Defending the ‘TERF’: Gender as political

The philosophy and race class, for which I was serving as a teaching assistant, had just discussed the metaphysics of race.  One day I stood in front of my students and asked: “My mom is Mexican. My dad is white. I’m seen and treated as a white person. So what’s my race?”  First, a short silence. Then, the response I expected: “Whatever you want to identify yourself as.”

“But race is a social construction,” I insisted.  “And I’m seen and treated by others as a white person. So doesn’t that make me white?”

Depending upon your definition of race, I might be Latina, biracial, or — as I was trying to explain in class — white.  I’m seen as a white person; I’ve been raised as a white person in middle-class white culture; I can’t speak Spanish and I’ve experienced white privilege all my life (with the exception of a few awkward instances in which people asked whether I was “ethnic”). Let us assume that I identify fully with Latina-ness and not at all with whiteness, and that has always been the case. I can choose to fully embrace my Latina identity in such a way that I can be identified and treated as Latina by other people: I can learn Spanish, I can participate in Mexican cultural traditions and associate with Mexican people, and I can change my name. Wouldn’t I be Latina after that?

In a way, I would be Latina to the extent that I am seen and treated by others as a Latina (after all, race is a social construction and I would be socially constructed as Latina). But in another way I would not. Even if it is a legitimate choice for me to become Latina (even if I’m already Latina by some definitions), and even if I experience some form of racial subordination as a result of my transformation, I cannot pretend that I have not experienced white privilege as well.  This does not mean that I identify any less with Latina-ness. But it does mean, as someone sensitive to privilege and the insidious ways in which it works, that I recognize my experience of white privilege has irrevocably changed who I am and how I engage with the world around me.

Recently, feminists have been critiqued for attempting to make women-only spaces. Inclusion of “minority genders,” including transgender women, into what have been traditionally all-female colleges is now protected under Title IX and hailed as a progressive development. Restricting space to people who have been born women and continue to experience the world as women is considered discriminatory at best and biologically determinist at worst.

People often fail to recognize that “woman” is not a personal identity but a political identity based upon a shared experience of oppression. The purpose of certain women-only spaces is not about excluding those with or without a particular genitalia (we didn’t decide that having vaginas and uteruses made one subordinate; men did) or excluding those with a particular gender identity. This isn’t about how strongly one identifies as a woman, whether one might subsequently be seen and treated as a woman, or whether one is marginalized and disadvantaged by gender hierarchy (for example, gay men are marginalized by patriarchy even though they are men). It is about controlling for the experience of male privilege. In my white-to-Latina example, it would be legitimate to exclude me from certain spaces or even definitions of “Latina” not because I believe in biological determinism but because I understand the power of socialization. This doesn’t mean I identify less with being Latina than others who were “born that way,” or that I may not subsequently experience racial subordination. It means I recognize that what I am is not determined solely by what I want to be, and the fact that I’ve experienced white privilege is not and never has been up to me.

Of course there is an important dis-analogy between race and gender in my white-to-Latina story: transgendered women cannot experience all forms of subordination that women as women face. Most female-born women are capable of becoming pregnant at some point in their lives. For those who cannot, infertility is often considered a “problem” that needs to be “fixed.” Transgendered women do not experience disadvantage by virtue of their reproductive role (they don’t need abortions, for instance), and neither are they considered somehow “defective” by virtue of not being able to fulfill a particular reproductive role (although they might be considered pathological, etc. by virtue of not identifying with their imposed gender).

I’m not denying that transgendered people are subject to social, emotional, and physical violence at absurdly high rates, and that this violence is a product of sexism. I’m also not denying that transgender people feel deeply alienated from their imposed gender identity. Many of us are, because gender, and the accompanying deformation of our bodies — from pornographied genitalia to what is considered beautiful — is a profound and perverse imposition of identity. It does not reflect our individuality or even some positive notion of social relatedness.  It is a function of a deeply pathological and violent social structure.

But this seems to be where some recent developments in “feminist” theory and activism have diverged from their feminist roots. The feminist struggle against heterosexism and gender conformity was not because any self-professed sexual orientation, identity, or gender should be considered equally valid: it was because the disadvantage and violence non-gender conforming and non-heterosexual people experience are the result of patriarchy in which men and the masculine are socially constructed as (sexually) dominant and women and the feminine are socially constructed as the (sexually) subordinate. Feminism does not seek to marginalize or exclude the experience of people not born as women, but to situate these within a systemic and systematic understanding of the functions, mechanisms, and structure of sexual subordination.

Imagining and advocating for a post-racial world is easier for us than advocating for a post-gender world. Perhaps because gender has been with us longer, it cuts deeper, it invades our most intimate relationships and experiences. Unlike with racial subordination, there is no “remainder”: ethnicity (identification with a particular cultural or linguistic tradition) can exist without race (the social construction of an identity based upon one’s racial subordination or privilege), but there is no gender without sexual subordination.

Now some may argue that our gender has a biological component, even though they may at the same time acknowledge that the gender binary is bad and that there are elements to gender which are the result of socialization.

(Radical feminists, take a deep breath. I’m about to go hyper-individualistic and idealized here, so bear with me.)

Let’s presuppose everyone is against the differential treatment and socialization of males and females. In a just world, there wouldn’t girl be or boy fashions, there wouldn’t be girl or boy toys, there wouldn’t be the innumerable ways in which people communicate with or interpret peoples’ behavior differently based upon their “maleness” or “femaleness.” Everyone is socialized into norms that promote non-violence, reciprocity, and respect in relationships regardless of the anatomy of those with whom one desires to have relationships. No one is socially disadvantaged, or presumed to be better or worse at anything, because of their anatomy. We accept all people as individuals, without imposing or socializing them into them psycho-social-sexual characteristics.

The question is that after we’ve gotten rid of all the negative social structuring, what is the remainder? If there were “biological differences” (other than the obvious ones that have to do with one’s ability to become pregnant, impregnate, etc.) then these wouldn’t have any significant social relevance. For example, perhaps we find that males tend to be slightly more aggressive. It wouldn’t tell us about any particular male, and since this wouldn’t be the basis for socialization, it wouldn’t tell us how to treat males either. All it would mean is that some people, who could be male or female, have a tendency toward aggression and need to work harder to be nice people, and among those people there are more males than females.

There may be sexual preferences in a post-gender society, albeit they would look markedly different from our current preferences (we wouldn’t even have heterosexuality per se, given that it is structured around sexualizing women’s violation/submission). Perhaps there may be a genetic component to these preferences. But while our personality traits and preferences may not be entirely by choice, without gender structuring no particular trait or behavior would be gendered. For example, there would be nothing effeminate or gay or even unusual about a male wanting to wear pink skirts, and we wouldn’t presuppose that he had any other psycho-social characteristics or sexual preferences because he likes to wear pink skirts. Perhaps people would associate themselves with a set of shared preferences or characteristics?  There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s unclear then how gender would be different than identifying oneself as a geek or a goth, as an introvert or an extrovert.

The danger in thinking that we can solve the problem of sexual subordination by multiplying our gender/sexual identities, or in seeing the liberation of non-gender conforming and non-heterosexual people as separate from women’s liberation, is that we might end up treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

First, what about getting out of the problematic, essentialist gender binary by multiplying identities? In fact, multiplying identities does not necessarily eliminate hierarchies. The racial categorization in many Latin American countries does not operate, as it has in the United States at various points in its history, on a strict white/non-white binary. However, the multiplying of identities has not eliminated racial subordination in these places; in fact, it may make it more difficult to combat because there are fewer opportunities for solidarity when non-whites are not equal to whites but some are more equal than others.

What about the particularity of peoples’ experience and the importance of intersectionality? Doesn’t that mean that we can’t see all forms of gender/sexual marginalization as a function of women’s oppression?

I don’t deny that intersectionality is important and impacts our lived experience of oppression. A black woman will experience gender subordination differently than a white woman. However, over-particularizing our identities can make us lose track of the primary mechanisms, constructions, and structures of subordination. Subordination is not a subjective experience but a social phenomenon. We can see the danger of over-particularizing and divorcing privilege and marginalization from social structures, for example, in the way that some pedophiles claim laws against child sex abuse is ageist and some pro-BDSM people claim they are marginalized by “vanilla” sexuality and that it is a “sexual orientation” on par with homosexuality, bisexuality, etc. Thinking that the marginalization of and violence against non-gender conforming and non-heterosexual people is separate from the feminist struggle would be like thinking that unemployment and labor exploitation are distinct problems from — rather than functions of — the capitalist system. We can’t fully address unemployment or labor exploitation without dismantling the systems of economic oppression that give rise to them in the first place. Similarly, we can’t fully address the marginalization of anyone who suffers from patriarchalism without addressing the system of gender upon which sexual subordination relies.

Feminists are not trying to exclude or degrade people of non-conforming genders or sexualities. We aren’t denying all the ways in which gender enforcement harms and marginalizes, and we aren’t saying they can’t contribute to the project of liberation.

Feminists just think that gender is not personal but political.

C.K. Egbert is a current graduate student in the Philosophy Department at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on feminism and equality.

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  • ozzie

    Excellent post. I think the race analogy is being a bit generous though because trans women are not intersex: they are biologically, anatomically, genetically XY and unambiguously male while you are actually half Mexican and therefore experience being Latina in a way they cannot experience femaleness. It goes without saying, I 100% support trans individuals who experience body dysmorphia and think they should have access to the health care/medical procedures they need, be supported during transition and assimilation, and live free of discrimination, however I still think a lot of mainstream trans rhetoric is fallacious, dogmatic and based on the completely unfounded claim that women have ”cis privilege” and that it is possible to ”feel like a woman” while occupying the social category ”male”.
    I’ve loved Glosswatch’s writings on this–in one post she compares the gender hierarchy to economic classes to point out that oppression is founded on material reality rather than personal perceived identity. Some other excellent writing I’ve seen on the topic, for anyone who’s interested, I would recommend Rachel Ivy, Sheila Jeffries, Lierre Kieth, Gia Milinovich, Women’s Liberation Front, and

    • C.K. Egbert

      I’m actually very conflicted about whether I’m “really” Latina or not (yes it’s my heritage, but of course many people at the top of the racial hierarchy will have mixed heritage and, as I’ve said, I didn’t experience the Mexican language or culture growing up).

      I think that there’s an important difference in my mother’s experience of Latin-ness, even if I were to convincingly “perform” Latina-ness. She had no choice about whether she was seen as Latina, at least earlier in her life, while I do. The ability to choose to adopt this identity is itself a form of privilege.

      • ozzie

        Of course, I’m not arguing over which culture you identify most with (whichever you choose is your prerogative), I’m talking about the analogy to trans women. The difference here is that you could definitely say you are Latina if you wanted to because it is factually correct. The same cannot be said for trans individuals because mammals are largely dimorphic, (again, with the exception of rare intersex conditions).

        • Leo

          Yes, in this case, it’s a member of the oppressor class claiming membership in an oppressed group, instead. So it’s something different from you choosing to claim an identity which you do actually have a right to – you may pass as white, but you genuinely are part Latina (‘dual heritage’ is a term I heard I quite liked, don’t know how you feel about it, it could be seen as acknowledging the social construction of race easier than the term ‘biracial’, perhaps). It is based on how you’re perceived, but it’s possible someone would start treating you differently once they knew your background. Your passing ‘privilege’ is dependent on continuing to pass, in fact choosing to engage with and identify with the Latina culture which is part of your heritage, might well make your life tougher in some ways. At least, I’ve heard some biracial people comment on the difficulty of being able to do so. A white person wants to learn a foreign language, they might take a bit of ‘what are you doing that for?’ flack, but it still has a kind of cachet, it’s seen as intellectual, cultural. Someone who had a connection to the language as part of their own personal cultural heritage, who wanted to learn it for that reason, would have far far more issues, from people muttering about them not integrating and not appreciating US (meaning white) culture properly, ‘we speak English here!’, to assumptions it should be easy for them to learn and they should know it already. A white person could be praised for doing the exact same thing they’d be criticised for. So it still has an effect, even though people’s peceptions are certainly an important part of it, like how I can sometimes pass as able-bodied (depends on the situation, and how observant they are. Won’t be able to for much longer, though). I’ve actually seen people really noticeably switch to treating me differently, and start talking to me in a more patronising way, and treating me like they assume I won’t understand stuff, once they realise I’m disabled. That really makes the difference stand out.

          With transgender males, it’s more like if a totally white person started insisting that they were really Latina, had no white privilege and were actually oppressed on the basis of their race instead, including being further oppressed by ‘Cis’Latinas – which would of course be very offensive (as a disabled woman who has spine issues, I was incidentally just really viscerally upset and angry, which is usually very unlike me, on reading about Chloe Jennings-White, who desires to be seen not only as a female, but as a paraplegic female). I don’t think it’s actually relevant if there is some biological basis to gender identity (though precisely what they mean by ‘gender identity’ can get a bit confusing, they’ll say it’s something different from gender as in gender roles, but then end up contradicting themselves… It’s not like I haven’t asked, if they have a clear explanation I’m entirely willing and interested to hear them out), because our oppression has as its basis our reproductive biology. It may make more sense to see it as a neurological condition if their innate sense of gender identity claim were in some way correct, which means the relevant political terms are non-neurotypical, and neurotypical privilege.

          I think it’s possible some traits would still end up being seen as gendered, I’m not sure if we can be entirely post-gender (it’d be nice, but…). Not to get all bio essentialist since I really don’t think it’s helpful, but if we look at other mammal species, there are differences between male and female behaviour. So if some traits were really particularly prevalent in one sex, it would be difficult, and potentially dangerous for us females particularly, to ignore the association. Even on a physical level, males will always be capable of posing a specific threat to us in a way other females cannot, even if 99% of males do turn out to be nice once society stops associating masculinity with aggressiveness, and sexual aggressiveness.

          • C.K. Egbert

            I think in a post-patriarchy society, there wouldn’t be “gendered traits” because we wouldn’t use certain facts as the basis for socialization (or exculpating bad behaviors, or making judgments about individuals)–even if there may be some traits that present more strongly in one sex rather than another. Although males may always pose a threat to females (they can make us pregnant and they can use their genitalia to harm us in a way a female’s genitalia cannot), I think in a post-patriarchy world the meaning of that threat would be entirely different: males would be educated about how to avoid hurting females and strongly sanctioned if they do. It wouldn’t eliminate all male-perpetrated violence, but it would make violence the exception rather than the rule if for no other reason that males would be strongly socially coerced into acting respectfully. As humans we’re highly susceptible to social coercion, and I believe that people can habituate themselves to the appropriate response even if it goes against their predilections (I’ve had to do this with myself, so I don’t think it’s impossible even if it might be difficult).

          • bella_cose

            If gender roles were abolished, eventually, men wouldn’t have to be socially coerced to not perpetrate violence against women. If the foundation of their masculinity were destroyed, I think male contempt for everything associated with femaleness would disappear for many men, although not for all. Until that time, social coercion would be an important way to make men fall in line. I have to say though, even in my most optimistic moments, I see these changes taking a hundred years, and possibly many more, to occur.

            I hope I’m wrong.

      • Doesn’t that speak more to the distinction between ethnicity and race than anything else, though?

      • I’m interested to know what you make of someone like me. I’m not Hispanic and I’m not Middle Eastern but I am constantly assumed to be one or the other. I’m the offspring of a dark, olive-skinned European American and a fair-skinned European American. I have been asked all my life where I’m from (or where my parents are from, when I was a child). People begin conversing with me in languages that I can’t even begin to pinpoint. I identify as a WOC and as “ethnically ambiguous” because even though I am supposedly “white,” I’m not viewed as “white enough” by just about everyone.

        • C.K. Egbert

          I’d say it’s legitimate for you to identify as “ethnically ambiguous” because that has been your (social) experience; you are seen and treated as an “Other” in that respect (it hasn’t been my experience in general because I’m paler than pretty much everyone). The fact that there’s almost never been a time–with the exception of those few instances I’ve referenced–where I’ve experienced being the “Other” is why I’m hesitant to identify as Latina.

          It’s sort of like the experience of a boy who gets seen or thought of as a girl; being misidentified isn’t uncommon (I’ve recently been mistaken for a male in spite of the fact that I’m–ahem–unambiguously female), but it doesn’t change the underlying structural dynamics. That’s the thing about gender/race as a social construction; it’s messy and ambiguous at times, so people get obsessed about categorizing people.

          But I’m guessing you’d have the same reaction as myself, which is even if you identify as WOC because of the experience of “Otherness” you’d be supportive of POC excluding you from certain spaces on account of either your ethnic heritage or white privilege–which is precisely the type of consideration that the transgender movement does not want to afford to women.

          • gxm17

            Absolutely. I completely support separate spaces for POC. I also support separate spaces for trans men and women. And I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with that.

            I believe that the organized offensive to invade the space of women, especially a group of women that presents a strong, compelling argument against patriarchy, is a fundamental tactic in maintaining the sexist imbalance and oppression in our androcentric culture.

    • Absolutely! This largely mirrors my thoughts. Body dysmorphia is a legitimate condition and those with it are entitled to help and care.

      “I still think a lot of mainstream trans rhetoric is fallacious, dogmatic and based on the completely unfounded claim that women have ”cis privilege” and that it is possible to ”feel like a woman””

      I think that it is possible to “feel like a woman” i.e. feel like you are at the bottom of the hierarchical system, it is possible to “feel” feminized, given our society’s understanding of feminization as being dominated, sexually or otherwise. I’m not sure whether it is disrespectful to people who have suffered slavery or prostitution for that matter to say something like, “I feel like a slave,” or, “I felt like I was a prostitute because I was trading off my sexuality.” I’m not sure whether that means that you are saying that you are a slave or prostituted women and at least in that context most people saying something like this would differentiate feelings from reality.

      • The problem that I have with this whole “body dismorphia” thing is that I have never met anyone (other than those self-absorbed to the point of delusion) who are happy with their body. Almost everyone has some physical aspect that they’d like to change. Do we all get “help” and our cosmetic surgery covered? Why do some of us have to suck it up and accept the hand we were dealt while others get a free ride?

        • bella_cose

          I have wondered the same thing. I could understand if someone’s genitals were mutilated and they wanted reconstructive surgery. I’m not sure how we can fight to abolish gender roles while being uncritical of the idea of someone having surgery to create a vagina because their gender identity doesn’t match their biological sex.

          • xiu

            and it’s not even a vagina, that’s the part that is insulting to women. a “pocket” carved into someone’s abdoment is not an organ, it therefore isn’t a vagina, and has nothing to do with women. It is only under the inherently misogynistic delusion that vaginas = fuckable holes women have, that a Male to trans person’s surgically created pocket could be seen as in any way related to vaginas.

          • “I have wondered the same thing. I could understand if someone’s genitals were mutilated and they wanted reconstructive surgery. ”

            I was referring to that. I am talking about sex dysphoria which I see as different from gender dysphoria.

            I agree with you that gender dysphoria is a result of patriarchy and we need to dismantle patriarchy which is causing the suffering, not say that individual people have “gender dysphoria.” They don’t have gender dysphoria, they are just actually thinking straight and seeing that the patriarchal gender boxes and gender roles are wrong.

          • howe

            there is no real difference (read: beyond subjectively feeling different) between “gender dysphoria” and “sex dysphoria.” They are both caused by patriarchy and/or capitalism and the culture that supports them, which is to say, does not support humans in their capacity as embodied people, i.e. humans.

            There is also actually nothing especially special about any of these feelings that qualifies them as this new thing called “dysphoria”– theyre just bad subjective feelings, just like all humans have on a variety of different issues throughout their lives. The only reason for this terminology is because they wanted to make it seem extra special, and were piggybacking off of the psychiatric “gender identity disorder” category. how ironic, but no one ever notices that, either.

          • Alice

            May i ask where you are getting the evidence to make these arguments? Because as it stands you are just making statments based on your subjective belifes. Moreover there is supporting evidence from the medical community that indecate tbat sex dysphoria is a real phenomenon.

            Also on a person note as someone who experiances sex dysphoria from childhood i do not appericate the contemptuous trivialisation of the suffering of transsexuals. many like myself do not hate women born women nor have they activitly attacked anyone they just live their lives peacfully.

          • C.K. Egbert

            Positing a different explanation for the origin of those feelings is different from trivializing your subjective experience. I’m not trivializing the suffering of a woman who is anorexic and I’m not denying that anorexia exists, but I’m not going to endorse the idea that anorexics are in fat and need to starve themselves. I believe the origins of her body dysphoria is because of gender roles and social messages.

            If you just have sex dysphoria–that is, discomfort with whatever sex you were born with–then it seems that you wouldn’t be inclined to engage in any stereotypically feminine behaviors or present yourself as a woman. Thus, if you interpret “sex dysphoria” as wanting to be a woman–as socially constructed, not merely female–then it seems sex dysphoria cannot be extricated from gender roles and sex stereotyping.

          • Alice

            Hi C.K. Egbert,

            Sorry for my very late reply to yours, I completely forgot about this post.

            Anyways firstly I’d like to appolgise regarding the angry tone in my post. It is very upsetting to me when people discuss my life and a very real problem I face in abstract/theoretical ways.

            Secoundly I do believe that sex dysphoria is the result of a brain mapping error or something akin to it which the cause. I have investigated the argument you put forward and I see little support for it. Moreover I do believe dysphoria does exist independent of gender although I will say gender does affect dysphoria often in a negative way.

          • C.K. Egbert

            Thank you, Alice, I understand it can be really difficult emotionally to talk about something that affects you so personally. If sex dysphoria exists independent of gender structures–which could be a possibility (it’s hard to tell in this context because gender is so pervasive)–then, as I said, it seems that the claim is that they feel like or would be more comfortable with different genitalia. That seems to be a different claim than the ones that I am addressing in the article.

            I also want to say that I understand, even if someone had sex dysphoria and not gender dysphoria, that person would want to gender conform because gender non-conformity is socially punished and might target them for violence. But once again, feminists are very sympathetic to this concern.

            Best wishes.

    • Catherine

      If you knew anything about intersex and realities of biological sex differentiation, you’d know that no one is ‘unambiguously male’ or female for that matter.

      • Missfit

        I thought that if you produced sperm, that alone makes you unambiguously male. And that category actually includes a lot of people. I would appreciate if you could elaborate on that ‘no one is unambiguously male of female’ because I also thought that I was unambiguously female (I even pushed a baby outside of my vagina but maybe that is still not enough to qualify as an unambiguous female).

        • ozzie

          She seriously needs to read a biology book or 6543435 because she’s starting to sound like a bad Portlandia skit.
          So weird how men have no trouble differentiating male/female or man/woman when they’re FGMing, trafficking, raping, and acid burning. But when women then want to talk about these oppressions and push back, every idiot crawls out of the woodwork to be like ”what’s a woman anyway?” or ”define female?” or ”gender is just a construct, we’re all people”.

          • andeväsen

            There’s also this tendency of, when advocating on behalf of a marginalised group, claiming that everyone belongs to that group – as if it is the only opportunity for empathy.

            “We’re all a bit disabled” or “everyone is on the autistic spectrum”.

            It doesn’t favour anyone, really.

      • huha

        Sooo human mammals are somehow different from other mammals?
        There are male and female cats, for example. There is also a minority of cats with ambiguous sex. It applies to all mammals, including humans. Let’s not deny science here. We all know how babies are made.

      • andeväsen

        That’s not scientifically nor ontologically correct.

        What you’ve said amounts to: people with albinism exist. Therefore there is no race.

    • I’d suggest adding links to some who have been fighting the trans cult longer and in more detail, such as Gallus Mag at GenderTrender.

      And articles at my blog. I’ve been saying no to men claiming they are “Lesbians” to demand sexual access to us since 1972.

  • Rob

    While you raise important points, you still haven’t explained why trans women are excluded/ marginalized by certain factions within the feminist movement, or more directly why certain feminists would want to exclude trans women to begin with. I agree with your assessment that gender is, for the most part, a socially constructed phenomenon that pigeon holes males and females into specific roles and behaviors labeled masculine and feminine, but you haven’t explained how transgendered individuals automatically conform to/give legitimacy to patriarchy- imposed gender roles. You also seem to be saying that trans women aren’t in the same class of oppression as “women born” women because they’ve lived a certain segment of their lives as men (with all the privilege that entails), they haven’t fully experienced the full spectrum of patriarchal oppression that the “born women” have been subjected to since birth. This completely ignores the fact that not all gender realignment procedures are voluntary. There are numerous examples of parents and physicians of male infants with ambiguous or severely traumatized genitalia opting to give their sons male-to-female sex-change operations. The reasoning for this procedure rested on two commonly held beliefs within the pediatric community at the time (since widely disproven): 1) healthy psychosexual development is dependent upon the appearance of genitals and 2) individuals are psychosexually neutral at birth. The basis for these assumptions was the belief among academics in the late 60’s early 70’s that gender identity was developed largely as a result of social learning from early childhood and that all psychological and behavioral differences between males and females were learned (google search: Dr. John William Money, a psychologist at John Hopkins Medical, who actually coined the phrase “gender-identity”)

    The implications of this from a radical feminist point of view is twofold: First, it means that there are individuals, who despite being born male, and due to some mishap/accident and based on faulty medical reasoning have been raised/socialized as being female, meaning that they have been subjected to the same gendered oppression growing up as the “born women”. Perhaps the best example of this in Canada is the case of David Reimer, born in Winnipeg in 1965 as a male named Bruce. At the age of six months Bruce was diagnosed with phimosis, a fairly common condition in which the foreskin cannot fully retract from the head of the penis. At the age of eight months, it was decided to give him a circumcision to relieve the condition. The procedure went horribly wrong and Bruce’s penis was burned beyond any possibility of repair, and it was decided to give him a sex-change, and raise him as a girl in order to give him a “normal” life. And so Bruce became Brenda, he was given clothing and toys considered appropriate for girls, introduced to people as a girl and, in fact, was made to believe he was a girl. Now if we are to believe that gender is entirely socially and politically constructed it seems to me that this individual, who was brought up to believe he was a girl, and whom society labelled a girl, had just as much right to consider himself a girl any “woman born as a women” No? The problem with Bruce/Brenda is that in spite of the fact that she didn’t have male genitals, and that everyone around her socialized her as a girl, so that she was lead to believe she was a girl. She knew as early as 5 or 6 that something was wrong, “Brenda” was attracted to girls, She was bullied for being a “tomboy”. Finally at age 13 She was told the truth about her gender assignment. “Brenda” then immediately assumed a male gender identity and adopted the name David Reimer. Later in life, David underwent another gender reassignment surgery. He was given hormone injections, underwent a double mastectomy to have his breasts downsized, and underwent two phalloplasty operations to create a penis, imitation testicles, and scrotum. This leads us to the second implication for radical feminists: Namely, that while GENDER ROLES are largely a construct of social conditioning, GENDER IDENTITY is not, and can be considered an innate part of the human psyche, meaning that regardless of the genitalia we posses or what gender society may label us, how we feel for ourselves about our sexual identity cannot be discounted.

