any legitimacy to the idea of cis- or cis-privilege. again, the white race and male sex are true privileges within a white supremecist patriarchy, by definition. and they operate in one direction only, where whites oppress non-whites and males oppress females.

born-women do not exist to the detriment of transpersons: we fucking give birth to them. all the protections they have from rape and intimate partner abuse are because of the fight WE have been putting up, all this time. the privileges we have (to the extent that we have them) are NOT gender-based privileges, at all, therefore we arent oppressing anyone based on gender, either. privilege exists against oppression, they are opposite sides of the same coin. its very easy to see this relationship when you look at first-world privilege (consumption and waste) which very obviously oppresses people around the world, due to limited resources and limited space in which to put our waste. theres no such privilege/oppression with regard to born-women oppressing transpersons.

121. thebeardedlady - November 20, 2009

I agree with everything you said, fcm. You’re right about first world privilege – even homeless people have it, yes. We all benefit from having our toxic waste shipped out to a third world country where young children get to sift through it for useful leftovers.

And like you say, it does help to clarify the whole cis privilege issue. There’s no privilege/oppression dynamic there.

122. factcheckme - November 21, 2009

i was linked to as a “transphobic feminist” by the feminist legal theory blog. heres the comment that i tried to post in response to their accusation (thier blog is restricted as to comments…big surprise!)

it bothers me very much that you linked to my blog, and my anti-pornography article, as an example of “feminists furthering transphobia” and in fact accusing me and my work of perpetuating and condoning, literally, murder of transpersons. this is a gross misinterpretation and misrepresentation of my work, and a hilarious extrapolation of my ability to “further” the murderous violence of people who dont even read my blog.

firstly, considering that you are speaking about gendered violence, feminsts are not the problem, so your aim is off; patriarchy, male privilege, and mens homophobia are the source of all gendered violence, a problem that born-women and transwomen must navigate, and survive.

secondly, my blog is geared toward women and feminists: those who would perpetrate gendered violence (men) or support it are not going to find any support from me or my words, even if they come across my blog by mistake. homophobic, entitled, misogynist, violent offenders arent going to be spending much time reading anything i write, although they somtimes find themselves there through disgusting keyword searches such as “rape porn.” as soon as they realize that i dont support or host the disgusting material they are looking for, do you suppose they stick around for a radfem analysis of their misogyny and male privlege? i doubt it.

transpersons have little to fear from women in general, and certainly not from women critical of gendered violence, and supportive of social and legal services for victims of male violence. radical feminists are doing much of the heavy lifting, in point of fact, when it comes to furthering womens interests internationally. the work we have done to protect women from intimate partner violence and rape benefits transpersons as well, although your words belie the truth of the matter, dont they?

as long as you are quoting me, how about quoting this as well, to give a more accurate portrayal of my viewpoint: “i feel that trans-persons deserve human rights, legal rights, and every protection that everyone else deserves, and that they should not be physically harmed or discriminated against.”

https://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/sorry-sex-pos-transwomen/#comment-336

heres the link to their article, which is about the “day of rememberance” of murdered transpersons. how fitting, that they would blame a radical feminist for perpetuating male violence. or, as mr. FCM likes to say: THATS RICH.

http://femlegaltheory.blogspot.com/2009/11/remembering-dead.html

123. polly - November 21, 2009

The F word, a UK ‘feminist’ blog has a story about international transgender day of remembrance. Meanwhile they have ignored this story about a ‘cis’ woman who was killed by her husband when she told him she was a lesbian. He was cleared of murder of course….

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6896070.ece

A man who stabbed his wife more than 30 times with a variety of knives after she confessed to having an affair was cleared of her murder yesterday.

The family of Sally Sinclair, a senior executive for Vodafone, were distraught that her husband, Alisdair, was instead found guilty of manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility. “He didn’t just kill her, he annihilated her,” said Mrs Sinclair’s mother, Nicki Alford, outside Winchester Crown Court.

Part of the attack at the couple’s rented £1 million home in Alport, Hampshire, last August was witnessed by children.

The court was told that Sinclair, who did not work, was jealous and was so controlling that he did not allow his wife her own bank account.

Sinclair, 48, said that he had been suffering depression, brought on by the deaths of his father and grandmother, and that in the weeks before the attack he had been taking painkillers, smoking 100 cigarettes a day and hoarding clothes, which he bought in several sizes in case he put on or lost weight. The court was also told that Sinclair bought high-performance cars but never drove them in case they got dirty.

Several weeks before her death, Mrs Sinclair, 40, had asked her husband of more than 20 years for a divorce, citing his depression. He said that his condition worsened when she told him that she was a lesbian.

124. polly - November 21, 2009

PS FCM, I see the blog you linked to has got 0 comments. Probably trying the old ‘trying to get my stats up by linking to a more popular blog’ trick.

I’d ignore them if I were you. But remind when exactly is ‘cis day of remembrance’. Oh that’s right – NEVER!

125. polly - November 21, 2009

Oh and while we’re at it, can I just explain what feminist theory on biological essentialism ie “biology is destiny” IS for the stupid.

What the often quoted phrase ‘biology is destiny’ refers to is that people who are born with certain sex characteristics are assumed to only be able to behave in certain ways, live in certain ways, and do certain things.

Here’s a really good explanation.

http://factcheckme.newsvine.com/_news/2009/07/08/3008444-biological-essentialism-what-is-it

It’s got nothing to do with changing one’s physical body by surgery or hormones. And if you think because you have a strong feeling you’re a “woman”, you need to take oestrogen and have SRS, you’re the one practising biological essentialism. Ask Jasper.

126. polly - November 21, 2009

And you know what low stats blogger. I’ll start being an ally to people when they’re an ally to me. Which includes not ignoring at best, or promulating at worse, misoygny, homophobia and the bullshit about ‘gender’ that both of those stem from.

factcheckme - November 21, 2009

you just linked to me polly. where did you find that? LOL i have a version of the “biological essentialism–what is it?” article here on femonade, although i made a few changes when i realized that radfems arent essentialists…the reading i did on mary daly in college threw me, but now i know better. actually, i am headed over to newsvine right now to change that article too. it makes me sick knowing that i might unintentionally convince anyone that radical feminists are essentialists. as i have realized, men and women *are* different. anti-feminists and other essentalists say that is “naturally” the case, but just replace “naturally” with “actually” and you have a better argument, and one thats compatible with radical feminism and is not anti-feminist.

127. polly - November 21, 2009

I googled biological essentialism, and it came up. I think it’s still a good explanation. Personally I believe there are no differences between men and women other than biological ones. There are differences (overall) between male and female behaviour, particularly WRT physical violence and sexual assault, but they’re the product of patriarchy, not nature.

I think there definitely was a strain of feminism in the 70’s particularly that was essentialist.

128. had it - November 21, 2009

I know stats on violence towards any/everybody are hard to get an accurate number on, especially for the population of the whole world. But in the near-complete blanket coverage of tdor yesterday on feminist and other blogs, I kept seeing a figure of somewhere around 160 trans women being murdered this past year. And I kept seeing it presented as that being the total for maybe all of Europe and the US or something?

Meanwhile, as you note, Polly, there is no day of remembrance, let alone blanket coverage of same, for the over 1500 women killed by male people – mostly intimates – every year in the United States ALONE. What the figure is world wide, I couldn’t hazard a guess. But it’s clearly well over ten times that of trans women. Which comparison would not be relevant at all were it not for trans activists proclaiming over and over again that they are THE most vulnerable/oppressed/victimized-by-violence type of women on the planet.

Also, in “what you can do to help” admonishments by often-straight, often-white “feminists” is the repeated demand – literally at the TOP of such lists – that female people “make sure” that any designated women’s space and any rape or domestic violence shelters/services serve trans women. No demands that straight women actually set up shelters themselves, or that trans women build and volunteer to run their own services. Nope, it’s female-centered, often lesbian women’s responsibility to do all that work as well, for everybody.

Well, I’d gladly free up some space at any given shelter for any/all trans women in exchange for booting all the sanctimonious, lesbian-hating straight women who sit on the sidelines and give orders.

129. maggieclark - November 21, 2009

FCM, that right there (in the false dichotomy of anti-cis-gender = pro-transphobia) is a low-down manipulation of your comments and commitment to open feminist discourse. I hope to all fuck they allow TBL’s comment, and hopefully others like it, up with the piece.

That said, if it helps at all, I was dead serious when I said you inspired a new approach to my feminism; and after sitting with this issue for a week now, I’ve changed my blog and predicated its new identity on a statement of self-discovery propounded on this notion of cis privilege, and its intersection with the existing presentation of “gender” in feminist discourse.

I absolutely don’t expect comment, or even for the whole darn thing to be read, but I just wanted you to know that you’ve provoked a lot of positive discourse, too. Thank you for continuing to write on the toughest corners of contemporary feminism, and allowing fair discourse to emerge therein!

All the best,

Maggie

130. polly - November 21, 2009

Well from a very unexpected quarter, there comes an acknowledgement of the problems of appropriation and that murders of trans people may be as much to do, or more to do with race, sex or the risks of sex work (or indeed cultural factors given that the vast majority of them occur in south America) as the trans status of the victims. But I’m glad to see this – I would like to have seen homophobia included though.

http://questioningtransphobia.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/the-drowned-and-the-saved/

It shouldn’t come down to this, because of course one murder of any human being is equally as appalling as any other. But it gets very frustrating when supposedly general feminist blogs only ever seem to write about the deaths of trans women. I’m not saying they shouldn’t write about the deaths of trans women, but it’d be nice to hear about other women being murdered.

131. polly - November 21, 2009
132. polly - November 21, 2009

Oh and – Approximately 100 women in the UK are murdered by their intimate partners every year.

http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic_violence_topic.asp?section=0001000100220036&itemTitle=Statistics

As far as I know, given the high proportion of sex workers among trans people murdered, and the accounts I’ve read of murders, one of the most common situations in which a trans person is murdered is by a client. So more DV shelters wouldn’t really help that much anyway. Helping trans people out of sex work obviously would, but again cultural factors, particularly in South America, come into play.

133. polly - November 22, 2009

Some time ago the F word posted this post.

http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2008/08/an_open_letter_2

When I complained, they copped out by saying it was the views of the individual author (though it’s a group blog and they’ve published apologies for other things fast enough). Can I suggest that they take their own advice and all their trans women bloggers who go on about how terrible ‘cis feminists’ are writed about some of the ‘cis women’ being murdered every day?

No, thought not.

134. polly - November 22, 2009

I am going to make a request of you. This blog is structured in a way that largely educates cis folk. I know that I have a notable cis readership. Well now, you have homework. Go out, research. Find one person who was lost. One of my sisters (or brothers or nonbinary siblings, as they are taken too). Find out everything you can about them. Don’t pry. Only public things. Things they offered to the world. Imagine them in real life. Imagine knowing them. Imagine losing them. And then celebrate their life.

Learn those stories. And always remember, someday, I could be on that list.

And perhaps you can think genderbitch about all the ‘cis’ women feminists who have been close to death, at the hands of men. Those women you deride. Without ever bothering to find out THEIR stories. Maybe you can do YOUR homework and find out about all the ‘cis’ women killed in the world today, and yesterday, and the ones who died just of being female. Like the women who die of Aids (but we only ever hear about the white men). Like the 529,000 women PER YEAR who die in childbirth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maternal_death

And so on, and so on, and so on. Do you think I have ever feared violence because of my sexual orientation genderbitch? Yes I have. Do I expect to ever hear about the plight of ‘cis’ women from you? No I don’t.

135. thebeardedlady - November 22, 2009

I just read through that F word thread and it made me fucking furious. How did the transgenderism lobby get to be so fucking powerful? It’s clear that what they are really, really good at is SILENCING women and feminists. And the best way they have of doing that is this whole TRANSPHOBIA! bullshit.

One of the commenters on that thread referred to the poster as ‘zie’ because the sex of the poster wasn’t known. And the poster came back with how this was TRANSPHOBIC! because it was ‘third-gendering’ her! And when the commenter explained she had used the same pronoun for everyone, because she didn’t want to make a mistake which might hurt someone’s feelings, and explained all this in a very clear, conciliatory way, she got told it didn’t matter what her intentions were, it was still TRANSPHOBIC!

