You can’t ‘feel’ race, but can you ‘feel’ female? On Rachel Dolezal, Caitlyn Jenner, and unspeakable questions

I think I can safely assume most of us have, at this point, followed the story of Rachel Dolezal, the former President of the NAACP chapter in Spokane and a white woman who claimed to be black.

The reasons behind her choice to represent herself as a black woman, as an adult, are not entirely clear — some have speculated that she suffers from mental illness, that she has some kind of addiction to victimhood, is a compulsive liar, or is suffering from body dysmorphic disorder. At Al Jazeera, Jennifer Wilson wonders if, perhaps, Dolezal felt the pull of identity politics, that is the idea that one must have personal experience with any given issue or culture in order to speak to it, have an opinion on it, or be an expert in the field:

…one must wonder whether Dolezal, despite her decades of work advocating for black women’s rights and racial equality, felt that she would never be taken seriously discussing black feminism if she was known as just some white girl from Montana.

Whatever the reasons, the widespread outrage at the idea of a white woman posing as a black woman, as though race is a performance or a costume one puts on or takes off, is wholly justified. Dolezal’s deception granted her positions of power that could and should have gone to actual black women, in a community where few opportunities for women of colour are available and where a history of discrimination and segregation is ever-present.

writes, for Vox:

What Dolezal is accused of is more than just the basis of a thought exercise about race. Many people are deeply offended by the idea that someone whose family suffered none of the horrifying systemic racism African Americans endure would seem to so gleefully immerse herself in and enjoy the trappings of black culture.

For members of an oppressed group who have suffered and continue to suffer without the option of simply identifying their way out of marginalization, the choice to adopt the identity of a member that group displays a deep lack of understanding of systemic oppression.

Alicia Waters explains, for The Guardian:

If blackness can simply be worn or performed, then every white woman with a weave and a cause, every white girl with a snap and a little attitude, can supplant the lived experiences of what it is to become a black woman: the journey of discrimination, the camaraderie of sisterhood, discovering the deep sense of responsibility and weight of the world, and ultimately finding the inner strength and acceptance that can only be built through struggle.

Rachel Dolezal may have perfected her performance of black womanhood, and she may be connected to black communities and feel an affinity with the styles and cultural innovations of black people. But the black identity cannot be put on like a pair of shoes. Our external differences from the white majority might be how others categorize us as black, but it’s the thread of our diverse lived experiences that make us black women.

Both people of colour and women are othered in a society that positions the white man as both neutral and the default human to which all the rest are compared to, institutionalizing a hierarchy.

Because of this reality, as well as because some of the language Dolezal uses to describe her self-identification is similar to that used by some transgender people, it didn’t take long before the comparisons between Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner began.

On TODAY, Dolezal told Matt Lauer that her “self-identification with the black experience” began when she was a very young child. “My life has been one of survival,” she said. “And the decisions I have made along the way, including my identification, have been to survive.”

Dolezal believes herself to be black, despite having lived most of her life as a white woman and Jenner believes she has “a female brain,” but moved through the world for 60-odd years as a white man. Jenner says she first began to try on women’s clothing when she was about 8 years old and said to Diane Sawyer that, while the two of them may not share all the same “parts,” what they had in common was that they both “identify as female.”

“I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live,” he told Vanity Fair.

Now, race and gender are not the same thing. On CBC’s The Current, Nikki Khanna explained that, while race is a social construct, we understand it to be based on heritage, ancestry, as well as physical appearance. It is, in part, because gender is not seen as something one inherits, that it is viewed as more “fluid” than race. Both may be cultural constructs, but they are constructs that ensure the maintenance of oppressive hierarchies and have material consequences that cannot be escaped as easily and some might like to believe.

Therefore, the question of identity and what it means to take on the identity of a member of an oppressed group, despite context for said membership, seems an obvious one to think about in both cases. Beyond that, it’s hard to miss the similarities in Jenner and Dolezal’s assessments of their own identities and the discourse surrounding both.

Whether accidentally or intentionally, Waters’ analysis outlines some of the questions many have about certain discourse around Jenner’s narrative:

Dolezal managed to put on an identity – that of a black woman – in a way that renders invisible the experiences that actually forged for us our identities as black women. She presented to the world the trappings of black womanhood without the burden of having to have lived them for most of her life.

Can the same be said of Jenner? She has not, after all, had any of the experiences women have that make us women, in this world. She hasn’t lived as a woman for most of her life. What is “camaraderie of sisterhood” built on, if not solidarity with women who’ve shared in your struggles?

While I don’t believe any of us (even scientists) fully understand transgenderism, because masculinity and femininity are categories males and females are forced into, the fact that transgender people exist is unsurprising. Many cultures recognize a “third gender” and, in fact, the gender binary is not natural or something that feels comfortable for most people. Rather, it is hugely restrictive. Women and men alike perform masculinity and femininity yet I doubt any of us absolutely relate to either category. These performances are learned and we engage in them for our own survival, as well as because it is what we know and have known our whole lives. People like to claim that girls gravitate towards dolls and boys towards trucks or that women are “naturally” more nurturing than men, thereby “proving” a “female” or “male” brain exist, but this has been disproven time and time again. We have no idea what a world without gender roles would look like, though feminists have been working towards one for some time.

All that said, gender is not, simply, a performance. It isn’t something we have the ability to escape. Women cannot simply “perform” differently in order to escape their place in the hierarchy. We cannot choose to escape the tyranny of male violence and power. When we talk about gender as “fluid,” we fail to acknowledge the material reality of women in a patriarchy.

At Huffington Post, Zeba Blay argues that what Dolezal did “plays into racial stereotypes and perpetuates the false idea that it is possible to ‘feel’ a race.” While Jenner may have transitioned for her own survival, the notion that one can “feel female” remains problematic for similar reasons that the idea of “feeling” a race is. It perpetuates the stereotype that femininity is something that exists deep within us — in our souls and minds. If it didn’t, to say that one “feels female” would mean nothing but “feeling human” or “feeling like a human that has female body parts.”

The alternate argument would be that both race and gender are simply superficial qualities achieved through synthetic interventions like plastic surgery, bronzer, a wig, or a weave.

The very least we should be able to admit to is that we are in a bit of a pickle as far as the discourse surrounding these two individuals go.

Beyond the question of a “female brain” or a “male brain” is the larger one of social categories and hierarchies that oppress entire groups of people. I cannot, for example, simply identify my way into the upper class. I also cannot simply choose to start living as an Indigenous woman. The context for my existence, history, and life experience is attached to the fact that I was born a working class white female in Canada.

So it’s difficult, when we see race and class as categories that one cannot simply identify our way in and out of, to know what to make of someone like Jenner, who lived her whole life as a rich, white man, until recently. She may believe she felt like a woman on the inside and will likely learn what it is like to move about as a woman, now, but she was treated and socialized, for her whole life, as a man with a great deal of privilege.

When people say, of Dolezal,

[She] passed for black for a number of years, but she cannot undo her past. She was born into a white family, grew up as a white child, attended Howard University as a white woman. She can’t erase—or re-race—all those years that she experienced the world as a white girl and woman.

I wonder whether they would say the same of Jenner? Can she “undo her past?”

Beyond that, the question of what “feeling female” means remains. It might, arguably, make more sense to say that one does not “feel” like a man, as defined by the gender binary, than to reinforce the idea of brain sex by saying one “feels like a woman on the inside.”

To be clear, I have little interest in challenging Jenner’s sense of self, chosen name, or how she chooses to present herself or live her life. I am not against transition if it makes a person feel happy or feel more comfortable. I do not wish for anyone to suffer or be forced to live in a way that makes them deeply unhappy. I also acknowledge that I have no idea what it is like to be transgender. From what I gather and from what I guess, it is hard. Transgender people are subjected to abuse, violence, and discrimination and suffer in ways no one should. I can’t say what it means to be transgender because it is apparent that various transgender people have different experiences and understandings of what being transgender means to them.

That said, I asked my friend and ally, Aoife Emily Hart, who is white and identifies as a transwoman, what it means to her. She said, “Being a transwoman isn’t about being ‘female’ as an essential sex, but is a way of recalibrating my body and social presentation to soothe both the unbearable agony of sex dysphoria and to enable my personality to emerge. I was born male, medically and socially transitioned to a transwoman, and now live happily.” She adds that, for her, transition was never about being a woman. “It was about being me, Aoife.”

Jaqueline Sephora Andrews, a black transwoman, told me, “I really can’t say that I always felt like a woman because I really don’t know what it means to ‘feel like a woman.’ I have had wishes of being a woman, and it did, at one time, cause severe depression. Even now, honestly, it still is a wish, but I still accept my biology.” She, like Aoife, says she suffers from sex dysphoria.

While I may not know what being trans is like, on a personal level, I do know is what it’s like to be a woman. The reason I know what this is like is not because of some innate sense — because of a feminine essence or feeling that exists inside me — but because I know what it is like to be treated like a girl, then a woman, from birth. Because I was told I was female and what that entailed. I am aware that the way I move around in this world has been shaped by socialization in a patriarchy. I know how I have been treated by men because I am a woman. I know that I learned being pretty and thin is the most important thing and that I should desire marriage and children. I learned how not to take up space, physically and in all other ways. I learned how to flirt, engage with, and relate to men, as a woman. I learned to be careful not to hurt or offend others and that to ask for what I want or to say what I really think is not an attractive quality for me to display. I know what it’s like to feel looked-at, to feel afraid in public (and private) spaces, and a myriad of other things, many of which I’m likely not even fully conscious of. But all of this was learned over time. When I was a young child, I played with trucks, wore sneakers, hated pink, and had short hair. I did not desire “femininity” until I learned I should.

There is no need to compete at the game of who-is-most-oppressed with regard to these issues; there is a great deal of oppression and suffering in this world, whether it be through patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, or capitalism — enough to go around, you might say. Certainly we should be able to acknowledge that sexism, homophobia, racism, classism, and transphobia all hurt people, but also acknowledge and understand that women’s particular experiences in this world are shaped by a particular kind of oppression that begins the moment we emerge from the womb and that this oppression is not “natural.” We are not born neutral. Even the women I know who intentionally avoid traditional displays of femininity cannot escape the oppressive confines of gender. Certainly the political category of “woman” matters for these reasons.

At the same time, it matters to be trans in a world that has created a binary wherein there is only “masculine” or “feminine.” That room must exist in between and outside those categories is necessary if we ever dream of living outside their confines. What I’m asking is not that the suffering and real lives of transgender people be ignored, but that we acknowledge that context, history, and socialization are real and also matter. That when little girls are taught to be pretty and polite, to not take up space, to spend their lives on a diet, to be desirable but also that they will be punished through that desirability, those experiences matter and happen to us because we are born female. That we learn to understand our sexualities only in relation to what men want matters. That we learn our bodies are not ours, but public commodities, matters. That we learn our boundaries are “rude” and that they will be violated matters. That we must fear those we depend on (or even love) for our survival matters. That we learn to put ourselves last and to “sit down and shut up” matters. That we learn solidarity with men will get us further than solidarity with women matters. We aren’t fighting against trans people, we are fighting for our lives and the right to speak about our lives, bodies, history, and oppression, as a class. We are also fighting against the notion that either femininity or masculinity are innate parts of our beings, an idea that reinforces male power and female subordination.