    • qwertyuio

      “can be considered an innate part of the human psyche”

      This sounds like Freud, or astrology. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. (Hint: anecdotes are not extraordinary)

      • Rob

        There’s nothing extraordinary about that statement. “Innate” isn’t some new-age self help term, the dictionary defines it as: 1) existing in one from birth, 2) inherent in the essential character of something. What I’m saying is, based on the experience of Brenda/David Reimer, and others like him; sexual identity (or gender identity, whatever you want to call it), isn’t entirely (and I emphasize, entirely) based on social constructs or learned behaviour.

        Are the experiences of trans people (voluntary or otherwise) “anecdotes” to you? Can I say the same thing about the experiences of women? (Hint: No)

        • qwertyuio

          women’s experiences aren’t framed in terms of their “human psyche” which is the part of your statement that sounds like astrological Freudianism

          • Rob

            the “psyche” is defined as the totality of the human mind, both conscious (the thoughts we control and visualize) and unconscious (the thoughts we don’t), it refers to the way we see and act ourselves in relation to the world around us. I used the word “human” because I believe both women and trans individuals are human. What is your understanding of how women’s experiences are framed?

          • qwertyuio

            Unless I’ve been completely misreading for years, women usually frame their (full disclosure: I’m a man) tens-of-thousands-of-years-old oppression in terms of thier physical biology (men targeting women’s bodies for ownership, reproductive use, and/or sexual use) and the accompanying psychological terrorism (men’s socialization of women starting at age 0, men taking power away from women/keeping them)

            none of this has ever been framed as happening because of any sort of “psyche” in women’s brains — in fact, for decades women have protested the field of psychology’s imaginary ideas of a “woman’s brain” that e.g. attributes women’s stress to malfunction of the uterus.

            the “human mind” to me is a shorthand phrase for what goes on in the brain over the span of a lifetime, starting with the early years, in which sex-based socialization happens (see sociologist Emily Kane’s book The Gender Trap if you don’t understand or agree with that last bit). if you feel that there is a metaphysical “soul” or special magic entity inside every person’s brain, that’s cool, I don’t. So either “innate gender identity” is to you a mystical metaphysical part of the human soul, or you are extraordinarily claiming that is purely biological, without presenting any sort of research in the biological sciences to back it up. And once again, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

            A less extraordinary claim is that “gender identity”, like “otherkin identity”, is the product of social construction on top of existing ideas about sex. Other commentors have shown how your reading of the anecdote of David Reimer relies on a narrative of sexual (in both senses) identity that ties sexual attraction to sex.

            I’m open to any of those claims being true. I am just acting as a skeptic.

          • Rob

            Go back to the definition of “psyche” i posted. It relates to consciousness/unconsiousness, not metaphysics or “magical entities”, your thinking right now – right?; processing thoughts, feelings, and emotions, well that’s your psyche at work. David Reimer’s psyche made him aware that the social category society placed him in, girl or female, wasn’t who he really was. Again keep in mind, he had sexual realignment surgery as an infant, he was born male, and he only fully realized he wasn’t female once he was told so.

            Now I mentioned in my original post that some of the early clues that David noticed about his true gender identity involved his attraction to girls, or the fact that he was considered a “tomboy”. In no way was i stating that women and men have specific biological traits which express themselves in terms of sexual orientation or “gendered” activity. As a child he observed, through his conscious psyche, boys and girls take on certain socially imposed gender roles, which aren’t innate, and can certainly be changed/challenged, never the less; as a consequence of living in a gender structured society, he noticed boys behaving in a certain way and girls in another. His subconscious psyche, which always self-identified as male, processed these gendered roles/behaviors as:”girls are/do x and boys are/do y, you are really male, so therefore you must do y”. Again, let me be clear: I am not implying that girls or boys who do not act out/conform to “heteronormative” behaviors all suffer from gender dysphoria, all i’m saying is that’s how it manifested itself in this particular instance.

            As a thought experiment, lets say David was raised to believe he was a girl in a society which completely flips the standard gender-roles. Boys are socialized to wear pink and play with dolls, and girls are socialized to wear blue and act aggressively. So David, being socialized as a girl, would naturally be encouraged to wear blue and get into fights, cause that’s what this particular fantasy society expects of girls, but his subconsiousness, which identifies as male would nudge him towards wearing pink and playing with dolls because that’s what’s expected of boys in our make-believe society. David’s gender dysphoria would still exist, the only difference is it would express itself under a completely different set of behaviors.

            As for your assertion that there is no relevant research, postulating biological causes for transsexualism; in fact, numerous studies conducted over the past 20 years have shown links between between male to female transsexualism, female to male transsexualism, and genetics, brain structure and brain function (wikipedia search: causes of transsexualism), although I would like to know if this counts as “extraordinary evidence”.

          • andeväsen

            I’m open to hearing about ‘biological’ origins of gender identity crises, but I’m afraid the research isn’t conclusive.

            If it was, there would be a brain scan at birth that all babies could take to prevent future misery from gender identitiy issues and assign their sex according to their gender identity right from the start. As it stands, the evidence is lacking.

          • Missfit

            Whatever brain scans reveal, how could it legitimately leads to operating healthy sex organs in order to give them the shape of those of the opposite sex? Where is this idea even coming from? There wouldn’t be any ‘misery from gender identity issues’ without a patriarchal rigid gender system.

            There may have been connections found between transexualism and brain activity or hormone levels (both of which also vary from one individual to another) but this still leads back to the idea that brain activity of some sort should be confined to a specific sex when it is not necessarily the case and why should it be? Remodeling nature to fit patriarchy, that’s what.

          • andeväsen

            “There wouldn’t be any ‘misery from gender identity issues’ without a patriarchal rigid gender system.”


            “…this still leads back to the idea that brain activity of some sort should be confined to a specific sex when it is not necessarily the case.”

            It’s not the case at the moment, because there isn’t compelling evidence at the moment that there is a ‘male’ and ‘female’ brain. Certain research groups (neurosexists, or neurosexofascists) are ever on the lookout for it.

          • andeväsen

            “His subconscious psyche, which always self-identified as male, processed these gendered roles/behaviors as:”girls are/do x and boys are/do y, you are really male, so therefore you must do y”.”

            What is the evidence for this taking place?

          • and I suppose “reparative therapy” on trans people IS a product of the psyche in your opinion? I suppose the fact simply existing while trans puts you at higher risk of being murdered than anybody else on the LGBT spectrum is just a coincidence, abnormally high rate of rape (as a victim not an attacker) isn’t important. The fact many risk EXECUTION and in greece are being held in camps without trial is irrelevant too. You think we choose to be like this? Treating it like a lifestyle choice is what the GOP have done to LGB people for decades, Hypocrisy is what it is.

        • Leo

          ‘Are the experiences of trans people (voluntary or otherwise) “anecdotes” to you?’

          Uh, which trans people’s experiences are we talking about here? The ones who acknowledge they aren’t female, and get abused and called truscum for it by the trans community? The ones who say their desire to transition was driven by internalised homophobia? You do realise, when you say ‘voluntary or otherwise’, that you’re including Iranian homosexual people, who are pressured to transition or risk the death penalty?

          No? I’m instead meant only to be listening to the ones who validate the idea girl’s brains are pink, or that the true meaning of woman is a feeling in a man’s head? Just like ‘listen to sex workers!’ actually means ‘listen to people who’ll say prostitution is fine, you’re whorephobic and a SWERF if you focus on the ones who say it that it isn’t’. Funny, that.

          Reimer’s case is very sad, but isn’t relevant at all. It proves, what, that he realised something was wrong – but didn’t actually know he wasn’t a girl until told, therefore actually offering an argument AGAINST the existence of ‘innate sense of gender identity’? Female genitals are not merely amputated male ones, ffs. Not surprising he realised something was wrong, especially considering the surgery was nowhere near as advanced back then. He also would probably not have had facial feminisation surgery, I’d guess? Though the lack of testosterone would obviously impact his appearance and make it easier for him to ‘pass’. Everyone around him knew he was male, that alone would create the sense of something being ‘off’, he had to see Dr. Money, who treated him as basically an experiment, and his early socialisation still existed, too. His behaviour proves nothing considering girls enjoying active types of play is common, if actually allowed to and not discouraged from it. As he was a biological male, how is attraction to girls in any way surprising, unless we’re meant to see sexual orientation as purely socially constructed? (partly, yeah definitely, purely, hmm, dunno about that…)

          • “Reimer’s case is very sad, but isn’t relevant at all.”

            A freakin’-men. I can’t believe anyone with two braincells to rub together would even try to present their position based on this one tragic case.

          • The Cheeky Kurd

            And didn’t this Reimer man get genital reconstructive surgery at 8 months? Socialization starts before birth. And also, I’m guessing his parents didn’t fully treat him as a girl bc they knew he wasn’t when one when he was born.

          • andeväsen

            Yes. If the parents and all the people around him were blinded to his birth sex, his story would have had marginally more to add to this discussion.

        • Gender is a social construct that changes with time. It is not “innate.” That fact does not change if you add the word “identity” to it. Masculinity and femininity are constructs that not only change over time, but express themselves in many different ways within the same society at the same point in time.

    • Lana

      “You still haven’t explained why trans women are excluded/ marginalized by certain factions within the feminist movement, or more directly why certain feminists would want to exclude trans women to begin with.”

      I think you may need to re-read this article because she explains if fairly clearly.

    • JD

      My answer is BECAUSE THEY AREN’T WOMEN.

      • Right on. They are men with an idea that “womanhood” is based solely on one’s genitals. Not only are then NOT WOMEN, they are boys/men who have no freakin’ clue what it means to be a women in our society. They are some bizarre patriarchy-fueled, male ideal of what a “women” is, an ideal that is based in their male privilege that they feel they have the right to define (and confine) what being a woman *is*.

        Trans women do not get to tell us what a woman is. Ever. They can tell us what it is like to be a boy who wants to wear dresses and have cosmetic surgery to have his penis removed, but that’s it.

    • LunaMinor

      Not sure the David Reimer case teaches us that much really, apart from the obvious fact that childhood sexual abuse can have long-lasting and devastating consequences for the victims and those close to them. Dr. Money is documented to have made the twins engage in “sex play” with each other throughout their childhoods, showing them pornographic pictures etc. It would be a compelling case; but it is simply not as straight-forward a story as you make it out above. Worth noting too that David’s twin brother was also very traumatized and struggled immensely into adulthood, eventually dying from an overdose two years before David’s suicide.

    • “you still haven’t explained why trans women are excluded/ marginalized by certain factions within the feminist movement, or more directly why certain feminists would want to exclude trans women to begin with.”

      You open by misrepresenting the argument as a means to take up space with an exceptional category of circumstantial socialization. I would imagine that those people subject to this sort of distopian medical gerrymandering do have support spaces and it would be quite understandable if they wanted those spaces to be exclusionary of this who have not shared that particular trauma under patriarchy.

      Acknowledge that the post is about women-only spaces and the exclusion of those born male from those spaces; NOT, as you imply, exclusion of trans women from all and every aspect of the movement.

      Please, if you are going to expect us to read such a long post, the least you can do is engage honestly with the ideas presented.

      • Rob

        Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I’ll try to be as brief as possible, but, this is a complicated issue and I don’t think 140 characters or less will cut it. I’ll try to be brief (this is going to be hard!) by posing a question:

        If feminism states that gender/sex, and the masculine/feminine is a completely socialized phenomenon, then wouldn’t the person known as David Reimer rightfully be considered a women, by feminist standards, at the very least up until the point he was told the truth about his sexual identity. Think about it: This was an individual who, for the first 13 years of his life was socialized, and made to believe, along with everyone else around him except his parents, that he was female. Which means in that 13 year time frame, despite his own personal uncertainty regarding his sexual identity, he was socialized and perceived to be a girl – with all the misogyny and oppression that entails. So if, as Simone de Beauvoir put it: “one is not born a women, but becomes one” doesn’t that qualify a 10 year old Brenda/David as a female?

        You can use words like “exceptional” or “circumstantial” to claim that i’m misrepresenting the argument, but being “born male” doesn’t necessarily mean you will be raised/socialized/stereotyped as a male, whatever “being male” our society determines that to mean.

        • Missfit

          First of all, feminism does not state that gender/sex are both ‘completely socialized phenomenon’. Feminists distinguish between sex, a biological reality, and gender, a social construct. When Simone de Beauvoir said ‘one is not born a woman, but becomes one’ the term woman here refers to the patriarchal social construct of femininity. Radical feminists say that a woman is someone with female reproductive organs (no matter how functional they are), regardless of how she incarnates the feminine patriarchal ideal.

          You posted this reply on the issue of women only spaces using the example of David Reimer to make a point. What’s this point? Let’s say we say that the 10 year old penisless Brenda would be allowed in a woman only space, does that mean that 40 year old males who decide that they now want to be viewed as women should also be allowed?

        • Laur


          Of course Brenda (before s/he became David) should be welcomed in women-only spaces. In my opinion, anyway.

          What’s your point?

        • lizor

          When you bring in a case that is categorically NOT applicable to the topic: self-identified people with male anatomy who insist that they are women and insist on access to support groups for people who are anatomically female and who have been identified by others as female all their lives, what terminology would you have us use? “Exceptional” is an accurate description of the case you raise and misrepresenting the argument is exactly what you are doing. I would hope that you would not extend this to some asinine attempt to regulate and control our correct use of the english language to call you out on your bullshit.

          People have been very patient with you despite your predictable solipsism and your boring display of ignorance of feminist theory. You should try actually paying some attention to what has been said to you and, in particular, try to wrap your head around the information in the original post before taking up space and time with your irrelevant “argument”.

        • If “gender” is merely a “social construct” then it would not be defined by genitalia. A person born with male genitalia and a person born with female genitalia would simply be able to choose their gender regardless of their physical body.

          But gender is not merely a social construct. It is an oppressive device used by patriarchal cultures to limit women’s rights, access to reproductive health, and relegate born women to a secondary, often subhuman, status because their bodies (with the rather miraculous ability to create another human being) do not have a penis.

          Trans women embrace and perpetuate the ideal that women are defined by men and that “womanhood” is a consumable product; it is something for men to buy and sell at whim. It is the chattel concept in all its naked and entirely male “glory.”

    • Missfit

      You seem to imply that because David Reimer was attracted to girls and was a ‘tomboy’, that this forms the basis to show that he was not really a woman. Do you know there are born women who are exactly like that, who despite being socialized into femininity and heterosexuality are still lesbians and tomboys? Would you say these people are not really women, that they should be transgendered, are indeed men? David Reimer, after knowing the truth about his genitals at birth, decided to assume a male identity, as he considered himself a ‘man born as a man’. Coud he have lived his life as a lesbian gender non-conforming woman was he born with female genitalia? Without having to assume a male identity or mutilate his genitals? I hope so! What can make it difficult though is the patriarchal gender binary that assumes that because of your genitals, you should look and act a certain way.

      How someone with male genitalia can know what it feels like to be someone with female genitalia? He does not know! He gets his clues from society, from how female people are generally represented, and this is ultimately what the person identifies with. And as we know, men control the public narrative and have defined for the most part how women are portrayed. Girls are socialized into this narrative and learn for to reflect it. But femaleness in itself is not an identity, it is a biological reality; it is not contingent on what you have between your ears, but on what you have between your legs. Gender identity is entirely a social construct. Thinking that in order to act, feel or appear a certain way, one must possess male or female genitalia, and changing our bodies to fit this model only reinforces and legimitizes said model. People should be able to have whatever tastes and traits they want (in other words, a personality, not a ‘gender identity’) regardless of what genitals they have and without the need to change said genitals. I have a hard time figuring why this is such a hard concept for certain people to get. If a transgender wants to change sex, they can, and I understand where that desire comes from, but I don’t buy the idea of ‘female in a male body’ or innate gender identity because, for the reasons I stated above, it does not hold up and is based on patriarchal concepts of masculinity and femininity.

      Oh, and intersex people are intersex people, period. They have nothing to do with transgenders, the majority of whom are people with fully formed male genitalia.

    • ozzie

      ”While you raise important points, you still haven’t explained why trans women are excluded/ marginalized by certain factions within the feminist movement, or more directly why certain feminists would want to exclude trans women to begin with.”
      Why are you using such misleading and inflammatory language like ”excluded/marginalized”? Women don’t ”exclude/marginalize” anyone by demarcating a certain space female only anymore than cancer patients forming support groups ”exclude/marginalize” healthy people or WOC convening to discuss issues minority women face ”exclude/marginalize” white people.
      Feminists have explained the case for certain space being female-only ad nauseam: trans women are biologically male, having experienced male privilege and male socialization and benefitting from women’s oppression under patriarchy. Studies also show they retain patterns of criminality (exhibit male-pattern violence) and statistically have crime rates on par with cis men and above those of trans men. Not to mention that some trans women have made the need for female-only spaces apparent/self-evident by hurling completely unprovoked abuse and vitriol at feminists (I can link you to countless pages of rape, murder and mutilation threats that radfems have received from them). Many trans activists even try to deny biological reality (by saying ”sex is just a social construct”), constantly refer to women as ”uterus bearers” or ”vagina people”, try to derail any talk of reproductive rights by calling it ”transphobic, cissexist, vagina-obsessed feminism” etc.
      Many have also tried to manipulate a punitive state apparatuses against dissenting women (ie roz kaveney and the no-platforming of Julie bindel; police being called on lesbian protesters at dyke march etc).

  • ‘The physiological transformations created by hormones and surgery do not change the biological sex of the persons upon whom they are visited.’ Gender Hurts: page 8: Sheila Jefffreys: 2014.

    However according to Rob and I quote: ‘Namely, that while GENDER ROLES are largely a construct of social conditioning, GENDER IDENTITY is not, and can be considered an innate part of the human psyche, meaning that regardless of the genitalia we posses or what gender society may label us, how we feel for ourselves about our sexual identity cannot be discounted.’

    Wrong – gender identity is a social construction and cannot be separated out from the social construction of ‘gender roles.’ ‘Gender identity is not innate – it does not reside in a special place within men’s brains. If gender identity is ‘an innate part of the human psyche then I am a wolf because I say so and because my gender identity is part of my human psyche!

    In other words biologically born males cannot become females because said biological males say so. This is what we Radical Feminists say and males cannot magically erase their biological sex.

    Hmm wonder who were the entities which carried out that forcible pseudo sex reassignment surgery? Hint – it wasn’t Radical Feminists – it was the male controlled medical establishment because male controlled medical establishment believes male = penis and if male is unfortunate to lose his penis he is automatically relegated to that second class sex caste named females.

  • I forgot to say: Awesome post, C. K. Egbert. Beautifully articulated.

    • Meh

      Agreed! A well-written article on a very sensitive/controversial topic. I thought it was fab 🙂

      • C.K. Egbert

        Thank you!

  • What I don’t understand is the conflict between “Mexican”, less still “Latino” and “whiteness”. A majority of Mexicans are Mestizos/Mestizas, i.e. of mixed Amerindian and European origins, but some are (culturally or genetically) Amerindians of different cultures, and others fully European. I have a Mexican friend whose two parents were refugees from Franco Spain, but she has always considered herself and others have always considered her Mexican.

    Note that in Canada, a Métis is a member of a group that is mixed not only “racially” but who comes from a “mixed” culture. A significant percentage of Québécois have Amerindian origins as well as French (and Irish), but they are not considered “Métis”.

    “Latinos” can range from very African in Cuba or the Dominican Republic to very white (of various origins) in Argentina and Uruguay, and all kinds of combinations. The term is less used by English-speakers to refer to Portuguese-speaking Brazilians, and rarely to French-Speaking Québécois, Acadians and other francophone Canadians, or French and Creole speaking Haitians and people from Martinique and Guadeloupe, though we all speak Latin languages.

    There are QuébécoisEs who insist that we are part of Latin America, but that is a political assertion.

    And I do hope the original poster does learn Spanish!

    • C.K. Egbert

      In the US, which is where I live and am from, “Latino” is excluded from the category of “whiteness,” even though we acknowledge that Latinos are often of mixed heritage. Especially in the US, the exclusion of Latinos from whiteness probably has a lot to do with neocolonialism/anti-immigration.

      I also notice in my limited studies of Latin American culture that there tends to be racial hierarchies within Latin American cultures, where whiteness (being of Spanish/European descent) is valued whereas being Native American or African is denigrated.

      I feel that in the US there there is not as much of a conceptual/social space for someone of mixed heritage, because generally people who are of mixed race are considered to be the non-white race. Not too long ago the US had a “one-drop rule” and miscegenation laws: having an African-American ancestor was sufficient to make one Black.

      (I’ve studied Spanish by the way, I just don’t know it beyond being able to pick out a few words and I’ve never been able to speak it.)

      • Yes, at first I missed that you were at Northwestern University near Chicago. There is horrific racism against Indigenous people here too, as is the case throughout the Americas, but the racial – cultural dynamics are somewhat different. Mass immigration from the Latin-speaking countries south of the US is a recent phenomenon up here, and actually started with refugees from the Cono Sur fleeing military dictatorships. Economic migrants, and people who were a combination of both, from Central American countries, fleeing both terrible poverty and civil wars and massacres, came later.

        Significant immigration from Mexico is recent in Canada. I know people of Mexican origins who have lived in Montréal for decades, but they are professionals and their migration story is individual. There is more labour migration now – alas much of it under temporary visas, with other restrictions that discourage permanent immigration – but the numbers have increased with the growing restrictions in the US.

    • Québec part of Latin America, that’s just too funny! Do they celebrate their heritage with chili poutine?

      Ch’ui un latino, maldición!

  • BrylCreamQueen

    This argument is begging the question. The author assumes that it *can’t* be the case that people are indeed born with a particular gender-inclination. However, this is the very thing in question. If one assumes that this CAN be the case, then people who don’t feel like the gender they’ve been assigned are, in fact, “passing”* for most of their lives (until they decide to undergo reassignment surgery). A person who feels that they are “passing” as a man must have a much different relationship with male privilege compared to someone who doesn’t feel like an impostor (someone who just feels like he is indeed a man). So, yes, the person has experienced male privilege but only insofar as he is an impostor. The phenomenology of that privilege cannot possibly be the same as the phenomenology of privilege for a man who actually feels like a man. If I (a woman) can pass as a man because I put effort into dressing like one and I adopt their mannerisms, and so and so forth and I’m seen and treated as one for years but I KNOW that I’m just a woman “in drag”, so to speak, this whole time, I’d, on the one hand, have an intimate relationship with male privilege but I don’t know if I’d HAVE it.

    • I take it you’ve not heard of “passing privilege” which is commonly accepted by trans people? If you pass as male in a male supremacist society, you get male privilege regardless of how you feel about it. Other people will treat you as if you are male and as if you matter in ways that people perceived as female do not. Whether or not you have the same experience of male privilege as someone who is comfortable being male in no way implies that you know what it’s like to be female.

      Arguing for in-born gender inclination is anti-feminist because gender is a system put in place to segregate males from females and to subordinate females to males. I’m a trained experimental psychologist. All the research that purports to find evidence to support male dominance refers to sex, not gender. Their goal is to subordinate females to males by attempting to prove that gender is innate. The fact that they also succeed in creating a hierarchy among males, with males who better fit gender stereotypes outranking those who fit more poorly, in no way challenges that basic fact.

  • C.K. Egbert, STANDING OVATION! This is sweet gender critical analysis. Thank you for writing, and Meghan Murphy for publishing, one of the best “gender” pieces I have read in a long time!

    Just a small note, I do not believe that Title IX has been interpreted as requiring women’s colleges to allow males to enroll if they “identify” as women: “Inclusion of “minority genders,” including transgender women, into what have been traditionally all-female colleges is now protected under Title IX and hailed as a progressive development.” Dear lord, I hope not! Womens colleges are clearly under attack from the trans movement, but I *think* private undergraduate institutions are still allowed to make a clear distinction between sex and “gender identity” in regard to admissions criteria.

    And lastly, this is just GOLD right here: “The purpose of certain women-only spaces. . . is about controlling for the experience of male privilege.” CONTROLLING, like a study control. Just brilliant phrasing. THANK YOU. The whole damn thing is brilliant. Instant classic, as they say.

  • The idea that gender identity and gender role are seperate things never really made sense to me. If a person claims to have the innate feeling that they are a woman, but they do not adhere to either of the dominant definitions of “woman” (i.e. “woman = person with vagina” and “woman = feminine person who likes to put on high heels and sexually subordinate”) than what is it that they are claiming to be? What do people in the trans movement mean when they say they have the innate feeling that they are woman, what is it they are feeling? The statement only has meaning if we define wihat a “woman” is and our concept of what womanhood is certainly is not genetic/innate.

    The main problem I have with the trans movement is that it makes gender non-conformists out to be less common and more unusual than they actually are. They claim that about one percent of the population is transgender. I seriously hope that this is not the case and that we do not live in a world where 99& of people are either totally ruthless and aggressive or totally servile and enjoy submitting to violence and degradaton. That would be a terrible world in my view and not just because I would not “fit it”, that would be a very selfish way to look at things.

    The other big problem I have with the trans movement is its advocacy of sex change surgery. I think we need to do everything we can to combat bullying based on gender non-conformity and let people know that it is okay to have a penis and not go along with masculinity. It does not mean that your penis is somehow “wrong” for your body. That way of thinking is extremely harmful and so are medically unnecessary surgeries. Women should not be encouraged to get boobs jobs so that they can have a body that fits what society expects from them and nobody should be encourage to radically alter their body (in a way that is even more extreme than boob jobs) so that it matches the body that it expect for someone who has a certain personality. Were it not more these two issues I would have a lot more sympathy for the trans movement.

    • C.K. Egbert

      Excellent post.

      There’s actually a page on Facebook that says “Trans Critical is Transphobia”. It’s really disheartening, because being “transcritical” often comes from deep concern for transgendered people, especially with regard to the dangers of imposing a transgender identity on non-gender conforming children and hormone therapy or radical surgery.

      It’s the same as the SWERF slur: their argument is that to critique the practice is to hate the people that are harmed by it. In a way it’s almost a form of victim-blaming: because no one wants to see themselves as a victim, they attack any critique which exposes the ways in which they are being victimized or how their practices enables the victimization of other people.