In other words, it doesn’t matter what women say, if trans activists don’t like it, they shout TRANSPHOBIA! and they keep shouting it and shouting it in our faces until they make us shut up.

And of course the hate campaign against rad fems is because rad fems have seen right through this and refuse to be told to be silent.

And how did they get to be the ones calling all the shots and telling US we have to ally with them – and if we don’t do that on their terms we are ‘bad’ feminists and transphobes? What the fuck? When women have been fighting against gendered violence for centuries. When women die at the hands of misogynist MALES every single day. When the trans women who are killed are killed because of misogyny and homophobia, which rad fems are obviously fighting AGAINST.

How have they done all this? Because they are MALES and they use their stinking MALE PRIVILEGE and AUTHORITY and lifetime sense of ENTITLEMENT to tell women what to do.

This is fucked up. This is just woman-hating bullshit.

136. polly - November 22, 2009

Well I don’t know that getting to dictate terms on the F word is ‘powerful’, TBL, since I don’t think TFW has that much real life influence. Quite a lot scarier is stuff like the Gender Recognition Act which tells us ‘gender dysphoria’ is real, and if you’ve got it, and you’ve got a penis, you’re legally a woman. No surgery required.

137. polly - November 22, 2009

But I think that thread pissed a lot of people off. Not just me and M Andrea.

138. polly - November 22, 2009

It’s interesting. If I say anything at all mildly critical I am murdering transwomen. Trans activist spout endless homophobic nonsense, but they’re not guilty of murdering lesbians, no sirree.

139. Laurelin - November 22, 2009

Just had a look at F-word. Their report (so far) on Reclaim the Night London just goes on about trans. Yeah, ignore the thousands of women marching against male violence. Ignore the fact that the march has always been trans inclusive.

It’s insulting. Fucking insulting.

140. Laurelin - November 23, 2009

Revision to my earlier comment: the F-Word has now covered RTN in more depth, which is good to see.

141. polly - November 23, 2009

Some time ago I wrote about a march that was advertised as specifically trans inclusive, and someone told me that that was – guess what – TRANSPHOBIC – because you wouldn’t advertise a march as specifically open to black women for example, and it implied that trans women weren’t women.

Now I’ll just go and eat my transphobic tea, with a transphobic knife and fork, followed by a transphobic cup of coffee.

142. maggieclark - November 23, 2009

Hi polly,

I’ve been following all your links and comments with much shared frustration at their source, but this last just takes the cake:

Some time ago I wrote about a march that was advertised as specifically trans inclusive, and someone told me that that was – guess what – TRANSPHOBIC – because you wouldn’t advertise a march as specifically open to black women for example, and it implied that trans women weren’t women.

Jesus, that’s depressing. Again, as so many people have said above, the vast majority of transpersons we know and love in real life are NOT self-righteous, nothing’s-ever-good-enough feminist saboteurs, but good lord, the crazies are sure permitted to run amok without any internal checks and balances in either the trans activist or feminist communities online.

After all, I’m pretty damn confident if a cultural feminist came onto these forums and said in all seriousness that men need to be oppressed for the next few eons to make up for all the time they’ve been oppressing women, we’d recognize how vile and antithetical any pro-oppression statement is to feminist aims, and trounce them in a heartbeat.

So why are those trans activists with the vicious, feminist-community-fragmenting agenda not being smacked down in turn? Where the hell are the trans moderates decrying the damage these extremists do to their activist cause? Or is it just that, so long as feminists keep letting these extremists get away with it, the damage isn’t apparent enough to make the moderates put a stop to it?

Just throwing these questions out there, though I doubt they’ll fare any better than did my very reasonable questions about the concrete policy implications of various intersections between trans and feminist thought under mainstream feminism’s existing, holistic inclusion of trans activist aims.

That said, thanks again for your series of comments to date; they’ve been discouraging, but exceptionally informative to this outside reader.

All the best,

Maggie

143. polly - November 23, 2009

So why are those trans activists with the vicious, feminist-community-fragmenting agenda not being smacked down in turn? Where the hell are the trans moderates decrying the damage these extremists do to their activist cause?

Well they all get told they’re transphobic as well Maggie for being ‘off message’. Seriously. And they probably think they can’t be arsed, as I did in the end. I just can’t be bothered with the cis-sies any more, let them run round in ever decreasing circles flagellating themselves for their ‘privilege’. It’s their lives.

Yes of course the level of violence against trans people is appalling. As is the level of violence against lesbians, against gay men, against black people, against disabled people. Oh and WOMEN. Hello trans activists? You are not the only victims of hate crimes you know?

144. Max - November 24, 2009

What happened to you? You used to be intelligent, compassionate, and consumed with a love for learning and teaching. Now you sound like a close-minded, dogmatic bigot that resorts to logical fallacy whenever met with something that challenges your self-absorbed obsession with your girl-parts.

Oppression is bigger than misogyny. Stop being selfish.

factcheckme - November 24, 2009

max, go fuck yourself. you are a white, male, self-proclaimed third-wave feminist, which makes your opinions here truly irrelevant.


You used to be intelligent, compassionate, and consumed with a love for learning and teaching.


still am. its funny though, isnt it, that the moment i leave *your* comfort zone, that somehow *i* have changed? rather than you looking at and considering what i am saying, and that i am the same educated, honest, well-versed feminist i always was?

by the way, your putting up my links on your live journal brought over at least one reader who was fascinated by the radfem analysis here, and found it immensely helpful. i know thats not what you were going for, when you asked all your trans-activist third-waver friends for help, but there you go. *you* are fucking selfish, and intellectually dishonest. ok? and i am not the first one to notice. and your aggressive, entitled stance here on MY blog is telling, isnt it?

get the fuck out of here. bye.

145. thebeardedlady - November 24, 2009

Yep, women who speak their minds are always ‘selfish’. And women who are angry are always ‘obsessed’. Heard it all before, Max…

factcheckme - November 24, 2009

yep, yep, and yep, TBL. nothing new under the sun.

146. Laurelin - November 24, 2009

“something that challenges your self-absorbed obsession with your girl-parts.”

Reeks of misogyny, Max. Absolutely reeks.
Oh and btw? Men don’t get to tell women what their political priorities should be.

147. Laurelin - November 24, 2009

What Max should have said:

Hi factcheckme,

it seems that we are not in agreement on this issue. I’ll bow out here, and read up on the arguments posted on this thread by you and other women so I can see where you are coming from.

Best wishes,
Max

factcheckme - November 24, 2009

good point, laurelin. but then, what kind of a self-important, self-serving, sex-pozzie, self-proclaimed third-wave male-feminist would he be?

148. maggieclark - November 24, 2009

Hey Max,

We’re LJ friends, and that ain’t changing; and others have already commented quite effectively in response to much of your last comment; but I still feel the need to point out something that greatly upsets me about how you responded to FCM.

Specifically:

“What happened to you? You used to be intelligent, compassionate, and consumed with a love for learning and teaching. Now you sound like a close-minded, dogmatic bigot that resorts to logical fallacy whenever met with something that challenges your self-absorbed obsession with your girl-parts.

Oppression is bigger than misogyny. Stop being selfish.”

The first half of your comment (at least) commits just such logical fallacy — pushing the discourse away from the argument itself, and onto FCM’s reputation as a person. I really wish you’d pointed out concrete instances of the logical fallacy you see in her original post instead of taking such a derailing tactic. I wouldn’t be surprised if that comment alone keeps you from being able to post again on this thread (for obvious reasons, I hope), but if you do want to ask the question, “What brings feminists to this particular discourse?”, I’m very open to discussing it with you on a more private forum — LJ, perhaps, or my most recent post, “My Gender Is Not My Own” on my wordpress blog.

Just an option, if you’re curious and would feel more comfortable talking with me instead.

Also, I also still haven’t received any response to the concrete policy questions I laid out earlier, with regard to how best feminism is to cope with the implicit incongruities between many trans and explicitly-feminist activist aims. Is this because there aren’t any answers to be had, or just because the answers that can be had aren’t the most in keeping with a unified stance against gender oppression?

All the best,

Maggie

factcheckme - November 24, 2009


Also, I also still haven’t received any response to the concrete policy questions I laid out earlier, with regard to how best feminism is to cope with the implicit incongruities between many trans and explicitly-feminist activist aims. Is this because there aren’t any answers to be had, or just because the answers that can be had aren’t the most in keeping with a unified stance against gender oppression?


i noticed that too, and i hope that if no answers are forthcoming, that at least the detractors here read and are considering the questions. frankly, i dont think many internet trans-activists are the sharpest knives in the drawer. and i am 100% certain that the vast majority of MTF transwomen were *not* feminists before they transitioned, or before they became interested in transissues, and how it affected them. maybe they just dont know *how* to perform a legitimate feminist anaylsis.

the obvious misunderstanding of logic is telling as well, and so is the overemphasis of “personal experience” because it glosses over the very tangible problem that many of them are unable to think critically about anything, let alone something so personal to them. call me crazy, and a big green meanie. i know. fun-fems and transactivists also like to gloss over (when they arent romantisicing it) the fact that many transwomen are uneducated, poor sex workers too, but where is that getting them? this is a source of thier oppression, as uneducated, poor, born-women sex workers are oppressed, too. but the transactivists think its mean to point out that many of them are literally unable to reason in an intelligent, or theory-based way. that they have nothing *beyond* their own personal experience to guide them. oh well, i guess i am mean then, for demanding more when discussing it. on my own fucking blog, no less.

of course, i think the answers to your questions are in direct opposition to transpolitics in general, so they have everything to gain from avoiding questions such as the ones you pose, altogether. even max ignored them, and hes one of the edu-macated ones!

factcheckme - November 24, 2009

re: uneducated sex workers and their perspectives

i would also add that i have heard the testimonies of ex-porn actors for example that say things like “if i knew then what i know now” and absolutely lament at how naive and yes ingnorant they were when they first got into the business. shelley lubben got genital herpes on the porn set, and was impregnated the first time she had sex for money, because her john was asian and “too small” for the condom (she describes this in excruciating detail in videos on her facebook and blog). over and over again she laments at how stupid, naive, uneducated etc she was. and how YOUNG she was at the time she was doing all this. you can tell just how uneducated she is in fact, because shes also racist as hell. its painful to watch, and to hear about her experiences all the while she isnt a completely “sympathetic” character herself (with her racist, fake asian accent she uses when describing her john for example).

in her testimonials, nothing she said was feminist, in any way. shes not a feminist. shes also a born-again christian, and therefore anti-feminist by design. her guilt, and the fact that she repeatedly referrs to herself as a “whore” can and should be deconstructed from a feminist perspective, for feminists who are interested in sex work and sex workers, for example. yet we are supposed to just buy the perspectives that transwomen are selling us wholesale? and accept them as inherently feminist, too? please. testimonies are important, but they arent inherently feminist. even shelly lubbens isnt, even though it supports my own anti-porn and anti-prostitution position.

and it occurs to me that the transactivists and fun-fems would probably have no problem dismissing shelley lubben’s testimony out of hand, because it doesnt jive with their sex pozzie, pro-porn agenda. and they are the ones who supposedly believe that “lived experience” is so important.

factcheckme - November 24, 2009

i have a new post up re: the vaue of “personal narratives” and taking lived experience at face value.

149. polly - November 25, 2009

Stop being selfish.

Yes FCM learn your place and stop demanding to be treated as equal to males FFS! Don’t you know their needs are more important?

Max you are an arsehole.

factcheckme - November 25, 2009

LOL @ polly

150. James - November 26, 2009

Your comparison points are weak, FCM. Cis is a privilege because it helps stop you getting the shit kicked out of you in alleys, classrooms & homes. It’s no guarantee that that won’t still happen, but it won’t happen for the reason it happens to trans people.

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

women get the shit kicked out of them all the time, james, for being women. theres no such thing as cis-privilege, just male privilege. that pretty much explains why its men doing the beating, and not women.

besides, you cant even prove that theres any such thing as “cis-” and i challenge you to try. read the comments where we discuss brain differences at birth, and ex-post facto studies.

151. Laurelin - November 26, 2009

Just so you know, factcheckme, James is very disruptive on other threads at Nine Deuce’s. He actually insulted and triggered me so much that I had to tell him (and then tell ND to tell him) to never address me again (a promise which I expect him to honour even now, perhaps naively).

He is no friend to women, and delights in insulting them.