When Jenner — a wealthy, white Republican — came out as Caitlyn, the pressure women felt to embrace her sexualized, objectified performance of femininity as something vaguely liberating and empowering was hard to swallow for many of us. Jenner likely has suffered in ways that I cannot understand, but I and my feminist sisters who were raised and socialized as women and are fighting against the very notions of femininity we are told to celebrate have suffered because of the ways Jenner’s (and, of course, many celebrity women’s) image is being presented and in ways I’m not sure she understands. Simply, femininity and objectification aren’t “good” for women.

I don’t have all the answers to many of the questions I and others are asking with regard to connections between Rachel Dolezal’s cooptation of blackness, as a white woman, and Jenner’s new identity. But surely those of us who were born and raised as female have the right to define and discuss that experience and our movement, as we have done for over a century now, as we see fit. While I am happy to fight alongside transgender and male allies to end male violence and misogyny, I am less happy to be told what it is, in this fight, I should celebrate as liberatory and even less happy to be told what defines womanhood by someone who only just chose to start living as a woman now, at 65. Her gender identity was kept secret, which is something I imagine would feel torturous, but that does not erase male privilege and does not translate to being socialized and oppressed as a woman. That fact, without making any arguments for or against Jenner’s chosen identity or feelings about who she truly is, matters when it comes to talking about womanhood and what it means to be a woman in a patriarchy and to have femininity forced upon you from birth.

I want people to be free to be who they are and to feel happy in their own skin. This is why I choose not to dispute how individual trans people want to live. But I also want to be able to fight back against a system that says I am less-than because I was born female. Not to imagine that reality out of existence by pretending gender socialization isn’t real and a primary way in which women are systemically oppressed, throughout their lives. I also don’t want to romanticize and glorify femininity and worry that narratives like Jenner’s do just that.

The fact that Dolezal felt all she needed to do to be “black” was to get a perm and a tan and to begin identifying as part of the black community, as though history and social contexts that maintain and perpetuate systemic racism don’t factor in, and that she thinks by choosing to identify as black makes it so, begs a number of questions. If we acknowledge that women are an oppressed group, under patriarchy, some of these same questions we are asking about Dolezal come up, with regard to folks like Jenner.

Identity can be an individual thing. But systemic oppression, whether it be through race, class, or gender, is not simply about individual feelings or how one chooses to present or express themselves out in the world. It is not a personal matter or a personal choice. And as complex as these issues are and as much as I struggle with them, myself, this is something that must be acknowledged within political movements.

The way in which the political and activist landscape has been overtaken by identity politics, by which I mean both that we tell one another we have no right to speak to particular issues unless we have direct experience with whatever it is we are commenting on (i.e. “You may not have an opinion about the sex industry unless you identify as a sex worker”) as well as the trend of individualizing absolutely every experience and obsessing over our own personal feelings above all else (for example, “Taking sexy selfies makes me feel empowered, ergo self-objectifying is empowering because I feel it and because I say so”) has had a detrimental impact on movements, particularly the feminist movement.

If gender identity is an individual, personal thing, as we are told, is gendered oppression no longer a social issue but rather a malleable choice?

In a scene from Orange is the New Black, Sophia, played by Laverne Cox, speaks with her son, Michael.

We are not simply individuals floating around in personal bubbles among other individuals. Society is real and so are systems of power. Both must be acknowledged in order for us to confront them.

If “the black identity cannot be put on like a pair of shoes,” can womanhood?

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

Like this article? Tip Feminist Current!

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $1

  • tinfoil hattie

    Thank you for this well-reasoned, well-written essay. It expresses exactly how I, a 54-year-old woman, feel about Caitlin Jenner and Rachel Dolezal, as well as the larger questions about what it means to “feel like” a woman. I am exhausted with women’s – and girls’ – experiences being erased and disregarded for fear of saying the wrong thing or not being “correct.” There are real commonalities among girls and women, largely because we live in patriarchy, and to deny these commonalities is to deny the truths that over half the population faces every minute of every day.

    • derrington

      Absolutely! My vagina is as dangerous to me as a black person’s skin is to them, speaking as a person that has been raped five times as a child because of having a vagina. Trans issues are being used to silence women and I sincerely hope that this discussion around Rachel Dolezal will help illuminate some of the problems with appropriating an entire gender’s history and erasing it in favour of a pair of five inch heels and some breast implants. That’s appropriation to my mind. Jenner can act out whatever she wants, but to self promote without dealing with the toes of the people she is stomping on is selfish and self absorbed and shows a total lack of awareness of women’s struggles for basic justice in a male run world.

      Megan, what a truly humbling piece of writing, it felt like having you sitting in the room talking through your inner thoughts and questions.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Thank you!

      • Joy

        @Derrington. Do you not understand how offensive your comment is?: “My vagina is as dangerous to me as a black person’s skin is to them” Do you understand some people have both…like black skin AND a vagina? ALSO—you obviously don’t understand the difference between appropriation and transition, lol. I don’t know why this space keeps attempting to grapple with trans issues when none of you seem to seriously show a commitment to reading anything new about it considering most of the same commenters say some of the exact same offensive crap.

        • Meghan Murphy

          What is there to read that you think we haven’t already? And again, my point was not to critique transition. My point was to point out the ways in which the discourse surrounding Jenner is problematic and to say that the political category of ‘woman’ still matters very much. What does it mean to be a woman? Nothing? Is it simply a personal identity?

          • Dia

            As people in various circles, feminist or otherwise, grapple with their feelings about Caitlyn Jenner, I see this Ruby Rose video circulating, and it brings up the same issues. For me, I feel like I can’t say what I really think when I watch this or I’d be sliced and diced. I don’t see ANY “fluidity” here. I don’t see it with Jenner, either. Ruby Rose looks very “feminine” to me at the start and at the end. The only transformation that takes place–and I’m not counting the makeup and hair since, again, that doesn’t make her any less “feminine–is her with a fake penis and then this really uncomfortable “Who the f***k are you looking at” aggressive display. Why isn’t this just acting like a man, and therefore, reinforcing that damned polarity? Is her being “gender fluid” acting like a man? It’s called “Break Free.” Jenner talks a lot about being liberated. But to me it’s not a portrayal of breaking free from gender or even fluidity of gender. I see a very “feminine” looking model shedding all the, I guess, trappings of female. The makeup and the hair and the nail polish. Again, if I say this I’ll probably be tarred and feathered, but decorating the body doesn’t have to be any kind of oppressive female practice. Cultures everywhere, both men and women do it. It’s the meanings attached to the practice. Personally, I love putting on makeup. So there. I said it. Anyway, my point is, this is symbolic “breaking free” and “gender fluidity” and all I see is the standard masculine/feminine, and when she’s supposed to be “masculine” she’s grabbing a fake penis and starts yelling at the camera, “who the f**k are you looking at.” The other element of this is that she is a beautiful model. Jenner doesn’t fit that category, obviously, so now the conversation is getting completely lost in “I’d f**k her” comments, and “I’d turn lesbian for her.” Then they start arguing, well if she’s a guy at the end, and I’m gay…on and on. Because of her beauty, the entire point, whatever that may be interpreted as, is lost. It’s all about how she’s beautiful as a girl and as “a boy,” and “I’d have sex with ‘her'” no matter what. Why do we have to fall back and get stuck in sex all the time? It’s really old. Someone suggested to me, a bisexual friend, that Ruby proves her bisexuality (how, I don’t know), and that Ruby Rose makes EVERYONE question their sexuality. I took offense to that. She does not bring up any lesbian feelings in me. I’m heterosexual. I find her pretty, but I don’t find her sexually appealing. It seems to me trangendered people like to project their beliefs about gender and sexuality onto everyone. It’s not one or the other, it’s a continuum, and EVERYONE absolutely MUST be bi-curious when they see this video. NO. I’m not. I don’t care what her sexual orientation is, and why doesn’t she just do her thing and leave me out of it. I’m frustrated. My bisexual friend also claims that she challenges femininity in this video. What, because she strips off everything “feminine?” She does it in a way that derides anyone who identifies being feminine and wears makeup and has long hair. That irritates me. Just because I enjoy my femininity, I’m not feminist. I can’t be, right? So she cuts her hair off, puts a fake penis in her pants and starts dropping eff bombs aggressively and she’s now “masculine?” Who is the one reinforcing gender binaries here or reinforcing the concept of gender itself? Me for wearing my makeup and enjoying my long hair, or her for acting like a “him?” Someone help me.

        • S.Law

          That’s like some religious group saying that atheists should be required to read the holy books of all major religions to be really informed. Are people from the various religions (say Muslims have to read the new testament and Luther’s interpretations of scripture, or Christians have to read the Koran) asked to do this, in general? No. The point is that we are (a)theists. Not theists. So, no. Requiring us to read your holy books is infringement on our freedom of conscience. If I was a student in religious studies there would be a better argument to be made for telling me I need to be well versed in various world religions. Unless I am an activist in the LGBT community why should I read what are essentially personal opinions or group ideology.

          Are people required to be politically informed to vote. Are they even required to know the platform of the party that they are voting for? No. It’s better if they are informed. Not legislated though. It would be like saying well trans women have to experience menstruation to really know what it feels like to be a woman. Or they have to read the work of all women novelists working in English (or all languages, in translation) published since 1800. Or read the works of all feminists published since 1960. Or read the papers of Marie Curie and make a serious effort to understand the science (so read other scientific material). The world would be a better place if people became more informed but to assume that what is published in opinion pieces helps us become more informed is (sorry) questionable. You need to follow up by reading materials additional materials from a variety of perspectives. Or read in a focused fashion the various views over time of radical feminists (for example). In general, none of these things are going to happen.

        • lizor

          I don’t understand your objection. Naming racial oppression and sexual oppression separately does not negate the two existing simultaneously. Similarly, if transitioning exists it does not automatically negate appropriation. Transgenderism and gender appropriation can both exist.

          I can understand that it would be highly offensive if someone actually said that no one can be simultaneously oppressed as a being both black and female, except no one said that.

        • Derrington

          Apologies for late reply. To be honest i was taking it as read that readers would understand that a person can have multiple oppressions at once and that being black and female gave your oppressors two points to go after you on rather than one. I didnt mention class, disability, locational oppression, or probably a whole heap of other things here that people are oppressed on because stating the bloody obvious makes for long and tedious comments. What i would assume is thAt if you think someone is wrong you ar least ask them if you have understood them correctly rather than slinging them in jail without trial. That appears to be overtly aggressive without cause. Sorry for your confusion at my comment but it is your confusion and assumption i think.