    • “The main problem I have with the trans movement is that it makes gender non-conformists out to be less common and more unusual than they actually are. They claim that about one percent of the population is transgender. I seriously hope that this is not the case and that we do not live in a world where 99& of people are either totally ruthless and aggressive or totally servile and enjoy submitting to violence and degradaton. That would be a terrible world in my view and not just because I would not “fit it”, that would be a very selfish way to look at things.”

      I love that part. Trans genderists associate “cis” with a lack of gender rebellion, but at the same time they label “cis” anyone who’s not like them. There’s the equivocation, there’s their lack of logic.

  • Eve

    Gender roles are not working for anyone. If you don’t feel like you’re fitting into the gender you’ve been assigned based on your genitalia, that’s because none of us are. Gender is oppressive for all of us, and the answer is not more gender roles, or mutilating your body to fit into the opposite role. We need to work at creating a world where people can be the multidimensional beings they are (no matter what body they have) without the fear of non acceptance, or the brutality of being raped, or the dehumanization of being objectified while walking down the street. In order for deep change to happen, we have to start where we are, in the body we’ve been given, to deconstruct these roles, and acknowledge the damage they’re doing to us all. It’s not that some people are “cis” gendered and the role is working for them. Gender roles are simply not working for anyone, so I can completely understand why so many people are searching for an out, but while those people are busy changing their gender to the one they “feel” they are, female bodied people are still being systematically raped, bought, sold, and enslaved every moment that passes by.

  • Perhaps I’m an overly simplistic person. I only have an associate’s degree. I’ve always worked service and labor type jobs, mostly in health care. The main thing I take away from all this is that some people dislike the idea of allowing trans women into safe spaces. In my opinion, trans women are women. I have no problem with them contributing to discussions in safe spaces. I identify as a feminist. My goal is the end of women–all women–being treated like second class citizens. To reiterate, perhaps I’m but a simple Simone, however, I feel that all women should treat one another as sisters–and that includes trans women.

    • ozzie

      ”Perhaps I’m an overly simplistic person.”
      Of course not–I always appreciate and learn a lot from your comments here.

      ”In my opinion, trans women are women. I have no problem with them contributing to discussions in safe spaces.”
      Ideally, this would be my stance too, but I’ve seen such frightening levels of threats and vitriol levelled at radfems by trans activists lately (read my comment to rob upthread) that I think, for the time being at least, some sex-segregated spaces should be maintained so that women can feel safe. I definitely do think there can be reconciliation between feminism and trans ideology, but any attempt to address the discordance and make peace (such as the Radfems Respond conference) has been censored, slandered, suppressed and protested against by trans activists.

    • Margaret McCarroll

      @The Real Cie – except that christopher hambrook posed as jessica hambrook and assaulted two women in toronto shelters in 2012 – there is a giant loophole in toby’s law here in ontario that allowed this horrendous transgression against two women who we were supposed to protect

      • Realist

        Toby’s law?

      • danah gaz

        Toby’s Law wasn’t in effect when that happened. It was shelter policy alone. I can’t speak to whether Toby’s law would allow what you speak of, but the idea that it was in effect at the time is a lie started by a right-wing canadian pol.

    • Donkey Skin

      ‘In my opinion, trans women are women.’

      How are they ‘women’ though? What makes them ‘women’? The way they look? (Long hair, dresses, make-up?) The way they act? (Superficially stereotypically feminine, but in actuality often aggressively male-dominant, as shown by the fact that transgender males exhibit male-pattern criminality rates, including for violent and sexual crimes). Reproductively male people can never be women, unless you believe there is some mystical feminine essence that resides in the brain that makes someone a ‘woman’, or you want to claim that there is a set of behavioural and appearance norms that ought to define ‘woman’. Otherwise, a woman is an adult human female. There is literally nothing else to ‘woman’ other than gender stereotypes about how women are supposed to look and behave.

      And the claim that biological men are women if they say so is based on nothing more than brute-force assertion. ‘Trans women are women’ is a catechism, a declaration of a faith-based belief, like stating, ‘There is no God but Allah.’ In no other circumstance would it be acceptable for members of an oppressor class to ‘identify’ their way into the class of people they oppress. Leftists and anyone who understands the dynamics of oppression would find it incredibly offensive if a subset of white people claimed that they ‘identified’ as black and demanded to be accepted as such based on these internal feelings, and, furthermore, that black people held cis-racial privilege over them. Or the transabled (who really do exist, as Leo pointed out) having their claims to ‘identify’ as paralysed or deaf entertained as a civil rights issue, and leftists supporting their narrative that genuinely disabled people are privileged over them for this fact. It simply wouldn’t wash, if you were talking about any other social groups than men and women.

      The reason transgenderism gets a pass is because most people, including most women who call themselves feminists, do not really believe that men oppress women. If they did, they would immediately see the offensiveness in men claiming they had a right to define themselves as female and actual females as privileged over them. And most people also believe deeply in gender. Look at the sea of pink and prettification/sexification that girls are smothered in as soon as they come out of the womb. In spite of the fact that feminists since Simone De Beauvoir have deconstructed femininity as a suite of behaviours imposed on women to keep us subservient to men, this truth has not gotten through to the general public. In this sense, we have to acknowledge that feminism has signally failed to advance even a basic understanding of the truth of women’s condition, and a revolutionary program to transform that condition seems further away than ever.

      Transgenderism will only get stronger because it militates against the feminist analysis of gender and accords perfectly with the patriarchal idea that there is such a thing as a sparkly pink feminine essence – a ‘female brain’ – which, rather than oppression by men, is what is ultimately responsible for women’s degraded social position throughout history and today. Despite 50 years of second-wave feminism, genderism is stronger than ever and women are still ‘other’: the garbage sex who can and should encompass anyone who isn’t considered properly male, i.e., fully human. Depressing shit.

      • Missfit

        Exactly. If transwomen are women in the same way as women born women, the question becomes what defines women exactly? Words must have meaning.
        If we say ‘woman’ can be either a biological reality based on possessing female genital organs and/or an incarnation of what society has deemed to be feminine, this is attributing equal validity to sex and gender in regards to defining women (allowing the latter to supersede the former), thus validating the concept of femininity (a result of patriarchy) as a legitimate and sufficient basis for womanhood. Isn’t feminism working to get rid of prescriptive notions of femininity? I see a contradiction here if we accept the second definition. Also note that the second definition only exists to include males into womanhood.

        Now some trans activists are arguing that the penis can be a female organ. How much far this has to go? Are we going to redefine basic biology to accommodate some men who wish they were female? As ozzie said, some trans activists have made violent threats towards radical feminists who are critical of the concept of gender identity. Some have said things like ‘you can suck my dick’. Should they be allowed in women only spaces? These are people who say they are women (transwomen are women!). I don’t see any difference in allowing them in women only spaces and allowing men. Not all transwomen are like that, of course, but we know where this reasoning leads (no boundary settings ever). I say ‘women born women’ is a legitimate category and relevant in particular contexts. Hurling transphobia at such is simply an act of boundary violation which is unfortunately also a reminder of typical male attitude towards women.

        • Henke

          and not only redefine basic biology for humans, but for more or less every mammal out there. We are talking about thousands of species who functions in the very same way when it comes to basic biology as female and male as we are, homo sapiens is a mammal, we are animals, we ain’t a distinct category of a species.
          All these other nonhuman mammals seems to understand this perfectly, most humans understand (or at least understood this) but for some reason nowadays in the dominant culture, some members of it are in great need to change all this to match their loss of connection to the real physical world.

      • “Transgenderism will only get stronger because it militates against the feminist analysis of gender and accords perfectly with the patriarchal idea that there is such a thing as a sparkly pink feminine essence – a ‘female brain’ – which, rather than oppression by men, is what is ultimately responsible for women’s degraded social position throughout history and today.”

        This! I am so sick and tired of seeing trans supporters trot out the “pink brain” BS. This is straight up anti-feminist misogyny. And so-called “progressives” trot it out again and again—marginalizing born women and perpetuating sexism by embracing this pseudo-science hokum.

        • Realist

          I agree completely! But, there is more. Most trans mtf suffer from autogynophilia. They were not fem boys, did not grow up thinking they inhabited the wrong body, were not intersex or XXY or mutilated at birth like David, or any of the other very rare situations. Many trans mtf were even stereotypically male for the majorities of their lives. At some point, they started the get really turned on by the idea of themselves as women and many transition for these erotic reasons that have nothing to do with being trapped in the wrong body. The only reasons they make that claim are 1. it is more socially acceptable to want to transition due to body dysmorphia than it is to want to transition for purely erotic purposes, especially if one intends to stick taxpayers with the bill. 2. Coming out as having autogynophilia to a transition team may result in not being accepted as a patient. Therefore, most trans mtf make liberal use of artful lies.

    • So in your simplistic world, anyone who claims to be a woman should be accepted as a woman? Or do you draw a line somewhere?

      • Missfit

        Still waiting for an answer to this question… Where is the line drawn? Is it at the absence of a penis? Is it at the long hair, make up and dress? Since we do not want to exlcude any one (any male), the answer becomes ‘anyone who identifies as such’. What does this identification entails? Could a man with a penis, a thick beard and a flat hairy chest (if the penis is to be allowed, I don’t see why these typical male physical characteristics couldn’t be also)enter any women’s space and claim he is a woman because he identifies as such and have this feeling you know? Actually,no,I don’t know. What’s this feeling? Can someone describe it please? Because saying ‘it’s a feeling’ is like saying ‘it’s a color’. What color? If the whole point is ‘passing’, what does ‘passing’ entails? Enacting stereotypical patriarchy-approved femininity?

        The word woman, in itself, is not a feeling. If some people want to make it so, they better come up with a definition. I can’t see this definition relying on anything else but gender stereotypes. Since enough feminist theory has deconstructed how gender stereotypes of masculinity and femininity are forged by and reinforce patriarchy, defining woman along these line is simply anti-feminist.

        • No, long hair and dresses don’t make someone a woman. SOCIALIZATION AS A WOMAN makes one a woman. I can’t believe I even had to explain this- it should be damn obvious to anyone who’s into feminism.

          • huha

            I think it’s actually quite simple. “Woman” means adult human female, just like “mare” means adult female horse, just like “sow” means adult female swine.

            Women and girls are oppressed by males due to the biological fact that they are female. We all know that there is a complex socialization process that ensures women’s oppression. How can anybody claim that “woman” is a feeling is beyond me. It is extremely offensive to half of the world’s population. It erases our oppression. One can also infer that if being a woman is an identity or feeling and males can claim to be one even though they are NOT female, then women and girls can just identify out of oppression. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

          • Missfit

            Francois, I know that long hair and dresses do not make a woman! The question was not directed to you for an answer, it was rather a continuation of the questions you asked. The questionning I formulated would actually be adressed to transactivists and their allies who also claim to be feminists. I try to follow their own reasoning, highlights its shortcomings as well as the implicatons for feminism. I thought that would have been obvious, apparently it wasn’t…

          • I’m sorry. I thought you were the original person- I should have been more careful! I didn’t mean any disrespect.

  • Lo

    Completely agree with mostly everything you said, but there is one point I don’t agree with, you said “,legitimate choice for me to become Latina”: in a racist society, you don’t choose to be oppressed, while you can identify with the culture of your choice from a personnal POV, the racist system doesn’t adapt to who “choose” or not. Those identities “latina, black, white, mixed, etc” were all created by racists for racists, and the victims didn’t had any choices.
    I don’t know, your statement sounds as if mixed/multiracial people can also choose, while most of them are part of both culture and still victim of racism (and most of the time this from the racist society but also from others who’ve internalized racism). You make mixed/multiracial, romanian, hispanic, asian, arab, etc sound all privileged. This is why I think your comparison is kinda off and simplistic.

    Race is a social construt and so is gender. and biological sex is real, while races are not. Races are created upon superificial criterias (just like gender), back then white european didn’t just hate whoever isn’t of white skin, they hated also a culture, a history, a religion etc And it is still the same today.
    What I mean is that the experience of wormen-born-female are unique, this is why men, who “feel” like whomen, can’t reappropriate them (they were born male, and had men socialization).
    But for races, even if there are no biological facts, it isn’t just a matter of who’s white as snow and who isn’t (nb; I’m not saying those with a darker skin are not victims, I’m focusing on light-skinned people because the text is unclear abt them).
    Many people can be said “white-passing”, but still victims of racism, and this because of a culture, their origins, their religion, etc.

    Whites have always considered mixed and “light skinned” people from other countries (especially countries from Africa, East Europ, South America, etc) as inferior. And I think it is important to remind that, because those people are clearly victims too. And since they’re victims they don’t have any privilege.

    Even if you choose your, um, “race”, it is not the same for those who didn’t “choose” to be labeled and excluded because of superficial criterias, their experience as victims, etc.

    But I agree with your conclusion: As you said hierarchization of POC isn’t going to help, it’s the libfem/queer game to “choose” identities we cannot because of the peculiar context of each oppression (racism/sexism/etc).
    And IMO, those who are pro-gender are the same who are pro-races, they don’t fight sexism and racism as a class (and have probably no problem about oppressions as long as they can “identify” with whatever they want).

    • C.K. Egbert

      Lo–Thank you for the insightful comments.

      “Even if you choose your, um, “race”, it is not the same for those who didn’t “choose” to be labeled and excluded because of superficial criterias, their experience as victims, etc.”

      Yes, this is precisely my point: if I choose to “become Latina”–even if I do it in such a way that I will start to be socially constructed as a Latina with all that entails–this isn’t the same as someone who didn’t have any choice. I think maybe we agree but I didn’t make myself clear: I’m arguing against the idea the de-politicization of our identities. You are right that race, like gender, is a social construct that is constructed on the basis of social subordination, so it isn’t a personal identity that someone can just “choose.”

      You are right that multi-racial people are often oppressed on account of their culture, and whether one is racially subordinated is not under one’s control. We don’t choose how we are treated, socially constructed, or marginalized. So I apologize if it did make it sound as though multiracial people were privileged. In my particular situation I am privileged because I’m not just “white passing”–I’ve been socialized into white culture and I am treated as white, even if I tell people I’m part Mexican (I think it’s similar to the experience of someone who has Native American ancestry–Native Americans definitely being one of the most horrendously subordinated peoples/cultures–but nonetheless gets accepted as a white person. Lots of people who are white in the US have Native American ancestry somewhere down the line).

      So my experience really has been distinct from people who are multi-racial and experience oppression on account of that.

  • BrylCreamQueen

    I’m still confused as to why it matters that trans women experienced male privilege when it comes to whether or not we should welcome them into our feminist space. If we are serious about taking on an intersectional lens in all of this, then privilege becomes much more complicated when we point out that lots of women in the feminist movement are WHITE and, as such, are intimately connected to white privilege. (Black feminists point out time and time again that what’s problematic about patriarchy is not simply that it structures society to benefit men, but also that it structures society to benefit white people. So, white women are implicated in this to some extent in terms of who is experiencing “patriarchal privileges”.) Thus, under the argument presented in this article, white women are not to be welcome in black feminist spaces because white women will always be “tainted” by their white privilege and this prevents them from ever understanding the experiences and oppression of black women. Maybe I am understanding all of this right and this is precisely the conclusion the author would come to about whether or not white women should be excluded from black feminist domains.

    • andeväsen

      I used to belong (time constraints made me stop going) to a black/coloured women’s consciousness raising group. Our group was not open to white women, for some of the very reasons you’re describing. I was grateful for this, because it meant all our discussion was focussed on black/coloured women’s issues.

      In wider feminist spaces, these issues are often sidelined. This is not a problem per se as who better to talk about black/coloured feminism than black/coloured feminists?

      You sound like you’ve no experience of ethnicity-based rights groups which are closed to people who are not of that ethnicity, yet they exist in different forms in many parts of the world. Not all clubs admit everyone, and not admitting someone isn’t a sign of hatred or branding them ‘tainted’ or even of shunning the idea of ever joining with them for common cause.

      As far as white feminists are concerned, individual white feminists are not to blame for racist structural violence. Black/coloured women simply require our own space at certain times.

      • C.K. Egbert

        You just said everything I wanted to say, thank you.

      • BrylCreamQueen

        Of course I have experience with ethnicity-based rights groups. .. I’m a Latina (among other things) feminist! (I prefer the label “brown”, btw.) It’s just that I’ve only recently started to learn about intersectionality. The point of my posting my query is that it seems like excluding trans folks from our space simply because some of them may have experienced/ benefited from male privilege seems to miss the point that the privilege we speak of is not simply a one-dimensional MALE privilege but male AND WHITE. The ‘and’ here doesn’t operate as a mere conjunction. .. the two (‘male’ and ‘white’) come together to create a special phenomenon. If that’s the case, the it’s less clear to me why people who are/ were once men are to be excluded if white people can be included.

        But maybe I’m just not understanding something here. ..

        • andeväsen

          Fair enough. I like ‘brown’ too.

          “If that’s the case, the it’s less clear to me why people who are/ were once men are to be excluded if white people can be included.”

          White women are indeed excluded from brown/black groups and members of those groups aren’t denounced as WERBFs (white excluding/eradicating radical brown/black feminists) by white women.

        • To add to andevasen’s [sorry, no umlaut on my keyboard :)] comment; we also do not witness white women labelling black women as “privileged” based on black women’s choice to exclude white women from black-only feminist support groups.

          • LA

            Yeah but I think you all are STRATEGICALLY missing the point that BdrylCremeQueen brings up. Male privilege isn’t JUST male privilege….it’s also connected to WHITE privilege.

            So, again, we’re centering whiteness when we critique trans people by ONLY focusing on excluding people who were once “male.” How don’t you see that point?

            So, again, why should trans women [who were once men] be excluded from the FEMINIST SPACE AT LARGE, if white women get to stay in the feminist space….even while THEY benefit from white privilege!! IF our understanding of feminism just means “fighting patriarchal oppression” then I would argue we’re operating from a white lens considering I would define feminism as an attempt to dismantle WHITE SUPREMACIST CAPITALIST PATRIARCHY.

            All I’m saying is, if you’re going to exclude women who were once men because they “had” male privilege….then white women should also be excluded because you have white privilege. You’re part of white supremacy…which is part of patriarchy….So, before you start excluding people because they are connected with “privileges”…you should check to see if you have some of your own and then move over.

          • Are you really claiming that patriarchy is an oppressive force in only white-dominant cultures? That it’s not a global form of oppression that affects all women and girls no matter what color their born-male oppressors are?

          • andeväsen

            It seems that’s what LA is claiming. It seems that just like in World Series baseball, there’s no need for a world outside America.

            Either that or that WOC in all countires are subject only to cruelties inflicted on them by white women.

          • bella_cose

            No. I think you’re missing the point. Your argument doesn’t make any sense. It just sounds like angry ranting to me. Just because white women have more privilege than women of color, doesn’t mean they don’t suffer under patriarchy. The ways in which they experience oppression are different, but there is still a common thread (being female under patriarchy). If you think patriarchy only exists because of white supremacy, I would have to disagree with you.

          • ozzie

            You’re seriously confused. Feminism is the answer to sex-based and gender-based oppression. Many women are disadvantaged on the axes of race, class, education level etc and many women are incredibly privileged along those axes. Regardless, they all face sex- and gender-based oppression. A woman, no matter how white, has a place in feminism that a male–no matter how disadvantaged he perceives himself to be–does not.

        • ozzie

          ”But maybe I’m just not understanding something here. .. ”

          You AREN’T understanding something here, and that thing is axes of oppression. All female people face sex-based oppression, therefore it is simply not possible for them to be privileged along that axis: ie someone oppressed for being female cannot also be privileged for being female, as transactvists claim. Many women have overlapping axes of oppression ie colour, class, education level and many women are privileged in these ways (ie some are white, rich, educated, etc)however NO women have privilege based on their sex: that’s the sole thing that unites us.

    • C.K. Egbert

      I think the danger of the “intersectional lens” is that we relativize identities to the point that we can no longer talk about oppressors/oppressed or forms of oppression (I see this in the way in which privilege tends to get loosely talked about by some post-modernists). We talk about women’s oppression because we think there is a class of “women” that are oppressed as women, and racial subordination because there is a class of non-white people who are oppressed as non-whites. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with black-only spaces, or black women-only spaces, but that’s because I respect their experiences of oppression and I understand that socially and emotionally these spaces are important for them. I just don’t think that eliminates women’s shared experience of oppression or that we should never speak about “women’s oppression” (which some post-modernists do, and because they don’t think there is even a category of “woman”).

      So if we are going to talk about and understand women’s oppression as women–and the structure of this oppression–then consciousness-raising spaces should be inclusive of diverse women’s perspectives across class and race but nonetheless “control” for male privilege. In addition, there are many situations in which we will want to control for male privilege to create safe spaces and environments for women (e.g., education). In some cases women-only spaces (e.g., bathrooms, lockers) have to do with basic physical safety; women don’t want to be forced to undress in a room where a biological male is present.

      You’ll notice that no feminist women are protesting and trying to insert themselves into transgender only spaces or events. Feminist women aren’t protesting or trying to insert themselves into white-exclusionary spaces (I don’t see any radical feminists arguing against spaces, organizations, special programs, or scholarships for non-whites, for example). Lesbians are not claiming that heterosexual women are “lesbian-phobic” if they don’t want to have sex with people who have vulvas.

      Certain parts of the transgender movement are protesting women’s-only spaces of any sort. So if we respect the fact that they may want or need their own spaces, and the fact that they should be able to go through the world without fear of violence, then it seems fair that they should do the same for women.

      I hope this answers your question.

      • ozzie

        ”I think the danger of the “intersectional lens” is that we relativize identities to the point that we can no longer talk about oppressors/oppressed or forms of oppression (I see this in the way in which privilege tends to get loosely talked about by some post-modernists). ”

        Thank you!! Post modernists operate from this completely atomized and useless theory of privilege where you plot every woman’s coordinates on a matrix to see what you can try to tear her down for. Next thing you know, people are attacking you over your supposed lesbian monosexual privilege that leads to supposed bi-erasure or some other insanity, completely forgetting that what unites us all and what we need to fight against is sex- and gender-based oppression.

      • Realist

        brilliant analysis!

    • andeväsen

      In re-reading your comment, it really does seem like the idea of black feminist spaces being closed to white women is so outlandish to you that you feel it must be a fantabulous notion that even the woman who wrote the piece must have not realised she was giving credence to, or she wouldn’t have written it that way.

      Yet these spaces – times and locations where black women talk to other black women and do not invite white women – physically exist and are flourishing in cities all over. Many of us are grateful they are.

      If you’re black yourself, I urge you to seek them out.

      • LA

        So, you bring up black feminism excluding white women….so why dont’ we label the “other” feminism that you’re speaking about….”white feminism.” You’re essentially saying that white feminists should be able to exclude transwomen….in the same ways that black feminists can exclude white women. [Even though ironically, two of the most famous black feminists right now are transwomen!!!…so obviously black feminists don’t “exclude” anyone…white feminists do all of the excluding..indicating that there’s something desperately flawed with the logic in white feminism]

        Black women are FORCED to start their own spaces because white feminists CLEARLY exclude women of color from their critiques. We’re not “excluding” white women….it’s just that we’ve already been excluded.

        White feminism sucks. All you do is focus on “patriarchy” not realizing that patriarchy doesn’t just mean dick. It also refers to white skin…which is a privilege that half of the women commenting now can probably relate to. it’s purely hypocritical. So, you’re allowed to experience white privilege and STAY in feminism because you have a vagina…even though patriarchy is a part of white supremacy….but women who USED to have dicks can’t join because they seemingly have male privilege. HYPOCRITE ANYONE???

        • C.K. Egbert

          I’m not sure I get you. If we have to include everyone into our safe spaces–including biological males–then why can’t I be included in black-only spaces as a white person as long as I don’t identify with white privilege? It seems if privilege is not relevant to inclusion, then you don’t have a complaint with white feminism. On the other hand, you could say that white feminists should be excluded from black-only safe spaces–which I would endorse.

          Also, the idea of safe spaces is distinct from excluding someone from their critique. Everyone’s experiences–including that of heterosexual men–is included in the critique of gender. There’s a difference between including someone’s experiences and endorsing that experience (hence, consciousness-raising).

          As for “white feminism” being exclusionary and patriarchy being intertwined with racial subordination–that certainly has been the case, which is why white feminists such as myself recognize the importance of black women’s consciousness-raising groups (or any minority) and safe spaces. Definitely I would say I need to “move over” when they are engaging in their own consciousness-raising or safe spaces, which was my point at the beginning of the article. My white privilege makes it illegitimate for me to invade those spaces.

          • LA

            In reality, the goal of a movement isn’t necessarily to have people who have the EXACT same experiences…. For example, I’m SURE I [a brown woman] don’t have the same experiences as Meghan Murphy [a white woman], right?…even though we’re in the same SOCIAL class of woman. However, you’re OVERLOOKING the fact that you’re using a grammar of whiteness to talk about oppression….which is why whenever it comes to mainstream feminism…we focus SO MUCH on patriarchy….while conveniently not talking about white supremacy as a PART of patriarchy. This is why feminists of color feel extremely alienated from the mainstream/white branch of feminism. Ideally, we would LOVE to be a part of it, but we can’t since it’s structured around a white woman’s body. Our “Racialized issues” are usually an afterthought…which is how you know it’s a white space.

            Why is it that we’re specifically looking/excluding/critiquing transwomen and not white women? Again, if this is MERELY about kicking out people who are privileged….then why are white women allowed to stay in feminism? They have white privilege….again, we live in a white supremacist patriarchal climate…white women are part of the problem too…..

            For some reason, Laverne Cox and Janet Mock are doing just fine in black feminism.Even bell hooks loves janet mock. we love them all.

            Black feminism, and all other feminisms that aren’t “mainstream” or “white” are merely SYMPTOMS of the problem with mainstream feminism….that it isn’t inclusive, so we are forced to make our own spaces! Our own “spaces” aren’t equal though because white women’s voices are prized above everyone else’s …that’s why brown feminists are always critiquing white feminists…in the same way we critique men in patriarchy because they hijack the conversation and assume they can speak for all uterus-folk simply because they have one themselves….even though they they COMPLETELY ignore the diffeent racialized expereinces with ender. This proves that even women with vaginas don’t have the same experience and have differing amounts of privilege.

            Essentially, you’re saying transwomen should be excluded because they have the “most” privilege on the privilege totem pole….however, what about white women? I sure as hell dont’ relate to whtie women AT ALL…i relate more to laverne cox than I do meghan murphy….but Laverne’s not allowed in because she USED TO have a dick…and meghan is allowed in…even though i too think meghan is COMPLETELY privileged in every sense of the word? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

          • bella_cose

            I didn’t read any comments saying trans women should be excluded because they have the most privilege on the privilege totem pole. They aren’t being excluded from feminism. This is about women only spaces. The reason they should be excluded is because they weren’t born as women. They weren’t discriminated against, and abused and harassed simply for being BORN WITH A VAGINA. I’m not saying they don’t face discrimination and abuse, but at least there was some choice involved on their part. I think that makes a big difference.