152. Laurelin - November 26, 2009

Let me rephrase: delights in insulting women who hold radical feminist viewpoints. He’s polite to the women who say what he wants to hear.

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

thanks laurelin. i get the picture. he has also emailed me and asked me to engage him off-blog. i declined to respond.

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

LOL typical. seems that we have several of those here. max being one of them.

153. Laurelin - November 26, 2009

Off-blog eh? what a special little petal.

I don’t understand why they aren’t ashamed when their assholery is pointed out to them. I mean, if I am unnecessarily mean, I apologise. That’s what people with courage and integrity do.

I certainly don’t continue to torment and then act like my human rights have been breached when I’m told to fuck off.

And why the sex poz women cannot see the contempt for women that so blatently screams from their remarks is beyond me.

154. James - November 26, 2009

I shall not respond to Laurelin directly, but I find the notion that it is possible to “disrupt” an ND thread rather strange. It’s a volatile place, she’s been far ruder than I’ve been, there, & insulted a good deal more feminists.

As for me contacting you off-blog, Femonade, that isn’t strictly true. I contacted you via the “Contact” feature you installed. The message was one line long, asking for your comment on this:
http://pennyred.blogspot.com/2009/11/no-feminism-without-trans-feminism-for.html It is not appreciated that you seemingly attempt to make that event out as something sinister. If you do not wish people to contact you via the section of your blog entitled “Contact” then you ought to remove, or at least rename, it.

As for you substantative point (& I thank you for raising one, rather than simply insulting me): your claim that men do not have the shit kicked out of them is untrue. According to crime statistics in Britain, at least, men are more commonly the targets of street violence than women. You may claim that this is because women get their beatings at home, but that does not detract from the fact that men are very often assaulted. “By other men!” is the standard reply. Well yes, for the most part, but I doubt that that is a particularly great consolation to people mugged, stabbed or slapped around.

As for proving “cis” exists, I struggle to see why that should be needed beyond pointing out that there are those who feel “at home” in their bodies (I am one of them) with regards to gender allocation & physical body parts, & those who do not. Without a rather monstruous assumption of bad faith, I struggle to see how you could come to any other conclusion. I’d also suggest that the field of neurology is one which a great deal of expertise is needed to make any sense of, & that even someone wielding that is still operative within a fledgling field, which is still only a few decades away from the “sticking stilletos through somebody’s eyeballs will reconfigure their demeanor” stage.

155. James - November 26, 2009

I meant to say eyesocket. That’s hardly all that much better…

factcheckme - November 26, 2009


As for you substantative point (& I thank you for raising one, rather than simply insulting me): your claim that men do not have the shit kicked out of them is untrue.


never said that, james. try again? or better, dont. dont bother. you clearly cant read, or comprehend, or both.


As for proving “cis” exists, I struggle to see why that should be needed beyond pointing out that there are those who feel “at home” in their bodies (I am one of them) with regards to gender allocation & physical body parts, & those who do not.


the whole point of cis- is that its *allegedy* a privilege that you get innately, by being born into a body that matches its brain. in order to prove that cis-privilege exists (you cant, BTW) you would first have to prove that cis-exists. and noone has been able to do that. because its impossible. for all you or anyone else knows, all our bodies match our brains when we are born. its impossible to prove otherwise. so for all you know, we are all cis-. and if we are all cis- then nobody is cis-. get it? good.

156. James - November 26, 2009

FCM: “women get the shit kicked out of them all the time, james, for being women. theres no such thing as cis-privilege, just male privilege.” How exactly is “not having the shit kicked out of you” part of male privilege if males get the shit kicked out of them, then? It was most certainly implied by your text that men are immune to this sort of treatment, if that was not your meaning then I struggle to think of any other one you could extract from that part of your comment.

Additionally, I’d say that you are being deeply disingenuous if you are claiming that transexuals are not at greater risk of encountering violence than those who are not in a trans-state. Indeed, they are the targets of violence purely because they are trans (for such an instance view the film Boys Don’t Cry, or read up on the true story behind it.

the whole point of cis- is that its *allegedy* a privilege that you get innately, by being born into a body that matches its brain. in order to prove that cis-privilege exists (you cant, BTW) you would first have to prove that cis-exists. and noone has been able to do that

That is not the “whole point”, since it’s not my view, or the view of many transexuals. You would do well to read that article I sent you, FCM, for it would show this claim of yours up as obvious nonsense & leave the point you attempt to follow through with rather obviously moot & null.

I don’t really know where you got the view from that everyone who uses the term “cisgendered” is a biological essentialist. If anything I’d noticed it was somewhat negatively correlative…

factcheckme - November 26, 2009


How exactly is “not having the shit kicked out of you” part of male privilege if males get the shit kicked out of them, then?


anyone feel like doing some 101 on james here? no? me neither.


I don’t really know where you got the view from that everyone who uses the term “cisgendered” is a biological essentialist.


um, because they are? sheesh. the whole point is that its INNATE and therefore a privilege, like race privilege. its difficult to keep up with though, i will give you that, because they are willing to stretch the concept of cis- to beyond its breaking point to support their ridiculous claim that born-women have any power over them. i am telling you, its a fucking ruse, designed to create confusion amongst the girls while the men take center stage, and all the resources. just the accusation that we are oppressing anyone is designed to paralyze. luckily for honest discourse, and for feminism, it hasnt completely worked. not on all factions anyway.

157. polly - November 26, 2009

How exactly is “not having the shit kicked out of you” part of male privilege if males get the shit kicked out of them, then?

Who does the kicking James?

think. about. it.

158. polly - November 26, 2009

women get the shit kicked out of them all the time, james, for being women.

And lesbians (who are women unless you’re monique wittig or Zoe Brain) get the shit kicked out of them for being lesbians. And gay men get the shit kicked out of them for being gay men. And people get MURDERED for being disabled (also lesbians and gay men get murdered as well of course).

Your point being James?

159. maggieclark - November 26, 2009

Hi James,

Your statements stand in conflict. Specifically:

Cis is a privilege because it helps stop you getting the shit kicked out of you in alleys, classrooms & homes. It’s no guarantee that that won’t still happen, but it won’t happen for the reason it happens to trans people.

and

How exactly is “not having the shit kicked out of you” part of male privilege if males get the shit kicked out of them, then?

The former asserts that cis privilege is a reality that causes trans persons to get beaten for different reasons than cis persosns. The latter asserts that there is no privilege at work when women get beaten because men get beaten too.

Could you please clarify how these two statements fit into a cohesive worldview?

All the best,

Maggie

160. polly - November 26, 2009

As for proving “cis” exists, I struggle to see why that should be needed beyond pointing out that there are those who feel “at home” in their bodies (I am one of them) with regards to gender allocation & physical body parts, & those who do not.

Well indeed such self satisfied people do exist James but do you ever read anything? I’ll start you off with the Daily Mail, and why women hate their bodies…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/beauty/article-1230089/Why-DO-women-loathe-looks-asks-Loose-Womens-Sherrie-Hewson.html

factcheckme - November 26, 2009


Could you please clarify how these two statements fit into a cohesive worldview?


no.

LOL sorry. james? anything?

161. Laurelin - November 26, 2009

Factcheckme, I’ve emailed you that James/me thread from ND’s (just the relevent bits!) for your amusement🙂

Right now I’m sitting back and enjoying the show!

162. polly - November 26, 2009

James, it’s worth pointing out that trans people only get the shit kicked out of them if their trans status is known. In other words for being gender non conforming, so it’s not the trans bit that’s the problem, it’s the gender transgression.

Which as I have pointed out about a hundred times by now is called homophobia. People assume they’re big gays.

163. polly - November 26, 2009

PS James, looking at the piece you have linked it appears that there are several comments already there. Can I suggest that if FCM had wanted to be one of them, she might have commented?

Interestingly it links to THIS piece where people are commenting on AROOO a blog I quite publicly fell out with (some of the slower commenters haven’t caught on to this fact).

http://rozk.livejournal.com/288386.html

I’d like to ask Penny Red if she supports the kind of racism and rape threats being currently directed at the Arooo bloggers. I’d like to ask if you support them as well James.

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

i have been getting tons of traffic from that site polly. i am famous with this crowd. does that mean i get to be rape-threated, too?

164. polly - November 26, 2009

And james you would do well to find out something about UK law before saying Penny Red’s article shows FCM up.

Penny Red says this:

Were SRS an accepted way of policing the boundaries of gender non-conformity in any half-sane nation state, Bindel’s equation of the surgery with “mutilation” would be more than valid – it would be urgent. However, SRS is nothing of the sort.

The problem is that UK Law very rigidly polices the boundaries of gender non conformity. The concept of ‘gender dysphoria’ is legally recognised in the UK in the form of the gender recognition act. Here’s what the UK’s national health service has to say about “gender dysphoria”

Transexuals
Those who have a life-long and extreme form of the condition, and seek to alter their sex with hormone treatment and surgery, are known as transsexuals. A person who seeks to undergo, is undergoing, or has undergone surgery to alter their sex (also known as transition) may be known as a trans man (female to male), or a trans woman (male to female).

It should not be confused with transvestitism or cross-dressing, which involves dressing as the opposite sex for emotional or sexual pleasure.

Transvestites
Transvestites are content with their gender identity but enjoy the fantasy of pretending to be a member of the opposite sex. It is also important to remember that gender dysphoria has no bearing on sexuality; a person with the condition may be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, just like anyone else.

To fully understand gender dysphoria and transsexualism, it is important to set out what the terms sex, gender, gender identity and gender role mean in terms of this condition. The definitions of each term are detailed below.

Sex
In this article, sex refers to male or female, the biological sex that you were born with. It is determined by the sex organs (gonads), which are testes in males, and ovaries in females.

Gender
In this article, gender refers to the feeling of being either male or female (or in very rare cases, neither or both). Your gender can be determined by your public persona, your interactions with others and, since the Gender Recognition Act, your legal status.

Gender identity
This refers to your personal sense of knowing which gender you belong to, or the way you see yourself. For example, if a person sees themselves as male and identifies themselves as such, their gender identity is male.

Gender role
This refers to the outer image of being male or female, and is largely determined by culture and society, as well as the way that others see you. Your gender role is determined by things like the kinds of clothes that you wear, the way that you behave, and how these things allow others to see you as male or female.

For people with gender dysphoria, there is confusion between their sex, their gender identity and their gender role. They feel that their gender identity does not match the sex that that they were born with, and they may prefer to take on a gender role that opposes the stereotypical image of their sex. For example, a person with gender dysphoria who was born male may feel that their gender identity is female, and prefer to dress in women’s clothes.

By that definition I HAVE GENDER DYSPHORIA!

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Definition.aspx

165. polly - November 26, 2009

I am famous, but they are a bit behind the times! I do wonder if half of those who name check me ever read anthing I wrote, or if my reputation precedes me (the latter I fancy).

This crapola is a lot of why I gave up blogging BTW. Not that it upset me, I just found it too mindless to spend time engaging with.

166. polly - November 26, 2009

As for proving “cis” exists, I struggle to see why that should be needed beyond pointing out that there are those who feel “at home” in their bodies (I am one of them) with regards to gender allocation & physical body parts, & those who do not. Without a rather monstruous assumption of bad faith, I struggle to see how you could come to any other conclusion.

Well you could come to a LOT of conclusions James, because you are making the rather challengeable assumptions a)that everyone always tells the truth about how they feel rather than saying what they think other people want to hear and b)that people’s self perception is entirely uninfluenced by the surrounding culture and the preformed narratives about human bodies that pervade that culture.

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

james has been spammed. bye, james!

167. Laurelin - November 26, 2009

What did he do? (This time I mean!)

168. Laurelin - November 26, 2009

(I’m asking purely out of nosiness and insomnia… feel free to tell me it’s none of my business, coz it really isn’t)

factcheckme - November 26, 2009

he didnt know when to shut up. LOL sound familiar?

169. Laurelin - November 26, 2009

Very!🙂

170. FerretWatcher - November 27, 2009

1st time commentator, long time lurker and thanks for a great debate.(And blog) Getting back to James, ah yes James, a well known little know it all who believes that radical feminist’s critique of porn fundamentally resides in the prudish swamp of ‘sex negativity’ Oh dear, poor boy. Not for me to to harsh on any religiosity of course, however, he does disclose his catholic upbringing on his blog. Maybe James is indeed grappling with his own demons. Just a thought James – if you are still reading.