        • andeväsen

          “Do you not understand how offensive your comment is?: “My vagina is as dangerous to me as a black person’s skin is to them””

          This is a pretty standard simile of sexist and colonial power differentials used in Marxist-inspired feminist and post-colonial texts. At what point did you take offence? The word ‘vagina’? The word ‘black’? ‘Skin’? ‘Person’? ‘As’? Was it the quantifiability of similitude suggested by the word ‘as’?

      • ArgleBargle

        Borrowing from Paul Mooney who observed that “everyone wants to be black, but no one wants to be black.”, I’ll add that nowadays many want to be a woman, but, no one wants to be a woman.

      • FTL

        @ Derrington : What about us, WOC, with a double danger, a vagina and our skin tone ? Think about it. You seem to forget that women of colour have this double threat. Colour and sex-gender. Don’t you think our vaginas miraculously would not be raped as well ? That only our skin is a danger to us. My goodness.

        Otherwise I found that article very well written, and I wholeheartly agree with it.

        • lizor

          The discussion about Jenner and Dolezal is tending towards looking at both oppressions. I’m not sure how Herrington’s comment in any way infers that an individual cannot experience both simultaneously. That assertion simply is not there. To charge Derrington with making the statement that black women can’t be raped is inaccurate and untrue.

          • FTL

            Blinded by white privilege much ? I would advice you to read again what Derrington wrote. It is written as either you have all black folks in the same bag and only our skin is a matter of danger, yet white women has to fear rape. WOC have BOTH skin and female genitalia that endanger us. How hard is that to understand.
            Black & white females are no different, we have one common point called RAPE. Got it ?
            So reading once again that only our skin is a danger for P(W)OC, not precising that women within POC are at risks for the same sexual threat is really insulting.
            It was probably not Derrington’s willing, but reading this seriously irked me .

          • lizor

            I may very well be blinded by white privilege and maybe this is why I cannot see derrington stating in this comment that women of colour do NOT experience multiple oppressions.

            She was responding to tinfoil hattie’s comment just above. I would assume, based on reading a large number of her comments here over time, that she would think the intersection of multiple oppressions was obvious.

            By your own assertion as to how we should be talking about this blog post: what about class? Ability? Sexual orientation? Is there a reason you did not mention the possibility that those, too, can all happen to the same person? True, derrington did not explicitly state that women of colour DO experience both racial and sexual oppression, nor did she state that disabled, impoverished aboriginal lesbians are subject to an awful lot of shit rolling down hill in their direction. Her not stating it in this particular comment does not mean she denies that fact anymore than your not naming class, ability, and orientation in your own comment, means you think those things have no significance.

          • derrington

            Thanks Lizor, that’s exactly what I think. To be honest, the whole idea that a person is guilty as charged without any question needing to be asked of what they meant by leaving something out seems to be overtly aggressive, a rush to take offense or using defensive aggression to ward off a perceived attack. Not stating the existence of something is not a denial that it doesnt exist, simply that the audience I am speaking to has a level of understanding around multiple oppressions that doesn’t need constantly reiterating. For your information FTL, I do understand the double burden of having a vagina that is black, and even more so if same vagina has to move through the world supported in a wheelchair, etc etc etc.

    • Non-PC RadFem

      @ Tinfoil Hattie:

      All I wanna say it’s; I’m a big fan of yours [and your posts] since (and please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) I blame the patriarchy (?) 🙂

      • tinfoil hattie

        Hi! Thanks for the kind words! I was, indeed, a reader & commenter at IBTP!

        I am thankful to have found Feminist Current, as Meghan Murphy tacllkes these isues in a beautifully nuanced, compassionate way. (Thanks, Meghan!)

        • Meghan Murphy

          IBTP was a big time inspiration, early on in my blogging years. Glad to have you and Twisty
          xx

          • Mar Iguana

            I too thought IBTP was great until the M2T train wreck when I got banned for refusing to drink the trans koolaid.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            @ Mar Iguana:

            Oh! I see, you like controversial subjects. Just like I do 😉 We should get on fine *nods*
            I was there – as a reader – myself, so; I totally know what you’re talking about here… 😉

          • Mar Iguana

            I don’t know that I like controversial subjects. I just get a tad prickly when yet another batch of boys demand I believe them rather than my own lyin’ eyes.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            “I just get a tad prickly when yet another batch of boys demand I believe them rather than my own lyin’ eyes.”

            Just in case I wasn’t clear enough b4… I’m 100% behind you (I get extremely prickly myself about those things too)

          • purple sage

            Dear Mar Iguana,

            I was there during the Trans Train Wreck at IBTP, too. My name was Bushfire back then and I was behaving horribly to my sisters because of my trans Kool Aid. I would like to apologize now for anyone I hurt. I reached peak trans after Twisty retired from blogging and so I could never discuss it further over there. I’m sorry you were banned, Mar Iguana. Glad to see you’re still participating in the feminist blogosphere.

          • tinfoil hattie

            purple sage, I went back and re-read that awful train-wreck of a post, and I didn’t see where you were horrible to anyone. Many people WERE awful, but I didn’t read anything you wrote that way.

            (those comments still make me shudder)

          • Mar Iguana

            Thanks, purple sage. If anybody owes an apology it’s one Twisty Faster. It was very discouraging to see someone I so admired betray women for a bunch of delusional woman-hating men.

            On the other hand, the fact that Twisty essentially shut down IBTP rather than allow women to point out trans insanity may have opened some eyes and caused others to reach peak trans too.

          • I found IBTP after the blog had been pretty well shuttered, with Twisty blogging only intermittently. I read through many of the older posts, because I wanted to find out where feminism was at, never having followed what was going on online, and I was coming across the terms ‘trans’ and ‘cis’ and was trying to understand what it was all about.

            I read that there were these awful women being bigoted to, and causing the deaths of, trans women, etc. I thought – “Well that sounds bad” and looked into it a bit more – ie. where specific evil women were mentioned I looked them up to see what they had actually said/done.

            (This was especially necessary because as I read more, I noticed a pattern, that when claims of violence and bigotry were made against women/feminists, they were very vague and non-specific, and I just wanted to know – what form did this bigotry/violence take? Where a woman is the target of violence/bigotry, and this is written about on a feminist blog, the specifics are usually made pretty clear. I wondered – why the difference?)

            I noticed that these women weren’t doing or saying anything like what was claimed – they were simply gender critical, rather than attacking trans people. If anything, they were supportive of transg as gender non-conforming.

            I noticed that the transg supremacist crowd didn’t have any good arguments and shut down discussion by being incredibly vicious (of course, they intimated that they acted this way that they couldn’t bear these awful bigots who were killing trans women by being gender critical or by centering girls and women in their feminism.)

            I found this all pretty alarming. Peak trans came pretty quickly for me, within days or weeks of learning what trans and cis were all about – largely because of what I read at IBTP. FreeThoughtBlogs and Feministe also played their part.

          • vagabondi

            Me! I’d been reading along for a while, not commenting, but really enjoying the site and many of the commenters. I really hadn’t formed any opinion on trans issues yet, but I couldn’t help but notice that in the course of, what, two posts? pretty much all of the interesting, smart, radical women were banned, and the ones left standing had nowhere near the feminist or intellectual chops. So I thought that might be indicative of which stance was defensible, and which was maybe lacking logically or politically.

          • “…not commenting, but really enjoying the site and many of the commenters. I really hadn’t formed any opinion on trans issues yet, but I couldn’t help but notice that in the course of, what, two posts? pretty much all of the interesting, smart, radical women were banned, and the ones left standing had nowhere near the feminist or intellectual chops.”

            ^^^^My experience of reading IBTP also.
            It made me realise that any thoughtful or substantial critical analysis of gender was considered ‘transphobic’ and basically unspeakable within ‘feminism’.

            Reading over the blog after it had already begun to die, allowed me to see a play-by-play of how female-centering, gender critical feminist voices are shut down or self-censor due to the belief that gender critical analysis constitutes violence against transwomen, which is used as a justification for the bullying and no-platforming of gender critical women.

            IMO, my feminism will be gender-critical, or it won’t actually be feminism, but rather feminine individualism aka liberal feminism.

            (Perhaps I have it wrong and that is what fem-in-ism actually stood for all along. I guess that actually makes me a femaleist.)

          • purple sage

            I think that Twisty just honestly doesn’t know what’s going on out there in transgenderland. I think if she knew she’d reach peak trans like the rest of us. I still remember her as a brilliant feminist, and I have a book that I made of hand-picked quotes of hers that I treasure.

          • Mar Iguana

            Nah, she knew. She’s way too intelligent to not have known. Maybe she saw the writing on the wall and realized that once IBTP had shown up on the radar of translandians she would have to be constantly policing her blog or suffer vicious attack. Whatever. I lost all respect for her because of her willingness to throw radfems under the bus.

            That being said, IBTP is a valuable resource to women of posts that used humor and wit to skewer sexism and give lie to the “fact” that woman have no sense of humor.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            “Maybe she saw the writing on the wall and realized that once IBTP had shown up on the radar of translandians she would have to be constantly policing her blog or suffer vicious attack”

            ^ That’s a very good theory. Trolls, vicious attacks, online stalking (etc) can take its toll on the best of us.

            My personal theory (and I’m totally willing to be proved wrong) is that she was too invested in a close personal friendship with a FtM trans. <Not that there's anything wrong with that [I, myself, have a good deal of sympathy for the FtM – but not the other kind… no, I'm afraid], but one should be able to psychologically separate heart-felt principles vs. close relations that might not align with those principles and carry on being friends, but mutually acknowledge our difference of opinion, while still respecting and/or caring about each other. I know: a tricky feat to accomplish, but… not impossible.

          • Mar Iguana

            “Trolls, vicious attacks, online stalking (etc) can take its toll on the best of us.”

            Yeah, I lost count of how many times I’ve been banned over this lunacy. Once, since M2T lovers were bandying my name about, before I’d even said one word. Okay, my first comment consisted of (_|_). Still.

            “…she was too invested in a close personal friendship with a FtM trans.”

            That is exactly what I was told by a couple of very credible radfems at the time.

          • Hi, purple sage/bushfire /*waves*/. I remember the train wreck all too clearly, and I remember some of your comments during it. Not nasty or anything, (and outside the trainwreck insightful and full of good stuff!). I guess the most accurate way to put it about the comments is I didn’t agree with them mostly. So — I don’t know how to articulate it exactly — but it gives me a great warm fuzzy feeling of home-coming to hear that you don’t agree with them either anymore. Woot! You’ve made my day!

          • purple sage

            I wasn’t the nastiest one. There was one woman saying “go take yourself out with the trash, TERF.” And that was horrible! What I really regret is telling Morag that she was misrepresenting the words of trans women. She was quoting them directly, and I didn’t want to believe it. I believed a fake narrative about what trans women are like instead of believing my own feminist sister who had done her research! Never again. I stand with my sisters now.