          • Patriarchy is global. White supremacy isn’t. Patriarchy and the oppression of born women exists even when the born-male oppressors do not have fair skin.

            You seem to believe that patriarchy can not exist without white supremacy which is not only wrong but dangerous disinformation. Women and girls suffer and die every day at the hands of dark-complected men.

          • Margaret McCarroll

            think boko haram, isis and the tabiban just for starters

          • Margaret McCarroll

            @LA – what a nerve! – you come in here and criticize Meghan Murphy who is providing a valuable forum for ALL women – she’s ‘privileged’ to work for free ! whoopee , up the patriarchy!

          • LA

            oh please. meghan murphy is providing a platform for her damn self! This platform is for WHITE WOMEN! duh…and a bunch of lemming followers who think meghan is like some feminist queen. Geez. The amount of uncritical comments in this space is beyond me. People don’t want to critically talk about issues here. You find one line out of a giant comment, and then write garbage responses while defending Murphy. gosh. Places like this make so SOO happy that black feminism exists….white feminists have totally lost themselves. This is what happens when you structure movements around white women’s bodies. ALL other women are excluded. As a woman…i don’t exprience my life AT ALL like murphy’s so to assume taht we can even have a cohesive feminist movement….simply because we have vagainas is bullshit. I will fight your articulation of feminism…so stop trying to lump me into Murphy’s feminism. That’s what I’ll call it…Meghan Murphy’s feminism…which is literally ONLY for white women. Oh God.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I find it pretty ignorant and insulting that you would call everyone who reads and comments and contributes to this discussion “lemmings.” You realize that the feminist movement has existed for, like, a century? And that thousands and thousands of women have contributed and continue to contribute to shaping the movement and discourse? And that I learned about feminism from those who came before me and continue to learn every day from the women who contribute here and from new work and from the women I interview? What you have written here is incredibly insulting — not just to me, but to the many women who are a part of this movement.

          • ozzie

            We’re lemmings now for having a grasp (which apparently you seriously lack) on male and female biology and its relevance to women’s subjugation? Are you equating being scientifically literate to white feminism?

          • Missfit

            Feminism is a movement by and for women and then some are surprised that it centers on people with vaginas (aka women).

          • Realist

            @LA,I never even heard of Meghan Murphy until yesterday– literally yesterday– when I stumbled onto this forum.

            But, YOU, LA, come off as a hardcore racist! And yes, black people can be racist and exclusionary too, political correctness claims to the contrary be damned.

          • Gooter

            No, they can not, as nor can females be sexist.

        • bella_cose

          My understanding of it isn’t that women have these space to exclude anyone, but to feel safe relating their experiences with other women who have shared the same kinds of oppression. The reason why I see this as important, is because the more privilege a person has, the more likely they are to dominate any space they are in, whether they realize it or not. It’s a result power/status they have in society.

          As a white woman, I don’t have any problem with women of color having their own spaces. At the same time, I would welcome them into a feminist space, because I think it’s imperative that I hear what they have to say, and how they feel about feminist issues, and how their experiences may differ from mine. Otherwise, it’s too easy to miss a perspective that’s different from my own, but just as valid.

          The thing is, the same scenario is not applicable to women born as men. Their relationship to patriarchy is quite different.

        • andeväsen

          “why dont’ we label the “other” feminism that you’re speaking about….”white feminism.””

          Because white feminists don’t meet by themselves with a policy excluding feminists of other races.

          “so obviously black feminists don’t “exclude” anyone…white feminists do all of the excluding..”

          My group excludes white women. It’s one of many, the world over. Seek one out, if you are black/brown/WOC .

          “white feminists CLEARLY exclude women of color from their critiques. We’re not “excluding” white women….it’s just that we’ve already been excluded.”

          Many black feminists disagree. We as WOC should represent ourselves. We don’t expect white women to fight our battles. There are some battles best fought together, however.

          “patriarchy doesn’t just mean dick. It also refers to white skin……even though patriarchy is a part of white supremacy”

          Patriarchy can function just fine with or without white supremacy. My brown sisters in many parts of the globe live and end their lives never having laid eyes on a white man but are still subject to patriarchal oppression.

          • LA

            “Because white feminists don’t meet by themselves with a policy excluding feminists of other races.”

            You can’t measure whether or not a dominant group is being exclusive by THEIR words…you have to go to those who are claiming that they’re being excluded to fully understand how the dominant group IS organizing around themselves. UGH. This is like oppression 101.

            Oppression is also culture-specific. I’m talking about western feminism….with essentially tackles white supremacist patriarchy….not JUST patriarchy. It’s not a coincidence that most of the men who dominate the world are WHITE.

            Again, white feminism at it’s finest. Again, I don’t have the same experiences as half the white women even though we have vaginas. The fact that we’re even organizing around VAGINAS ONLY is part of the problem…it’s part of the whiteness….if white women HAD to focus on their whiteness, then they wouldn’t only be organizing around vaginas…they would SIMULANTEOUSLY be organizing around vagina AND skin color. ugh. people….READ FEMINISTS OF COLOR.

            That’s why feminists of color NEVER separate gender AND race…it’s not optional for us. White women don’t have to focus on race which is why they’re obsessed with organizing around vaginas. That’s why MANY FEMINISTS OF COLOR DON’T MIND TRANSPEOPLE BEING IN TEH MOVEMENT BECAUSE WE INTIMIATELY KNOW THAT THE SITE OF OPPRESSION AGAINST WOMEN EXTENDS BEYOND THE VAGINA!!

          • So your position is that all POC must necessarily be against women-only spaces and therefore anti-feminist? That is a bizarre statement to say the least.

          • LA

            yeah…if you don’t understand the statement…then i’m sure it’s bizarre…lol.My point is that feminists of color are aware that the issue is never WOMAN only… For example, rape might seem like it’s just a “general” woman’s issue…but if you look to the US….you know that women of color have elevated rates of rape…so i would argue it’s a racialized gender issue……the point is that feminists of color don’t have the privilege of EXCLUDING because we dont’ havthe privilege of engaging in single-issue bullshit like this whole website. Again, read feminists of color…staying on this website will only make you understand white feminism further.

          • gxm17

            Actually, mixed race (which I take to include ethnically ambiguous people like myself) and Native American/Alaska Native women have the highest rate of violent victimization in the US.

            As for rape, there is .4% separating the rape statistics between white women (.7%) and black women (1.1%), with Asian or Pacific Islander having the lowest rate at .6% and mixed race topping the list at 1.2%. I just don’t see how at .7% white women are all that “privileged” or that Asian or Pacific Islander women are any more “privileged” than the rest of us. As far as I’m concerned, we’re all in this together.

            And for the record, most sexual assaults are intraracial. Native American and Alaska Native women are the only ethnic groups more likely to be assaulted by a man of a different race.

          • gxm17

            And the rate for Hispanic women is .8%, only .1% above the “completely” privileged white women.

          • andeväsen

            “I’m talking about western feminism…”

            Why, though? Why limit yourself to such a narrow spectrum. Women the world over are oppressed for being female, whatever their race.

            “That’s why feminists of color NEVER separate gender AND race”

            False. Some of us do. It’s meaningless to conflate sexism with racism. There are different aetiologies of oppression and it does us all a disservice to misname them.

            Baby girls in India are drowned in wells. Teenage girls in Sudan undergo genital cutting. Teenage girls of Pakistani origin in the UK are forced to marry their cousins in their summer holidays. Thai chldren from villages are sold into slavery in the cities.

            Yes our world is racist but the major unifying cause behind all of the above is not racism.

          • LA

            you want to talk about women all over the world…but you can’t even understand BASIC black feminism. right.

          • andeväsen

            Your America-centric view is a disservice to black feminists in other parts of the world.

            Sadly all you’ve provided so far are circular arguments for why you – you, not every other feminist of colour – “never separate gender and race”.

            Out of curiosity, do you “separate” any other demographic variable or are they all to be examined as one, according to your worldview; do you – as the only-true-black-feminist – “separate” economic status, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, disability, literacy, from race and sex, or is it only race and sex that you wish to conflate?

          • ozzie

            Exactly!! She claims she understands intersectionality but then goes on to erase the woc not residing in America by not considering nationality, country of birth etc. Way to throw the 3.5 billion women not living in the US under the bus. A+ understanding.

          • andeväsen

            Also, it is pretty insulting to imply that black women in countries apart from yours are beyond “basic” black feminism.

          • As a feminist and WOC, you do not speak for me. Trans women are not women. They are men who think that purchasing and wearing the cultural ornamentation of “womanhood” makes them women. And while I have no problem sharing bathrooms with surgically-altered* trans women and I do not believe they should be harassed or subjected to employment discrimination, I believe that their so-called “cause” is being used to further demean, discriminate, and roll back the rights of born women. In America, the advancements being made by trans activists are inversely mirrored by the rulings against born women’s health care and reproductive rights. Where are our supposed trans sisters? How about the trans activist community? Are they out there on the frontline, leading the fight for us “disgustingly bloody breeders and servile fuck pets” (as pure poison so aptly put it).

            *Because, frankly, a person with a penis should be using a urinal, that’s what the damn thing was invented for. A bathroom is not a social club. It’s just a bathroom, and women’s bathrooms do not have urinals… or perhaps that’s next on the trans activists’ list: urinals in the women’s room so that a lady with a penis can have a proper place to urinate. Because, of course, a urinal in the ladies’ room is so much more important than born women’s reproductive health care.

          • LA

            who says i’m speaking for you? I’m referencing TONS of brown feminists who ACTUALLY get the issue. Chances are if you ACTUALLY read this blog regularly, then that says a lot about your feminism. Just because you’re a WOC doesn’t mean you’re not a white feminist if you get my drift…especially if you read *actually* like this blog site.

          • gxm17

            As I’ve stated before, I’m ethnically ambiguous meaning that, based on my skin tone and facial features, people have trouble figuring out which ethnic box to put me in. Which has left me as being neither here nor there; I pretty much identify with no one and everyone.

            To be frank, LA, you are sounding very much like the MRA catfish that are forever harassing “white” feminists online and telling them to shut up because they are “privileged.” White women face sexism and misogyny every day, and they are allowed to address it. It’s really rather abusive to tell them that they have to sit down, shut up and suffer in silence.

            I’ll never support that because I stand with all women, even the ones who disagree with me. That’s why I defend sexist and misogynist attacks on women as diverse as Cynthia McKinney (who I align with ideologically) and Sarah Palin (who I don’t).

          • andeväsen

            “Just because you’re a WOC doesn’t mean you’re not a white feminist”

            Biology-denial, like climate change-denial, truly knows no bounds.

          • andeväsen

            “I’m referencing TONS of brown feminists”

            I get that that’s a figure of speech rather than 100, but you’ve actually referenced a grand total of 0 to date.

          • Realist

            @LA, you do realize that plenty of white feminists fully support the causes of black / brown feminists? I have seen plenty of white feminists at rallies and events that center around WOC’s issues. This is absolutely nothing new! You do realize that many of the early abolitionists were privileged, white women? White people should be included in anti-racist movements and men should be included in anti-misogynist movements. That said, whites do not need to be in safe spaces reserved for people of color and men do not need to be in safe spaces reserved for born women. You are once again confusing / conflating being part of a broad movement versus intruding on safe spaces that exist for a limited purpose.

        • ozzie

          ”Even though ironically, two of the most famous black feminists right now are transwomen!!!…”

          I certainly hope you’re not talking about Laverne Cox and Janet Mock, the two raging misogynists that are rallying behind a man who decapitated his wife wanting to be moved to women’s prison? If so, I think we’re done here.
          And FYI, most of the people you’re arguing with have stated here or elsewhere that they’re woc, so your harping about ”white feminism” is moot.

          • Missfit

            Janet Mock also wrote a book full of gender essentialism and misogynistic language. If she is to be one of the most famous black feminists right, there is something seriously wrong with feminism…

            I have noticed that there seems to be a trend with some people that is to accuse feminists who are against the sex industry and/or trans critical of doing ‘white feminism’. However, I’ve seen plenty of woc holding these positions so I don’t know how this stands…

          • ozzie

            ”However, I’ve seen plenty of woc holding these positions so I don’t know how this stands… ”
            The vast majority of woc hold radical positions, however, they’re constantly pushed away and denigrated by liberal feminists calling them conservative, slut-shamers, sex-haters, whorephobic, ugly, etc that they don’t even consider themselves feminist. This happened to me: someone showed me jezebel as the prototypical feminist site and for a long time I considered myself staunchly anti-feminist. Off the top of my head though, I can name at least 15 woc blogs that are gender and trans critical…

          • LA

            white feminism is MAINSTREAM feminims. therefore, there are TONS of brown women who are white feminists….

          • ozzie

            Uh, no try again. There are different factions within the feminist movement and not all feminist theory arising from a white woman is ”mainstream” by virtue of her being white. Ever heard of radical feminism, ecofeminism, Marxist feminism, etc? Agreeing with a white woman doesn’t make me a white feminist.

        • ozzie

          ”White feminism sucks.”
          Literally every single person you’re arguing with, including myself, have revealed they’re not white. Get it through your head that you’re not the ambassador for all woc around the globe.
          ”All you do is focus on “patriarchy” not realizing that patriarchy doesn’t just mean dick.”
          Are you listening to yourself? What do you think the ‘patri-‘ part in patriarchy means? It literally means: ”a combining form meaning “father,” occurring originally in loanwords from Greek and Latin ( patriarch; patrician ), and used in the formation of new compounds ( patrilineal )” originating from ”Classical Latin ; from Classical Greek patri- ; from patēr, father”. PATRIARCHY IS LITERALLY COMPRISED OF MALES, NO RACE PREREQUISITE NEEDED.
          ” So, you’re allowed to experience white privilege and STAY in feminism because you have a vagina”

          • LA

            my gosh. read some more bell hooks who uses the phrase, “white supremacist capitalit patriarchy.” Chances are if you want to dismantle patriarchy…you might ALSO have to focus on white supremacy just a little bit, huh? No, because we subscribe to white feminism, we’re going to have to approach each issue singularly.

            Again, WHITE FEMINISM IS MAINSTREAM FEMINISM; THEREFORE,TONS OF BROWN WOMEN ARE WHITE FEMINISTS………….. ti’s a way of thinking, a framework….you don’t necessarily need white skin to be a white feminist!

            Shit. When we dismantle patriarchy, which women do you think are going to dominate???? WHITE WOMEN…it’s not a coincidence that some of the most popular feminists are white women. jesus. an alliance with uncrtical white women isn’t going to get you too far becasue they will always support themselves before you. They have no intersectional commitments at all…we are an afterthought.

          • Meghan Murphy

            What’s funny (not really that funny) is that bell hooks has now been lumped in with “white feminism” due to her comments on Beyonce…

            I think it’s pretty wack to label the women of colour we work and ally with as “white feminists,” LA. I’m not quite sure how you make that decision — like, if they just don’t agree with you or what? Feminism is extremely diverse and there are many divides. It seems to me those divides tend to happen along the liberal vs radical line, although it’s certainly more complex than that.

            “Mainstream feminism” thinks Beyonce is our feminist leader. So is “mainstream feminism” “white feminism” or not” Are we it? I’m sorry but your arguments just don’t make much sense to me…

          • “What’s funny (not really that funny) is that bell hooks has now been lumped in with “white feminism” due to her comments on Beyonce…”

            That’s really interesting.

            I just read this Gail Dines article on Nicki Minaj on black women’s historical objectification this morning so I’m thinking about that in relation to this.

            Black women have historically been objectified and seen as sex objects even more than white women. For instance, a black woman cannot call herself a “slut” or “whore” and consider it empowering in the way that a white woman can. She is already seen as a slut whether she wants to be or not 🙁 It’s not a cute game for black women to take part in.

            The thirdwavers call sexual objectification empowerment and “sex positivity” and so naturally they want to take lessons from black women in being objectified. Naturally they want to hold them up as examples of empowerment and what women should aspire to be. Black women were the only women who were more sexually objectified and oppressed than white women. Men want to keep that oppression going so who better for white women to take lessons on how to be a submissive sex object from than women who were even more oppressed and even more sexualized ? Instead of trying to remove the sexualized oppression on women and the even worse sexualized oppression of black women thirdwavers are reinforcing it.

            So patriarchal forces and thirdwavers want black feminism to mean “sex positive” and they want to be seen as intersectional and inclusive of black women. And also black women have historically been objectified for their bodies, and black women’s image is very “sex positive”/”we’re all sluts” and basically all the thirdwave mantras. So the third wavers need to include somehow drag black women in their “sex positive” “empowered by my objectification” image.

            And they can’t have black bell hooks disrupting their objectifying women which they call “empowerment.” That just disrupts the whole system. It seems that might be why they need to make bell hooks white (and by implication “non intersectional”, she doesn’t truly understand the black women’s empowering experience of objectification and “sex positivity”). This is making a mockery of the idea of intersectionality. “Lets pretend that black women don’t face even worse sexualized oppression and that they are empowered.” I think this is why they are making bell hooks white because they need women to believe that black women are empowered by their objectification, and bell hooks is saying that she’s not empowered by her objectification.

            It also makes me a bit sad that they are making bell hooks white, that’s pretty insensitive to her given that she has lived her life as a black woman and has had to go through a lot of oppression, and here they are just erasing it.

          • “For instance, a black woman cannot call herself a “slut” or “whore” and consider it empowering in the way that a white woman can.”

            Just to be clear no woman can call herself a “slut” or whore and consider it empowering but my point was that black women often don’t have a choice as to whether or not they can choose for the media and society to view them as sluts, so it’s sometimes more obvious to them that this isn’t empowerment.

          • lizor

            Oh, what I’d give to hear bell hooks’ thoughts on all of LA’s posts of the past 24 hours!!!

          • andeväsen

            “When we dismantle patriarchy, which women do you think are going to dominate???? WHITE WOMEN…”

            Who is the ‘we’ in this sentence?

          • Missfit

            I think she got us confused with liberal feminists whose objective is making it to the top.

            It is clear for everybody here that there wouldn’t be one group dominating another after ‘we’ dismantle patriarchy…

          • ozzie

            Take a look around this site. It is as far removed from mainstream liberal feminism as humanly possible. Do you think we’re dumb and masochistic enough to rally behind ideals intended to crush us? You seem like the kind of ‘feminist’ that will battle-cry about ”SMASHING THE WHITE-SUPREMACIST CAPITALIST PATRIARCHY” all day long then turn around and fervently defend porn and prostitution. Way to crush that white supremacist capitalist patriarch.

        • Realist

          So there are zero black feminists who want to exclude mtf trans?

  • Spiffy

    Okay, so…. how do you plan to enforce women-born-women safe spaces? Are you going to do background checks on everyone? Are you going to check people’s pants to make sure that they have the correct genitals? Are you going to check everyone’s DNA to make sure someone’s not smuggling in a Y chromosome?

    None of that sounds like a very “safe” space to me.

    I don’t know any trans women who said they felt like women because they liked pink or sparkles or men. All I’ve ever heard was “I feel a horrific sense of dysphoria with this body and these genitals and these secondary sexual characteristics.” Nobody chooses to feel something like that. That’s not something a person can just decide or be raised into. There has to be something going on there biologically. If someone is feeling like their body is wrong for them and if that suffering can be alleviated by them transitioning into a body that doesn’t make them feel that way, it’s wrong to deny them that. If someone goes about their daily life living as a woman and being treated as a woman then there’s no point in pointing out that she’s biologically male. That’s just pointlessly cruel.

    • “Okay, so…. how do you plan to enforce women-born-women safe spaces? Are you going to do background checks on everyone? Are you going to check people’s pants to make sure that they have the correct genitals? Are you going to check everyone’s DNA to make sure someone’s not smuggling in a Y chromosome?”

      Wow… straw man much? How many women’s spaces have done ANY of these things you say are needed? You’re talking out of your fucking ass!

      • LA

        Okay…so how do you regulate the space. Radfems always want to critique….but what are some solutions? How in the hell are you going to tell if someone is “trans.” Everyone keeps talking about defending the “Terf” but how are you actually supposed to enforce that??? Seriously.

        • bella_cose

          I think the idea is that women shouldn’t have to enforce it. Their spaces should be respected.

          Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp? Seriously.

          • ozzie

            ”Respect for women and their boundaries? What’s that? How totally foreign. How does this ‘respect’ thing even work?”
            –Men and some women, apparently

          • LA

            So you’re grand fucking solution = RESPECT. Good one. You gotta love the critical insight on this page.

          • bella_cose

            I get that you’re angry, but being dismissive of any opinion other than your own, and denigrating the commenters on this blog, will not help your case. You’ve certainly lost all credibility with me.

        • yodler

          our assertion is that these men are trying to invade our spaces in order to limit our ability to converse with one another. in order to monitor and negotiate with our feminist insights.

          So, one way to ‘enforce’ the boundary is to have it and then notice when it is broken and kick them out. Our stated goal is not to prevent, ever, a man crossing the threshold of a women only meeting space. it is to notice and correct it. we will notice when a person tries to stop us from using the word ‘vagina’ in our all-women group, notice when a person makes sexualized threats at other women they disagree with in the group, notice when they start pointing to certain privleges women have as reason to keep them from speaking about shared girlhood, notice if at some point (god forbid) they get a boner. Notice if we create community and if it is just obvious this woman is a man and operates as one in the wider world or if they did up until their surgery 6 months ago. In order to monitor our boundaries we have to HAVE boundaries. We don’t have to pants people, or DNA test. MALE SOCIALIZED BEHAVIOR IS WHAT WE WILL BE MONITORING FOR, LA.

    • bella_cose

      I don’t see anyone rushing to defend women, or men, who want to starve themselves to death because they think they are horrendously overweight when, in fact, their weight is perfectly normal. Instead, society says they should be in treatment of some sort. Why is it different when it comes to people not feeling that they have the correct genitalia?

      It may well be biological, in that it could be related to neurotransmitters that affect whatever part/parts of the brain are involved with coordinating recognition of one’s body. I don’t see how it being biological supports your argument.

      • Leo

        Indeed. It would be pointlessly cruel, and downright irresponsible, to allow people to alter their perfectly healthy body, especially to allow children to be put on the path towards doing so. Sometimes we have to step in to stop people hurting themselves, it is no true kindness to just let them, let alone to actively facilitate it.

        The idea of surgery on healthy body parts, as a treatment for a psychological condition, is really disturbing. Logically, even if we accept for the sake of argument the claim to have a somehow female brain, then it’s still the case that the surgery is purely cosmetic rearrangement of the existing genitals. If there was some kind of faulty bodymap, it would not fix it.

        It makes me really angry at the surgeons, and others involved in dragging vulnerable people, including children, into this. I fear the explanation is the financial incentive, in many cases. Surgery isn’t some kind of trivial choice, though you wouldn’t think so, the way some of them speak of it so casually. Surgeons seem only too happy to cut up healthy bodies based on a condition that seems psychological/neurological, yet I’ve spent years fighting to get them to take my physical health problems (much of which is due to damage they caused in the first place) seriously. They’re risking causing the kind of nerve damage I have -which is sheer torture to live with- among other potential issues. SRS can and does go wrong, and testosterone can have detrimental effects on the female body, as well.

    • Donkey Skin

      ‘I don’t know any trans women who said they felt like women because they liked pink or sparkles or men. All I’ve ever heard was “I feel a horrific sense of dysphoria with this body and these genitals and these secondary sexual characteristics.”’

      Then you haven’t been paying very much attention to the trans movement, frankly. The big push in trans politics these days is coming from males who feel little to no dysphoria over their male-sexed bodies and are insisting that their penises should be considered female sex organs, especially by lesbians, whom they accuse of bigotry for preferring female-bodied partners. (Because a female body is anything that someone identifies as a female body!)

      You, like most well-meaning people who don’t want to discriminate against anyone but always somehow manage to put women’s concerns last, seem to be under the impression that the majority of transwomen are old-school transsexuals – in other words, androphilic males with genuine overwhelming sex dysphoria. On the contrary, most transgender males these days are gynophilic (female-attracted), and some 80-90 per cent are non-op. They vastly outnumber the old-school transsexuals, and they are the ones who run the current trans movement. Hence their focus on invading lesbian spaces and trying to bully lesbians into sleeping with them.

      Ever since the trans movement joined forces with pomo queer theory, its entire ethos has been one of identity libertarianism, as Elizabeth Hungerford has so aptly termed it, and they are very clear about the fact that one does not need to have intense bodily dysphoria in order to be trans – indeed, they call trans people who insist you do ‘truscum’. ‘A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman’, as trans activists and their libfem acolytes are fond of chorusing.

      So, the question arises, if being trans is not about dysphoria with one’s sexed body, then what is it? There is literally nothing else left to ‘identify’ with but sex-role stereotypes. And trans activists themselves are blatantly, relentlessly pushing the idea of ‘lady brain’ to explain male identification with ‘femininity’ as well as recasting feminism as ‘femmephobic’ for critiquing the submissive sex roles imposed on women and girls – in other words, recasting the very basis of feminism itself as ‘phobic’.

      ‘If someone goes about their daily life living as a woman and being treated as a woman then there’s no point in pointing out that she’s biologically male. That’s just pointlessly cruel.’

      Speaking of dishonestly recasting feminism, your attempt paint women as the ones inflicting sex-based cruelty on men, simply because we reserve the right to draw boundaries and name reality, is an outrageous reversal.

    • Missfit

      No, no plan to enforce women-born-women only spaces with background checks and DNA testing. The plan is just to state so and hope that it will be respected. But apparently, that is too much to ask for.

      A male with body dysphoria is a male with body dysphoria, not a woman. An adult man can get surgeries, appear as a woman and be treated as such. There is no pointing. But there is a difference between respecting someone and not wanting to cause undue suffering and acknowledging delusions as truths. Respect should also be given to women-born-women who, for whatever the reasons, wish to have exclusive spaces for themselves. Women-born-women are subjected to a specific kind of oppression, exerted by man-born-man, and they might wish to have spaces where they are free and at ease to talk about their experiences between themselves and prevent interference or derailing (or worse if they want to address the concept of gender identity in a critical way).