Again, thanks FCM for some marvellous insights.

factcheckme - November 27, 2009

have i been around long enough to have long-time lurkers? oh dear.

171. FerretWatcher - November 27, 2009

Sorry, should have said that I know this thread is not about porn but that James’ prejudice against radical feminists seems to have become a bit of an obsession with him.

He’s only 23-ish and freshly out of a prestigious UK university, so maybe he needs to assimilate himself into the real-life of grown-up folks, who have suffered real oppression (such as women) before he spouts his student union oblivious rhetoric.

So pleased you have banned him. He actually thinks he has something valid to say. *snort*

172. FerretWatcher - November 27, 2009

Long enough🙂

factcheckme - November 27, 2009


He actually thinks he has something valid to say. *snort*


they all do, dont they? LOL wev. i think i might be more heavy handed on the spam button from now on. it *was* pleasing, wasnt it?

173. polly - November 27, 2009

Oh ferretwatcher, how can you be so deluded? Of course James knows everything, he has a penis! No other qualification required….

174. polly - November 27, 2009

What amuses me is that he seems to think crazee bitch evollest women on the internetz radfems like moi are going to go – “Gosh James, now you put it like that, I’ve SEEN THE LIGHT! Thank dawg you and your penis happened along, or I may have remained forever in my man hating lesbian separatist existence, now thanks to you, I’m going to become a productive normal member of society.”

Get a job eh, James?

175. polly - November 27, 2009

The final word on “gender dysphoria”

176. Laurelin - November 27, 2009

Ah, I did suspect he was a child.
Maybe he’ll grow up and learn to take the pain of others seriously. I hope so.

It’s just behaviour I fail to comprehend. I wouldn’t continue to push and push people who I knew had suffered things I could not understand, you know? I was far from polite to him on that thread, but he really had crossed the line with me and my trauma was showing. No apology or anything for salting the wound.
I don’t take pleasure in being rude and short with people; it’s really not the sort of person I am. Irl, I’m extremely polite as a rule and my patience has been remarked upon.

Oh well. I’m sure it is to my credit ultimately that I don’t understand this.

‘Scuze the loooooong ramble. This sort of thing makes me think and ponder and obsess. Damn you, OCD!

177. maggieclark - November 27, 2009

Hey, 23-year-old here.

Can we… maybe not use age as an absolute indicator of maturity here? I think there’s plenty to criticize James for without resorting to that.

Best,

Maggie

factcheckme - November 27, 2009

there was nothing “absolute” about it, maggie. that was the whole point i think. now, go drink your bottle. (j/k)

178. Laurelin - November 27, 2009

Probably a bit unfair of me to say ‘child’ considering I’m not that much older than him. 23 seems very young to me.’Immature’ would probably be more accurate, I suppose.

Yes, I’m still rambling away. Behaviour like his unsettles me so much it’s hard to explain… yet I keep trying.

I seem to be trying to turn this into the All About Laurelin Thread. Sorry. Such a thread would be well boring so I’ll stop here.

179. Laurelin - November 27, 2009

Yeah, sorry Maggie. I should have thought before I typed!

Age certainly is not an absolute measure of maturity- I know people twenty years older than me who act like spoiled brats (most of them men, oddly). And I know people much younger than me who are are impressive with their courage and integrity (most of them women, oddly).

180. FerretWatcher - November 27, 2009

Yeah, I should have said 23 y/o *man* trying to tell women how it really is.

181. thebeardedlady - November 27, 2009

If you’re not in the UK you probably can’t watch this, but that’s probably a good thing!

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-boy-who-was-born-a-girl/4od#3011207

I shall watch it and report back if there is anything new to report!

factcheckme - November 27, 2009

thanks for the recon, soldier. let us know!

factcheckme - November 28, 2009

thanks for the video polly. this guys shoes were horrible. i think that transvestites and MTF should have more options for comfortable, stylish shoes that fit them, and are affordable, and easy to find. it should be written into the fucking constitution of the united states, and paid for by insurance and/or medicaid to boot. and when they get this god-given right to comfortable, stylish shoes that fit them, and are affordable, and easy to find…perhaps they can let us born-women know where they shop, because my cis-priv has gotten me nowhere in that department.

182. thebeardedlady - November 28, 2009

Well, I didn’t learn anything from the boy who was born a girl, except that she had broken her mum’s heart. The mum was really sweet and trying so hard to accept the fact that she now has to call her daughter her son – she said ‘his happiness is my grief’ – which kind of sums it up, really.

They didn’t go into any kind of detail about ‘gender dysphoria’. They had Richard Curtis on saying, we’re sure it’s biological, but no one understands it.

She was only 15 when she decided to transition. No one seems to be asking if that is too young.

factcheckme - November 28, 2009

thanks TBL! i think thats a good point you make about being “too young” to transition. i know that having these feelings at a young age is being used as evidence that this “condition” is biological, but is it also a first-world disease? is it also something thats only surfaced in the last say 50 years? (in other words, even *if* it has biological roots, modern science has literally made something into an illness, if only because they now have a “treatment” for it). and they dont even KNOW if its biological or not! i think medical interventions here are clearly unethical. and changing young bodies that are STILL changing, based on the fact that their brains allegedly dont match (when their brains are still changing too!) is wrong.

183. thebeardedlady - November 28, 2009

Yeah, probably the most disturbing thing in the film was how, despite her youth, she (with the support of her mum) seemingly had no difficulty accessing medical intervention in the form of hormone treatment. There was absolutely no suggestion whatsoever of any kind of counselling or ‘living as a boy’ for a while first. She said she wants to be a boy/hates being a girl, and she’s diagnosed with ‘gender dysphoria’ and put straight on the T.

She said at one point that if they could take away the dysphoria, she wouldn’t want any other treatment. But it seems that she has been told that there is no other treatment for dysphoria. She said that when people call her a girl it makes her feel really inferior. She hates having periods because it reminds her that she has a vagina. She doesn’t want to live, as a girl.

Her best friend is a teenage boy who wants to be a girl and who is also going through transition.

I’m ancient, so 15 seems really young to me. It seems unethical to me to prescribe hormones and surgery to such young people.

184. Jill - November 29, 2009

You seem to be stumbling a little. That’s “he”, not “she”.

To force someone through an irreversible puberty they simply can’t tolerate when there are other options, that is what’s unethical here. To force people to “prove” how much of a ‘man’ or ‘woman’ they are before they’re given medical help is absolutely ridiculous, and unless I’m completely mistaken, is at odds with everything feminism stands for. It baffles me that you’re so incredibly opposed to this that you’re willing to forfeit your cause for a moment if it makes a perceived enemy suffer even more.

You apparently fail to realize that there’s simply no way you’ll get hormones legally without at least going through counseling first. In some places, this doesn’t need to be for a set period of time, and only exists to ensure you’re doing this for the right reasons and are in a state capable of it. In other words, it assumes you to be a sane person capable of making your own decisions. Unfortunately, most places will demand “proof”, and some even force stereotypes upon you before they’ll consider giving you any sort of help.

It’s true that we don’t know very much about it. If anything, that means we should try to find out more, not sit around and argue whether other human beings are legitimate or not. I understand that there’s a whole lot of enmity towards trans people in here, but I still hope that you’re willing to at least try to reconsider things. I repeat that trans people aren’t your enemy (once again, short of certain fringes, but don’t use the fringes against us as a whole), it’s the psychological institutions that turn it into something that affirms and complies with gender norms. That knowledge on the issue is so limited is not our fault. Please, do us this small favor, don’t succumb to the same misconceptions that too many, including doctors, do.

At the moment, yes, there are no alternative treatments beyond “deal with it and hope the clinical depression doesn’t kill you”. Of course, this is a quite viable alternative if your dysphoria isn’t strong enough to make you depressive and suicidal. For many, that’s the case. What you have to understand is that these aren’t the ones who seek treatment.

Also, the reason why many are opposed to a hypothetical treatment that simply removes the dysphoria is that, even if that one day became possible, it’s hard to give up part of yourself. And I dare say it would be horrible to demand that. I, for one, would never accept it. I want to be happy with myself on my own conditions, not by changing my conditions for being happy with myself.

Despite the sheer enmity shown by some here, I get the impression that you’d at least like to be able to cooperate. If you don’t mind me asking, what would that take? What would have to change before you’d consider trans people potential allies rather than mortal enemies?

185. Laurelin - November 29, 2009

Where has ‘sheer emnity’ been shown on this thread may I ask? I’d also be interested to see where we are stated as regarding trans people as ‘mortal enemies’.

There must be a part of this thread I’ve missed.
I don’t even have any mortal enemies

186. Jill - November 29, 2009

Sorry for the hyperbole, but that is my general impression. Not saying everyone displays it, but there are certainly some.

The enmity here is clear when some jump at any chance to deal a blow to trans people, regardless of its legitimacy. If they really didn’t feel that way towards trans people, they would be critical of their own arguments against them, and not just anything from critical to downright dismissive of arguments the other way around. As for ‘mortal enemies’, some seem to have decided that trans people are opposed to them, and must be ‘defeated’ rather than reasoned with. An attitude that I can see a basis for if one has mainly encountered the aforementioned fringes, but it’s certainly not a reasonable one.

While I’m at it, I have an additional question regarding the hypothetical pill that removes dysphoria:

What would you think of a pill that makes people perfectly fine and happy with abiding to their patriarchal gender roles?

factcheckme - November 29, 2009


What would you think of a pill that makes people perfectly fine and happy with abiding to their patriarchal gender roles?


oh, you mean prozac? valium? xanax? viagra? booze? all of the above? what do you mean what *would* i think about them?? as if they dont already fucking exist?

187. Jill - November 29, 2009

I meant a hypothetical pill that, for instance, made women perfectly happy to stay at home to cook and clean and generally be a ‘proper’, submissive wife, something we all know there are people out there who would consider a good thing and would be interested in developing.

And obviously, that was a rhetorical question. Neither I nor anyone here, hopefully, thinks much of that idea. I’m simply trying to make a comparison. You’d be vehemently opposed to having such a horrible thing forced onto you, wouldn’t you?

188. thebeardedlady - November 29, 2009

Jill, how about actually reading this thread and the one before it, where I explicitly invite, many times, trans women to join me in my radical feminism?

As for the programme itself, did you see it? There was no suggestion of counselling having taken place. Perhaps it did, perhaps it didn’t. It certainly didn’t feature prominently in the discussion.

As you say, we don’t know very much about ‘gender dysphoria’. In such circumstances it strikes me as completely unethical to give extreme medications and surgery to very young people. It’s like saying, we think maybe there might be a disease called Foof. We don’t know if it really is a disease, or if it’s just a made up thing. But some people say they have it and the best treatment is to, I dunno, have your bone marrow replaced. Don’t you think people would be rightly disturbed by that? And yet, even you can’t say with any degree of certainty that gender dysphoria has any kind of biological basis, and I definitely think it’s a made up thing, so yes, it’s unethical to ‘treat’ it.

I have no idea why you insist on framing trans people as ‘the enemy’. At best, trans women could potentially support feminists (although I have to admit my view on this has changed over the course of these discussions, as no trans woman commenting here seems to give a shit about women’s rights); at worst they are a distraction from the issues we face and fight against.

factcheckme - November 29, 2009

read my lips “jill.” VALIUM. PROZAC. XANAX. VIAGRA. they already exist, so the fact that you are attempting to propose a hypothetical here, and propose that “society” would think it was a terrible idea and never develop, market, distribute, prescribe, and become addicted to drugs that ALREADY DO THE THINGS YOU ARE RAILING AGAINST is irrelevant. and absurd.

189. thebeardedlady - November 29, 2009

On the pro-patriarchy pill – once again, Jill, you missed the point. Women have been swallowing that pill for years. We are already dealing with it.

Is nothing real to you until it happens to trans women? If something is causing problems to women, it seems to go right over your head – even when fcm explicitly points it out, you still manage to miss it and focus on a hypothetical bad thing for trans women instead.

Where’s your critical thinking, Jill?

factcheckme - November 29, 2009


Is nothing real to you until it happens to trans women?


youve hit the nail on the head, TBL. nothing is fucking real to them, until it happens to them. they want medals for reinventing the fucking wheel.