          • Morag

            Thank you, purple sage. Your sincere apology means a lot to me. Personally and politically. It makes me feel more hopeful.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            @ Meghan:

            You ain’t kidding…

            Twisty; such an awesome feminist writer; she got me on stitches of laughter about issues I should be really on tears of despair instead.
            Fantastic, natural born teacher she is as well…

          • Meghan Murphy

            Totally

        • Non-PC RadFem

          “I am thankful to have found Feminist Current, as Meghan Murphy tackles these issues in a beautifully nuanced, compassionate way. (Thanks, Meghan!)”

          I think it’s safe to say; we’re all very grateful for this ‘earth-wire’ to sanity, otherwise known as: Feminist Current.

          Lovely to see you here, though… 🙂

  • julian ambrosiano

    I’m not sure why you included that questionable “advice” given by Lauren Cox’ convict character in Orange Is The New Black. Was it a comment on Cox to connect her situation into your previous comments, a comment on gendering advice of male children, or both?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I included it because it quite perfectly illustrated the point I made above the image: “If gender identity is an individual, personal thing, as we are told, is gendered oppression no longer a social issue but rather a malleable choice?”

      • julian ambrosiano

        Ok, I get the gendered oppression part and think it is both a social issue and a malleable choice. However, placing Cox there unnamed as her character–who is not espousing Cox’s own views on how to raise male children–conflates her choice to transition with both your previous comments on transwomen and with her character’s loathsome advice.

        I just don’t think that was fair to Cox. If you didn’t mean to do so, then I apologize for my incorrect supposition

        • Meghan Murphy

          Do you mean I should have specified that this was a scene from OITNB? That is a good point. I will edit.

          • Ellesar

            I was enraged by that scene and appalled that the scriptwriters chose to do that. It made Sophia a deeply unlikeable character, and as there is no follow up we are really supposed to think that Sophia thinks that it is fine that young men find young women insecure enough to be treated like shit?!

            It really hit a nerve for me as I was one of those girls.

            I really think that OITNB missed the mark completely with the Sophia character in Season 3.

          • S.Law

            And by the size differential of the feuding mothers (Latina kitchen supervisor and Cox character). I agree that ganging up is wrong (ultimately this is what happened). But in their initial confrontation it was just the two angry mothers trying to argue that the other’s son was the bad influence (which in itself is sort of prototypical, at least from what I observed as an adolescent with a disruptive influence sister who was blamed for another girl’s misbehaviour). It just seemed wrong – to suggest that the two mothers were on equal footing, physically. No frigging way. I agree that it is wrong to assume just because you are larger physically you will necessarily be triumphant in a fight (but it helps in a one-on-one fight). Sometimes David triumphs. But looking at what happens in cases of domestic violence the woman in a heterosexual relationship may initiate or fight back but she is the one who is almost guaranteed to be more seriously injured no matter what she does (doesn’t respond to violence with violence or does). The Cox character is not a shrinking violet. Is very opinionated. Yet, according to many characterizations of many prototypical females passivity and silence (don’t speak until spoken to) are required traits. Not very ‘feminine’. Unless you are looking at a very circumscribed (looking in from the outside) view of femininity. That is, dressing the part.

          • S.Law

            Although comparing Cox to other characters on OINB, who really is a shrinking violet on that show? Most of the women are confrontational at some point (just because of scarce resources & few opportunities for well-paid prison jobs). Maybe this is more a class thing. Although Piper is just getting weirder and more delusional (Look at me, I’m a big crime boss) and she was raised in an upper class household. I mean really, who has a housekeeper in most average middle class homes. My family was middle class (father worked as a manager in high tech, mother worked as a nurse part-time when we were children). Upper class women seem more conformist, which is really paradoxical. Given their increased resources. Just look at the lives of the women as depicted in the book “Primates of Park Avenue”. Although that book has been panned in a variety of places. Just back to the women can’t win position. Although MRA types claim it for themselves it applies to women a great deal of the time. Shrinking violet (shy) … panned by other louder women and society (everyone loves extroverts, what’s your problem). Loud woman … also panned by society. Can’t win.

          • Tim

            Thank you for the additional caption information. I don’t watch very much TV, but I do know what OITNB is and who Cox is, but didn’t recognize from the pictures. I read this last night and was kind of hunh? and now I get it!

          • Meghan Murphy

            Sorry about that… Shoulda done that in the first place!

  • J

    Three cheers for Meghan and her ability to once again so accurately describe a nuanced, critical analysis without blindly ascribing to a political allegiance. A win for reason.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks J

  • Carmen Speer

    I read recently about the sky-high murder rate among transgender people, especially transwomen (those who don’t pass), especially black transwomen, so I feel sympathy for their plight. However, the trans movement has been hijacked by the same people who always want to silence radical feminists and play ‘femininity’ up to be a good thing, and they’ve galvanized and brainwashed transwomen, and now it’s just getting ridiculous (like people saying talking about FGM–female genital mutilation–is “cissexist” because not all female people have clitorises. What?). It’s really strange. I mean, you even have some people arguing that because of the existence of intersex people there might be an actual XX woman with a penis, and therefore having a penis is part of the condition and definition of being “woman.” I’m not sure when we started defining a group by its tiniest minority, but hey…it’s not much different than a tiny but visible minority controlling the conversation about feminism. It’s become a prop, a political tool, and it’s a shame, for transpeople and feminists alike.

    Also, it’s dangerous, as quite apart from the issue of gender essentialism erasing the political category of “woman” undermines feminism (how can you talk about women’s issues if you can’t talk about women?), and as the lines of who can and can’t be defined as “woman” are getting so blurry that anyone can call himself a woman and don a wig and hang around in the girl’s locker room, staring at girls and/or snapping pictures. I’m not sure if such individuals–those taking advantage, who may not truly “feel” like women at all, and who may be doing it just to be creepy perverts–account for the incidence of violence among transwomen, which is not at a level with that among cis-women (so again, it’s men, not women, ruining it for real transwomen by claiming to be transwomen and getting up to no good, thus making women suspicious of any non-passing transwoman in her private space). And there’s the issue of men who transition and keep their jobs (that they got as men) and their money (that they got as men) being counted in tallies of women employees and their salaries and their net worth.

    I actually don’t mind that someone like Caitlyn Jenner might want to present herself as the sexy form of woman, as we are all pressured to do that, since it’s held up as the image of the “ideal woman,” or even that she might appear on the cover of a magazine that way, as many female stars do. It’s that we’re celebrating this. So, let her appear in the magazine and say how good she looks. But don’t call it a victory, for transwomen or feminists. If it didn’t come with all the fanfare it would just be another example of a woman caving to the pressures of a society that wants her to be a pretty object.

    Should transwomen be required to learn about feminism before becoming women? If they’re going to carry out the most extreme form of appropriation and demand we accept them (I mean seriously, this is kind of like if a white man put on blackface and then demanded that black people accept him, and managed to gain political support for being oppressed because black people beat him up for it all the time–although in the case of transwomen it’s men, not women, doing the assaulting, physically at least; women just do some rejecting), maybe they should try to understand what it really means to be a woman first, beyond what society tells us; that is, the lived experiences of women, and alternate ways of presenting as a woman (besides the “feminine” ideal). If you’re going to appropriate another’s identity–especially an oppressed other’s identity–you can at least be sensitive about it, whatever your own identity troubles and however severe they may be. I mean, if you really wanted to try to become another identity why wouldn’t you do your best to understand it from all angles rather than adopting a simplified perspective presented to you by the larger society?

    I moved to Mexico just to get the setting and background of the book I’m writing right. I chose to make the main character identify as white, though I am sure I would have no problem writing about a Hispanic character, not only to present her view of Mexico as an outsider but also to avoid accusations of racism, should this thing ever get published *knock on wood.* But I also wanted to understand what I was writing about, and to that end I think have succeeded. I couldn’t have written this book using Google earth. I’ve learned so much in the time I’ve been here. And I’m not Mexican. Transwomen can learn plenty about womanhood before they transition.

    But beyond all that, of course, there would be no need for dangerous hormones or harmful surgeries or gender dysmorphia if we lived in a post-gender society. Men might still “feel” a little different than your average man, and women might still “feel” a little different than your average woman, but they could behave and dress how they wanted without having to put a label on it. It would be interesting, really, to see a post-gender society. Would we even have such a thing as “your average man” and “your average woman,” or would people exhibit a range of behaviors with only a vague correlation with biological sex? Someone should write a book about it.

    • Non-PC RadFem

      “I read recently about the sky-high murder rate among transgender people, especially transwomen (those who don’t pass), especially black transwomen, so I feel sympathy for their plight.”

      I read those statistics are inflated for political reasons.
      But even if they weren’t, let’s say, they are indeed legitimate numbers, the aggressors are men.
      Yet, the tans-activists whine to us; Feminist women about it… *eye-roll*

      Besides sympathy, there’s not much else WE can do about it, since a) we’re not the cause of the problem and b) we have our hands full fighting against male aggression on you know… women, little girls and children in general.

      “However, the trans movement has been hijacked by the same people who always want to silence radical feminists [..]”

      Yup. You got that right 🙂

      “[..] now it’s just getting ridiculous (like people saying talking about FGM–female genital mutilation–is “cissexist” because not all female people have clitorises. What?). It’s really strange.”

      It’s not strange > IT IS EVIL.

      “I mean, you even have some people arguing that because of the existence of intersex people there might be an actual XX woman with a penis, and therefore having a penis is part of the condition and definition of being “woman.”

      True, and I have the utter most respect for intersex people. But determining who is truly intersexed and who isn’t just takes a simple DNA test.

      By the by: intersex people are really pissed-off about how the trans-crowd hijacked their medically demonstrable condition (they’re not amused, let me tell ya) to advance their own trans-political goals.

      “Also, it’s dangerous, as quite apart from the issue of gender essentialism erasing the political category of “woman” undermines feminism (how can you talk about women’s issues if you can’t talk about women?), and as the lines of who can and can’t be defined as “woman” are getting so blurry that anyone can call himself a woman and don a wig and hang around in the girl’s locker room [..]”

      To be fair, I’m not personally worried about girls’ locker rooms [mainly because you can’t pay me to get into on of those, but that’s me, and my phobias] but I am far more concerned about any Tom, DICK and Harry being able to identify themselves as genuine “women,” and then dictate the discourse of Feminism, or testify about how women experience life under the Patriarchy…

      We have enough troubles fighting off the lib-fems apologists and Patriarchy’s natural born female handmaidens as it is!

      There’s a reason why we, RadFems, don’t allow sympathetic men to call themselves ’feminists’ and we call them allies instead.

      “[. And there’s the issue of men who transition and keep their jobs (that they got as men) and their money (that they got as men) being counted in tallies of women employees and their salaries and their net worth.”