    • ozzie

      ”I don’t know any trans women who said they felt like women because they liked pink or sparkles or men. ”

      Are you serious? They’re the majority of people comprising the trans movement currently. As a matter of fact, they’ve started harassing and getting violent with dysphoric trans individuals who believe that surgery and transition should only be used for those with dysphoria. Dysphoric individuals are now called ”truscum” by these people, and are lumped in with radical feminists; threats like ”kill all terfs and truscum” aren’t uncommon on the internet. The worst part is the fusion of this with senseless post modernist theory to yield an insane mantra like ”anyone who says they’re a woman, is” no biology or dysphoria needed as prerequisite.

    • Realist

      Actually, your understanding of transgenders is fundamentally flawed. MOST transgenders do not “feel” like women or see themselves as such. MOST transgenders suffer from autogynophilia, that is they are turned on by sexual thoughts of themselves being treated as females; these thoughts often heavily influenced by the porn industry. Their desire to transition is rooted in eroticism, not in any inherent GID. MOST transgenders are indeed made, not born. So why do they spew the line about “feeling” like females? Because it is more sympathetic, because they want public monies to cover their transition, because they would be denied a transition if they told the truth, because many transpeople sell sex and can earn more with a hole. For those with a hardcore “born that way” philosophy, how do you explain the increasing trend (among those who can afford it) of reverting back surgically to one’s original sex?

  • If you’re not going to do “genital checks” at bathroom doors, then how ARE you going to ban trans women then? Are women just supposed to call the cops if they perceive that there is a biological male in the bathroom with them? Are you aware that there are lots of people who get “wrong-bathroomed” who aren’t even trans women? There are butch lesbians who are perceived as male in bathrooms and get harassed by clueless straight women all the time. This whole “who-gets-to-use-the-bathroom-and-who-doesn’t” thing is horrible. There’s a big difference between a group of women-born-women getting together in a group to talk about abortion rights or pregnancy, and attempts to prevent people from peeing in public toilets.
    And dear goddess, body dysphoria is not comparable to anorexia. Women want to be thin because our society tells us we have to be thin. Society doesn’t tell men to present as women, it punishes them severely for doing so.

    • Again, what woman-only event has ever done “genital checks”? What a straw woman.

      • I know that nobody does genital checks. I’m not saying that anybody is going to start doing them. I’m asking how can we actually ban trans women from bathrooms? Seeing as it’s often hard to tell, and even people with vaginas can be mistaken for men.

        • C.K. Egbert

          That really isn’t the point. It’s whether women can have women-only spaces respected by the transgender movement, instead of being harassed, or accused of “transphobia.” In some cases these women’s only spaces are being actively eliminated (in the case of women’s colleges).

          In the cases of bathrooms or locker rooms, women are being prevented from having these spaces restricted to anatomical females because transgender people claim they are being discriminated against unless they can use women’s locker rooms or rest rooms.

          • Okay, let’s say that we can reserve colleges and locker rooms for only anatomical females. How are we going to ensure that only anatomical females enter?

          • bella_cose

            I think that’s been answered already. The idea is if you aren’t an anatomical female you respect those that are, and their spaces. Is the idea of respecting a woman and her space really so difficult to grasp? Although we are talking about men, so I guess it’s par for the course.

          • How do hair stylists ensure they charge the higher rate for women’s haircuts and the lower rates for men’s haircuts?

            I don’t believe you’re as incapable of telling men apart from women as you’re pretending to be, but as was said above, “It’s whether women can have women-only spaces respected by the transgender movement.”

          • I’m capable of telling men apart from women. I’m also capable of telling trans women apart from men.

          • bella_cose

            Why is it So important for trans women to invade the spaces of women, who were born female, and have experienced all of the shittiness society has thrown at them, for the mere fact of being born with a vagina? Is it for validation, or is it some kind of competition? I’m not saying there isn’t a place for trans women in the feminist movement, I’m just saying that while they face discrimination, and many obstacles in society, they are different ones than what born females experience. That’s just a fact.

          • C.K. Egbert

            In the article above it was pretty clear that the man was not an anatomical female. If men were not allowed, then someone could call security and have that person removed from the locker room. But because he’s claiming “transgender,” no one can now complain or bar him from entering.

          • ozzie

            ”How are we going to ensure that only anatomical females enter? ”
            You’ve kind of answered why women-only spaces need to exist in the first place. Can you think of any instance where a marginalized group had to come up with a strategy of how to keep abusive women out? No, because invasiveness and boundary-violation is a product of male, not female, socialization.
            Again, no one is condoning genital checks, but the answer here is that the trans community should self-police and make it clear that misogyny is not tolerated.

          • ozzie

            I should also add that trans activists should be pushing for unisex bathrooms or single unit bathrooms or a third bathroom for ”non-binary” individuals to use if they chose. Right now they’re pushing for their right to use women’s bathrooms, which makes me think this whole thing is about getting validation that you’re a woman rather than coming up with practical solutions to societal problems.

          • huha

            In some places there are actually men’s only bathrooms + unisex; no bathrooms for women only. Men get to keep theirs, women don’t. Thanks, trans “activism.”

          • That’s exactly what I vote for, is unisex bathrooms. I believe we should accommodate the variety of humans that exist in this world. It’s a much better idea that making public spaces less accommodating by limiting who can use them.
            An yes, there is a marginalized group that would benefit from keeping abusive women out: lesbians. My butch lesbian partner gets harassed by straight women in bathrooms, not by trans women or drag queens. Let’s end this fear of the bogeyman, whether it’s the “lavendar menace” or trans women, and start coming up with positive solutions that benefit and humanize everyone.

          • ozzie

            ”That’s exactly what I vote for, is unisex bathrooms. ”
            Most trans ”activists” actually would call you a TERF for saying that. They strictly want access to women’s bathrooms and don’t want a third unisex option and I’ve heard many compare suggestions for a third unisex option to ”separate but equal” Jim Crow laws (which is both insanely hyperbolic and insanely racist).

          • andeväsen

            “How are we going to ensure that only anatomical females enter?”

            By teaching society to respect women’s spaces.

            Don’t forget women had to and still have to fight for public toilets for women. If you’re bored/want to procrastinate/are unable to sleep, please take the time to read a little on the history of water and sanitation provision as part of city planning. Women’s toilets in public places were a relatively late addition to the game. Women campaigned hard to get toilets for women in public places, with the view that women needed toilets to enable them to be more involved in all aspects of public life. It was fairly late in the day that there was a women’s toilet in the English Parliament building, for eg. In large parts of the globe women’s toilets are a rarity, and form the basis of campaigns of rights organisations (children’s, education, as well as women’s).

          • danah gaz

            We’re actually talking about cis-only spaces at this point, not women only spaces. Let’s be honest. There are exceptions made for trans men, but only if those trans men are willing to leave their identity and self-respect at the door.

            For the record, just a whiff of that makes we want to stay well away from any space like that, for the same reason a black woman might want to avoid a Klan rally.

            Carry on.

          • C.K. Egbert

            That’s the point though. I’m not a “cis-woman,” I’m a woman because this is a political identity that is imposed upon me. We don’t mean by “woman”, “everyone who identifies as a woman.” We mean, “every person belonging to the caste of woman.”

            Our identities can be formed out of oppressive social structures, which is precisely what we are critiquing.

            Also, since when did feminists critique the rights or abilities of trans people to have their own safe spaces? I wouldn’t invade those spaces or claim they are phobic because they don’t include me.

          • danah gaz

            are you trans or not? Cis is the latin antonym of trans.

            > Also, since when did feminists critique the rights or abilities of trans people to have their own safe spaces?

            That’s a straw man. I never said feminists said that.

    • “Society doesn’t tell men to present as women, it punishes them severely for doing so.”

      Considering all we know of rape, pornography, BDSM, dominatrices, and a world’s worth of men’s sexual sadism, is it so hard to believe that feelings of shame and deserving punishment is itself the fetish for millions of men?

      In our male supremacist culture, femininity is the bundle of accoutrements marking the class of people viewed as disgustingly bloody breeders and servile fuck pets, and a whole lot of men get off on that.

      • “…disgustingly bloody breeders and servile fuck pets…”

        Now, that is some wordsmith gold. That paragraph may be the best definition of femininity I’ve ever come across. Huzza, pure poison.

    • bella_cose

      I was actually talking about BDD, which doesn’t always involve anorexia. It could be any perceived physical trait that one perceives as flawed. There’s also Body Identity Integrity Disorder, where people don’t feel that a body part belongs to them, and want to have it amputated. Should we support and encourage that too?

    • ozzie

      No one is advocating for genital checks–all we want is some respect for women and their spaces. This is similar to the example I used previously of a cancer patient support group barring non cancer patients: no one should grope you to check for a cancerous testicular lump or whatever, but you should have enough decency and consideration to stay out.

      ”And dear goddess, body dysphoria is not comparable to anorexia.”
      You’re absolutely wrong on this. There is a difference between disordered eating and clinical anorexia which very often involves severe body dysmorphia.

    • “Society doesn’t tell men to present as women, it punishes them severely for doing so.”

      But it does tell men (and boys) that women’s (and girl’s) bodies are mere commodities for men to consume, and that born women are subhuman and their “identity” is subject to the whim (and price point) of born men.

    • “If you’re not going to do “genital checks” at bathroom doors, then how ARE you going to ban trans women then?”

      Really, Bushfire? Seriously? This nonsense loudly echoes the 1970s Phyllis Schlafly- led campaign of hysteria about the abolishment of single-sex bathrooms should the [oppressive to men!!!] E.R.A. be adopted in the U.S.

      • No, I’m the opposite of Phyllis Schafly hysteria. I’m saying that everyone SHOULD get a washroom. Instead of limiting who can use public washrooms, we should be ensuring that everyone gets to use one. If it were up to me, every public washroom would be a series of fully enclosed single stall toilets so every person is in privacy, and none of the toilets would be labelled male or female, they’d all be labelled “toilet.” However, there’s probably lots of ideas out there other than this one. Instead of promoting trans panic, we should be promoting positive solutions that work for everyone. I’m not talking any nonsense, lizor. I’m asking the question “how are you going to keep trans women out?” because the answer is you can’t. Some trans women are fully transitioned, meaning they’ve had their penis removed and have an F on their birth certificate. How on Earth are you going to keep them out of a women’s washroom? You don’t know who’s had surgery and who hasn’t, and sure, you could try just asking politely for trans women not to pee when they’re outside their homes, but that’s not going to work and a better solution is making washrooms truly accessible and safe for all people.

        • andeväsen

          It’s a good suggestion. Who is going to make it happen?

          • Margaret McCarroll

            the washroom issue can be solved by assigning some as unisex – i’ve seen some single unit bathroms assigned as ‘family’ or ‘wheelchair accessible’ – the more difficult problem is with the shelters and rape crisis centres – as i understand it, battered and raped women find it triggering to be around men, thus, in the safe environment created by the centre it is imperative that there be no men – i’m sure that fair-minded trans appreciate this important reality – abused men need their own spaces and should not be dumped into the women’s shelters

          • To make this happen is a big project. We’d have to pass a law saying that any new building that is built must have individual unisex bathrooms, or else it’s not “up to code”, so that architects design bathrooms that way from now on. To pass this law there would have to be lots of public support, so everyone needs to be talking about this. Right now only colleges and universities are taking this seriously. I believe unisex bathrooms need to be an item on any feminist agenda.

          • andeväsen

            Is it an item on trans activists’ agenda? If so, many would get behind it.

        • ” If it were up to me, every public washroom would be a series of fully enclosed single stall toilets so every person is in privacy, and none of the toilets would be labelled male or female, they’d all be labelled “toilet.” ”

          I agree wholehearted with this. However, I do contend that your reiteration of spiffy’s derail re: gentile checks” is nonsense.

          I believe that you are fully aware that the central spaces of contention are situations like the one at VRR where a TW insisted on being accepted as a counsellor, despite the fact that it posed a threat to women seeking safe space, or the scenario at the DGR conference where a group of transpersons harassed and threatened people at a booth because of DGR’s stance on maintaining spaces for women-born-women. The discussion attempts to address the very real spectre of male-born persons disrespecting boundaries based on some nebulous notion of “feeling” like a woman – a feeling no one has been able to define in any sort of operative terms. It’s a difficult and complex discussion and while I respect all of your comments that I have read on feminist fora over the years and agree with most of them, I think that tabling a proposition about genital checks at public toilets is a derail.

        • Also, FTR, while I like the idea of individual washrooms, I am not horrified by the idea of non-gendered toilets. Someone on this thread or another one discussing TW access to women’s safe spaces, suggested that segregated washrooms were necessary to avoid the supposed horrors of women and children being exposed to the sight of male genitalia. We need to bear in mind that gender-segregated toilets exist because of the threat to women of male violence, not our fear of seeing mens’ dangly bits – and also, of course the overarching conceit that women’s messy bodies must present as sterilized odour-free sexual play zones and that if men were exposed to the reality that we, too, shit and it stinks, we’ll never be valued as the fuck toys we ultimately are.

          Quite frankly, threat of violence notwithstanding, I say come ahead, dudes, and sniff that reality.

          • andeväsen

            “gender-segregated toilets exist because of the threat to women of male violence”

            This is true. It comes under the ‘harm reduction’ category, the things we can lobby for society to put in place for us while waiting for men to stop VAW, Like improving lighting in the streets at night.

            Toilets for females are recognised by education rights groups as a key barrier in communities where girls stay at home 3-6 days per month because their local school doesn’t have one.

    • Realist

      …”Are women just supposed to call the cops if they perceive that there is a biological male in the bathroom with them?”

      Damned right I’ll call the cops! The cops caught a guy convicted of beating a woman to DEATH in the woman’s bathroom of my former workplace, trolling for new victims. Just a week or so ago, we had the same scenario at a rural rest stop, except she was strangled to DEATH by the man lurking about the ladies room. Actually, there are many such cases. What is your suggestion, Bushfire, blowing kisses?

  • LA

    woman-only spaces sound a lot like white-only spaces. Just pointing that out. IF your activism focuses so much on WHO can be an activist, then you’re doing something fucking wrong. Those aren’t politics, it’s irrelevant bullshit. There are tons of transwomen who have spotlighted important feminist politics…who have brought light to issues that impact women AS A WHOLE…yet you’re focused on what’s in between their legs. How much more fucking archaic could this whole scenario possibly get??Who gives a fuck??? You’d rather spend time theoretically trying to understand transwomens genitals, rather than perhaps talking about the violence directed at transwomen. You’re OBJECTIFYING transwomen. You’re committing violence. Stop interrogating their identities. Let’s move the fuck on and actually get stuff done rather than debating genitals. This practice actually feels extremely MALE….where we spend more time reducing people to their gentitals, rather than listening to their fucking words and what they CAN contribute to the cause.

    No, you’d rather spend time turning them away. This is embarrassing for feminism on like 1000 different levels. And you wonder why people think radfems are fucking psychotic and exclusionary. While brown feminists are talking about REAL issues impacting communities, this site just critiques night and day, but doesn’t offer anything new or constructive. Get over transwomen and worry about your own fucking genitals. As women and feminists, we don’t want to be objectified….but we’ll be the fucking first to do it to other minority groups. That’s fucked up.

    As of now, just know that me and thousands of other women don’t want to be a part of white feminist exclusinoary practices that center are semeingly “woman-only” …meaning” WHITE WOMAN ONLY.” Please. Whenever the word “woman” is employed without a race before it, it MEANS white woman. So, just know that many of us women don’t evenw want to be in your bullshit woman-only space where you objectify transwomen.

    If you want to do that….then just DO it and stop talking about it. It’s annoying. Make your own woman-only space and see what gets done. While you’re sitting around talking about your vagina [white vaginas will get the most attention though], the rest of REAL feminism will continue to talk about issues that matter. In fact, part of our agenda is getting rid of yours. Have fun.

    This site is doing more violence than anyone else. Being critical of cultural phenomena is great, but when ALL you have are critqiues and exclusion…it’s pure bullshit.

    Just put out good theory and make sure that woman arent’ being dehuamizing and have opportutineis…and then you’re good. In reality, we’re spending so much fucking time talking about transwomen who actually need our support since they’re ALSO being slaughtered and dehumanized [since they have so much fucking male privilege].

    This website shoudl

    • Meghan Murphy

      “This site is doing more violence than anyone else.”

      Um, ok. Like more violence than all the men who are literally perpetrating violence? Got it. Cool feminism.

      • LA

        Thanks for focusing on my critiques. Sweetie, men aren’t the only ones committing violence. White women discursively commit violence against transwomen and women of color. I hope you’re glad that you made it on this list….

        • Meghan Murphy

          Yeah she called me — a working class socialist — “classist.” She doesn’t seem to really know what she’s talking about, huh. And lose the sexist language (sweetie) or you’ll lose your commenting privileges. Thanks.

        • ozzie

          There is literally no such thing as ‘discursive violence’: violence by definition refers to use of physical force. Identifying biological sex isn’t violence. Stop desensitizing language and robbing us of our ability to name actual violence when it occurs.
          What about the literal, actual, physical violence committed by transwomen (rape, murder, pedophilia) who statistics show retain rates and patterns of criminality on par with cis men? You have a lot of resentment for white women in the movement but are willing to fully concede to transwomen, the majority of whom are white males.

      • LA

        You know it talking about men’s violence….you’re also going to have to talk about issues other than just “woman”. race will have to be included since women of color are disporportionately harassed and raped…and you’re also going to have to talk about transwomen…since they expereince SUPER high rates of murder…because they have so much privilege you know.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Yes race is a factor — Aboriginal women are overrepresented in prostitution, for example. Marginalized women are disproportionately impacted by male violence. We talk about this all the time… What is your point, exactly?

          • LA

            No–race isn’t just a “factor”….race is part of the gender problem. We have these neat little boxes for each identity category, and that’s part of the problem. That’s part of the white logic in gender oppression. Race is often treated as an afterthought…and that’s what happens when we organize around the white female body.

            If we were to organize around a black woman’s body, then perhaps skin color might be the most important thing in our gender oppression….that was what many black feminists were critiquing in slutwalk….we assumed it was just a general “woman’s” problem…whereas for a lot of us…it’s a racial problem.

            As I said in comments above, I feel like I have more in common with Laverne Cox than I do you…so obviously I’m not only organizing around gender…but race and gender. That’s what intersectionality is, right? To assume that having a vagina is the only thing needed to understand being second-class is problematic.

            To say that transpeople can’t undersatndt he experiences of a woman presupposes that there’s a set of experiences that ALL women share because they have vaginas…which couldn’t be further from the truth considering black women and other women of color often aren’t treated the same as white women.[in some cases, we’re not even veiwed as real or authentic women]..hence, “ain’t I a woman?” Right? Black femininity is oftentimes seen as a drag performance [a recent essay on black girl dangerous discusses this!]so again, we dont’ have the privilege of excluding people who were “once men” because we too are often seen as inauthentic as women.

            Assuming that all women have a shared set of experiences ignores women of color. You’re reducing the issue to JUST our gender only…whereas its race AND gender together..simulatenously. You don’t walk through life as ablack woman….so how could you even try to assume that you could….so this idea that a “woman-only” space would yield something productive is a joke.

            The debate over a “woman only” space predates this whole trans discussion consideing women of color for a LONG TIME have been trying to make a point that we’re not necessarily treated “As women.” Even during slavery, black women were expected to work in the fields with men…whereas white women were treated as dainty, fragile things. Therefore, one could logically conclude that black women didn’t occupy the “woman” space in the ways that white women did.

            We can’t organize together if you refuse to organize around the brown woman’s body…and in doing that…you would clearly see how transwomen EASILY fit into the framework.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “You’re reducing the issue to JUST our gender only…”

            No. I’m not. The issue of, for example, violence against women, prostitution, or pornography, is about race, class and gender. Primarily gender, but always also race and class. This is clear from my work. Your critiques are not substantiable or true.

          • huha

            Umm.. white men didn’t do shit either. That’s why slavery existed in the first place.

            I believe that black women during slavery were treated a lot worse than black men for the simple fact that they were female. For example, they were constantly raped.
            In Canada specifically women were only recognized legally to be human beings in 1918.

            So, yes, non-white women (in North America) face two burdens: racism and sexism. The two together are extremely dangerous together but they are separate issues.

          • LA

            Ok…so separate my race and my gender for me….if i’m raped or “prostituted”…sure it’s because i have a vagina…but it’s also attributed to the fact that I’m brown and brown women are regularly marked as hyper-sexual…so i wouldn’t just organize around my vagina…i would also organize around my skin color. I don’t have the privilege of separating the two. I wish we could create a new word that mixes “gender” and “race” together. Intersectionality is fine, but it feels distant. We need to actually create a new work that literally blends the two words together so that you all can understand what I’m saying.

          • andeväsen

            Sure. And black men are considered by racists to be hypersexual as well. Are black men raped on a scale comparable to black women and if not/so then why?

          • Realist

            ” Are black men raped on a scale comparable to black women and if not/so then why?”

            No, because:

            1. Black men are still men and accorded due respect as such. Women are dehumanized and “fair game.”

            2. Black men will (rightfully) knock your teeth out for even trying to rape them, whereas most women of any color struggle to fight off a male attacker. (They are easy marks.)

            But, its all the same right? Kumbaya

          • huha

            Nobody is asking you to separate the two. I think what is asked here is the need for women who are oppressed based on the fact that they are female to come together and share their experiences.

            Our experiences are different and are affected by race, class and other factors.
            It is crucial that women of color talk about their experiences as it is important for poor women, migrant women, etc. to share their unique experiences.

            This blog is about the liberation of ALL women. ALL women count. The thing that ALL women have in common is the fact that they are female and they face female-based oppression.

            I would agree with you that mainstream feminism is about middle and upper class white women. No doubt about that.
            But this website isn’t mainstream feminism.

          • Donkey Skin

            This site has a number of articles examining how racially and economically marginalised women are disproportionally represented in prostitution.

            I recommend:


            Cherry Smiley’s talk on prostitution as an aspect of colonial violence is also excellent:


          • C.K. Egbert

            If you think no group of people have a shared set of experiences, then you just lost your basis for organizing around gender and race because you’re presupposing (legitimately) that black women or black people have a set of shared experiences of racial oppression. At some point you are going to have to generalize. You aren’t doing anything fundamentally different than we are (saying people have a shared experience), you’re just creating more distinctions as to what counts as a shared experience.

            We never presume any experience is the same, because this is not about “personal” identity. It’s about social structures.

            In addition, to say “To assume that having a vagina is the only thing needed to understand being second-class is problematic” completely erases the entire sexual subordination of white women. White women are raped, murdered, assaulted, abused, and trafficked, and to erase that (social structural violence) is problematic, to put it mildly.

            If you think sexual subordination is all about race, then organizing around the “black body” wouldn’t help any of the violence against white women, because they’re already race-privileged.

            I’m sympathetic to what you’ve said about WOC not being considered “authentic” women, the experience of slavery, etc. (once again, nothing that the radical feminist project would deny), but saying white women aren’t oppressed is just false.

          • LA

            I hear you…however, my point is exactly what you just said: “At some point you are going to have to generalize.” None of us experience womanhood the same….so the goal of the movement shouldn’t be to find women that experience what you do EXACTLY to the tee. The goal is to appreciate different perspectives and shades of womanhood. Why do you think transwomen of color are murdered at such high rates….?…because theyr’e just SO privileged?…of course not. The goal of the feminist movement isn’t to remove women who don’t share our exact experiences of womanhood…because as i just said…a black woman and a white woman could have COMPLETELY different experiences of woman-ness depending upon teh culture they’re living in.

            That’s my point…so rather than excluding, we should be inclusive of different perspectives to dismantle patriarchy. that’s it. All people who identify as women have something to say. There are tons of transfeminists who have brought awesome attention to feminism and patriarchy. Seriously. Why would we spend time analyzing their genitals rather than allowing them in our space to HELP US bring out change.

            Again, we can’t exclude trans people because they don’t experience life as a “woman” because I would argue…what IS life as a woman? You could argue that I don’t count as a woman because I don’t experience my womanhood as a black woman in the same way a white woman does…it’s like…who is the STANDARD that we’re measuring everyone’s womanhood from?

            It’s silly to be like…in order to be a woman…you HAVE to have a vagina…since birth. It’s like this awkward requirement. Again, as BeDeauvoir states, women are women [as a social class] because we have a fractured consciousness…whereas men have the privilege of feeling WHOLE..HUMAN. Women are constantly objectified and split. Male privilege doesn’t just mean “you have a dick…so now you’re privielged.” Male privilege refers to the ways that men can live their lives feeling WHOLE…many transwomen who were former men never felt whole…they couldn’t fully EXPERIENCE male privilege because they were consistently questioning their identities. They were essentially men in drag if you will [i’m saying this understanding that trans is NOT drag]. So to say that a transwoman who was formerly a man…has the same privilege as a white cis heterosexual meathead guy is just silly and not true. When you feel ike you have to perform MAN because you have a dick…you have a fractured consciosuness, and thus, you never fully get to experience male privilege.

          • ozzie

            ”That’s my point…so rather than excluding, we should be inclusive of different perspectives to dismantle patriarchy. that’s it. All people who identify as women have something to say.”
            And often what they have to say is misogynistic, anti-feminist, regressive, and coming from a place of entrenched male privilege. If you think people who benefit from male supremacy are going to be the first in line to try to dismantle the very system hat supports them, you need to think again.
            ”None of us experience womanhood the same”.
            No one said this: we don’t experience it the same, but we experience sex- and gender-based oppression, which males don’t.
            ”It’s silly to be like…in order to be a woman…you HAVE to have a vagina…since birth. It’s like this awkward requirement.’
            This awkward requirement is called science. The literal definition of a woman is a adult human female. There is a set of criteria involved in being female (XX chromosomes, reproductive system, ova production etc) that naturally preclude someone from being male.
            ”what IS life as a woman? ”
            Oh please, don’t pull this bull. Womanhood is the cumulative and formative set of experiences of an adult female.

          • Leo

            ‘Why do you think transwomen of color are murdered at such high rates….?’

            Because they use inaccurate stats:

            Transwomen are not female, therefore they are not women (adult human females). You can talk about a ‘female brain’ all you like, but it’s completely inarguable they have male reproductive biology. A better way of framing it is to say they’re not neurotypical, and thus lack neurotypical privilege – but that applies only to those with actual dysphoria. Our reproductive biology is the basis of our oppression, that applies to all women. I’m not sure why you’re finding that some kind of awkward requirement.