190. Jill - November 29, 2009

I do, “factcheckme”. Even after “fact checking” you, I’ve yet to find any evidence that these medications serve any such suppose. At best, I can assume the anti-depressants have been used to make women who are unhappy about their situation complain less about it, though that is not an equivalent to a pill that actually ‘cures’ you of disagreeing with your situation. If you have anything to the contrary, I’d be happy to see it, as I don’t doubt you, I merely haven’t found anything to support what you say.

TBL, I saw. That’s why I, as indicated, get the impression that some of you would like to cooperate if you felt you could.

You don’t get hormones without at least counseling. If you do, you either get them through the black market, or whoever prescribes them isn’t following one of the few rules that are almost universally agreed upon, even by trans people. It’s that simple. How many hoops you have to jump through to get hormones varies wildly from place to place, but counseling is the bare minimum required to get them legally.

Also, again as stated, the only known alternative to transition at this point is “shut up and deal with it”. This tends to result in suicide. Meanwhile, transitioning tends not to. As little as we know about it, transitioning, as opposed to not doing a shit, has proven many times to be the better alternative. Would you rather have trans people just killing themselves off while a ‘cure’ you find more acceptable is being researched? And in the case one was found, would you prefer to see it replace transition as the treatment, even if it was a personality-altering ‘cure’ like the aforementioned pills?

The reason why you don’t see trans women fighting for women’s rights in the comments here is because they’re attracted here by the jabs at their situation, not because they were looking for feminism to fight for. Seeing as they know a lot of the things said here are misconceptions, and some are even outright bullshit, they try to defend themselves. You can’t punch someone in the face and complain that they’re prioritizing defending themselves over supporting your cause.

I don’t want to make enemies here, that’s why I’ve for the most part tried to stay calm and explain things from my perspective, and been ready to answer questions. Maggie was absolutely great to discuss things with, and I’d love to continue that at some point, though probably not here. I was hoping that thoroughly sharing my personal experience with something that’s very hard to understand from an outside view would be helpful, but beyond a select few positive response, I was clearly mistaken.

factcheckme - November 29, 2009


Even after “fact checking” you, I’ve yet to find any evidence that these medications serve any such suppose. At best, I can assume the anti-depressants have been used to make women who are unhappy about their situation complain less about it, though that is not an equivalent to a pill that actually ‘cures’ you of disagreeing with your situation.


in other words: you dont want to be treated like women. you want to be treated *better*. if you want to be treated like a woman, take an anti-depressant and STFU. if thats not what you want, then its time to get real, and get clear about what it is you *do* want…and why you feel entitled to have your wishes fulfilled.

191. Jill - November 29, 2009

Err, sorry for the double, but “purpose”, not “suppose”. I’m writing too quickly again.

192. maggieclark - November 29, 2009

Hi Jill,

Actually, I’d very much welcome your response to this particular response, which I think is my best articulation yet of the pervasive, destructive issues foisted on the question of transitioning by the prominence of “cis privilege” in feminist discourse. (The original post should also be familiar: it encompasses the six questions of dissonance within current trans/born-women feminist theory that I originally posted here, and didn’t receive answers for.)

I have been utterly swamped with work these past few days (and will continue to be for a few days more), but I welcome anyone interested in discussing these concrete policy snarls created by the intersection of different trans discourses with different feminist discourses under the feminist banner as a whole. I simply won’t be able to respond immediately — but again, I look forward to having thoughtful discussions when I can!

All the best,

Maggie

193. alix - December 3, 2009

i’m a born-female male-identified non-operative non-passing transgender person. i was socialized female, the feminist child of a feminist mother. and there is certainly critical thinking to be done about transgenderism — it’s a complicated, messy issue.

however, your attempt at a critical analysis falls short in so many ways. none of the transwomen i know are interested in being living sex toys for men — several identify as lesbians, not remotely interested in sex with men. someone on your previous post quoted a section from sheila jeffreys’ book beauty & misogyny, particularly about the lack of gay-identified FTM men. i don’t know what planet she’s been living on, but they exist — several of the male-identified transpeople i know, myself included, identify as gay or bisexual. (i also found her discussion of body modification as it relates to piercing and tattooing to be incredibly problematic, but that’s neither here nor there.)

we have a complicated intersection with the issues of feminism. and i agree that it’s a sign of class privilege that we have access to hormones and surgery. but transgenderism has existed for a very long time, with roots in many old cultures, even before the advent of surgery.

i would agree with you that the medical community that manages transgenderism is incredibly misogynistic and heteronormative. in order to have access to hormones, i’m supposed to give up my reproductive rights, act like a stereotypical heterosexual white male, and have my breasts removed. none of these particularly appeal to me.

cis-privilege is not about someone else having something that you want. it’s about the fact that most of the published reflections on transgenderism have been published either by heterocentrist doctors or by anti-trans feminists, both of whom claim the right to define what transgenderism is, for transpeople. it’s about being labeled as “rapists” or “traitors to our sex” when all we’re trying to do is be ourselves, to figure out who were really are. it’s about the fact that people i don’t even know, both male and female, feel they have the right to comment loudly about my body, or believe they should be able to access it, to see what i’m hiding. it’s about being forced to accept the label of “mentally ill” when i don’t suffer from mental illness. it’s about how i was sexually abused by a man who found my gender variance exciting, and how i felt i couldn’t tell anyone because it would mean coming clean about my gender identity. it’s about all of those things, and many, many more.

i’m also really confused about your statements that anti-depressants function as “pill[s] that makes people perfectly fine and happy with abiding to their patriarchal gender roles?” i’ve taken a lot of anti-depressants, prozac included, and none of them made me fine and happy abiding to my patriarchal gender role. the pills i still take every morning (i’m no longer on prozac, but a different anti-depressant that doesn’t have the same side effects) help treat my paralyzing depression so that i can get out of bed in the morning and do my thing, which is to fight, and write zines, and yell as loudly as possible about how wrong so much of the world is.

anyway. just thought i’d put in my $0.02.

factcheckme - December 3, 2009

alix, i may respond more later, but for now let me just say to you that “heteronormative doctors” are male-privileged and homophobic, not cis-privileged. and neither are “anti-trans-feminists” cis-privileged. that was the whole point of my article, in fact. i never said that people arent “mean and nasty” or that there arent, like, obstacles between you and “happiness.” women know better, because they are women.

194. alix - December 3, 2009

women know better than… what? you lost me there, although maybe that’s just because it’s nearly 3AM here.

factcheckme - December 3, 2009

alix, women know better than to think that people arent “mean and nasty” or that there arent, like, obstacles between you and “happiness.” we know the opposite is true, and we are subjected to these kinds of things because we are women.

195. thebeardedlady - December 3, 2009

Alix, depression is a mental illness. I’m not saying it connects directly to your transgenderism, but saying that you don’t have a mental illness and then talking about your crippling depression is a serious contradiction. It’s important because depression is something many women suffer.

If you have depression, you have a mental illness. It’s serious, and is often fatal. It’s one of the most common mental illnesses and women suffer disproportionately from it. Pharmaceutical treatments tend to mainly alleviate symptoms such as tiredness, but don’t resolve the underlying causes, which are often to do with feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness.

Of course Prozac, Xanaz and booze don’t make people perfectly fine and happy. They do, however, make life bearable for many women. The question of why women’s lives are unbearable in the first place is the one that rarely gets asked.

factcheckme - December 3, 2009

thanks for that TBL. i would just make this small addition:

but don’t resolve the underlying causes, which are often to do with feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness.

i would say ACTUAL worthlessness and powerlessness. not just “feelings” of same. although you are exactly right that thats the language used by the medical establishment when speaking of womens depression, it makes the women sound like they are misinterpreting their situation, and that their feelings are pathological, and incorrect. when in reality, its depressing as hell to realize, (NOT “feel”) and many women do, that they ARE worthless, and they ARE powerless in their relationships with men and generally, in all patriarchal cultures, around the world. there literally is no escape. and that produces anxiety, as well. REAL anxiety, (not “feelings of”) that all caged animals experience, when they realize they are completely and utterly FUCKED and theres no way out.

196. alix - December 3, 2009

but the fact that bad things happen to women as a result of being women is a sign of misogyny.

correct me if i’m wrong, but you seem to be saying that women can’t exercise privilege. which is just, well… wrong. i have tons of privilege: i’m white, middle-class, educated, I can pass as straight if I chose to do so. Regardless of what’s between my legs, I’m more than capable of using all of these to oppress other people, men included.

There’s a difference between “privilege” and just, you know, being mean. And the fact that if I go to a library, and look up “trans”, a huge percentage of the literature is going to be, not by transgender, but by feminists who malign us as a group? It’s a sign that you have privilege. You have the power to define us. Your voices are far more valued. I picked up a book that was supposedly about transgender and feminism and not a single essay in it was actually by a transperson. Several of the essays were transfriendly, but that’s not the point. If you read a book about women and feminism that was written by 20 different men, some of whom said, “Well, you know, I’m not a feminist, but feminism is okay!” you’d probably chalk that up to male privilege. I know I would.

I realize that you probably don’t care, that you are so set in your beliefs. I’ve had really horrible things happen to me, because of what I have between my legs. But I’ve also had pretty terrible things happen to me because I’m queer, and other horrible stuff happen because I’m trans. And sometimes, it’s women who deliver the beat-down.

Women have power. And I think, at the end of the day, that’s why I will never be a “radical” feminist — because when you say that women wield no power, you seem to be saying that women are weak, that we have no agency, that we are always victims. And I can’t accept that. I have been victimized, but I am not helpless, I am not powerless. And I have to be very careful to use what power I have carefully, so that I don’t oppress anyone else in my struggle to be “equal” — whatever that might mean.

197. alix - December 3, 2009

TBL, you’re right, that is a contradiction. I should have said, “My transgenderism is not a mental illness.” But my depression isn’t a result of feeling (or being) worthless or powerless, because I’m not. I don’t believe those things.

And how can you possibly say, “Wow, the medical establishment wrongly pathologizes all this stuff!” when half the time you seem to accept all the tripe they sell about transgenderism, that we are “mentally ill” and should seek reparative treatment (just not surgery)? Also, I wonder how much you know about the reparative therapy that transgender people (and people who are perceived as transgender) receive — it looks a lot like ex-gay camps, for the record.

198. maggieclark - December 3, 2009

Hi Alix,

I think you really need to read this post and its comments in full: It’s already been said time and time again that we’re talking about GENDER-BASED oppression, which is distinct from class-based oppression, colour-based oppression, and orientation-based oppression. I strongly feel it’s disingenuous to pretend that the lack of agency we’re talking about here is not varied over race, class, and orientation lines. Of course it is. But what makes cis-privilege different is that it creates a sub-set of gender-based oppression — in short, it works within the existing paradigm, but in such a way that it denies that paradigm’s realities in their entirety.

All the best,

Maggie

factcheckme - December 3, 2009


but the fact that bad things happen to women as a result of being women is a sign of misogyny.


see, this is the mistake that ALL men, and all racist white people etc make, when they are discussing oppression. they like to think that just because “bad things” happen to THEM, TOO, that thats evidence that theres no such thing as male privilege, or race privilege. except, in reality, when bad things happen to white men, its just bad things happening to white men. they arent capable of being opressed by either race or gender. that falls squarely within the SHIT HAPPENS category. SHIT HAPPENS to everyone. women also have to deal with being OPPRESSED. ON TOP OF, in addition to, and tending to exacerbate THE OTHER BAD SHIT, that happens to men, too. get it? good.


correct me if i’m wrong, but you seem to be saying that women can’t exercise privilege. which is just, well… wrong. i have tons of privilege: i’m white, middle-class, educated, I can pass as straight if I chose to do so. Regardless of what’s between my legs, I’m more than capable of using all of these to oppress other people, men included.


did you even read the article? because we have be quite clear on this point. women cant excercise GENDER-BASED PRIVILEGE, because we dont have any. and this ethereal “cis-” you transpersons always speak of is a gender-based privilege, that you are TELLING WOMEN WE HAVE. but you saying it, and even other women believing it, doesnt make it so. women have no gender-based privilege. thats what its like to be female. men dont get that concept, but why would they?

as far as intersectional privileges that women supposedly enjoy…well i think its pretty clear that we enjoy them ONLY insofar as either 1) we are a part of women-only collectives where women have the power to oppress people based on race, orientation etc (which almost never happens in real life….feminist internet cults aside) and/or 2) we are pleasing to MEN, and we benefit from THEIR whiteness etc. because when white men do well, white women do well, to whatever extent we rely on them for anything. and we usually do, to some degree, for their incomes, to hire us for jobs, to pay child support etc. i might write more on that later, as its a subject thats interesting to me of late, with all this talk about the POWER women supposedly have. please. how did we get to this point, that we spend all our time analying WOMEN’S privileges? (AND EVEN MAKING THEM UP!) this is not a rhetorical question. i think it has quite alot to do with transactivists intentionally distracting and derailing, and deliberately paralyzing feminists by misusing feminist language and concepts in this very specific and manipulative way, to gain power within the movement.