      Bang on sister!

      “Should transwomen be required to learn about feminism before becoming women? If they’re going to carry out the most extreme form of appropriation and demand we accept them (I mean seriously, this is kind of like if a white man put on blackface and then demanded that black people accept him, [..]”

      Call me crazy, but I have this nagging feeling that if it was a white man [or men] pretending to be black instead of a woman pretending to be black… we probably would never heard of the story.

      “If you’re going to appropriate another’s identity–especially an oppressed other’s identity–you can at least be sensitive about it, [..]”

      As a rule of thumb; you pretty much don’t appropriate the identity of an oppressed group you don’t belong to. End of.

      But in the case of trans-activists [< I make the distinction between them and regular trans folk who go about their business without making themselves ‘visible’ (I really wanna say: ‘nuisance,’ but I‘m just being polite, as I was conditioned I must be, as a female, living in a patriarchal society – must care about the feelings of others, but never my own, you know…)]

      …I was saying: trans-activists are definitely not being sensitive about how the other side feels, they just wanna ram their trans gospels down our feminist’ throats.

      Sounds familiar? …[?]…

      PS: Great post, Carmen, btw 🙂

      • Detailed post with lots of links to sources about the issue of numbers of trans women killed. Bottom line:

        If you adjust those numbers for race and gender it becomes obvious how some trans women are obviously at higher risk. Blacks and Hispanics are about 29% of the general population, and women are about half the US population, which means ~15% of the trans population should be TWOC – and those black and Hispanic trans women account for more than 90% of all trans murder victims.

        Notably, white trans women were killed less often per capita than cis white women. … transphobic murder appears to be an issue almost exclusively affecting trans women of color.

        Elsewhere she mentions that only a few of the murders were identifiably due to transphobic violence. About half were partner violence, and in many cases there was no reason to think the murderer knew the victim was trans. So a big confounding factor is the appallingly high rate of murder and violence against women of color.

        • Erika

          A large number of MtT work in the sex industry or in porn. Many of the ones who don’t, report casually “hooking up.” This is a dangerous “profession” for all and casual “hook-ups” are also fraught with danger. Does anyone have hard numbers of how many transpeople in the sex industry are murdered compared to women sex workers who are murdered? If all transpeople rejected work in porn and the sex industry, I believe the murder rates would go down drastically. (I know many claim to have no choice, but that claim is suspect.)

  • marv

    An exquisite outpouring of empathy and hard truth.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks marv

  • Nicole

    This was very well written. I feel like you handled this subject in a very respectful and well thought out way. Thank you.

    It really hit me when you said “we learn our boundaries are “rude” and that they will be violated”. I’ve been struggling with setting boundaries my entire life, always feeling like it would be “selfish” of me to do so. Even to the point of being raped and thinking that if I said no I would hurt his feelings. I’ve always put others before me, yet all my life have been told how selfish I am. Through therapy I am realizing that I’m actually the opposite, unhealthily unselfish. And now I’m trying to unlearn how “rude” it is for me to set boundaries with others. When you said that statement it made me realize that this was learned behavior for being born female. I know it also is in connection with being abused as a child, but I do believe it also has to do with being a woman in this patriarchy. And you are right, this matters. This is something that women learn that men do not.

    Anyway, I was thinking the same thing when I heard about Dozelal and I’m glad that you wrote an article about it. Thank you

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks for your comment, Nicole. I STILL struggle with boundaries today and it is incredibly frustrating. I am much better at doing it in my personal life, but out on the street I continue, from time to time, to try to make men comfortable even when they make me uncomfortable. The times I don’t play nice, smile, etc. when someone intrudes on my boundaries, I have to talk myself out of feeling guilty about it. With practice, we get better, but I think it takes a while for the guilt to subside.

      • Northern Free Thinker

        Bravo on fighting for your boundaries. It is a very important step in our own health. Deserves many more words.

  • darlingolivia

    I am sorry, but even in a privileged, white male position in society, Caitlin was probably oppressed in a similar way to the way that you and I as (cis)women are oppressed.

    As a man, or someone who was performing manhood, Caitlyn (as Bruce) would lose his privileges and power if he chose to express his real feelings about his gender. Trans people are just as oppressed, and statistically in even more danger of rape and murder, as women, and are
    relegated to a similarly oppressed position in society.
    It’s like you are saying that someone who stays in the closet out of fear of the results of coming out, is not experiencing oppression because they get to taste the privilege of being a ‘straight’ person.

    If you are saying that Caitlin, as a rich person, was not as ‘in danger’ as her trans siblings, then you have to extend this category to all rich people, and say that if you are wealthy, you are in less danger of gendered/sexually based violence. Which is true. But this is a different subject.

    So Caitlyn may be an anomaly because she is rich, and is able to afford the kind of surgeries that SOME trans women might dream about, but I think that your idea of her male privilege ignores the fact that she likely had to OPPRESS AND BIND a whole part of herself in order to make herself OK for society and gain that privilege. Which sounds exactly like your description (and my experience) of womanhood.

    • Meghan Murphy

      But people aren’t oppressed because of their feelings… They are oppressed because of systemic inequality/systems of power…

      • darlingolivia

        That is true. And the systems of power that Caitlyn, you and I live under do not allow cis men to express their femininity easily, without cost. Especially in the era that Caitlyn is from.

        • Eli

          Men’s systems (that they put in place) and the very system Bruce Jenner benefitted from for over *60 years* do *not* oppress them, no matter how they “identify”. They might face discrimination for not following the rules set for them through ideals of masculinity, but that is not the same as oppression.

          Bruce Jenner was for over 60 years an incredibly successful and privileged man. He was not oppressed, in any way, shape or form by his “identity”, because oppression doesn’t work off “identity”, but material reality. Had he been born a woman his life would have been vastly different from what it is now. For instance, he wouldn’t have been able to sign up for those all-male golf clubs or gain that amount of success in a male sport.

          It’s really a form of privilege for him to be able to stay his transition until his ripe old age. It requires a hefty amount of cognitive dissonance to not see that. The fact that he could live as a man and be accepted as a man and gain success as a man until he decided when would be a good time to “become a woman” is a measure of privilege women born women are not afforded, ever. We have to live this reality and stay in it no matter what. His identity is an insult to our reality.

          Please try to see how illogical and plainly strange your argument is, darlingolivia. It makes no sense whatsoever and doesn’t hold up to any kind of scrutiny.

          • darlingolivia

            hahahhaha. Eli, don’t be patronizing, it’s not a very friendly quality.

            I have, in various roles, met many men who are so afraid to tell their male friends and colleagues that they are bisexual, gay, trans or somewhere on the spectrum, so much so that it haunts them. I have met some who have tried to kill themselves. These people are beneficiaries of male privelege, sure, but they don’t feel that in the same way that straight white males do.

            Women are expected to be subservient because they are women, but men are expected to walk around with a certain armor and behavior. I am not saying this is oppression for a straight white male – it is privelege – but for a ‘man’ who grows up feeling female, the expectation to perform masculinity is fairly oppressive because ‘he’ is having to cut away his SELF in order to benefit from the patriarchy.

            To put it another way: IF YOU COULD PASS AS A MAN TODAY and thus gain all the power of the patriarchy, would you??? Of course not, because those of us who feel the gender female would be tortured by the prospect. TORTURED.

            Caitlyn Jenner is somewhat of a bad example because she is rich, but I am assuming that she felt the same fears as other trans women do, and felt tortured by this, otherwise why would she wait to transition?

            Sure, she is celebrated now, but this is because it is at last fashionable to accept trans people to a small degree. However, I don’t think this rings true in larger society where trans people are endlessly discriminated and it has taken years and years for it to be SAFE enough for some trans people to out themselves.

            What do you think would have happened if Jenner outed herself in the 1980s? Do you think the president would have shouted out to her? UNLIKELY.

            How is it a privilege to stay living your whole life in a way that makes you feel alienated from your own self?

          • tinfoil hattie

            “DEAR GOD, WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?”

            – twisty faster

          • Mar Iguana

            Feel, feeling, feel, felt, feel..try writing your comment without those words, darlingolivia.

            It’s well past time women stopped giving a damn about male fragile fee fees.

          • S.Law

            “Women are expected to be subservient because they are women”

            Wow! And you think women (any of them) are happy with that. That subservience has led some to act out and assert dominance against vulnerable others (children, women of lower SES (think nannies, servants)). Mother-in-law’s asserting god-like dominance over daughter-in-law’s in certain cultures. You think that is good for women or human society as a whole. Sort of like a “Kid’s in the Hall” sketch in which the dad is yelled at by his boss, comes home and yells at his wife who yells at her child and ends with the child kicking the dog. The ‘pass it along’ trend is much commoner than the ‘pay it forward’ one. There are a lot of women who would like to wield power, to run companies, and countries. To assume there aren’t is to be completely unobservant of female behaviour in one’ life and in a historical sense. I think we should give women a chance to be leaders so we don’t have these toxic relationships in society. I don’t want to repeat patterns of dominance and say because women are doing it now it’s OK. I just think that saying that women are used to being subservient is just ridiculous. It is like you have no idea of the complexity of human relationships, where a person can be dominant in one context and subservient in another. Just because women may be used to being subservient wrt men or in the context of the public sphere does not mean they are at all resigned to their fate.

          • darlingolivia

            on what planet did i say that i am happy with that.
            dude, i am a survivor of multiple sexual abuses and rape.
            i am someone who grew up so poor we had nothing to eat, i barely went to school (i went back to school as an adult because i wanted to be literate enough to argue with radfems on blogs). i have suffered under a patriarchal system just like every other woman.

            but i am ok with sharing space with trans women.
            yes, some of them act like massive privileged douches because they have a hard time understanding what it is like to grow up in this culture as a girl child and a woman. but most of them are not like that. and knowing a few, and having had the privilege of hearing their stories, i know that many of them faced just as much oppression and discrimination as i have.

            i use the description of their feelings in order to ask the reader to look within them and see someone who is being just as oppressed as you are or i am. if any of you would stop pretending that i am sympathising with white male feelings for a minute, you would see that.
            i know it furthers your arguments but it’s clearly not what i am saying.

            i have a couple friends who tried to commit suicide because – i will avoid the word FEELINGS because it is so clearly problematic – because they grew up in an oppressive culture where to admit to being trans and or being attracted to men was to experience cultural death.
            the same way that i am marginalised for being a woman who does not perform femininity in the ways i am expected to, these friends were marginalised to the point of total exclusion from their culture for daring not to perform masculinity in the ways i have described.

            there is no doubt that trans women can, as men, benefit from patriarchial culture in ways that you and i cannot. that is not up for argument.
            but the argument for me is whether they suffer from oppression and discrimination as we do.

            i think they are in a strange position of being in both worlds. and yeah, some of them are socialised to expect that they should still benefit from male privelege after their transition. but do they suffer from oppression? yes. are they in danger of violence and murder because they are trans? yes. do they experience job discrimination, financial discrimination, etc, once they have transitioned? yes.