            It’s like how I, as a disabled woman, get the double whammy of ‘women are selfish if they don’t have children!’ and ‘disabled women are selfish if they have children!’. The latter is a specific experience of being disabled, and a woman (people have made some amazingly insensitive comments to me), and not to go into too much detail, but there’s various ways the two oppressions end up intersecting in that scenario. But both are still based in the same thing – the patriarchal view of women’s role as baby makers. So while I might be frustrated when disability issues are ignored within the framework of feminism, especially as they have in fact had far more material affect on my personal circumstances than women’s oppression specifically in and of itself, I can still absolutely relate to the experiences of my able bodied sisters. And it’s not like I expect them to fully understand, anyway (and I’m happy for them that they don’t, don’t exactly want anyone to experience more suffering and oppression), as long as they manage not to be actively unhelpful, then we’re cool.

            Men having to ‘perform man’ is simply the patriarchy backfiring on them. Masculinity is still designed to uphold male dominance, the fact some individual men don’t want to perform masculinity, or find certain aspects of it inconvenient, does not change that.

          • andeväsen

            Thanks for explaining a bit more what you mean. What you seem to be arguing is that there’s no such thing as woman, but there is such a thing as a man. A man is someone who is ‘whole’, a woman is anyone who is ‘fractured’, so anyone not-man is woman. Non-men, or women, or fractured people, have nothing in common with each other at all, except for not being men.

            I hope I’ve come closer to understanding your position?

            If this is the case, what should men (whole) and women (those with vaginas and those who are fractured) do to make our lives better, in your view?

          • gxm17

            It’s interesting how it all comes down to the male default and woman as incomplete Man. This sad, misogyny-enabling conversation has been going on for thousands of years. Again and again, from century to century, generation to generation, decade to decade, women are indoctrinated to view themselves and other women as incomplete, inferior knockoffs of the superior male embodiment of humanity. Whether it’s religion, culture, race, or class, women wrap their identity around the male default (and think they’ve made a “choice”). Sadly, it’s been a damn good strategy in maintaining the abuse and oppression of half of humanity.

            So much of this conversation is echoed in the MRA/rightwing/religious/anti-feminist memes that circulate the interwebs like truth-resistant weeds. It’s both stunning and all too predictable, how much trans activists and supporters rely on misogyny to make their so-called “gender liberation” points.

          • bella_cose

            “It’s silly to be like…in order to be a woman…you HAVE to have a vagina…since birth.”

            Um, no, it’s not silly. That’s the whole reason women are treated like crap from day one. Because they have vaginas.

            “women are women [as a social class] because we have a fractured consciousness…whereas men have the privilege of feeling WHOLE..HUMAN.”

            I don’t think what she meant was that all you need is a “fractured consciousness” to be a woman. That’s ridiculous. Also, I know many men who don’t feel whole. That doesn’t mean their experience has anything to do with the experience of being a woman.

            Just because a person doesn’t believe that they have been privileged, doesn’t mean that they weren’t. Just because a transwoman doesn’t believe they have felt male privilege, doesn’t mean they haven’t, or that they are automatically women because of that.

          • You’re so right! Biology is such silly bullshit! Whoever trusts science anyway?

            SCIENCE! They think just because they have evidence for stuff, that they KNOW anything! LOL

          • Missfit

            Violence towards women and transwomen, as well as homophobic violence towards gay men, are rooted in misogyny and feminism needs to stand against it and fight it. I don’t think nobody argued that transwomen can’t contribute to feminism. The problem I see is that some of the loudest transactivists are actually quite anti-feminists as what they contribute is gender essentialism, denial of female biology and silencing/aggressive threats. There are legitimate reasons and contexts for women-born-women safe spaces that have been clearly outlined and I’d say it is anti-feminist to deny them.

            About your question:’what IS life as a woman?’ Life as a woman is belonging to the sex caste by virtue of having a vagina and being groomed into that subordinate class from the day you’re born.

            I don’t know why you think trans critical or women-born-women spaces are tied to mainstream feminism. Mainstream/liberal feminism and is quite versed in transactivist ideology. There you’ll see everyone rally around the horrors of being misgendered while victims of prostitution are shunned out for giving the industry a bad name…

          • Realist

            @LA, you are rehashing all of your same canards that have already been successfully rebutted at length and with great eloquence by other WOC.

            As for your contention that black female slaves worked in the field while white women were considered dainty things, WHICH white women? Extremely upper class, Southern American, white women? If you completely believe that simplistic image, then okay, but that still leaves 99% of the population of white women in that time frame. What of them? What about my Polish great-grandma who not only labored all day from dawn to dusk in the fields 7 days per week, but she did so while birthing 22 babies (not a typo, 22!) and keeping up the house and cooking for that army of kids. She was worked literally to death in her 40s. So much for universal, classless, white privilege and the automatic lack of “intersectionality.” The truth is, for literally 99.99% of human history, life for humans, particularly females, was nasty, brutish and short. Black women don’t have a lock on that! Life was hard everywhere, except perhaps, in some ways, for the very wealthy.

            Another fact, nearly every group on Earth has been enslaved and has enslaved others, including black Africans. Blacks gladly sold their brothers and sisters for personal financial profit and did so with extreme brutally. In fact, the largest slave population in the late 1800s was not in the Americas, but rather in Africa (Sokoto Caliphate.)

            Africans enslaving Africans has existed for many thousands of years on a large scale. By “large scale” I mean that approximately half of all Africans were enslaved by other Africans in most regions not primarily occupied by hunter gatherers and with large, dense populations.

            What is your stance on Tip Tippu? He is the black African in Zanzibar who owned a series of slave plantations consisting of 10,000 black slaves who were brutally beaten down or killed upon his whim.

            These are just a couple of examples– not at all exhaustive– illustrating the enthusiastic role played by black slave “owners.” These black men did this for their own gain, not as agents of white folks. In fact, many of the slaves– including the oppressed black women– likely never encountered a single white person ever. Their right to even exist was determined by the black African patriarchy.

            Sorry, if reality doesn’t match the neatly packaged fantasies of your black feminist theory classes.

        • ozzie

          ” race will have to be included since women of color are disporportionately harassed and raped”
          We talk about that constantly here.
          ”you’re also going to have to talk about transwomen…since they expereince SUPER high rates of murder”
          You need to check those statistics again. Women have higher murder rates than trans people. The 1 in 12 ”statistic” is unsourced and originated from a transactivist that has been debunked countless times.

          • Trans people are murdered at very high rates, though. It’s hard to get accurate statistics when it comes to marginalized people, but that doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge that the murder rate is high.

          • ozzie

            I didn’t say they’re not in danger of murder/victimisation. I’m merely addressing the often-unchallenged myth that women have ‘cis’ privilege because trans women are murdered at higher rates, which is factually not true. So what privileges does cis-ness offer you if you don’t even have the basic right to life?

          • Donkey Skin

            Trans people in the sex industry are murdered at high rates, just as female prostitutes are. That’s because prostitution is a fucking dangerous situation to be in. Virtually every person on the Transgender Day of Remembrance list last year was a trans prostitute of colour.

            Trans activists then dishonestly conflate the risk of violence specific to prostituted trans people with that of white, middle-aged, heterosexual middle-to-upper-class transitioners, who in reality are at little risk of being murdered.

            The obvious response to the male violence experienced by trans people in the sex industry would be for the trans community to organise around providing better options for marginalised trans youth, but the trans movement is deeply allied to sex-positivism and thus shows no interest whatsoever in tackling the actual factors (and perpetrators) behind this violence.

          • Leo

            The preferential treatment transwomen get, compared to actual females, makes it rather seem that even LibFems know they’re men, really. They only act like that, when what they’re doing is serving male interests (including ones they themselves have internalised). They can totally ignore the PTSD and trauma a prostituted woman is suffering, yet rush to rally round the second someone calls a transwoman ‘he’ (and accuse women of ‘violence’). They’re quick to point out rape culture in other contexts, but there’s deafening silence on the issue of lesbians now being accused of transphobia for not being into penis. I can’t see how it makes sense, other than in the usual context of non-female centered liberal ‘feminism’. Discussing murder rates of transwomen (which are indeed important and worth addressing, though), while ignoring the actual reasons -male violence!- and how the higher risk of violence applies to prostituted women, looks outright hypocritical. I don’t think LibFems are actually that stupid – if they are, we’re all in trouble. They simply don’t want to see.

          • “The obvious response to the male violence experienced by trans people in the sex industry would be for the trans community to organize around providing better options for marginalized trans youth, but the trans movement is deeply allied to sex-positivism and thus shows no interest whatsoever in tackling the actual factors (and perpetrators) behind this violence.”

            I agree with you 100% on this. Every time prostitution comes up, someone says, “But think of the trans* people. A lot of trans* women work in prostitution” and then everyone says, “Ohhhhhhh…” feels bad and somehow loses their critical thinking skills and acquiesces. “We have to give them what they want because… ohhhh… the poor trans* people.” I don’t understand the reasoning and the only way I can describe is that it’s like thirdwavers are high on something.

            Meanwhile the elephant is the room is that it’s awful if trans* women have to suffer prostitution violence just like anyone else. No one should be being raped for money. And if you truly care about trans* women you would not be agreeing for them to be sexually exploited. I understand that some people aren’t great at logic and critical thinking and staying rational in an emotional moment, but when people can’t have a heart either I have a problem. I have pointed out on a number of occasions (because “Think of the trans* women” is always brought up in prostitution debates) that cis heterosexual men are sexually exploiting trans* women in prostitution and that’s not only misogynistic but it’s also transphobic. But it always falls on deaf ears. No one wants to talk about male violence against trans* people because how would they scapegoat the radfems then ?

            You hit the nail on the head with your statement that they have no interest whatsoever in tackling the actual perpetrators behind the violence.

        • Realist

          @LA, In a survey of 6500 transpeople, 11% admit working in the sex trade. THAT is the reason for super high rates of murder, not race, but “profession.” You do realize that white prostitutes, transgender or not, are murdered every day? The murder of prostitutes is not confined to black / brown people. Or do you deny that? It is a very unsafe “profession.”

          Can you please explain to me your personal animosity towards whites in general and white women in particular?

          Love is the answer, not hate, not resentment.

    • lizor

      “woman-only spaces sound a lot like white-only spaces”

      Wow, that’s so ridiculous, it’s embarrassing. Yes – the words “only” and “spaces” are in both phrases, so grammatically, yes, they are a lot alike, but in their actual function in the real world where there are social hierarchies, such a statement is cringeworthy. In fact this entire post is Rush Limbaugh-level cringeworthy.

    • C.K. Egbert

      I’m still not sure about your point. It’s not that radical feminists are ignorant of intersectionality, just that race/gender are not reducible to each other (the same way that racial subordination and women’s subordination is not reducible to class). Radical feminists are often acutely aware of how racial subordination impacts gender, which is why we keep saying that we welcome/support/value black women’s-only spaces and support our sisters in their struggles for justice.

      Do you think that there is in fact no such thing as sexual subordination because there are two completely different and unrelated forms of male supremacy that affect WOC and white women? Given that subordination is real (not a subjective experience but an objective fact), if feminism doesn’t address the sexual subordination of all women, then it isn’t really feminism. Unless perhaps you are just saying that racial subordination is more important than male privilege…? (In which case we aren’t doing violence to transgender women who are white, because they have race privilege.)

      Nobody has denied or condoned the violence experienced by transgender people. It’s that we think the cause of the violence is gender-enforcement, and in fact violence is done to non-gender conforming people by providing an essentialist framework for interpreting their (completely understandable) discomfort with gender norms. All gender enforcement is a form of social, psychological, and often physical violence that affects even heterosexual men (consider how much a boy might be bullied for wearing pink), but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a class of those whom it benefits and who choose to maintain it (men) and the class of those whom it harms and subjugates (women). The violence is not symmetrical.

    • Henke

      “woman-only spaces sound a lot like white-only spaces. ”
      No it does not. If you had written that woman-only spaces sound a lot like coloured people-only spaces it would hade made some sense. If any person of colour want a break from white supremacy in our society, that person has every right to do so. That person has also every right to hang out with other coloured people in spaces in which white people are not invited.
      And for similar reasons females have the same basic right to have the possibility to retract from patriarchal society, to meet in groups as they please, without having to deal with any male, no matter what that male identify as.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Alas, LA has been banned from posting comments on account of being an idiot and a jerk (I deleted her last two horribly abusive comments, fyi). Sadfaces all around. Carry on, lovies.

        • Margaret McCarroll

          don’t you mean carry on, lemmings ,,, : )

          • Meghan Murphy

            Haha. Ridiculous!

          • Has Meghan Murphy ever launched herself from a cliff? I doubt it.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Not as of yet, no…

          • But if you did, you’d probably be smart enough to wear a parachute. Lemmings can’t do that because they have not thumbs.

          • Margaret McCarroll

            no Francois, LA called Meghan the ‘feminist queen’ – we only got to be the ‘lemming followers’

          • Not sure I see the correlation between queens and lemmings. But sure, I’d gladly hail Meghan as my queen. All hail Queen Murphy!

          • Meghan Murphy

            But I don’t want to be a figurehead! Also, Queen-life seems so boring… The working class have better parties imo.

          • Henke

            Not to derail the entire discussion but lemmings was that old video/computer game with the little green haired beings, was it not ?

          • ozzie

            I think ‘lemmings’ as an insult in this context refers to the animals who are said to jump off cliffs in large masses when they observe one of them doing this. Essentially, she’s calling us sycophantic, brainless, followers.

  • therealpinkiepie

    fake psuedo science bs. its a woman talking out of her ass. im interaccial myself and this article bothers me, but interracial is not an accurate comparison for transpeople because not all trans are androgynes. in another way interracial is a good comparison because which bathrooms do interracial people use back in jim crow? they use the black bathrooms unless they identify as white. just as transpeople use the women’s room unless they identify as male.

    • C.K. Egbert

      What part of this article is fake pseudo science bs? As far as I know, there were no scientific claims made, other than the fact (which has been empirically shown) that differences arise out of differential socialization and social conditions (this doesn’t apply just to gender, this applies to race as well).

      The analogy isn’t perfect because gender is unique. I’m not sure why the analogy would presume that trans people are androgynous; the only presupposition here is that gender is socially and politically structured, which trans gender people seem to have to admit given the reality that people are socially punished for not gender-conforming (if gender was just a personal choice, then there could be no such thing as gender conforming or not).

      Also, I thought the whole point was that trans women want to use bathrooms because they identify as women? Based upon your analogy, we shouldn’t have different bathrooms for men and women at all. Maybe that was your point?

      During “Jim Crow” black people weren’t kept out of bathrooms because they “identified” as black. It was because they were seen as black. A person who was considered–socially, not by their personal choice–to be black would be forced to use the different restroom (I doubt a black person could have said, “Well my personal identity is white” in order to gain access to “whites only” bathrooms). And that’s my point: our identities are not based upon our personal feelings. They are socially constructed whether we like it or not.

      • howe

        therealpinkiepie, how ABSURD it is to say “which bathrooms do interracial people use back in jim crow? they use the black bathrooms unless they identify as white.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Wow. this is blowing my mind. You really believe that white people cared how people of color “identified” during Jim Crow? Do you think they would stop lynching someone if that person was like, “Wait, no, I identify as White!” UMM HELL NO.

        Also, you missed the fundamental fact that race is an inherently racist set of categorizations. That means that anyone who was in any way even tinged with “color” was considered “other.” it isn’t like there’s some mathematical way of calculating race, and if you were “majority” white or “half” white, you were in, because MATH. No. The one drop rule existed because whiteness is inherently a racist construction.

        Gender is also an inherently and fundamentally misogynistic set of categorizations (and institutions). It must be abolished precisely because of this.

  • danah gaz

    There was a comment left over at Bitch magazine which comes to mind, which I feel applies here
    _______ snip ______

    Trans people are, as a rule, not trying to make political statements but simply trying to live their own lives. If you argue that the personal is inevitably political, I must contend that it is a highly unpleasant species of politics that requires trans people to carry the burden of your ideal society by eschewing their own existence. There are better ways to challenge oppression than by building your movement on other people’s backs.
    Furthermore, I think you’d be hard pushed to sustain the notion that there’s a single trans perspective on gender.

    _______ snip _______

    Feminism has never been about putting theories before people. Judith Butler understands that. Many feminists understand that.

    Janice Raymond didn’t. When the existence of trans people seemed to undermine her theories about gender, her solution was quite literally, to get rid of trans people. She wrote in her 1979 book, that “I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.” If that isn’t eliminationism I don’t know what is. Furthermore, she campaigned successfully to eliminate access to trans-specific care in the US, and it was, for 33 years, throwing a generation of trans people – primarily trans women – into poverty, desperation and sex-work.

    Anyone that supports the dogma in the article above needs to ask themselves – “Is this legacy that I want to leave? Are my academic theories more important than the people that they hurt? Given that they hurt people, are my theories about gender a net harm, or are they really toward a better world for people people marginalized and subjugated by patriarchy.

    • ozzie

      So much stupidity and misinformation in one post, I don’t know where to start.
      ”Trans people are, as a rule, not trying to make political statements but simply trying to live their own lives. ”
      Is this true, though? If you do some reading, the trans ‘activist’ agenda so far has included: violating and eliminating all female-only spaces and complete erasure of femaleness as a relevant political category; essentially encouraging a form of corrective rape of lesbians who dare say that they are only attracted to female-bodied people; moving abusers, woman-murderers and pedophiles to women’s prisons where they will have unrestricted access to the most vulnerable and marginalized women; countless threats to kill, torture and mutilate feminists; attempts to bar feminists from talking about their bodies and biological realities; campaigns to call women ‘uterus-bearers’ or ‘vagina-owners’, etc.
      ”There are better ways to challenge oppression than by building your movement on other people’s backs.”
      Feminism precedes the origin of trans orthodoxy–it couldn’t possibly have been build on their backs.
      ”If you argue that the personal is inevitably political…”
      I always hear funfems using the ‘personal is political’ slogan which was coined by a second-wave radical feminist without ever
      actually knowing what it means.
      ”Judith Butler understands that.”
      Judith Butler is a male-supremacy upholding handmaiden who’s said some insanely delusional things on the subject: ”One problem with that view of social construction is that it suggests that what trans people feel about what their gender is, and should be, is itself “constructed” and, therefore, not real.” There is no palpable, material basis for a feeling–it is literally a feeling. Feelings divorced from physical reality, or completely in opposition to it, are by definition delusions. The ”innate gender feeling” dogma is completely speculative, self-serving, and not backed up by a single piece of scientific evidence.
      ”Janice Raymond didn’t. When the existence of trans people seemed to undermine her theories about gender…”
      Quite the contrary: the current trans climate only further affirms Raymond’s theories about oppression: studies show that trans women retain male-pattern criminality and crime rates on par with those of cis men. This supports the idea that gender presentation and supposedly ”innate” gender feelings do not mitigate male socialization.
      ”her solution was quite literally, to get rid of trans people. She wrote in her 1979 book, that “I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.” If that isn’t eliminationism I don’t know what is.”
      You need to read the entire book, not just an out-of-context quotation fed to you by transcultists. If you read the book, you would know that ”morally mandating of existance” isn’t referring to killing, it is referring to eliminating the extremist medical practice of mutilating healthy organs and altering physical reality to align with a belief.
      ”Furthermore, she campaigned successfully to eliminate access to trans-specific care in the US…”
      No. She wrote a report for John Hopkins, who dismantled the program themselves (look into it). The question many medical professionals are asking to this day is whether SRS improves quality of life and alleviates dysphoria and suicidal ideation–some see no proof that it does (look into it).

      • danah gaz

        Wow. I don’t plan on wasting my time responding to this level of vitriol and paranoia today.

        Clearly you’ve been hurt by someone. I’m willing to bet it wasn’t trans people.

        I think your comment stands on it’s own, as a perfect illustration of what I was talking about when I was questioning the legacy your politics will leave. As such it doesn’t need to be addressed, but rather stands on it’s own. Thank you for that.

        • First of all, you’re tone policing. Stop that.

          Secondly, where’s the vitriol? Ozzie’s comment was a rational response to the comment you quoted, which was pure hysteria and, as you say, “paranoia.” Look in the mirror.

          • danah gaz

            I am not tone policing, I’m refusing to engage, because that comment was toxic. That’s my choice.

            My comment wasn’t hysterical, nor was it paranoid.

            Janice Raymond’s quest to eliminate bodily autonomy for trans people is one she wouldn’t deny. The human cost of it is not reasonably debatable, either.

            And making claims like “studies show that trans women retain male-pattern criminality and crime rates on par with those of cis men.” doesn’t really make me feel like I should respond when someone is willing to lie so freely.

            The Karolinska study she is referring to states quite the opposite – it says that yes, while the rates of crime among trans women are higher than that of trans men (and retain their rate of crime before and after SRS in all patients treated after 1989), they are lower than that of men, while trans and cis men both share the highest rates of crime. That study was also limited to Sweden, and suffered from an extremely small sample size. As of yet, there has yet to be a study that corroborates it’s results with respect to criminality.

            From that study – I encourage you to read the following carefully, and in it’s entirety:

            “Second, regarding any crime, male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls (aHR 6.6; 95% CI 4.1–10.8) but not compared to males (aHR 0.8; 95% CI 0.5–1.2). This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime. By contrast, female-to-males had higher crime rates than female controls (aHR 4.1; 95% CI 2.5–6.9) but did not differ from male controls. This indicates a shift to a male pattern regarding criminality and that sex reassignment is coupled to increased crime rate in female-to-males. The same was true regarding violent crime.”

            The idea that trans women commit crimes at the same rate as cis and trans men was *never* supported by that study.

            What’s odd is the insistence in continuing to admit trans men in “women only” spaces, since according to that same study, they offend at the same rates as cis men.

            When people shamelessly quote disinformation from hate sites, like gendertrender, I will choose not to respond. And I won’t apologize for that choice.

          • “I am not tone policing, I’m refusing to engage, because that comment was toxic. That’s my choice.”
            None of this is true. You were tone policing (telling the other person that their post was “vitriol” and “paranoia” despite none of that being in evidence). You did engage it by stating it was “vitriol” and “paranoia” and by insulting the other person by stating that their positions came out of abuse instead of rational discourse. You are cranking out the projections like a Christian fundamentalist arguing about ethics.

            “My comment wasn’t hysterical, nor was it paranoid.”
            Talking about radfems supporting “eliminationism” and poverty IS hysterial and paranoid.

            “Janice Raymond’s quest to eliminate bodily autonomy for trans people”
            I can’t take you seriously if you’re going to make such absurd projections. Radfems are not out there denying five year old children their bodily autonomy. Get a life.

            “The idea that trans women commit crimes at the same rate as cis and trans men was *never* supported by that study.”
            You’re not getting the point of gender. Crime is sharply divided by gender: men are indoctrinated to consider empathy and compassion to be women’s traits, and to be competitive and rely on strength- both mental and physical. Of course a person trying to become a woman would strive to become less violent, because that’s what we tell them women are. Transmen are going to become more violent, and transwomen are going to become less violent. That doesn’t prove anything!

            “What’s odd is the insistence in continuing to admit trans men in “women only” spaces, since according to that same study, they offend at the same rates as cis men.”
            Do you seriously understand radfem so little that you don’t understand that the problem with having male-SOCIALIZED people in WOMEN SPACES is that they were SOCIALIZED AS MEN?

            “When people shamelessly quote disinformation from hate sites, like gendertrender, I will choose not to respond. And I won’t apologize for that choice.”
            You people can’t stop the choice-talk. It’s amazing. You failed to respond adequately because of your ideological blinders, not because of any magical “choice.”

          • danah gaz

            > None of this is true. You were tone policing (telling the other person that their post was “vitriol” and “paranoia

            Clearly, you and I are operating with a different definition of what tone policing actually is.

            > “My comment wasn’t hysterical, nor was it paranoid.”
            Talking about radfems supporting “eliminationism” and poverty IS hysterial and paranoid.

            Not when some of them such as Jeffreys, Raymond, and Von Dohre are doing exactly that.

            > You’re not getting the point of gender.

            You’ve avoided the point of my statement, which was that the OP, ozzie stated that trans women and cis men commit crimes at the same rate. That’s not true. She says studies support that. That’s also not true. That’s the point of my statement. If you’d like to segue into a separate discussion about the correlation between crime and gender overall, that’s one I’d be willing to have, and for the record, I agree with a lot of what you have said in that regard.

            > Do you seriously understand radfem so little that you don’t understand that the problem with having male-SOCIALIZED people in WOMEN SPACES is that they were SOCIALIZED AS MEN?

            Your tacit suggestion that socialization leads to crime doesn’t hold up according to the Karolinska study, which suggests that trans men commit crimes at the same rate as cis men.

            It also doesn’t address my point – which is that – if crime is actually your concern, why would admit trans men into “womyn-born-womyn” spaces?

            > You people

            I love it when people use phrases like “you people”. It always makes me smile.

          • ozzie

            Oh my god ”This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime.”
            That is literally almost word for word what I said. I didn’t even mention transmen. And I didn’t get it from gendertrender, it is a publically available study that can be found here:
            Dhjene et al say: ”Female-to-males, but not male-to-females, had a higher risk for criminal convictions than their respective birth sex controls.” Meaning birth sex patterns of criminality are preserved in MTF’s but not FTMs (who’s crime rates are elevated with respect to women’s).
            They also add: ”Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.” They already addressed the limitation of the small sample size, so don’t parrot their own words and try to pull a ‘gotcha’. They said:”The methodological shortcomings have many reasons. First, the nature of sex reassignment precludes double blind randomized controlled studies of the result. Second, transsexualism is rare [20] and many follow-ups are hampered by small numbers of subjects.”
            They also said: ”Transsexual individuals were at increased risk of being convicted for any crime or violent crime after sex reassignment (Table 2); this was, however, only significant in the group who underwent sex reassignment before 1989.” Read the paper and look at the table.

          • danah gaz

            From that study – I encourage you to read the following carefully, and in it’s entirety:

            “Second, regarding any crime, male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls (aHR 6.6; 95% CI 4.1–10.8) but not compared to males (aHR 0.8; 95% CI 0.5–1.2). This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime. By contrast, female-to-males had higher crime rates than female controls (aHR 4.1; 95% CI 2.5–6.9) but did not differ from male controls. This indicates a shift to a male pattern regarding criminality and that sex reassignment is coupled to increased crime rate in female-to-males. The same was true regarding violent crime.”

          • ozzie

            one more thing: danah gaz said: ”The Karolinska study she is referring to states quite the opposite – it says that yes, while the rates of crime among trans women are higher than that of trans men (and retain their rate of crime before and after SRS in all patients treated after 1989), they are lower than that of men, while trans and cis men both share the highest rates of crime.” Your lack of reading comprehension is unbelievable. Read your statement again. The study actually says (for those transitioned prior to 1989) ”Transsexual individuals were at INCREASED risk of being convicted for any crime or violent crime after sex reassignment (Table 2)”. Let’s recap: for those with reassignment prior to 1989 there was an ELEVATED! risk of crime and violent crime conviction. Otherwise, Dhejne et al said: “…This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime”. Again, pretty much word for word what I said in my original comment, so you saying “quite the opposite actually” shows your idea of what “opposite” means is even weaker than you grasp on scientific literature.