199. thebeardedlady - December 3, 2009

FCM, totally agree with you about the ‘feelings’ thing – I believe that ‘feelings’ of worthlessness and powerlessness are caused by actual lived oppression, inequality and discrimination. That’s what I was trying to say, but obviously it came across a bit psych-speak-ish, which wasn’t my intention. I guess that’s what’s in my head, huh?

200. thebeardedlady - December 3, 2009

There’s a difference between “privilege” and just, you know, being mean.

Good. Yes, you’re right.

And you’ll have worked out for yourself, by reading this thread, that women don’t have any gender-based privilege, so when women are mean to trans people, on the rare(?)occasions they are, it’s just that – meanness. Not cis privilege. There is no such thing as cis privilege. I fail to see how any reasonably intelligent, logical person can read this post and the comments here and come to any other conclusion.

factcheckme - December 3, 2009

good catch, TBL. thats exactly the point. transactivists favorite rebuttal to a radical feminist analysis of transpolitics is THATS MEAN! i even added it as a category here on my blog. but THATS MEAN! isnt a critical analysis of anything we have actually said. neither is THATS HURTFUL! mean and hurtful happens to everyone. grow a fucking backbone, and drop a prozac if you still cant deal. thats what women have to do.

201. thebeardedlady - December 3, 2009

And how can you possibly say, “Wow, the medical establishment wrongly pathologizes all this stuff!” when half the time you seem to accept all the tripe they sell about transgenderism…

Nah. Not buying it.

It’s trans people who pathologise ‘gender dysphoria’ (a condition every woman and probably many man experience) to the point where they must be ‘treated’ with pills (hormones) and surgery.

factcheckme - December 3, 2009


It’s trans people who pathologise ‘gender dysphoria’ (a condition every woman and probably many man experience) to the point where they must be ‘treated’ with pills (hormones) and surgery.


exactly. docs have been pathologizing womens bodies and minds for centuries. the medical establishment is NO FRIEND TO WOMEN. i would seriously stress to anyone that has any kind of issue with their gender or sexuality to not take their concerns to a doctor at all, in fact, because the likelihood is so high that misogyny, male-privielge and homophobia will be informing their conversation with you, and ultimately your course of treatment. again, this is something that born-women have to deal with. we dont talk to our docs about certain things (am i right ladies?) much of it is shame. much more of it (for feminists at least) is that we arent willing to accept a misogynist reading of our symptoms and a dangerous treatment thats not going to help, and is mired in patriarchal values. this is particularly true, again, with sexual/reproductive and mental-health concerns.

yet, as much as transpersons say they are feminists, or GLB-friendly, they run to docs and then tie themselves to the medical establishment forever, when women and GLB are rightly, and highly, critical of the medical system. you want to have your cake and eat it too. you want us to 100% suport your decision to…partake of a misogynist system that oppresses US, instead of challenging them on their fucked up views. its also well-known that transpersons even LIE about the type and degree of “dysphoric” symptoms they are experiencing, in order to get the treatments they want. they are taking advantage of the feminists AND the misogynists. and they wonder why we dont welcome them in with open arms.

202. maggieclark - December 3, 2009

To be fair, TBL, the “pathologizing” you speak of is primarily due to pressure from the male-privileged gender binary for conformity prior to acceptance into treatment programs. I wonder if the same levels of life-or-death urgency would be reported if the current gender-binary society did not require such extreme self-reporting to grant access to gender/sex conformity-based medical measures. So we absolutely do suffer unilaterally from male-privilege. The problem is, when born women are targeted as the source of that male-privilege, those transgendered persons who do this targeting are essentially alienating what could just as easily be a strong ally base against gender-binary-based oppression.

My two cents, at least.

203. thebeardedlady - December 3, 2009

Maggie, I’m with fcm here. And I’ve seen plenty of ‘pathologising’ here on these very threads – people who think that the only ‘treatment’ for their bad feelings is pills and surgery. Like you say, though, many times it is exaggerated and lied about in order to get treatment from a misogynist and sexist medical establishment. But as fcm says, that’s certainly a sign of privilege – needlessly tieing yourself to the medical establishment for life. And trans activists are certainly happy to use this pathologising language when it suits their purposes.

And no, I don’t tell my doctor everything. I make sure I know exactly what’s wrong with me and what treatment I need for it before I go anywhere near a doctor – and if possible I treat myself. I also rely on female friends and family, and they rely on me, for sharing knowledge and information about our health, both physical and mental. Not because I don’t ‘believe’ in Western medicine, but because I’m a woman, and I know from experience that my symptoms and feelings will automatically be discounted and trivialised, or that I will be prescribed unnecessary treatments. Or, as recently happened, I’ll be refused treatment because I’m not planning to become pregnant, and therefore my body and my health are irrelevant and unfunded by my local health authority. I think that’s part of the female experience of healthcare.

Something else, Maggie, is that having participated in these discussions, the idea that trans women could be feminist allies is now laughable to me. Because you know what? They don’t WANT to be. They want rad fems to drop their criticisms and abandon their analysis and ally with them. They don’t want to come on board the good ship RadFem and go take down the Patriarchy. In fact, they do not care one iota about the ordinary experiences of born women. They only want us to be sweet and kind and say ‘there, there’ when they tell us about the horrid people being mean to them. And then our sympathy and kindness isn’t enough for them. They want us to re-name ourselves and re-frame our identity according to THEIR concerns, and they want us to take responsibility for them, and they want us to say how privileged we are and how terrible it is for them. All of this, and they refuse to ever discuss male privilege, because they don’t understand it and when we talk about it, they don’t hear it – it’s not real to them because they never knew they had it in the first place, so when they lose it, they don’t understand what’s happened – they think they must be having a horrid time because they’re trans. This is ALL I’ve heard from trans women on these threads, over and over again, and honestly, it’s all bullshit and none of it holds up to any amount of scrutiny, and as soon as you take it on and throw some logic at these people, they disappear.

So for me, personally, I’ve given up on the idea of an alliance, altogether.

204. alix - December 3, 2009

I won’t be posting after this, as you’ve become combative and ugly and I have very little interest in being yelled at. I’ve been playing nice.

If I had the power to completely deconstruct and remove the medical establishment’s power over transgenderism, I would. Because it’s incredibly destructive, it enforced patriarchal values of gender and sex that I strongly disagree with, it denies access to people who have no resources. And you point out, wow, trans people lie to get the treatments they need — no kidding. Of course they do — because the medical system we have now is so completely and utterly broken. Yes, lots of trans people are tied to the medical establishment (I’ll note, also, that many aren’t). It’s unfortunate, and part of my activism is to challenge that system and try to break it down completely so that we can replace it with something better.

I have a right, as do all people, to make decisions about my own body. The medical system in place removes that right and calls it a “privilege” that we have to “earn”. Until we can destroy that system, we’re required to play the game if we want access to our own bodies. It’s horrible. I hate it, as do most of the people I know who have had to access it. But the choices are pretty limited, here.

You go on with your hate and your anger and your being oppressed by those horrible transpeople. Go on being completely ignorant of the fact that many of us want the same thing: an end to gender-based systems of oppression, the right to make choices about our own bodies, a world without patriarchy where we are not maligned for crossing lines that shouldn’t exist anyway. Don’t realize that, hey, shockingly, all transpeople are different.

I’m gonna go do my homework.

factcheckme - December 3, 2009


I’ve been playing nice.


you dont have to tell me, sister. i know that transpersons hold back much of their woman-centered rage and misogyny when they think its going to get them somewhere…when women and feminists stand up to you or call bullshit, the niceness comes off. and we see your true selves. i have been dealing with men “playing nice” to get things from me my whole fucking life. and i know what comes next. men getting ANGRY, and women getting hurt, attacked, and killed.

205. thebeardedlady - December 3, 2009

‘Combative and ugly’ eh? Yes, that’s right. That’s what it’s called when women disagree with you. Ugly. Yep, definitely been called that one before.

It is NOT going to silence me.

Bye Alix! Another one bites the dust. Like I say, as soon as you give them a glimpse of the logic, they disappear. Oh, sorry, this one called us ‘ugly’ first. What kind of an ally is that?

206. maggieclark - December 3, 2009

I agree that many, many of the trans women here have let slip (or blatantly extolled) manifestations of male privilege, or expectations of differentiated benefits under male privilege, such that women should wrongly consider themselves “privileged” in turn… but I do recall at least one transgender person on one of these threads who eschewed all notion of “cis-privilege,” and didn’t FCM earlier reference a transgender person who refused the medical route and got lambasted for it?

I just feel uncomfortable applying universal labels to any group. Just as some males have become excellent feminist allies, so too, I’m sure, would some transgendered persons make great allies, too. To unilaterally dismiss someone’s ability to be an ally on the basis of their gender identification alone is a little disconcerting for me, as someone who wants an end to gender differentiation in the first place.

All the best,

Maggie

factcheckme - December 3, 2009

maggie, i think that your analysis and conclusion on your LJ is going to carry the day though, in that transpersons are going to have to DECIDE to be allies to women and feminists, first, and then they will have to do the work it takes to become our allies, which means becomeing sensitive to womens issues, and misogyny, not just gender issues, and how that affects THEM. and as (who said it?) one person said here before, take a listening role when it comes to women discussing their experiences as BORN WOMEN and not trying to overtalk us all the damn time, when they havent got the slightest clue.

there is no reason for us to automatically include either transmen OR transwomen and assume them to be “inherently feminist” even as they display thier blatant misogyny, and anti-feminist views. and theres even less reason for US to try to do the work to be allies to THEM. its the other way around. ask yourself this: how many MTF were probably feminists BEFORE they transitioned, and related to women and feminsts BEFORE they wanted support for themselves, and their cause? rather than supporting womens issues first, and then deciding they wanted a piece of the action (like its so fucking great to be a woman!) i feel completely confident saying NOT A GODDAMNED ONE OF THEM. therefore, their presence here, NOW, is highly suspect.

and FTM have a higher probability of being feminists before they transitioned, but thats only because they were women. but we all know that most women ARENT feminists, either. and there are many disturbing, and apparently misogynist aspects to body-hatred, when it comes from a woman. this all needs to be taken into account, and supports your conclusion that the onus is on THEM to be good allies to US. not the other way around.

207. thebeardedlady - December 3, 2009

Hey Maggie, I think you misunderstood my post. If trans women or trans men want to be feminist allies, then I’m not stopping them. What I’m saying is not that they CAN’T be, but that they DON’T WANT to be.

Same with men. They CAN be allies. But the vast majority of them don’t want to be.

So why should feminists waste our energies on trying to educate and recruit trans people and men into feminism? The ones who get it, get it. And the rest of them – well, they just don’t get it. I care more about working with women and understanding other women and protecting myself and other women and supporting other women, and I have plenty of time to talk to other women about feminism. I don’t want to put all those energies into talking to trans people and men who don’t give a shit about women. I’ll do it on the internet because I see it as part of an important debate about feminism, identity and backlash. But honestly, the trans people who have commented here don’t want to be feminist allies. They want us to be trans allies. That’s why they’re pissed off with us.

208. maggieclark - December 3, 2009

Ah, yes! I think I did misinterpret your post, TBL — sorry. I do agree wholeheartedly with both your and FCM’s points in that regard.

The predominant response I’ve seen here from trans women when confronted with the clear feminist issues at work in instances of discrimination they identify as “cis-privilege” has been staggeringly uninformed about feminist basics, demonstrated in:

1) the inaccurate defining and categorization of privilege under discussion (i.e. confusing class and race privilege with gender, or conflating advantages within a system of privileges as privileges unto themselves),

2) the inability to recognize what oppressors see when they oppress (i.e. non-gender-normativity — something that threatens all women under gender oppression, or else extends into orientation-oppression, wherein men attack trans women with the assumption that they are “gay” and trying to make them “gay” by coming on to them or invading their spaces),

3) the inability to acknowledge the difference between being born into a social expectation of privilege (born-male) and being born into a social expectation of non-privilege (born-female), and to check their privilege therein before entering the feminist sphere and telling women how lucky we were to be born into the lesser set of social expectations.