          • Empirical Thinker

            As an asexual woman, I feel alienated from true self every day. I feel alienated because I am not a submissive sex object. I dont tell anyone about my sexual orientation because even my own parents don’t believe it exists. I accepted many years ago that other people do not see me the way I see myself. Sorry, but that’s just life as a non-conformist. You must have really fit in if you think people see you the way you see yourself.

            If I could become a man and gain those freedoms without mutilating my body, I would. But it shouldn’t have to be either/or regarding arbitrarily gendered behaviors. Personality traits don’t belong to one sex or another. You should hate compulsory gender roles, not feminists.

          • Empirical Thinker

            You really think most women don’t live in a way that is alienated from who they are? I am asexual, yet I am forced to submit to and pretend to enjoy sex to gain any social standing whatsoever. I want to be seen as a person, and every single person who watches porn and objectifies women alienates me from that. Only one person in my life has ever seen me for who I am instead of what they want me to be. I am now haunted by the hypersexualization of women that is supported by many prominent trans activist including Caitlyn Jenner and especially Paris Lees, who literally says women should enjoy being objectified. That is extremely alienating. All I (and I think many other radical feminists) ever wanted is to be myself without being forced to deny my biology. I am not stereotypically feminine. So if I could act more like a man and get more privileges, I would choose to, but not at the expense of women (so that rules out scores of masculine behaviors) because I am not a sociopath, and not at the expense of acknowledging my body.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Also, what objectification does is it cuts women up into pieces. It turns us into body parts instead of whole beings. This is what we critique, as feminists, all the time. What we fight for is to be seen as full human beings, not as fuckable objects or bodies or body parts. The argument that women are privileged because we get to feel ‘whole’ or that we aren’t alienated from ourselves doesn’t fly.

          • purple sage

            “I am asexual, yet I am forced to submit to and pretend to enjoy sex to gain any social standing whatsoever.”

            Oh dear Empirical Thinker, I’m not sure exactly what your situation is but it sounds like you are being sexually abused. I wish for you safety and security as soon as possible.

          • jelly

            I think the current fashion in feminist talk is to have deep excel spreadsheets on privilege.

            Jenner, sure, he had male white sports hero privilege. But if you don’t want to be that and you risk a lot financially, socially, and personally to suppress and deny, that is oppressive. Now when he has a lot of reality show money and exposure and doesn’t have to worry that the local company will fire him or lay him off or so forth, she is privileged in a many ways to do it now. But there are strong cultural punishments he avoided by having his own money before full transition and outing. But they are there for any white man still. He wanted to come out in the 80’s and could not bring himself to do it because it was quite damaging to his life at the time. He might never have gotten child visitation and lost any meaningful way to earn a living or moving in the world in those days.

            Fun fact: Vanity Fair has never given a cover to an woman as old as Jenner ever, and the magazine has been in existence for many decades. So there is age discrimination that people don’t ever mention here that women fight. when will Vanity Fair have a woman at or over 65 on the cover that wasn’t a man before?

            But at it’s core, feminism is about freeing everyone from gender stereotypes. Men being as “feminine” as they want, women being what they want, everyone freer. I do wonder what makes a woman in our general culture’s eye anymore. Is it just deference and drag? Truly over 65, women disappear from our general culture except as grandma – actually much younger than that.

            I wonder at the thing where gender not genetically assigned can be felt but nooooooo, race cannot be felt. And what about mixed race people? Do you shame them for being able to be flexible in the culture’s eye? In some ways this is like the stay at home mom and working mom conversations – who is the “real” and “natural” woman? The “better” woman? Where we read the minds of the women and call some lazy, selfish, out of touch, not natural, etc and then assign morality to it and what must be.

            Everyone freer – isn’t that the the cause to be fighting for?

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Jenner, sure, he had male white sports hero privilege. But if you don’t want to be that and you risk a lot financially, socially, and personally to suppress and deny, that is oppressive.”

            Do you think Rachel Dolezal was being oppressed before she began overtly and publicly identifying as black?

            “Fun fact: Vanity Fair has never given a cover to an woman as old as Jenner ever, and the magazine has been in existence for many decades. So there is age discrimination that people don’t ever mention here that women fight. when will Vanity Fair have a woman at or over 65 on the cover that wasn’t a man before?”

            Many people have noted this and been critical of it. Many.

            “But at it’s core, feminism is about freeing everyone from gender stereotypes. Men being as “feminine” as they want, women being what they want, everyone freer.”

            Not really… Feminism is about ending male supremacy, male violence, and patriarchy. These gender roles and stereotypes exist in order to uphold that hierarchy/those power structures. For many feminists, the hope would be that we abolish gender entirely, as soon long as gender exists, a hierarchy exist. Men ‘acting feminine’ doesn’t help to abolish gender/gender roles.

          • Laur

            What you said X 100!

            “Truly over 65, women disappear from our general culture except as grandma – actually much younger than that.”

            Interesting, isn’t it, that Jenner was the first 65-year-old “woman” to be on VF’s cover. Great how men are breaking the glass ceiling in place of women.

          • “They might face discrimination for not following the rules set for them through ideals of masculinity, but that is not the same as oppression.”

            So you think gay men aren’t oppressed by homophobia and heteronormativity? You think gender non-conforming males aren’t oppressed? Come on. Even from within a ‘radfem’ framework you should be willing to admit that men can be oppressed.

            Discrimination is part of oppression, and the aforementioned kinds are systemic. What more is there to oppression? Oppression just IS systemic discrimination, persecution, degradation, etc.

          • Mar Iguana

            The most oppressed of men can at least take comfort in the fact they are not female, that no matter what kind of useless piece of shit they may be, they are superior to the subhumans AKA women.

          • What’s the problem if Caitlyn Jenner decides when to transition according to her convenience or whatever other factors might be at play? Do trans people owe you transitioning early now, or what? She has the right to transition 5 days before she dies of old age if that’s what she wants.

            Jenner obviously benefited from male privilege when she was ‘living as a man’. This is because she is male, and if she doesn’t appear and live as a female then she will benefit from male privilege. But why is this so important to point out when she transitions? Effectively people like you scrutinize males who are trans more than those who are not.

          • Empirical Thinker

            You think radical feminists don’t criticize male men as much as, if not more than, transwomen? Have you read anything on this site at all?

        • J

          That’s because being a woman is supposed to be the worst insult against men. So, when men want to be women, other men want to correct that. That is up to men to dissect. Men need to stop devaluing women and femininity, and stop ascribing what we call feminine behaviors onto females. When men stop enforcing gender binaries, men will be able to express behaviors we deem feminine. Expressing one’s self as feminine is fine but making actual females redefine their class experience, which is based on the fact they were treated as women from birth, so that it includes men isn’t fair. The solution is to dismantle a misogynistic, patriarchal society, not invade women’s spaces and force the redefining of woman.

          • J

            And furthermore, to say you are a woman because you don’t conform to patriarchal , misogynist manhood only serves to reinforce the gender binary, essentialize women, and ultimatrly work against a safe world for gender non conformity.

        • tinfoil hattie

          Right. But the oppression Caitlyn felt while growing up is not the same as the oppression and violence girls and women experience every day. Moreover, for 65 years. Caitlyn – as Bruce – was accorded wealth, fame, and the daily benefits of being male.

          Furthermore, women are killed every day because they are women. Trans women and men are not killed in greater numbers. And let’s not forget that by and large, men are killing us – women and trans women and trans men.

          Oppression is like kids’ soccer. We all get a trophy just for playing. There’s no sense “valuing” one oppression over another. However, trying to erase women’s oppression is extremely dangerous, and outright harmful.

          • darlingolivia

            Jesus christ.

            I am not saying Jenner had it harder than most women. Even as a trans person she had it easier than most non trans, I am assuming.
            However, if I haven’t been clear enough:
            I am arguing for trans inclusion in groups who face oppression and violence by men, because they suffer a high percentage of gender and sexuality based violence!

            They haven’t suffered in higher numbers than women, but they have suffered high percentages.

            Also: I too am sick of the idea that women with vaginas, who make up both the majority of people with vaginas and the majority of women, are not allowed to talk about the problems they face as a result of being women as a result of some misplaced trans-pc.

            But that is a different problem. Ignoring trans suffering doesnt make women’s suffering any more heard. it just makes marginalised groups hate one another.

          • Morag

            When, to discuss the conflict between feminism and transgenderism, we have to write tortured sentences like this …

            “I too am sick of the idea that women with vaginas, who make up both the majority of people with vaginas and the majority of women, are not allowed to talk about the problems they face as a result of being women as a result of some misplaced trans-pc.”

            … we have already been pulled under by “trans-PC” (which is not merely “misplaced” but anti-rational) and can no longer speak clearly about being female. Fuck all those ridiculous words and constructions. Only women have vaginas. People who have vaginas are female. Simple. And true.

          • derrington

            I think the problem with trans women as such is not their access into women’s spaces but more what they do once they’re in those spaces. I have been at a meeting recently where a trans woman became extremely agitated at the group discussing their experience of male violence as children and teenagers. The trans woman wanted to talk about her experiences to the exclusion of the majority of other women in the room and stormed out in tears when the group didnt go down that route. It felt a little like being in a breast cancer support group where one member had diabetes and wanted the discussion to be about their experience. I don’t doubt that trans women have a barrel of shit to go through but would have thought that there could be a compromise where there were breakout sessions for people to talk about their separate experiences with like experienced people. In most seminars, this is the way that the multitude of interests is dealt with. I know its not perfect, but in the end, time with other feminists is precious and the group preferences has to be respected as part of democracy.

          • Mar Iguana

            “I think the problem with trans women as such is not their access into women’s spaces but more what they do once they’re in those spaces.”

            No, the problem IS men accessing women’s spaces, taking opportunities, positions, benefits, scewing statistics, putting the burden on women to instantly determine if the male who just entered a public restroom or locker room is a dangerous perv or not.

            For example, gushing over brave Bruce being such a great role model for young male athletes confused about their sexuality who can now “become” female, join women’s sports and even become Olympic stars, winning medals that would have gone to women/girls.

            Female athletes have had to undergo invasive examination to make sure they aren’t really males competing in women’s events (never the other way around to my knowledge). Now, males can claim they are women and compete against them. Why would women be chosen to compete in the Olympics when the teams/events can be made up of SCAMs (Surgically and Chemically Altered Males) who “feel” they are women?