          • Henke

            Ah yes, the Swedish study.

            Probably the most in-depth study on this subject ever.
            Look at how long it Went on. From 1973-2003.
            Their conclusions is not written down over a weekend that’s for sure.

          • ozzie

            It’s probably one of the more comprehensive studies on the matter out there right now, but according to danah gaz I’m ”shamelessly quoting disinformation from a hate site”. When statistics don’t corroborate personal unfounded beliefs, they need to be ignored, apparently.

          • danah gaz

            Read Carefully.

            “By contrast, female-to-males had higher crime rates than female controls (aHR 4.1; 95% CI 2.5–6.9) but did not differ from male controls. This indicates a shift to a male pattern regarding criminality and that sex reassignment is coupled to increased crime rate in female-to-males. The same was true regarding violent crime.”

          • Ok. I’ve read it very carefully as you suggested.

            It says:

            “they [MtF] retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime.”


            “By contrast, female-to-males had higher crime rates than female controls […] but did not differ from male controls”.
            “This indicates a shift to a male pattern regarding criminality and that sex reassignment is coupled to increased crime rate in female-to-males. The same was true regarding violent crime.”

            And here it is again (as you don’t seem to have accurately read your own posted evidence):

            “This indicates a shift to a male pattern regarding criminality and that sex reassignment is coupled to increased crime rate in female-to-males.”

            Your evidence concludes that both MtF and FtM transpersons behaviours correlate with biological males’ rates of crime and violent crime.

            Just to be ABSOLUTELY sure I will re-quote:

            “male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls”

            So how do you get “The idea that trans women commit crimes at the same rate as cis and trans men was *never* supported by that study.??? You are directly contradicting what you quoted in your own post.

            Are you OK, danah gaz? Seriously. Your posts are really incoherent and nonsensical.

          • danah gaz

            Read carefully. Read it twice.

            “Second, regarding any crime, male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls (aHR 6.6; 95% CI 4.1–10.8) but not compared to males (aHR 0.8; 95% CI 0.5–1.2).”

            A few things – MtF transsexuals have a higher rate of criminality than cis females – but a lower rate than cis males. FtM transsexuals have a criminality rate on par with cis men – according to that study.

            Now the question becomes obvious: Why do you invite FtM people to share a space with women since they don’t identify as women, and are – according to this study – as likely to commit crimes as cis men?

            And the other question is, if that violence is strictly a result of socialization – something I’ve never seen backed up by any sort of peer-review – then how do explain this level of violence in FtM transsexuals?

            See if you can answer those questions without committing an ad-hominem fallacy.

          • ozzie

            Thank you.

        • sherri

          answer the three other replies to your comment, then, rather than using low-hanging fruit to escape responding to tough questions.

          • danah gaz

            I have, but thanks for your suggestion!

        • ozzie

          You accuse us of being bigots trying to systematically exterminate a segment of the population when we’ve never ever even thought of doing this (quite the opposite, actually) and I’m the ‘vitriolic paranoid’ one?

          • danah gaz

            I haven’t called you a bigot. I’m loath to use that word.

            I’m not sure if you’re responding to me, or responding to the person you’ve *imagined* me to be.

          • ozzie

            ”I’m not sure if you’re responding to me, or responding to the person you’ve *imagined* me to be. ”
            I’m responding to the brilliant individual whose entire argument is centred around a half-baked comment left at Bitch Magazine.

        • ozzie

          ”Clearly you’ve been hurt by someone.”
          Yeah, go with the damaged woman trope instead of using facts and reasoning to prove me wrong. It’s not misogynistic at all.

          • danah gaz

            Well you lied about the Karolinksa study, but I’ve already outlined that in separate response.

            I skimmed most of the rest of what you wrote, since it seems more or less like wrote propaganda from anti-trans hate sites.

          • ozzie

            Oh my god. PLOS ONE or any other search engine for research papers are not propaganda hate sites. The ”retained patterns of criminality” was almost word-for-word taken from the Dhenje et al study. It seems like ”propaganda anti-trans hate site” here is code for ‘any statistic that happens to contradict your ridiculous beliefs’.

        • andeväsen

          “Clearly you’ve been hurt by someone. I’m willing to bet it wasn’t trans people.”

          Clearly a cop out form someone who is unable to contribute civilly to a discussion.

          • danah gaz

            I’m sorry you think so.

    • howe

      danah, people don’t have to “try” to make political statements, but they still do things that have political effects. Trans ideology is hurting women and that is why feminists care– because we care about women. Why don’t trans activists and the left care when trans ideology hurts women? Why?

      You are completely misrepresenting Janice Raymond there, and it’s obvious that you’re doing so willingly. If what Raymond said is no more “exterminationist” or trying to “get rid of” trans people then being opposed to capitalism is trying to “get rid of” workers and being anti-war is trying to “get rid of” soldiers. In other words, you are being absurd.

      Here’s how these categories work: “workers” is a category which is fundamentally defined by being subject to exploitation; “women” is a category fundmentally defined by being subject to exloitation. If we end the systems of exploitation called capitalism and patriarchy, we “eliminate” workers and we “eliminate” women and men (i.e. gender). This in no way means killing, “disappearing,” or otherwise harming the individuals who make up those classes. The entire point is that it liberates them. DUH.

      Radical feminists know the legacy we want to leave behind, and so do trans activists and their allies. It is very clear. We want a revolution that ends capitalist patriarchy, you guys want to restructure things so that more people “have access” to the spoils of patriarchal, capitalist violence. Big difference. Real big difference.

      • danah gaz

        > Trans ideology is hurting women and that is why feminists care

        Many feminists disagree with your analysis.

        > Why don’t trans activists and the left care when trans ideology hurts women?

        See above.

        > You are completely misrepresenting Janice Raymond there, and it’s obvious that you’re doing so willingly.

        No, I’m actually not, and I left the worst of her quotes out. As far as what I did quote, she has stood by it, and subsequently said that it was what drove her to campaign to eliminate access to medically necessary trans related care.

        What’s absurd is comparing trans people to soldiers.

        If you want to eliminate the category “women” – then get on with it already. Focusing on trans people isn’t going to do that. If you’re actually interested in dismantling patriarchy, then I stand by you in that, but certainly I don’t agree with Raymond’s analysis that trans women are tools of the patriarchy that were created for the purpose of exploiting women, as a class.

        As Andrea Dworkin wrote, I believe that trans people deserve to live on their own terms. She believed that eliminating gender would eliminate the need to transition. She didn’t believe that attacking trans women, their access to health care, or laws which serve to protect them would make that happen any faster.

        > . We want a revolution that ends capitalist patriarchy, you guys want to restructure things so that more people “have access” to the spoils of patriarchal, capitalist violence.

        That’s quite an elaborate straw man you’ve built. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

        • howe

          Some feminists disagreeing with my position isn’t an argument against my position.

          Janice Raymond believes that transgender “treatment” is abuse. You believe it is “medically necessary trans-related care.” That is a real disagreement, but when you phrase it the way you did you are disguising that and just making it seem like blind “hate.” Janice Raymond and all radical feminists actually care about trans people, we simply disagree on what “care” looks like. We don’t believe that surgically altering healthy bodies is medical treatment. It is malpractice in my opinion. We don’t believe that telling people who don’t accept or like their bodies that they are actually correct in thinking that their bodies are fundamentally wrong is what “care” looks like. We don’t believe that people are born with “wrong” bodies, EVER. When there is a conflict between culture/society and the bodies of women, we believe that the goal should be to change that culture, not to surgically or chemically alter women’s bodies to better fit in. Capitalist patriarchy has a lot of problems with women’s bodies, and sometimes women internalize those problems, but as a matter of politics we don’t side with the capitalist patriarchy, we side with women as a material reality. We don’t support FGM because we believe that women’s bodies aren’t the problem, capitalist patriarchy is. We don’t support anorexia as a lifestyle choice because we believe that women’s “fat” bodies aren’t the problem, capitalist patriarchy is. We don’t support breast implants because we believe that women’s “small” and “saggy” breasts aren’t the problem, capitalist patriarchy is.

          I compared trans people to women-born-women as well as to soldiers, and the comparison was merely to illuminate how it is that we can desire to eliminate a social category without in any way harming the individual people who are currently considered to be a part of that category. That’s all I was doing. Do you see that “woman” isn’t an identity or a feeling, but only the reality of a system that doles out exploitation based on sex? Do you understand how we can fight to end a system and its categories without that entailing any harm to the people once categorized by it?

          “Get on with it already”— what does that even mean?

          We are focusing on trans ideology because the trans activist community has decided to focus on us. They demand access to our spaces, our movements, our bodies (cotton ceiling), our political signifiers (“woman”), and when we speak up about how it harms us, they shout us down and threaten us. Then they go out of their way to stop us from speaking publicly and to stop us from organizing privately for our liberation, which they claim to believe in. We weren’t looking for a fight, we were just an easy target because we are women.

          I <3 Andrea, but your appeal to authority is not a legit form of argumentation.

          You think that radical feminists try to “attack” laws that protect trans people, but we think that trans activists try to pass laws that take away our legal protections as women. In reality, the only laws radical feminists have opposed are those that specifically enshrine in law concepts that will take away our protections; we don’t oppose laws about trans people unless they would entail the loss of our protections. We are in favor of trans people having protections, but we don’t believe that a solution which says that we should give ours up to make that happen is any kind of solution. The bathroom fight, like the cotton ceiling incident, is symbolic because it shows that the trans activists will not be satisfied with a solution that avoids violating the boundaries of women. When women try to set boundaries of any kind related to gender, they are called slurs (terf, bitch, whatever) and threatened.

          you may think that my comment was building a straw man, but if you need to understand one thing, it is that radical feminists see gender as nothing more or less than a system to direct resources from one group (women) to another (men). The gender system exists to systematically extract resources from women and put them into the hands of men. These are the spoils of war. The concepts of gender are inherently skewed toward misogyny because they were created to make that systematic extraction run smoothly. There is no rehabilitating gender, no “liberating” “man” and “woman” as gendered “identities” because they exist only to promote patriarchy. “Opening them up” to more people, making them “accessible” to more people, “playing” with them, or enshrining in law people’s right to “identify” with them is not going to solve anything. And who suffers if nothing is solved and gender is not abolished? Women-born-women.

        • Margaret McCarroll

          @danah -‘ If you want to eliminate the category “women” – then get on with it already’ – we’re trying to, danah, but it takes almost all our time and energy trying to proect women and children from being assaulted in the shelters and the prisons and threatened in washrooms and locker rooms,not to mention on the street, on university campuses etc etc etc,,, – our work is really cut out for us , but i’m sure you already know this danah

    • C.K. Egbert

      I’m still unclear what “dogma” is being asserted here, other than (a) gender is a social construction, and (b) men are sexually-socially dominate. I don’t see how feminism is “building a movement on their backs.” We critique EVERYONE’S “performance of gender,” including our own.

      Transgender activists have been actively engaged in eliminating women’s safe spaces, so to say we’re “building a movement on their backs” when we are sometimes merely being asked to have a meeting without being harassed is a little uncharitable.

      Saying that critiquing gender somehow does violence to transgender people–or condones this violence–is like saying that feminists want to eliminate women because they critique the social construction of the “feminine”, want to stop differential socialization of males and females, and eliminate the oppressive social-political conditions that subordinate women. That would be wrong, just as it would be wrong to accuse radical race theorists of wanting to engage in genocide because they want to “deconstruct” or eliminate “whiteness”–that is, racial domination.

      • danah gaz

        The dogma implicit in the article is that somehow trans people represent some roadblock in dismantling patriarchy, that gender is a monolithic concept, and that people’s identities should only be respected when they don’t interfere with your politics.

        • “trans people represent some roadblock in dismantling patriarchy”
          Yes, they are! All genderists are a roadblock in dismantling gender. That’s simple logic.

          “that gender is a monolithic concept”
          No! Gender is a social construct and therefore changes with society.

          “and that people’s identities should only be respected when they don’t interfere with your politics.”
          No! Self-identification is always bullshit.

          • danah gaz

            So agender trans people are genderists? genderfluid trans people are genderists?

            I think anyone that subscribes to fixed notions about gender are your problem. That’s not specific to trans people. In fact, there are quite a lot of cis people that subscribe to gender, even among radical feminists.

            > No! Gender is a social construct and therefore changes with society.

            That wasn’t a response to what I said.

            Gender expression is indeed social, and it also has nothing to do with why trans people are trans.

            Gender roles are indeed social, and have nothing to do with why trans people are trans.

            The psychiatric field coined the concept of gender identity some time ago, and whether or not it’s social, physiological or, some combination of the two is up for debate.

            Certainly studies published in JCEM and Nature, as well as other scientific journals suggest that it’s at least somewhat physiological.

            Of course that conflicts with radical feminist theory, but social theory is not the same as peer-reviewed evidence. I’m not inclined to dismiss peer-review so easily.

            > Self-identification is always bullshit

            Really. So your identification as a feminist is bullshit?

            Someone who is black and identifies as such is bullshit? Are we go by skin tone, and phrenology then?

          • What did you think the GENDER in TRANSGENDER stood for?

            Are you seriously this stupid?

            “Really. So your identification as a feminist is bullshit?”
            I’ve never identified as a feminist.

            “Someone who is black and identifies as such is bullshit? Are we go by skin tone, and phrenology then?”
            Do you not realize the basic logic error in your question?
            “Someone who IS black” implies more than self-identification. It implies you believe race exists as a social reality. Which is correct! But you didn’t even see it!

            You blithering idiot!

          • danah gaz

            Transgender is rather colloquial term, and simply means anyone whose intrinsic identity doesn’t match their birth sex.

            Personally, I don’t like the term, because it’s sloppy, and in a lot of cases, dead wrong. The word itself implies that someone can change their gender identity. And just because something encompases the word gender doesn’t mean it’s antithetical to radfem philosophy. I hardly see how agender or genderfluid people are directly at odds with gender abolition. YMMV

            > I’ve never identified as a feminist.

            Fair enough.

            As far as race, you tried to take what I wrote and use it to divine what I thought about race and came up short.

            Yes, race is a social construct, which was my entire point. It can only hinge on two things. How others identify you and how you self-identify.

          • huha


            If I could identify out of my female anatomy and of the oppression that accompanies it, I’d do it in less than a second.

            Was it Marx who said that liberals don’t live in reality but some ideological bubble of theirs?

          • danah gaz

            That’s cute that you think I’m a liberal. I’ve been an anarchist for 23 years.

            I’m sure most of us would opt out. I’d opt out of being shat on for being “gender non-conforming”, black people would probably opt-out of being brutally oppressed.

            That’s not the world we live in, unfortunately, and that’s not what social-construct means. It doesn’t imply it’s fake.

            As far as what Marx said, I wonder how much you’ve actually read him.

          • Missfit

            Why do you say that gender has nothing to do with why a people is trans? The whole concept of trans is based on gender. What do you think gender identity means if it is not tied to gender role and gender expression’?

            Radical feminists subscribe to gender? As in the patriarchal concept of what constitutes masculinity and femininity? That’s new.

            You know what is physiological? If you have a penis, you’re a male/man. Woman is not a self-defined fluid identity nor a feeling.

          • howe

            our problem isn’t with trans people or the feelings they have. If you want to “feel genderfluid,” wear dresses, or “feel like” a woman/dolphin/otherkin/mermaid/harry potter character/etc privately, go ahead. Our problem is political, not personal. Our problem is with trans activists, not trans people or their feelings. The activism we have problems with looks like: passing laws removing sex-based protections for women, demands to access women-only spaces, no-platforming, leading/feeding a culture on the “left” that normalizes silencing women and anti-feminism, and attempting to re-define womanhood such that women can never effectively organize politically ever again.

            If the trans community developed another brand of activism that was not actively anti-feminist and misogynistic, feminists would undoubtedly play nice with it. If trans people wanted to pass a law that “third” (or more!) bathrooms be installed in all public places to accomodate trans people, feminists would not interfere. If trans people wanted to fund and build rape shelters for trans people, feminists would not interfere. But that isn’t enough, is it? They have to cross our boundaries and take our bathrooms, our rape shelters, and try to step in and take leadership of our liberation movement.

          • ozzie

            ”Certainly studies published in JCEM and Nature, as well as other scientific journals suggest that it’s at least somewhat physiological.”

            These studies look at dysphoria, which is obviously as real as any other psychiatric disorder. None of them will claim that a dysphoric male is female, which is what trans activists are doing.

        • ozzie

          ”…people’s identities should only be respected when they don’t interfere with your politics.”

          Identities are completely irrelevant and immaterial to any political analysis. ‘Identifying’ as something is useless if that thing has a certain set of criteria you lack. An analysis of poverty and capitalism doesn’t care for how wealthy the homeless ‘feel’ and how many oligarchs are identifying as starving proles.

    • andeväsen

      Claiming to ‘never use a theory at the expense of people’ is an unsustainable position to take while supporting those who wish to vilify ‘TERFs’.

      These people would use trans theory to deny the reality of women’s subordinate position on the hierarchy. They would use trans theory to erase reproductive rights from the area of women’s rights. They would use trans theory to force bepenised bodies into the lesbian identity.

      You might want to rethink your position, as it doesn’t take you very far before it falls apart.

      • danah gaz

        What is trans theory exactly? I must have been absent when they were handing out that particular pamphlet. Is it anything like “the gay agenda?”

        > Claiming to ‘never use a theory at the expense of people’ is an unsustainable position to take while supporting those who wish to vilify ‘TERFs’.

        I don’t agree. For starters nobody needs to vilify TERFs – TERFs do a fine job of that on their own, which is why I’d rather see TERFs get a giant platform, particularly those like Sheila Jeffreys, who have actively fought to deny bodily autonomy to trans people.

        > These people would use trans theory to deny the reality of women’s subordinate position on the hierarchy.

        I haven’t heard any trans people, short of a couple of right wingers actually make an argument that “woman” isn’t a subordinate position in the patriarchy, or the kyriarchy.

        As far as I can tell, you’re arguing against ghosts.

        • “who have actively fought to deny bodily autonomy to trans people.”

          OMG, I laughed so hard when I saw that! You should be a comedian! A trans advocate telling us that WE’RE the ones denying bodily autonomy? Wow.

          • danah gaz

            Yes, it’s demonstrable.

            Janice Raymond actively campaigned to eliminate trans related medical procedures in the US.

            Sheila Jeffreys had presented her belief to the UN that SRS should be declared a human rights violation.

            This is actively denying trans people bodily autonomy.

            You can laugh all you like, it doesn’t make my statement any less true.

          • No… denying bodily autonomy is monsters like YOU who push unproven medical treatments on little children in order to deny THEIR bodily autonomy later in life! Are you really so dumb to think that we don’t know that?

          • danah gaz

            Oh I am a monster now?

            No, suggesting that parents seek out appropriate profession medical care for children presenting with symptoms of GD is not “pushing unproven medical treatments” on anyone.

            Clearly you know little about the process of diagnosing and treating children with GD.

            And hormone blockers – which are proven, BTW and have been used quite effectively for other medical conditions such as precocious puberty – for a child that is presenting with acute gender dysphoria is not denying a child their bodily autonomy. In fact, given that the child, is actually a key part of the process and can opt out at any time, it’s pretty much the opposite of what you are suggesting.

            Besides, I didn’t come up with that treatment. I lack the credentials. I’m also not “pushing it” on anyone.

            Keep railing against that straw-man though. You’re doing a fine job of beating it so far.

          • Trans activists who disrespect born women’s space (and who put born women in harm’s way through their actions) are actively denying born women’s humanity.

        • andeväsen

          I work in the medical field. We’re intimately acquainted with trans theory in psychiatry. Clearly you “must have been absent”, but that’s not my fault.

          TERFs are targets to kill/maim by trans activists. Your ‘disagreement’ doesn’t wish them away.

          “I haven’t heard any trans people, short of a couple of right wingers actually make an argument that “woman” isn’t a subordinate position in the patriarchy, or the kyriarchy.”

          You need to open your eyes to your comrades, comrade.

          • danah gaz

            Which theory is this? Maybe you care to explain it. Certainly with your apparent qualifications, it shouldn’t be any trouble.

            TERFs are targets to kill/maim by trans activists.

            That’s pretty surprising. I’m not aware of any TERFs being killed or maimed by trans activists. I know a few people sometimes say stupid things on the Internet, but I’ve seen wishes for death from Bev Jo Von Dohre, GallusMag and others, so it’s hardly exclusive to trans activists. People on the Internet say stupid things. One thing I haven’t seen trans activists do, is successfully deny any TERF their bodily autonomy, but I’ve seen the reverse.

            > You need to open your eyes to your comrades, comrade.

            Maybe you could help me out and name a few. It could just be that my activism centers around feminism, homelessness and immigration issues, rather than trans issues, so maybe I’m just not as familiar with these trans activists as you are. Shoot me some names, and I’ll confront them myself. Because they’re wrong.

          • andeväsen

            “It could just be that my activism centers around feminism, homelessness and immigration issues”

            Good on you.

            Trans activists have lurked outside the meeting spots of my little women’s only feminist group and threatened us with violence which we reported to police. We had to change venues several times in response. You’re right though. No one I know of has been killed or maimed yet either, so that must make it ok in your book.

          • C.K. Egbert

            I’m really not sure I understand you. You quoted Andrea Dworkin–favorably–and yet this is precisely the sort of gender analysis that she would present (what I presented in my article).

            If we didn’t have gender, people wouldn’t need to transition…and people wouldn’t experience “gender dysmorphia”…that seems to be pretty much what we’re all saying. If gender roles/expression are social, then what is gender identity…? (If it’s social it couldn’t be physiological, so it would have to be something like body dysmorphia regarding one’s genitals..and that’s not gender identity).

            As for denying bodily integrity, there is a genuine and sincere concern that these medical treatments are dangerous and harm those who undergo them, that they may be forced upon children (who do not have medical autonomy), and undergoing surgery for what is essentially a psychological condition is something that we should always be EXTREMELY cautious about. So this isn’t really an argument against bodily integrity; it’s an argument about what is genuinely (a) the cause of said dysmorphia, and (b) how best to treat it in a way that does not cause (physical or psychological) harm to the person.

            I think that it should be a concern for everyone that such medical treatments and medicalization of discomfort with gender/one’s body could be highly ideological, oppressive, and misused. This critique isn’t limited to trans gender; it involves things such as breast implants, pornographied genitalia, etc.

            I’d recommend looking at “gender terror” or “Trans Critical is Transphobia” on Facebook, or Janet Mock if you want an idea about some of the activism we’re concerned about.

        • Missfit

          Things that emerge from trans ideology : gender essentialism, penis is female, women-born-women only spaces should not exist. Rape/death threats are deserved for those who disagree with these concepts.

          Any so-called TERF deny bodily autonomy and access to health care to transpeople? I must have been absent when they distributed the TERF pamphlet… If by denying bodily autonomy you mean questioning the use of puberty blockers in minors, I think that is a legitimate question.

        • ozzie

          ”I haven’t heard any trans people, short of a couple of right wingers actually make an argument that “woman” isn’t a subordinate position in the patriarchy, or the kyriarchy.”

          You’re a joke. The main talking point in trans orthodoxy is that women have ‘cis privilege’ over them, meaning that biological females oppress biological males.

  • Rae Raucci

    >Transgender activists have been actively engaged in eliminating women’s safe spaces, so to say we’re “building a >movement on their backs” when we are sometimes merely being asked to have a meeting without being harassed >is a little uncharitable.

    This is the heart of the matter – Transgender women aren’t even the least bit interested in eliminating women’s safe spaces. We insist that as a form of woman as valid as any other form of women that we have access to women’s spaces because we are women. When I had to run from my ex-wife’s abusive reaction to my becoming female, I spent six months at a Domestic Violence shelter. When I first went there I explained what had happened to me at the hands of my ex-wife, they were the first people to tell me that it should never have happened and that I was the abused. I was rescued by my community of fellow women at the right time.

    Rest assured that you can’t exclude types of women you don’t like from women’s groups, any more that you can screen out by height or skin color.

    And forget that nonsense about XX and XY. Just explain why hormone replacement therapy works – when I block Testosterone and replace it with Estrogen, the profound physiological effects are a sign that I have female DNA inside me. The blueprints are there, and when I transitioned I became the biologically-adapted woman that I am today.

    And also, believe me, that I am *not* out to invade “safe spaces for women”. It’s just that, being a woman, I insist on a seat inside them. Our type of women need the shelter and comfort of women’s spaces just as much as any other women does.

    • bella_cose

      There is more yo being a woman than taking estrogen. Of course you’re going to have physiological effects from taking hormones. Any hormone would produce some effect in your body.

      Being a woman means that you were socialized as a second class citizen from the day you were born until adulthood, because of your sex. It is not a choice. You do not get to deny and minimize what female born women in this world go through because you’ve decided you want a vagina.

      I would have no problem welcoming transwomen into the feminist movement if they would stop trying to eradicate the existence of female born women’s experiences. I’m sorry if it offends you, but you don’t get to co-opt my experience as a woman because you’ve chosen to live as a woman, and it bothers you that you weren’t born as one. Such behavior reeks of envy and entitlement.

      • andeväsen

        “I would have no problem welcoming transwomen into the feminist movement if they would stop trying to eradicate the existence of female born women’s experiences.”

        True that. Case in point: abortion rights taken away from women’s rights to avoid being transphobic.

    • huha

      Dictionaries are your friends.
      Woman = adult human FEMALE

    • howe

      you are not a “type” of woman just because you want to be. that you think you should have anything you want, including access to services and resources women had to fight for tooth and nail, and even including the concept/word woman, is your male socialization and entitlement showing.

      stop being a “man” if you want. wear whatever you want. change your body through surgery and chemicals to a new and as yet unknown form if you want. but do not call it being a woman. do not call it a woman’s body. do not presume that you can waltz in and tell us how it is, and force us to “accept” you under threat (sounds a little rapey, doesn’t it?). Do not take what is not yours.

    • gxm17

      You are not a form of woman, you are a form of man. And *that* is the heart of the issue. I realize that steeped in male privilege you may not realize that you don’t have a right to tell born women what a woman is, parse us into self-serving categories, and co-opt our life experience. Feel free to break men out into however many *forms* you want but leave us out of your silly equation.