So yes, there is a LOT of feminism 101 that needs to be done here, and just as with male allies, it’s not automatically our responsibility to educate and recruit. But therein lies my problem: It’s not certain trans women alone who need these reminders — it’s also women who their whole lives through were told to listen and support others, and now support a feminism that has women telling women they need to adopt a mantle of shame for the “privilege” they have of being born into non-privilege. Women who have been taught that cis privilege is just like any other privilege, who have had our proud foremothers’ words turned against us, and who are threatened with ostracization from our own goddamn communities if we don’t toe the cis privilege line, even when it works against those most urgent needs of women as a whole.

I had one woman in response to my LJ post say she could sign on to the cis privilege list because she’s never had certain items on the list happen to her, specifically. I then asked her about the great, great bulk of women who would answer differently, and her answer implied that she now believed these were all considerations based on class and racial difference. The primacy of gender oppression against WOMEN, as a unified force, had been erased from her vocabulary as a necessary part of the discourse that led her to acknowledging her “cis-privilege.”

This is the real problem. And this is what makes me wonder, how do we fix it? By directing all our attention at trans women who still need feminism 101? Or presenting to women in general a framework that encourages everyone to participate in feminism… but as feminism? I have a funny feeling that our language and choice of target matters a lot in our ability to turn women within feminism back to the feminist cause.

I hope that makes a little more sense than my last response!

Best,

Maggie

209. thebeardedlady - December 3, 2009

Maggie, I just started to try to answer your question when my computer flipped out – no idea what happened to what I wrote. I’ll think about it some more, but I suppose the main thing I want to say is that I’m mostly interested in women’s lives, and supporting women, which I do through my work, and I hope also through my writing and as a friend, too.

The great thing about radical feminism is that the theory insists on a woman-centred, positive, loving and compassionate practice. If we are radical feminists we actively engage with theory in order to understand our lived experience, and the experiences of other women, and we use that understanding to act in our lives in ways that support other women. For example, by boycotting porn, or by believing rape victims.

They perhaps don’t seem enough. It isn’t enough. But it might be all we’ve got. I think women have to find their own way into feminism. And remember, for het women, it’s a really serious problem – men do NOT like feminism or feminists. If you are serious, angry, sad, thoughtful, intelligent, funny, daring – men do NOT like it. If you want men to like you, you must pretend to want less, to do less, to be less. So becoming a feminist – staking a claim to your full human rights – that right there is basically like saying you’ve given up on the idea of sex with men. So, fun fem is great – there’s no theory, it’s whatever you want it to be. It’s all angry, fuck you, on the internet, but lots of sex which keeps the men happy. It doesn’t scare anyone, or challenge culture or the status quo, so it feels a bit safer. Also our society equates being sexy and attractive to men with empowerment and self esteem for women, so for many women it’s a feeling that being sexy to men is actually positive for them, they’re rewarded for it.

Also, the backlash against feminism is MASSIVE right now. Without any theory, how can you fight it?

factcheckme - December 3, 2009


If you want men to like you, you must pretend to want less, to do less, to be less. So becoming a feminist – staking a claim to your full human rights – that right there is basically like saying you’ve given up on the idea of sex with men.


i met my partner when i was more of a fun-fem. all the sex i ever had before that has been from a fun-fem “empowered female” place too. i look back on some of that now and start to feel sick to my stomach. why did i risk getting pregnant? why did i risk getting STDs or getting beat up or raped, by agreeing to be in a closed space with a man i barely knew, or knew well enough to know they were selfish and entitled, and therefore potentially violent? what if i HAD said no, and what if i HAD tried to stop the action, after it had begun? would they have even stopped? how would these “consensual” encounters with “normal” men have been different, had i tested their resolve or their patience or entitlement in any way? how much was my fun-feminism benefitting me, and how much was it really benefitting them? etc etc. i am really having some powerful reactions to my own past behavior and philosophy, now that i have switched sides, as it were.

frankly, i think that if my partner and i ever broke up, that i would probably not be able to be with another man due to my increasingly “radical” feminist beliefs. we have both changed over the years and are still compatible for the most part, and he also hates men which is to his credit! he knows what i mean when i say that men, as a group, suck. he doesnt take it personally. he is also a first-generation american raised in abject poverty so has more compassion and didnt/doesnt have a lot of the privileges normally associated with white men. which works for me, as i dont think i could tolerate most “normal” (entitled) men anymore. but i am pretty much resolved to having him has my last male partner, no matter what happens to him, or to me, or to us as a couple in the future.

210. polly - December 5, 2009

Sorry to keep banging this drum when you’re probably sick of it FCM, but I just came across this PRIME example of the murder of a gay man being appropriated as ‘transphobia, which I really

funny thing happened on the way to the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) this year, funny as in odd, as in wrong. While the LGBTQ community & allies gathered to remember the over 160 people worldwide who died as a result of transphobic attacks this past year (most of whom were female identified people of color), other vigils popped up for a gay-identified young man from Puerto Rico, Jorge Steven López, who was violently killed and dismembered. Jorge’s death will likely be investigated and prosecuted as a hate crime under the newly passedfederal Hate Crimes Legislation. Vigil organizers, like Malcolm Lazin of Equality Forum, identified Jorge as one of us–a gay (non-transgender) man–and as such determined that his death had nothing to do with that other vigil going on down the street. As a gay cisgender (and sissy) man, this struck me as odd.

Questions and controversy have abounded as to what Jorge was wearing the night of his murder. Some reports claim the suspected murderer told authorities that Jorge was dressed as a woman. These questions will hopefully be answered during the investigation and trial where we hope Jorge, his family and the queer community in Puerto Rico will see justice done. Respected activists like Pedro Julio Serrano, who has spoken out passionately in the past about transgender inclusion, have gone out of their way to spell out that Jorge was not transgender. I understand that Jorge did not self-identify as transgender, so it would be inappropriate to assign that identity to him, but I believe that his murder, in part, was the result of transphobia. If at the time of his murder he presented in a gender non-conforming manner (dressed in drag, wearing a wig, etc), than this may well be both yet another horrific transphobic crime and a gay bashing.

So I suppose if I get bashed over the head one night, that will be a ‘transphobic’ murder will it? I have already been told that homophobic remarks directed me may actually be transphobia…

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/14318/remembering-jorge-while-forgetting-what-binds-us

Why should I be part of a ‘community’ that wants to morally mandate ME out of existence eh, answer me that?

factcheckme - December 5, 2009

post away polly. dont hold back. these articles are still getting hundreds of hits a day (the sex-pos one especially) so people are reading. and they need to see this shit. thanks.

factcheckme - December 5, 2009

polly, heres a quote from your link that sums it all up i think (well it does after i add a few edits):

Jorge may have lived openly as a gay man, but from the evidence we have seen in the press so far, he died like many transgender women in Latin America (AROUND THE WORLD). His death can serve to help us better understand the intersection of orientation and gender and the role that misogyny has in Queer oppression and the role of trans-misogyny within our own LGBTQ communities.

Many of us gay guys can attest that growing up, bullies beat the shit out of us because we were sissies before they knew we were fags. Some of us even beat up on our own sissy-selves and had tried to butch it up to avoid such treatment. In my case I even submitted to ex-gay madness designed to de-gay me and transform me into a “proper man.” Our oppressors don’t distinguish much between sissy and trans (BUT THE TRANSACTIVISTS SURE AS HELL DO, FOR NO GOOD REASON, AND THEY SHOULD STOP).

factcheckme - December 5, 2009


So I suppose if I get bashed over the head one night, that will be a ‘transphobic’ murder will it? I have already been told that homophobic remarks directed me may actually be transphobia…


straight cis-women getting murdered by the thousands by cis-straight men are also due to transphobia. right? right. right? right. yes? yes. ok then. COME ON PEOPLE. does it not make more sense when you take it in the other direction: instead of everything being due to transphobia and cis-privilege (which cis- murdering cis- clearly is not) you can very easily explain all male violence against all less-than-men as as being due to MISOGYNY and MALE PRIVILEGE.

stop hiding the fucking ball, trans and transactivists. not everything is about YOU. ok? shit.

211. maggieclark - December 5, 2009

Hey Polly,

Thank you SO MUCH for posting that link. I know people who wrote very moving vigils for Jorge without ever knowing this crucial aspect of his character — I will absolutely be passing this on. SO PISSED OFF. NO ONE ever has the right to appropriate another person’s tragedies for their own ends. I honestly cannot fully articulate how angry I am about this. Thank you again.

Best,

Maggie

212. polly - December 5, 2009

I used to work with a very camp obviously gay man who ‘cross dressed’ at weekends and he would have been furious had you told him he was *transgender*. I’m disgusted that a gay man should be happy to be invisiblised like the author of that Pam’s House blend piece is.

In a way he is completely right, though, which is the irony. There is a cross over between homophobia and ‘transphobia’ because heteronormativity means that everyone who steps out of gender role is assumed to be lesbian/gay whether they are or not. I got told that a remark some teens made about me ‘she looks like a boy’ was ‘transphobic’.

I pointed out that no, they were being homophobic, because I know my local scallies (and I don’t look like a boy, because I get ‘madam’ed and ‘mrs’ ed and they could tell I was female or they wouldn’t have said ‘she’). They intended me to hear, and they intended to be insulting (sadly I didn’t give a flying fuck, I hear this stuff once a day minimum, though it’s usually “smelly lesbian” teens are endless inventive) Yes it is stepping out of gender role that is the problem, but that is nothing to do with being ‘cis’ because loads of ‘cis’ people step out of their gender role.

factcheckme - December 5, 2009

exactly right polly. i dont even think that author (or “pams house blend”) understood the meaning of those words, or they wouldnt have printed them. the author specifically states in fact that “our opressors dont distinguish between “sissy” and trans.” so how in the name of sweet mary is this considered a trans-piece, and why is it obviously being used to advance a trans-agenda instead of a gender-noncomforming/anti-heteronormativity/anti-misogynist one? any way you look at it, this cis- buisness always falls flat.

factcheckme - December 6, 2009

heres a link to kate harding’s shapely prose, where they are tossing about the issue of cis, and threatening to ban a commentor for being transphobic. just a little light reading material this saturday nite!

http://kateharding.net/2009/12/03/wednesday-one-liners-2/#comment-123023

213. polly - December 6, 2009

Thank you SO MUCH for posting that link. I know people who wrote very moving vigils for Jorge without ever knowing this crucial aspect of his character

Which is another aspect of all this public ‘mourning’ stuff really Maggie. Is it not hugely disrespectful to the friends and family of the deceased person – ie the genuinely bereaved, for his death to be appropriated to make a political point by people who don’t even know basic things about him? Am I now going to have to carry a card saying ‘in the event of my violent death, please don’t ‘remember’ me on transgender day of remembrance’? Ok being entirely facetious there, but it’s a valid point.

214. Secretive By Force - December 10, 2009

I don’t know if there’s any adult woman in the US who hasn’t heard the sad, tired male line “I’m a lesbian trapped in a man’s body!” Once upon a time I was sitting in a hippie type circle of women, meant for “sisters” only and a man who was a known sexual predator came by. He was drunk, and belligerent, and began demanding to be let into the “sister circle” on this basis. We tried reasoning with him, telling him no firmly, getting up and moving. He clearly just wanted to be Mr. Alpha dog amid a bunch of “chicks” he had all to himself. But he kept saying this over and over “No I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body, you have to let me in!”