          • It is true that men who identify as women experience violence at the hands of other men, but the solution to this form of male violence is not to insist that women be forced by law to share our bathrooms, domestic violence shelters, locker rooms, and other female spaces with these men who think they are women. The solution is to name the problem of male violence and fight for an end to male violence. Forcing women to share their intimate spaces with men who think they are women makes women even more vulnerable to male violence. Studies show that transwomen retain the same rates of violent behavior as any other group of males, but the trans lobby is working hard to change this (not by fighting male violence in the trans community, but by legally reclassifying violent acts committed by transwomen as crimes committed by females). We have already seen high profile rape cases where MtFs used their penises to rape women and the rapes were listed in police logs as women raping women. Women who don’t want to share locker rooms with men who think they are women are not “transphobic.” We are legitimately concerned with the safety of female people in a culture that normalizes male violence and where rape is epidemic and basically decriminalized. http://valleywag.gawker.com/twitter-engineer-dana-mccallum-pled-guilty-to-two-misde-1643207780

          • Jinny

            “…the trans lobby is working hard to change this, not by fighting male violence in the trans community, but by legally reclassifying violent acts committed by transwomen as crimes committed by females” In the insanity which is transland, this is one of the most disturbing things I have heard recently. What horror to destroy women will they come up with next? I am completely astonished at the stupidity, the culpability, the speed with which so many institutions stumble over themselves to pander to mtt’s. It feels more and more that women are under perhaps the greatest attack in my long lifetime. P.S: Meghan, I would love for you to do an article on the true story, the process, behind the USA women’s colleges decision to allow (trans) men. This is, to me, one of the great tragedies brought about by trans insanity.

          • Jinny

            To expand on my horror regards mtt’s claiming that their violence is done as women. What they are doing so shockingly successfully, is to now contaminate women with all the worst of male qualities. By men, fantasizing and impersonating women, and somehow convincing institutions, perhaps not as many citizens, that their illusions are reality, they are dragging women (and too many children and youth) as a class under with them. We need to now start organizing as women, as lesbians, as feminists, to challenge this madness everywhere: public opinion, the press, the courts. We need our brave and courageous writers, lawyers, educators, all of us, to speak up ever more, but mostly to organize in groups of actual, not virtual, people to say: ENOUGH. No More. Not In Our Name.

          • gxm17

            But there are trans women who believe that they are more oppressed than born women. And they are very vocal about it. Recently, on a so-called feminist site, one began transplaining how sexual harassment was much worse for trans women and she then went on at length about being stalked by a man who followed her home. It was mindblowing because the discussion was about harassment and many born women had shared similar stories. (The first time, that I remember, being stalked and followed home was when I was nine years old.) It seems to me that there are far too many trans women who want to further marginalize born women by denying our life experience as human beings born with female reproductive systems. And they are proving successful in silencing women like me because after reading her comment, I just closed the window because I knew that if I pointed out her male privilege, I’d be blacklisted or worse. There is a level of trans hostility towards born women that is not merely accepted, it is applauded and the trans community needs to start calling out the misogyny among their supporters.

        • EEU

          Men’s feelings > women’s reality.

        • Vamp à New York

          I think you have that backwards regarding “costs.”

          Male US veterans who want to live as women get their breast implants cost-free as a part of their benefits, but female US veterans who need abortions get zero coverage for that life-saving medical procedure.

          The cost for being female is always more burdensome for women.

          • darlingolivia

            why are you blaming trans women for a christian and patriarchial power issue? women are not denied abortions because trans women are allowed implants, but because the far right christian patriarchy denies them.

            it is great that trans women get implants. it is a terrible tragedy that women are denied abortions. why does this make trans women the enemy?
            the anti abortion movement is so vicious in the US. It seems unlikely that the reasons trans women get implants are as closely related to their male privelege; it seems more likely that it is an easier issue to fight for than abortion rights, which causes fire bombings in the US.

            This is CLEARLY the partiarchy at work in the case of abortion rights. CLEARLY. But it’s not so easy to assume that trans people are getting things because partiarchy. for instance, are trans men’s hormones as readily available as trans women’s implants?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Why is it ‘great’ that trans women get implants? I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to, but I do wonder what’s ‘great’ about it, if not only because I don’t think it’s ‘great’ that any woman get implants, in general… It’s still a surgery that can be dangerous, has to be redone every ten years or something, can cause health problems, and reinforces an ideal that women are meant to live up to/reinforces objectification/perpetuates porny ideals of womenhood/perpetuates the idea that ‘sexiness’ is based on women’s desirability/ability to turn on men, rather than their own actual sexual enjoyment.

          • S.

            Kind of weird that these men think flat-chested women don’t exist. I’m sure it’s nothing, though.

          • darlingolivia

            can you please address the larger statement?
            On the whole I do not agree with breast implants and I agree that they are a tool in the pornfication of women, and I think the medicalisation of transitioning is problematic. but i don’t understand how trans women being allowed access to something they might desperately want is proof that they have more power than women.
            even if this thing that they want is bound in some patriarchal ideas of what a woman should look like, it is not proof of their power, in fact it is proof that they are victims of the same patriarchal oppression that we are.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “can you please address the larger statement?”

            Hmm, no… I’m specifically responding to the ‘breast implants are great’ comment because I think it is problematic to argue against plastic surgery for women but then to say it’s great for trans people.

            “i don’t understand how trans women being allowed access to something they might desperately want is proof that they have more power than women.”

            I didn’t make that argument and never would. They can and do have access, just as all women do (so long as they can pay for it). I don’t understand how my question translates to “proof” that trans have more power than women. That makes no sense to me.

          • gxm17

            “… in fact it is proof that they are victims of the same patriarchal oppression that we are.”

            No. They are not. They do not have female reproductive organs and their bodies are never, either pre- or post-transition, subjected to patriarchal chattel tenets, traditions and laws that mandate women’s bodies as community property and control our access to medical care and reproductive health. A MtF trans person retains this male privilege wherever they are in their transition journey. It was given to them at birth and it can never be forfeited.

            And this, for me, is the biggest travesty of the “woman-as-costume” gender bullshit that is pushed by self-proclaimed trans supporters and their strict adherence to gender stereotypes. It doesn’t matter what clothes, shoes, cosmetics, hairstyle, or “gendered” performance — masculine, feminine or none of the above — that born women “present” with, our biologically female bodies are still considered someone else’s property. Our reproductive organs are not a costume.

          • lizor

            “They do not have female reproductive organs and their bodies are never, either pre- or post-transition, subjected to patriarchal chattel tenets, traditions and laws that mandate women’s bodies as community property and control our access to medical care and reproductive health.”

            Yes. Thank you.

            And to then insist that the accurate naming of women’s reproductive health cease in service to some perverted notion of “inclusivity” both utilizes and perpetuates the ideology of biologically female bodies as public property to be manipulated and employed in service to others. It’s old anti-female bigotry in a new dress.

          • Empirical Thinker

            I don’t think breast implants are great. They reinforce the idea that female parts only exist for sexual pleasure. Furthermore, it contributes to the fetishization of breasts, which stigmatizes women who need life-saving masectomies. My mother had breast cancer and I probably will too, so it seems a little absurd to focus on people’s right to have medically unnecessary surgery when so many women are at risk of dying because of their breasts…

          • derrington

            Might be helpful if trans women were vocal on protecting women’s rights to abortions, anti child rape/child ‘marriage’ etc. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I haven’t come across trans women fighting for other women’s rights. That might well be because I’m not that up on trans women’s spaces, the few that I’ve ventured in to haven’t dealt with issues that I’m particularly interested in, probably because I’m not trans.

          • Wombat

            “Might be helpful if trans women were vocal on protecting women’s rights to abortions, anti child rape/child ‘marriage’ etc.”

            Happy to help:

            https://www.facebook.com/becauseiamawomanad?fref=ts

      • Joy

        Well, privilege and oppression are both systemic and internal, right? To only focus on systemic, to the exclusion of the individual, won’t do much…same with the opposite. If you feel internally conflicted inside about who you are, and society is pouring privileges onto you because of an identity that you don’t align with, you might not be interpreting these privileges in the same way a non-conflicted person would. “Feeling whole” and unfractured is a giant part of the systemic privileges that cis people and white people experience. You can go through your day without a split consciousness.

        Therefore, because you get to feel whole throughout your day, you don’t even recognize THAT as a systemic privilege. You take it for granted. It’s not just about your random”personal feeling.” We’re not talking about Caitlyn Jenner having a tummy ache and how she feels depressed about that. We’re talking about her gender identity which is extremely personal AND extremely political because it’s wrapped up in systems of identity and gender.

        If you don’t “get” that, perhaps it’s more of a reflection of your own whole-ness and privilege. We can’t keep having super basic conversations about privilege. “he’s white and he has a dick PRIVILEGE!!!” I mean, that’s just basic. It obscures how complex gender identity and systems of oppression operate.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Do you think Rachel Dolezal felt ‘whole’? Or do you think she felt ‘conflicted inside’ about who she is? Was she being oppressed because she was forced to live as white when she felt ‘black’ on the inside?

        • Missfit

          Many women do feel ‘internally conflicted’ and fractured. Between allowing themselves to be humans and the pressures of femininity. As a result of male violence and/or patriarchal indoctrination. Viewing their body as an estranged object. Why do you assume we ‘cis women’ feel whole? What does that even mean? What is gender identity? I don’t identify with the patriarchal image of ‘woman’, the one Simone de Beauvoir said is not born but made. I am a woman because I was born so.

          • Diana

            I just realised that this de Beauvoir’s statement should be read as “Patriarchally conforming woman is not born, but made.” instead of just “A WOMAN is not born, but made.” I think it is misunderstood most of the time, because it’s impossible to just quote SdB out of context, and that’s why I just didn’t get it. Thanks:D

        • Empirical Thinker

          I have never commented before, but I made an account just to say how cruel this comment is. You act as if females who acknowledge their biology are 100% comfortable with their inferior position in society. I am not privileged for being female. I have been sexually harassed and bullied at every turn. My mother almost disowned me for refusing to wear makeup. I struggle against extreme depression because men either put me down or treat me as an object, which cuts at the fabric of my very being. I do not enjoy sex at all, yet I have to have it to be considered an adequate woman. I had to fight twice as hard to be recognized for my intelligence,and the vast majority of people don’t care about my accomplishments because I do not act like a fuck doll. I do not feel whole. I do not feel privileged. I do not even feel like a human being. So please, cut it out.

          • Sam

            Appreciate your responses to Joy regarding how “whole” women feel… I typed, raged, retyped, erased, fumed, walked away, drank a glass of wine, typed…then ended up just shutting my computer off, ha! What a ridiculous statement.

          • Yeah no.

            Yeah, the guy who mirrored my driving in the lane next to me yesterday, and stalked me in his car… “Just because”… what a feeling of “wholeness” that gave me. I’m sure glad this guy learned early on that women should be threatened and stalked if you want their attention, and to intimidate them if they try to evade you. Without that kind of treatment, I might feel less whole about my entire identity!

            Yeah no.

        • darlingolivia

          YAY. this is much better written than anything I have been able to write!