      Yes. You have a Y chromosome and no matter how much estrogen you take or how many cosmetic surgeries you have, you will never be able to change that fact. And that “nonsense” is the very foundation upon which you were built. It is your blueprint. And for all eternity it will define you as “male.”

      As far as your agenda goes, born women already know your agenda because we’ve lived it all our lives. You want to disappear us, turn us into subhuman vessels to cart your ego around like some flesh palanquin and, yes, we know, you *insist* on a seat inside. Men always do.

      • howe

        even he knows that he must somehow claim that his Y chromosome is gone in order to be a woman. in his earlier comment he said that the estrogen he took made him feel a certain way that somehow proves that “I have female DNA inside me.” He knows that he can’t stop being male unless he can get rid of that pesky Y chromosome. Well, he can’t, except through this elaborate fantasy. All trans-related surgery does is change the surface and look of a body. it can’t change the deep realities, which go as deep as genes.

    • Realist

      @Ray R., your post shows the sorry state of science education in our schools if you believe “forget XX and XY…” XX and XY are basic biological facts. You do NOT have female DNA! DNA does NOT change with hormone therapy or SRS. A fem male with cosmetic surgery is still a male.

      As for your claims about “safe spaces for women,” you insist on a seat inside them due to your unrelenting male privilege alone. Being socialized male as you were, you naturally expect your individual wants, needs, and preferences to take precedence over the wants, needs, and preferences of whole groups of born-women.

      • linnet

        ^This. “Transgender women aren’t even the least bit interested in eliminating women’s safe spaces.” We just demand that you let men in. Ok.

  • Brenna Ballow

    I find the article and comments very interesting. The reason I choose to comment is not to try and refute anyone or anything I read, one is born XX or XY, one is socialized from the beginning as male or female, these are facts.

    It’s also a fact that I was born XY, was socialized as male, and am now perceived and treated as female by society. “Man”, “trans man”, ” person”, it doesn’t really matter what I am called here, on this site. What does matter is the reality of my every day life.

    So the question that I have, that doesn’t appear to be answered by either the article are comments, is what, as a “man”, “trans man or woman” or “transgender person” am I supposed to do?

    The reality is that once one is perceived by all as female, one has to go where they are expected to go by society, or face consequences. The reality of having XY chromosomes doesn’t negate the reality of being thrown out or maybe even arrested if I were to stroll into the men’s restroom or locker room. I am not trying to take or invade any ones space. I just exist, and in peace.

    So I suppose I answered my own question. Claiming the title “woman” seems to be the issue here. So I won’t. I will let others decide for themselves what I am.
    I’ll just shut my mouth, stay invisible and exist.

    • C.K. Egbert

      I don’t think anyone is asking you to be “invisible”, if by invisible we are denying your experience of being gender non-conforming or even “passing” as female. If you’ve read the article above, feminists are against violence or discrimination against gender non-conforming people (radical feminists such as myself are gender abolitionists). No one is claiming that you shouldn’t be able to use a restroom or locker room without fear of violence, but that women must also be able to use restrooms and locker rooms in safety and security (personally I believe offering unisex bathrooms and private locker rooms for pre-op transgender people is a good option). My claim is not that we are determining who you are, but that claiming womanhood would be inaccurate because gender is a social-political construct, not an individual identity.

      It also matters to women the everyday reality of our lives. The problem is that I see a lot of transgender activism consistently silencing and denying this reality by claiming women are privileged, there is no such thing as being female, there is no such thing as the experience of being sexually subordinated, women cannot set boundaries, etc.

      Here are some good blogs from transwomen you might be interested in reading. Miranda Yardley was also interviewed on Feminist Current.

      Best of luck.

      • Brenna Ballow

        Thank you for taking the time to follow up with me and clarifying. I will check out the blogs you suggest.

    • amongster

      As a female I actually wouldn’t be afraid of being thrown out or arrested for using a men’s restroom (has that ever happened? Afer all females are usually not seen as a threat) but I would be concerned about being assaulted. The fact that this is not your first concern makes me wonder.

      I also don’t get if you willingly present as female and want to call yourself “woman” or just happen to be perceived as female and wonder if you have to call yourself “woman” because of that.

      • Brenna Ballow

        Yes, I have seen women use the stalls in the men’s room plenty of times at events such as concerts, where the line to the women’s room was extremely long.
        I use the women’s room, and have never had any problems doing so. I didn’t start using it until I had progressed to a point where I no longer looked male, and all my ID’s were changed. At that time I was dressing in an androgynous manner, and going to the most remote men’s room, and not going in if someone was there. Sometimes a man would walk in, see me and tell me I was in the wrong bathroom, or walk out and check the sign thinking that maybe he walked in the wrong bathroom, etc. I was never threatened, it was just a bit humiliating to me. And I was very concerned about violence, in less controlled environments. I wouldn’t go in either a men’s or women’s locker room, where there would be any kind of nudity. It wasn’t until after my operation that I would start going in a women’s locker room, on the rare occasions that I do.
        But before my operation, I did use the women’s restroom or changing rooms at stores, because I was perceived to be female and going in the men’s facilities would be problematic for me.

        I present as female 100% of the time, in all aspects of my life. What I meant by the word “invisible” in my first post is that a lot of us, if we can pass, find it best not to inform others that we are trans. It is a safety mechanism against potential brutality at the hands of men, or discrimination or being treated differently from others. Despite me being post op, some women might feel uncomfortable with me using female facilities, knowing I am trans. So I just keep that fact to myself.

        At my old job, when I transitioned in place, and started using the women’s room for the reasons I described above, I would go to a restroom on another floor because I didn’t want any of the women I worked with to feel uncomfortable. But I have to say that I never had any issues with women, in my experience. I only had problems with some of the men there that didn’t like what I was doing.

        So yes, I willingly present as female, and people refer to me using female pronouns. I don’t tell them too.

  • What do you (author of the post) think about the idea that gender doesn’t exist? So far I’ve only encountered one other person (other than me) who takes this position, and that is another genderless (i.e. lacking gender identity) gay person who is trans-critical. Generally, feminists believe that gender exists but they don’t offer much support for this claim.

    Anyway, I have a couple of blogposts that touch on this issue, in case you want to have a discussion about it (not saying this to advertise; just interested in engaging since my position is a minority one).

    • Morag

      Komal, I read your blog post, “Gender Essentialism as Mistaken Sex Essentialism,” and I’m quite excited about it, because I think you are articulating something that has been niggling at me for a long time about “gender” as it’s used by feminists. Meaning, a kind of weakness or mushiness of the term, and the fact that it has to be defined again and again, in an energy-wasting and frustrating way. I’ve been thinking, and I know that other feminists agree, that we should’ve stuck with “sex roles.”

      I have felt for a while now that talking about gender as a SYSTEM of oppression is helpful. And, it is helpful, but even that is limited because others will just keep talking about gender in terms of expression, personality, temperament, brain stuff, social “performance,” etc. Especially the queer/trans crowd — I mean, they are never going to let it go. I am sick to death of gender and all the unproductive discussions around it that simply trick feminists further and further away from discussing what’s important: our oppression, as FEMALES.

      I will return to your blog within the next few days to read it again, and maybe I’ll have something say in your comments. Thanks for getting me thinking about something that I didn’t really know I was already thinking about!

      • Thanks Morag. I’m glad that some people seem to be on side, but I should mention that my approach is not political, just philosophical.

        I have been exposed to the gender critical point of view, but I do not quite agree with it. This post is an example of a more common version of gender abolitionism than mine, where gender is affirmed as existing (as a social construct; I am never quite sure what this means, btw), but ought to be abolished. The idea that gender is oppressive, for example, is a common statement made by gender critical feminists.

        I do not believe gender exists at all, though I do believe that sex roles and norms exist, and that gender identity exists. I’m interested in the issue of the ontology of gender (I take a ‘nihilist’ position, i.e. that there is no such entity as manhood and womanhood, unless the words are being used as synonyms of ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’), and so issues of oppressiveness, etc. do not enter into my thinking on this except maybe after I’ve figured out the ontology. I’m not expressing myself very clearly here as I’m in a bit of a daze from writing a paper, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should try to figure out what gender is before evaluating it from a moral or ‘political’ point of view.

        I call myself a gender abolitionist, even though you can’t abolish something that doesn’t exist. This is because, a) I first picked up the term back in the day when I did believe in gender, and b) the term ‘gender’ is ambiguous between manhood/womanhood/etc. and sex roles and norms, and I do believe the latter exist and want to abolish them.

        • Cindi Gold

          Socially constructed means exactly this,socially and culturally created by complex socially created institutions like the male dominated family,religions,and the whole society etc.

      • Morag

        I’m not sure I’m following anymore, Komal. I don’t understand how you can believe in “gender identity” as real, while not believing in gender itself.

        What I had got from your blog post (after only one reading, mind you), and some things you’ve said here, is that sex is obviously real, and that sex has essential biological and genetic qualities. Any other qualities ascribed to the male or female or inter-sex person (e.g., typical neurology, aka “brain sex”, or stereotypes, whether true or false) are inessential to the definitions of male/female. So, sex-roles (one of the meanings of “gender” or the oppressive gender system) are beside the point in determining who is male and who is female (or inter-sex).

        All of this I agree with, and I agree (if I understand at least part of what you’re saying) that the term “gender” has become hopelessly ambiguous. But, I believe it has become hopelessly ambiguous because it’s been hijacked and made diffuse by those who wish to erase the category “female.” I also agree that the ways in which gender has been used by many feminists (e.g., that men and women would be, except for their reproductive biology, pretty much exactly the same if it were not for gender [sex-roles] being forcefully imposed on them) was/is a weak point, because it gets us embroiled in endless empirical discussions about the scientific evidence of “manhood” and “womanhood” and brain-based transgender “identities.”

        Well, itt can’t NOT be a political discussion for me and other radical feminists! But I do appreciate how you have, using logical argument, separated what’s “essential” and what’s “inessential” to the female category, and that this CAN be done without resorting to using “gender” to make the delineation.

        • Morag: your interpretation of my post is correct, though I didn’t mention the ambiguity point there. I was just using ‘gender’ in the sense of manhood/womanhood (as something distinct from sex), and ignoring the sex norm/sex role interpretation of the term. I suppose I should clarify that in a follow-up post or something.

          If I’m not mistaken, this ambiguity in the term ‘gender’ has come about as the result of feminist work. AFAIK the term ‘gender’ was used synonymously with ‘sex’ until people like Simone de Beauvoir went and ruined everything by claiming that one is not born but is made a woman. I am a feminist, but honestly. If ever there was a bad move in feminist theory, this was it.

          Gender identity is definitely real. It is a psychological phenomenon that is shared by many transgender and non-transgender people alike. I happen not to have one, but I know this is not everyone’s subjective reality, and was not even mine for a while as I used to have a mild female identity at one point. You can believe in gender identity without believing in gender. Gender identity cannot constitute gender as it contains a representation of gender. A representation of something cannot be the thing itself (though you can have higher-order representations). Either gender identities are representations of sex, in which case they are accurate in some cases but in inaccurate in others, or they are representations of gender, in which case they are always inaccurate.

        • Cindi Gold

          Morag, from many of your other posts you seem to really understand that the sexes aren’t that different by nature and that gender is mostly socially constructed.

    • amongster

      Maybe you already know Elizabeth Hungerford, her page or the facebook discussion group “gender critical & gender identity”? I’d definitely recommend those to you. Unfortunately, I have not met any gender abolitionist in real life yet but at least on the internet we are not alone even if we are a minority – for now. Gonna check out your page now!

    • gxm17

      Count me in, Komal. I don’t believe that gender exists. Gender is a man-made categorical fiction (similar to race) created for the express purpose of oppression.

      Transgender is an ironic, genderism-conforming oxymoron. Most all humans exhibit various “gender” behaviors that have no relation to their biological sex, just as most all humans have ancestors from around the world of varying skin hues that are different from their own. (IIRC, the only group of people discovered to *not* have Neanderthal DNA was an isolated tribe in Africa.)

    • C.K. Egbert

      Komal: I read your blog post and I think we’re on the same page in terms of gender (I’m also a gender abolitionist) but I’d add a few qualifications:

      As Morag and gxm17 stated, I believe gender is a social construction that exists for the purpose of sexual subordination. I would say it is “real” in the sense that it is women’s social reality, even if it is not their nature/essence/etc. For me saying gender is “real” is just acknowledging that reality, whereas I’m still committed to it’s abolishment.

      I would also say that on some level gender “identity” exists, but not that gender identity emerges from our innate sense of self. Instead, we internalize and are shaped by gendered socialization the same way we might be shaped by and internalize emotional abuse (and indeed, gendered socialization–for women at least–is a form of normalized and systematic social abuse). And we shouldn’t be surprised by this because our self-conceptions are structured by our social interactions (which is part of the reason why I think gender norms are so damaging for women).

      Another commentator has a couple of blog posts on gender identity I think are really interesting:

      The ironic thing is that the whole idea of gender as performance, sexuality as a social construction, etc., originally came from a lot of radical feminist work. But unlike the post-modernist or queer theory approach, they were talking about how gender works as a system of oppression and critiquing it (if you’re interested, I’d recommend Marilyn Frye’s “The Politics of Reality”).

      • C.K. Egbert: when you say that gender is part of women’s social reality, what exactly are you referring to? I mean, what’s the thing that’s a part of women’s social reality? gxm17: you also said it was a fiction, but I’m not sure what you are supposing is fictional. Pegasus is a fictional entity (AFAIK anyway), but I know what it is whose existence I’m denying when I say he doesn’t exist: a semi-divine winged horse. When you (C.K. Egbert) say gender exists, are you saying that there are these kinds as manhood and womanhood, membership in which makes one a certain type of person (i.e. a man or a woman), or just that norms of behaviour and personality exist? If it’s the latter, then why do you call that ‘gender’? I don’t think it should be called ‘gender’ because that term is ambiguous between the two meanings I mentioned earlier. When people say ‘gender is socially constructed’ it sounds like they’re saying ‘men and women are made up things’, which is just an odd thing to say because ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are used to mean certain types of people (in an essential sort of way, the way that ‘gay’ and ‘straight’, or ‘introverted’ and ‘extroverted’, etc. are used); and it’s also unnecessary because one can just say that sex roles are imposed upon men and women without saying that the manhood and womanhood are themselves somehow made up.

        FWIW I believe race exists, and I definitely do not believe that sexual orientation is ‘socially constructed’ (again, not sure what that term means). I’m actually not sure I believe anything is socially constructed, except maybe things that are literally manufactured/crafted by people, such as trains and computers.

        Regarding gender identity: I definitely believe in that. My objections to transgenderism (that are unique to transgender people) are only that dysphoria is an unpleasant feeling (this is not a moral objection; I mean, I’m not condemning people for having dysphoria, just saying that it’s a bad thing in the sense of being unhealthy), medical transition is a bad thing except when it’s the only feasible alternative to suicide/lifelong depression (I believe this for various reasons I can’t get into here), and that passing does basically involve pretending to be something you’re not (though I think it can be justified if it’s the only way a person can deal with dysphoria or avoid violence). I also dislike it when people have gender identities and reinforce the idea that manhood and womanhood are real things (even real socially constructed things), but these two objections also apply to some non-transgender people.

        Note: I don’t normally make rambly comments, but I’m trying to procrastinate writing my paper.

        • C.K. Egbert

          When I say that gender exists, it exists in the same sense that race does (I’m also a race abolitionist, if one were to call it that): when I mean “gender,” I mean the social practice of imposing certain norms of behavior on people who are considered male or female for the purposes of subordinating one class of people (females). So I’m really just naming the practice of socialization/social violence that is predicated upon the hierarchal categorization, and differential treatment, of people either put into the sexually subordinate class or the sexually dominant class. When people say “gender is socially constructed,” they mean that the norms that are imposed upon men/women are something that are artificially created for the purposes of subordinating women. Lots of things are real–they shape and in many ways determine our experiences–but are nonetheless social constructs: laws are real, they have life and death consequences for people, but they are a human creation. Gender and race are similarly real–they have genuine and significant consequences for one’s life and experiences–but they are social constructs.

          In my worldview, race works the same way, except the difference between that there is a “remainder” to race (something we could salvage that is not solely the result of white supremacy, e.g., one’s cultural heritage or language) whereas there is no “remainder” (nothing that precedes or could exist independently of sexual subordination). So in a world without racial subordination there would be no “race”, there would just be people with different cultural traditions/languages, etc.

          I don’t think gender identity exists except as an internalization of these harmful norms/practices. I identify as a woman of course, however, that is not really an assertion about my subjective experience or my internal mental states. It’s just an acknowledgement of reality.

          I understand your concern about the ambiguity of the terms, however, I would be concerned about saying it isn’t “real” because that seems a little reductionist to me.

          • Ok, so by ‘gender’ you mean ‘sex norms’ and ‘sex roles’. I agree that those exist. The social construct issue is still unresolved, however, as it’s not entirely clear (to me anyway) what the difference is between something being socially constructed and something being the result of human action. My walking might leave footprints on the ground, but it would be odd to call my footprints a social construct. Maybe there is supposed to be an element of intent or design in social constructs, but then it’s not clear that sex norms are entirely designed. Feminists assert it is, but this might just be an unsubstantiated ideological position, as I have not yet seen much evidence for it.

            I asked for the clarification regarding your use of ‘gender’ because I was a bit confused by this sentence: “People often fail to recognize that “woman” is not a personal identity but a political identity based upon a shared experience of oppression.” FWIW I don’t consider ‘womanhood’ to be a political identity either, just a natural kind term (like ‘cathood’ or ‘galaxyhood’). It sounded like you were suggesting that womanhood itself was ‘socially constructed’. It is one thing to say that sex norms and roles are made by people, and another to say that womanhood and manhood are. To say that is to imply that one’s status as a certain type of person — where the type has some essence and isn’t just being in a certain situation (social or otherwise) — is somehow made up, which is a baffling statement that I must say I definitely disagree with. That’s what I mean when I say gender doesn’t exist, namely that the terms ‘manhood’ and ‘womanhood’ (when not being used synonymously with ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’) do not refer to anything. I agree with you, however, that sex norms exist.

            I am now clearer about your position, but the ambiguity in the term gender (which is the reason I was confused in the first place) is still there and should be a reason for people to avoid using it and just use ‘sex norms’, ‘sex roles’, etc. I think a lot of genderist ideology can be challenged by this move alone. I invite everyone to try not using the term ‘gender’ in their lives for a trial period, and see if it helps them with clarity and helps to challenge genderism.

          • C.K. Egbert

            On social constructs: One way to think of this is to ask the question: “Are natural kinds the only things that exist?” I would say no, because I want to avoid that sort of metaphysical reductionism (I think this is probably just a philosophical difference between us, and I’d also be more skeptical of natural kinds than you might be). I would say that social constructs are a sub-species of human action, so not fundamentally different. The reason why I would use the term “social construct” rather than just “human made” would be because “social construct” has the connotation of something that is (a) systematic, and (b) not necessarily “intentional” (in the sense that people may not be aware of the norms which they reinforce/embody, and there’s good empirical psychological evidence that this is the case, e.g., implicit bias).

            I see what you mean about the ambiguity of the term “woman” in my sentence; it is confusing because “woman” is ambiguous between someone who is an adult female, and someone who is categorized/socialized as a female and thus a member of the sexually subordinate class (e.g., some intersex people). In a way I was deliberately capitalizing on that ambiguity in order to emphasize that one cannot merely “identify into” a particular class or group of people, because that class/group is going to be defined politically. The fact is that how we are categorized biologically (as male or female) has serious political implications for our lives (imposition of sex roles, violence, etc.). I’m focusing on the political part of what it means to be a woman.

          • “…someone who is categorized/socialized as a female and thus a member of the sexually subordinate class (e.g., some intersex people)…”

            Ok, I see. It turns out we do differ on this issue, then, because I would not count even those people as women (I think some intersex people genuinely are female, but if some individual is not, I would not consider them a woman however they were treated). This is because being treated as a female just is being treated as a member of a certain biological group, which does not make you a member of that group.

            I’m curious though: when you said “someone who is categorized/socialized as a female”, in what sense are you using the term ‘female’, which occurs at the end of the expression? I assume it’s a biological sense. So a woman is either an adult human female or someone treated as an adult human female but who isn’t one. There’s no inconsistency there, I suppose, but I’m not drawn to this view, in part because in the latter case people are simply making a mistake. It’s an odd way of using a term to encompass individuals who fall under a natural kind and individuals who are misperceived as falling under the natural kind, or who share a common fate with them. It would be like using the term ‘domestic cat’ to mean the small, furry, cute, purring (etc.) animal and also dogs that are treated as if they were cats. It’s not just a quirk of language: I think there’s a metaphysical assumption being made there about what really defines a cat, and I disagree with that assumption.

            Anyway, this may not be the place to have this conversation. Thanks for sharing your views. If you want to continue talking about this, I invite you to comment on my blog, but if not that’s okay too.

          • Morag

            Before you go, Komal, I just want to say that I think I can see where the misunderstandings are happening. I hope I don’t obfuscate further. But I need to get it out before I lose it or before I have time to make the words clear and pretty!

            First, too many words are being used to mean the same things or different things all at once — female, woman, womanhood, gendered, socialized, and so many more terms that seem to constantly require parenthetical definitions or explanations. OK, we already know this a problem, and it’s taken on a life of its own by now.

            But, what C.K. is saying, I think (and I would agree), is that a Woman is:

            1). a biological category: female
            2). a female socialized in the female sex-role.

            She, and I, do not mean that EITHER definition means “woman.” That is, we are not saying that someone who is “treated as an adult human female but who isn’t one” counts as a “woman.” It is not an either/or definition, because the first definition (which can stand on its own) is incorporated into the second definition.

            This is where, I think, the queer/trans/genderists find a small gap between the two and step right in to attack the meanings of female and woman. They assert that “woman” includes some males, because some males are treated as though they were female, or that they are regarded as women when they “present” as female, or even simply that they FEEL female, so that makes them, by definition, “women.”

            Well, we know that they are not women, because they don’t meet the first definition: the natural category, female. But, they also don’t meet the second definition, because the second incorporates the first, no matter how these males are perceived, how they are treated, or how they subjectively experience themselves. With one important exception: inter-sex people who were regarded as girls at birth or soon after, and who were raised in the female sex-role.

            Example: XY women, who are raised and regarded as unambiguously female. Male transgenderists try to use such (very rare) inter-sex people as equivalents to the transgender experience, but this is a lie. Inter-sex conditions and transgender identities are completely separate categories, both in the natural and social senses. And transgenderists are guilty of exploiting a minority when they steal their language and activist work to their own ends — e.g. using “assigned at birth,” “coercively assigned,” “identify as” and so on.

            That’s why C.K. — I hope I’m correct, C.K.! — included some inter-sex people, parenthetically, as falling under the political definition “woman.” But, this exception does not make the “AND” between the two definitions above into an “OR.”

          • C.K. Egbert

            Morag–Yes, that’s what I was saying, thank you for articulating that so well.

          • I understand what you’re saying, Morag, but the criteria you list cannot be what C.K. meant (even though she said it was, but hear me out), as the second criterion excludes intersex people. Even if there was only one intersex person on Earth who was treated as a female, it would be enough to make the criteria you listed not correct. The logical relationship between the two cannot be an ‘AND’ if there is any case where something falls under the concept but does not meet both criteria. Anyway the first criterion is unnecessary since the second criterion includes the first.

            Perhaps what you are trying to say is this:

            “Woman is:

            1). a female.
            2). a non-female person socialized in the female sex-role from birth.”

            This excludes all transgender women except those who were ‘socialized as girls’ from birth (which is no one as far as I know). This sounds like something you and C.K. might agree with.

            I happen not to take this view. I use ‘woman’ synonymously with ‘female’, so even people with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (the intersex people you and C.K. were implicitly referring to) are not women in my view. I explained the reason for this above.

            I think it’s enough to say that whether you are a male or female has implications in most societies that go beyond just the direct results of your biology. There is no need to add that that somehow defines you as a female/male, or that it defines you as a member this other group that sort of floats above sex and is related to it but isn’t quite it (this mysterious thing called ‘gender’). The lack of unique benefit gained from using the sex/gender framework (due to the presence of an equally viable alternative) and the disadvantages it brings are a good enough reason to abandon it IMO.

          • C.K. Egbert

            I think we’d agree, in any case, what we’re interested in is how our biology (or perceived biology–as in the case of women who are incapable of becoming pregnant) is socially mediated and is given social meaning.

          • Morag

            “I think a lot of genderist ideology can be challenged by this move alone. I invite everyone to try not using the term ‘gender’ in their lives for a trial period, and see if it helps them with clarity and helps to challenge genderism.”

            I think you’re probably right about this, and that an experiment (trying to avoid using the term “gender”) is in order.

          • There is another issue with claiming that sex norms are social constructs, and that is that I am not sure I believe that norms are entities. Something has to be an entity to be socially constructed. I’ll have to think about this more, as what counts as an entity is a difficult issue.

    • marv

      If you around infants, certain demented seniors and animals a lot you will notice they don’t carry the usual baggage of social conditioning into gender race, class, ability, size, etc. Babies care nothing about these identities. My older clients who have lost most of their mental faculties seem oblivious to what sex you are. They just want to hold hands to know someone loves them and to love others back. Companion animals often exhibit the same mentality.

      Is it also possible that sexual orientation identity of any kind is misplaced? There is nothing wrong with taking mutual non-violent pleasure in one’s sexual inclination but why crystallize it into a definition of selfhood? Maybe a disposition is only a preference which should be respected instead of a core element of who we are to become.

      The primary meaning and purpose of our lives, our true selves, is to strive for non-sexualized, -racialized, -classed communion with other beings, and the building of egalitarian institutions to guarantee the inviolability of equality. Everything else is secondary. For liberals freedom from sexualization wouldn’t register as enlightenment because freedom is sexualization.

      The advent of a deeply conscious feminist collective self-conception exists in small places, so far.

  • Max Dashu

    Question about this: “Unlike with racial subordination, there is no “remainder”: ethnicity (identification with a particular cultural or linguistic tradition) can exist without race (the social construction of an identity based upon one’s racial subordination or privilege), but there is no gender without sexual subordination.” Is your position that no societies exist, or have existed, in which women are not sexually subordinated? Because i would disagree with that, the idea that patriarchy is universal and transhistorical. And then, if your answer is yes, those societies have existed, are you saying that they did not have gender? Because gender is culture constructed around sex (not necessarily absolute mandates, but patterns) and I think that all societies do have such cultural patterns. I think there’s a problem with equating gender, all gender, anywhere, with patriarchal gender systems.