Every time I hear transwomen claim there’s no such thing as a man who would lower himself to claim to be a woman in order to sexually predate on women I think of this. I do know some fairly innocuous transwomen who just want to live out the female role in peace. But I also know a lot of aggressive, nasty, transwomen who will do anything they can to attack feminists, feminism, women’s spaces, and es even some who are very sexually pushy and aggressive. If you are a transwoman activist and are sincere about really feeling you are a woman, you are doing your entire movement a grave disservice every time you dismiss such things as being apocryphal and unimportant, and every time you dismiss women’s very reality-based fears of predators seeking a way to gain access to them when they are in a vulnerable position. You are also displaying a fundamental way in which you are not female or female socialized. Do you honestly, honestly think every woman who doesn’t want a person with a penis in the women’s bathroom is doing so out of transphobia? Transphobia doesn’t even come into it – women have a very real reason to fear MEN and MALE BODIED PEOPLE when we are in a state of semi undress, particularly in the remote area bathrooms are frequently placed.
I understand very well transwomen who are passing, even some of the time, as female, or even appear to be effeminate men, are afraid to use the men’s restroom for fear of being attacked. The issue there is male violence, not feminist transphobia.

215. Secretive By Force - December 10, 2009

Sorry to double post here but further down the thread I also wanted to add, for Jill and others who seem to honestly not be aware – the psychiatric establishment has a LONG history – exactly matching with the advent of psychology, in fact! – of using “treatments”, including drugs, to punish women for being no gender conforming. One of the earliest and most lauded lobotomies was given to a woman activist who was too unfeminine and loud mouthed. Tranquilizers were given to women who were frustrated with their confining roles as housewives and mothers, stimulants to omen who weren’t delicately thin enough, shock treatments and lobotomies to women who weren’t passive and stupid acting. SSRIs also are disproportionately prescribed to women who are told their brains are malfunctioning (“low in serotonin!”) if they are miserable and unhappy in their lives. Side effects are dismissed and minimized by doctors. While some psychiatric medications do indeed help those with legitimate, biologically based mental illness, on the whole the history of the psychiatric movement shows one bent upon enforcing cultural norms, and VERY bent on keeping women in the feminine ghetto by drugging them into submission. The idea of drugging women into accepting their gender role is emphatically NOT hypothetical.

216. Secretive By Force - December 10, 2009

“the inability to acknowledge the difference between being born into a social expectation of privilege (born-male) and being born into a social expectation of non-privilege (born-female), and to check their privilege therein before entering the feminist sphere and telling women how lucky we were to be born into the lesser set of social expectations.”

I’m so sorry I can’t shut up!

Yes, this – this just boggles and silences me every time a transwoman pulls it. “You are SO LUCKY to have been born into the sex class and to have been trained since birth to cook and clean and diaper babies and put yourself last and wear clothes that will expose your genitals if you play and then be told to sit down and not play so you look pretty and not like a little tramp and be expected to lose your name upon marrying a man you hope won’t abuse you and be taught to repress your sexuality or take all the blame for being raped and then be blamed if a man rapes you even after you are as repressed as possible and to learn to tilt your head and giggle so that no one finds you threatening (or ever takes you seriously). DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?! I always wanted that!”
I understand transmen, really. Who wouldn’t want to trade up, if they really felt they could get away with it? If you were assigned female at birth and are indeed female bodied, raise your hand here if you NEVER had a moment where you hated your body and wished you hadn’t been born into the ghetto labeled “girl”. The entire world hates females, and most of us have internalized it. We are the sex/servant class to all of humanity. The more “privileged” of us (white, upper class women) only have to be sex slave and servant to a few men, sometimes only one.
More than anything else, I find it perplexing that transwomen don’t seem to understand they are “trading down”, and seem so shocked when they start experiencing misogyny. I’ve talked to some trans friends (yes, I have many trans friends, this isn’t all some remote theory crafting on my part) and tried to explain to them as gently as I could through my rage that yes, women get harassed on the street all the time for being women and no other reason, when they experience their first such incident and are horrified and enraged. I have to bite back my anger because its wrong they were harassed for any reason, but what I really want to say is “did you not listen to a single goddamn thing any woman around you ever said? What did you think you were getting into?” Did they thing men would suddenly start being “chivalrous” to them, or something?

217. Imaginary - December 15, 2009

I just started reading your blog, and I really like it. It’s lovely.

I have one question that I really would like someone to answer though. Why the hell do some people think they are a “woman trapped in a man’s body”? Doesn’t that just make you a man? Men can wear dresses and make-up, that doesn’t make them womin. Likewise, womin can not wear dresses and make-up and they are still not men. The only thing that makes us womin and men is, apart from social conditioning, our bodies.

factcheckme - December 16, 2009

imaginary, i am with you. its our bodies, and then our social conditioning premised on the appearance of our genitals that makes a person a male or a female. its not something you can get away from. MTF who think they are molding themselves into “female” with a little nip-tuck are completely missing the point. and the ones who actually GET IT (very few of them i think) are using their male privilege deliberately to abuse women and get their way with women and feminists, in womens and feminists spaces. while the others use their male privilege inadvertently, but to the same ends. they dont fucking get it. its obscene how much is being ignored, and that feminists are falling for it. thank god there are a few thinking persons left, i was really beginning to wonder, after hanging around at feministe, womanist musings etc.

thanks for posting, and visit as often as you like!

218. thebeardedlady - December 16, 2009

I’ve just been accused of TRANSPHOBIA! on another blog for arguing that trans women shouldn’t have access to women’s services if that access would mean the service could no longer help the women it was set up to help. I don’t want to have a fight on that blog as it’s not appropriate. But I’m just so sick of hearing this bullshit. I am fucking angry about this. I don’t think we should sacrifice the needs of every other woman in the world in order to serve trans women. That makes me transphobic? Well, what the fuck ever.

If I am not welcome somewhere, you know what? I don’t spend my whole fucking energy trying to get in there. If I am told that my presence hurts and damages other women, I have no problem whatsoever in walking away. I don’t put my needs above the needs of all other women. I will find some other way to get my needs met.

As a fab woman, there *are* places where I’m not welcome or where I would feel like I was in the wrong place. I read AROOO but I never comment there because it’s not for me. I wouldn’t try to get access to services at a centre for Black and Asian women. I don’t have any problem with women establishing whatever boundaries they need in order to feel it’s a safe space for them.

I do NOT understand why, if trans women need some kind of women’s centre/shelter and they can’t come to mine, that trans activists don’t put their energies into creating their own resources, instead of battling with women to take over existing resources, regardless of how that affects us. I don’t get it. And I am tired of being lectured about it, and told I’m privileged and all this other bullshit, while trans women threaten feminists with rape and murder elsewhere to resounding silence.

There are women dying every fucking minute because they were BORN FEMALE. If some male wants to put on a dress or chop his dick off and call himself a woman, fine. That’s fine by me, and I don’t think that person deserves to be treated any less of a human being. But FUCK RIGHT OFF telling me that I have some kind of magical privileges over trans people and should bow and scrape to them and apologise for my existence because I was so lucky to be born female. Bullshit. It’s bullshit. It’s bullying and it’s dismissing and silencing women, and it’s stomping all over us.

And I read the transcript of that speech that Polly linked to, and it was all about how the ‘root of transgender oppression’ is that people who are born male are not allowed to express themselves outside of traditional gender roles. Which has got nothing to do with lesbian and gay issues at all. And no one even mentioned homophobia or violence against women. Because they don’t give a shit. Even though some trans woman on another blog goes on about ‘political lesbianism’ and how it really pisses her off – I guess because people should just be whatever they are ‘naturally’, yeah?

Trans activists just don’t give a shit about women. They don’t care about us. We are not even allowed to talk amongst ourselves anymore because we are ‘excluding’ them. Crybaby fucking male privilege bullshit.

219. maggieclark - December 17, 2009

Hi TBL!

I appreciate your and Polly’s desire not to start a huge, doomed argument on my blog, but please please don’t feel you have to censor yourself just because I’m having so many conversations with trans women in the response threads. I absolutely want everyone to feel comfortable posting there, and I hope you are.

In response to the person in question, who allied transphobia automatically with cis privilege, I’ve just pushed a new post identifying how discourse on privilege conflates the true meaning of oppression, as it relates to those privileges in question, and the primacy of gender-normativity / non-gender-normativity in this oppression discourse. I anticipate it’s going to lead into some heavy argumentation, and both you and Polly are absolutely, thoroughly welcome to participate therein.

That said, thank you for your patience throughout these past few weeks, and your continued support. I wouldn’t have been able to realize any of this in the fully articulate way I think I now have if it weren’t for the discourses held here on this blog first.

All the best,

Maggie

220. thebeardedlady - December 17, 2009

No worries, Maggie. I appreciate you want to have a dialogue with trans activists, but I find I do not have the patience to deal with the illogical arguments and the misogyny and I’m angry, which I think will derail your intended discussions. I hope that your approach will lead to more productive dialogue with trans activists, though I fear that it is unlikely. When I started thinking about these questions, I thought, as you do, that feminists and trans activists could be allies. After countless hours of discussions and reading and thinking, I now feel exactly the opposite. Maybe you will find the magic words and arguments and examples that make trans activists wake up to their violent misogynist and racist behaviour. I hope so.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

as much as i hate kate harding and her trans-cult lately, i thought i would post a link here to an excellent article she had a few weeks ago entitled “schroedingers rapist”. for some reason, the trans crew didnt take it personally, but they should have. any transwoman that laments her inability to use the womens restroom (lest she be RAPED by the MEN in the MENS ROOM) should read this article, and consider the source: kate harding. someone they trust isnt TRANSPHOBIC.

basically it goes like this: you have no way of knowing if a man (even one in a dress) is a fucking rapist UNTIL HE ATTACKS YOU. No. way. of. knowing. UNILHEATTACKSYOU. being on guard against all men, therefore, is NOT trans fucking phobic.

http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%e2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%e2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

221. The Falsifiability Talk « Word to the Wise - December 29, 2009

[…] end, TheBeardedLady wrote a stunningly good encapsulation of how women feel in their own bodies here, which highlights the marginalization many born-sex-female women feel of their lived experience in […]

222. Guy - January 18, 2010

You know, I really thought I’d stumbled across a decent blog for a while, until I decided to take the time to actually read through it. This is misinformation central.

FYI: Most trans-women know that transitioning is loosing societal “privilege”. They know, as everyone does, people from all walks of life have it different, we all have different struggles and downsides to our lives we have to cope and deal with. They’re not stupid.

You’re trying to make it sound like all trans-women think being born female is “so easy”, and the reason they all want to transition is because they see being a woman as “easier”. You’re dead wrong there. You don’t understand transfolk, as much as you seem to loathe them.

They wish they could have experienced all of their life, including all of the up and downs, as the gender they identify with, yes. For better or for worse, and not just the aspects that seem pleasant. That’s how they feel, deal with it.

The fallacy here is the notion that most trans-women actually believe in a “cis-privilege”, in the sense that being born female is all peaches and cream. You’re logic is: Since it isn’t all peaches and cream, and (apparently in your experience) it in fact stinks being born female, transfolk are in the wrong to believe they would have wanted it.

The privilege you have is being acknowledged as the person you know yourself to be. They don’t often have even that much, but you do.

factcheckme - January 18, 2010


The privilege you have is being acknowledged as the person you know yourself to be.


jesus fucking christ on a popcicle stick. you clearly didnt even read the article OR the comments, did you? and yet you felt perfectly comfortable coming in here and telling me how it is. your reply was completely nonresponsive to anything thats been said here, by me or my readers. the only reason i approved it is to show people the kind of moronic replies this article is still getting. you are a fucking idiot, and a self-congratulatory troll. go do it somewhere else.

223. Laurelin - January 18, 2010

I’d say it is characteristic of people with male privilege to storm into a woman’s space, ignore all that she is saying/ has said and Tell Her How It Is.

Personally I’m always glad when something with a dick comes in and sets things straight for me. What a manly man! Not a fucking over-privileged under-brained moron at all. My knees are weak! *swoons*

224. Laurelin - January 18, 2010

Also note how personhood is conflated with gender in Mr Troll’s mind.

To be treated as a person, I would need to have a penis. I don’t, so I am treated as a ‘woman.

It’s not a privilege.

225. That blinking cursor is really helping the writing process. « Major Issues - January 22, 2010

[…] if you do there is a huge chance that we can’t be BFF.  I’m not okay with the rampant transphobia, hijacking gay politics to suit one’s own agenda, racism, and a myriad other isms that so […]

factcheckme - January 22, 2010

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA oh, goody. a pingback.

226. polly - February 6, 2010

if you do there is a huge chance that we can’t be BFF

That’s ok I have friends thanks, I don’t need imaginary ones on the internetz, you on the other hand appear to have no comments.

Trying to get the stats up?

Oh dear.


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