          • Empirical Thinker

            Joy’s statement is incredibly offensive, though, as described above. Or do females’ experiences not matter?

        • lizor

          “To only focus on systemic, to the exclusion of the individual, won’t do much…same with the opposite.”

          This discussion and the general themes discussed on this blog do talk about how sociocultural structures and individuals co-contruct one another. It’s all about that. Again you seem to be taking issue with statements that have not been made and elements of debate that are not there.

          Further, it’s quite confusing to read you telling Meghan “It’s not just about your random”personal feeling.””, while you simultaneously argue for the immutability of Jenner’s personal feeling.

          Finally, if you honestly think that biological women of all races feel “unfractured”, then I’ll bet my bottom dollar that you were born with male genitalia and secondary sex characteristics.

    • Northern Free Thinker

      I hope that means that you are in total support of Dolezal.

    • Morag

      “I am sorry, but even in a privileged, white male position in society, Caitlin was probably oppressed in a similar way to the way that you and I as (cis)women are oppressed.”

      Yeah. When Bruce was trying on his wives’ and daughters’ underwear/clothing in secret, he was quite oppressed because he (a powerful man) was oppressing himself. I mean, he probably oppressed himself really hard. It must have been quite agonizing, especially under the added burden of all that wealth and privilege.

      So, yes, that’s really quite similar to how girls and women are oppressed by male supremacy in our society.

      • Julianna

        Thanks for saying this, morag.

        Jenner is more oppressed (or even the same oppressed) as me, a born woman??? What in the world?

        I have had to put up with sexual harassment since I was freaking ten, not because I “identified” as a woman but BECAUSE I was a girl, and later a woman. (And I cannot even tell you how mystifying it was to me to be propositioned by men as a child.) I was threatened and chased by men at 13 while walking with my friend to freaking McDonalds. Later, I lived in a bad neighborhood where I was harassed every single day just for going about my business, treated like a prostitute, called names and had threatening behavior directed towards me when I did not respond to cat-calls.

        I was abused by boyfriends as a teenager (nice, white, middle-class boyfriends) until I realized I did not have to put up with it anymore, but then had to deal with family members saying, “But he is such a nice boy.”

        I was raped at the age of 33 by a man who followed me home from a party.

        I have countless stories like this….

        I am in my 40s now but STILL get harassed by men, many much younger than I. It seems to just never end.

        Why do men do this to me? Is it because I identify as a woman? Um, no. It is because I AM a woman and I am treated like one.

        But poor, rich, oppressed Jenner, winning the men’s decathlon (no women, sorry) is so, so oppressed as he masturbated wearing his daughter’s clothes. He knows being woman better than I, apparently. He fathered six children, was a deadbeat dad. I was born and raised a woman and actually gave birth and am a mother, but he and other trans are more woman than I.

        How many born women are killed every day around the world, vs the tiny amount of trans murdered, who are mostly people of color and often working in that dangerous profession known as prostitution? Dangerous to all women, not just trans women.

        Trans need to stop telling women who we are, saying we are a “feeling,” and policing how we talk. I am fed up with it. And many others will too if this overreach does not stop.

        Sorry for the rant but that comment was .. “Triggering.”

        • darlingolivia

          First off, I am so sorry these things happened to you, it breaks my heart.

          Unfortunately I think you are using your terrible, sad, unjust experiences of rape and abuse to argue against the recognition of trans people’s unjust experiences of abuse and suffering.
          this makes me incredibly, deeply sad.

          i too am a survivor of sexual abuse and rape. I have no problem acknowledging that trans people are sometimes survivors too.

          I hope that we can create a space where trans issues and womens issues can be acknowledged and recognised as equally important.

          I also acknowledge that women who have vaginas make up a majority of people who are oppressed by gender based discrimination and oppression, but I think accepting and understanding a minority into the discussion doesn’t diminish our position if it is done right.

          • Empirical Thinker

            I think most people here would agree that transwomen deserve spaces to discuss their experiences and (of course!) are due respect and dignity. We can come together on issues like male violence, which female people and transwomen both suffer from. However, the entire conversation about womanhood, femininity, and oppression should not get to be controlled by people who were not violently forced into femininity like some of us were. Transpeople should not be offended by female people talking about their shared biological reality. We are NOT the same, and that is ok! It’s just that female voices are being shouted down and even violently silenced, and that is very much NOT ok.

          • Julianna

            darlingolivia – June 20th, 2015 at 6:25 am none Comment author #265451 on You can’t ‘feel’ race, but can you ‘feel’ female? On Rachel Dolezal, Caitlyn Jenner, and unspeakable questions by Feminist Current

            [quote]First off, I am so sorry these things happened to you, it breaks my heart.[/quote]

            Thanks.

            [quote]Unfortunately I think you are using your terrible, sad, unjust experiences of rape and abuse to argue against the recognition of trans people’s unjust experiences of abuse and suffering.
            this makes me incredibly, deeply sad.[/quote]

            No, I am not. I actually think my experiences are TYPICAL of womens’ and girls’ experiences, in the white, western world. I know black women have it even worse In the West. In other countries, it is unspeakable, like the crimes in Congo against women and children. That is the stuff of nightmares.

            And I don’t hate trans people. They are human and deserve respect and dignity.

            [quote]i too am a survivor of sexual abuse and rape. I have no problem acknowledging that trans people are sometimes survivors too.[/quote]

            I am sorry you experienced that. But I never said trans people didn’t experience abuse as well.

            [quote] I hope that we can create a space where trans issues and womens issues can be acknowledged and recognised as equally important.[/quote]

            I would prefer that trans people create their own spaces and advocate politically for their issues. Trans issues do not mesh with biological women’s issues. They are just not the same.

            [quote] I also acknowledge that women who have vaginas make up a majority of people who are oppressed by gender based discrimination and oppression, but I think accepting and understanding a minority into the discussion doesn’t diminish our position if it is done right.[/quote]

            Sorry, 99.8% of women have vaginas. Cut out the “women who have vaginas” talk. Women are adult females, the class who produces ova and gestates young. And we all know it. A few outliers here and there, including intersex and infertile females, does not negate this.

            What is your agenda? Why not start your own organizations and political advocacy instead of taking over women’s spaces and health care? Just start your own! Trans women don’t have to worry about pregnancy, birth control, abortion, menopause, fibroids and other issues that affect women.

            Trans women will never be the same as bio women, so why insist that we are the same? When we are so obviously not?

          • Rich

            “What is your agenda? Why not start your own organizations and political advocacy instead of taking over women’s spaces and health care?”

            IMO, transwomen (or, at least, the activists among them) want access to womens’ organizations because what is most important to them is having women pretend to accept them as women. Trying to access womens’ organizations forces the issue.

          • Morag

            “IMO, transwomen (or, at least, the activists among them) want access to womens’ organizations because what is most important to them is having women pretend to accept them as women. Trying to access womens’ organizations forces the issue.”

            Yes. Of course. “Force” being the operative word. It’s a show of dominance over women. The very last thing these men are is “feminine.”

          • Julianna

            Wow, sorry about the bad quoting. But thanks to Rich and Morag for the responses. My reply turned into a mess, so very glad people took the time to read it!

          • Rich

            I wonder if I am alone in thinking that male oriented sites do not get the kind of pressure to accept trans-women as women as female oriented sites? I wonder (if that is so) why that is. I suspect it is because most men are perfectly comfortable with the gender binary. We like men to be men and women to be women, and tend to view trans-women as being a variety of gay male. I doubt that I am alone among men at being surprised to learn that there are trans-women who are sexually oriented towards women.

    • “As a man, or someone who was performing manhood, Caitlyn (as Bruce) would lose his privileges and power if he chose to express his real feelings about his gender. Trans people are just as oppressed, and statistically in even more danger of rape and murder, as women, and are
      relegated to a similarly oppressed position in society.”

      Riight, someone pretending to be a woman has it MUCH worse than actual women. Yeah, I’ll believe that. If we put 2 and 2 together, we might as well say that Dolezal has it worse than *actual* Black people because identity and shit.

      ~~~Caitlyn~~~ Jenner is nothing more than a fantasy, mental masturbation if you will. To refer to this creep and misogynist as a “she” or as ~~~Caitlyn~~~ is an indulgence, a luxury and, worst of all, a delusion. He is and will always remain Bruce Jenner.

      • Morag

        “Riight, someone pretending to be a woman has it MUCH worse than actual women. Yeah, I’ll believe that.”

        Yup, I believe that, too Thomas. Because, as darlingolivia pointed out, he had so much power and male privilege to lose by expressing his true feelings (and, my goodness, look at what DID happened when he expressed his true authentic brain-based native totally NOT socially-constructed gender feelings: the powers-that-be ripped off his clothes and forced him to pose on the cover of Vanity Fair in silk panties and bustier and under truck-load of cosmetics and trick lighting. Even the President had to put in his 2 cents on the matter of Jenner’s in-born feminine essence).

        That’s not the case with women, who don’t have male privilege. There’s just not much for us TO lose. So being oppressed, as women, doesn’t hurt as much. We’re already down, and quite used to it, so the pressing barely registers. When you’re born with a female reproductive system, and socialized to be pleasing, self-effacing and submissive from day one, it’s more — I dunno — natural? But when a person accorded full humanity and personhood is treated like a woman? Well, that’s just tragic. Except when it’s not.

        Because, sometimes, the feminine mystique triumphs! And everybody and their dog feels inspired and celebratory. The key to that happy ending seems to be in choosing the female sex-role, rather than just having a vagina handed to you. It’s all about identification, choice, and a lot of hard work. Honestly, do people think that rich, white, famous, macho, senior citizen Bruce just rolled out of bed looking like a Caitlyn-with-a-C 30 years his junior? No! She busted her balls to get there. Beauty is suffering, and suffering is woman’s highest calling. It’s also hot. The upshot is that biological females should learn from this, and look to transwomen for leadership.

        • tinfoil hattie

          Ha ha ha – I wish Caitlyn had transformed to look like me – 54, fat, sagging breasts, skin tags, stray chin hairs and all! Now that’s what I call a WOMAN!!

          🙂

          • Morag

            “me – 54, fat, sagging breasts, skin tags, stray chin hairs and all! Now that’s what I call a WOMAN!!”

            tinfoil hattie, I sure hope you have a Twitter account.

            This is going to be BIG. Your true authentic womanly self is going to be big, brave and inspirational! Hang on, I’m just going to make quick call to Barack …

          • derrington

            I think you’ve just stolen my identity! You’re killing me …

      • Not to mention ~ “Trans people are just as oppressed, and statistically in even more danger of rape and murder, as women, and are relegated to a similarly oppressed position in society.” This is factually incorrect, and already addressed in a post linked to above. Transsexual males of color involved in prostitution and/or drugs in the 2/3 world are in a lot of danger. Middle-and-upper-class white “transgender” males in the so-called first world? NOT SO MUCH.

    • Jenner could be considered disabled, if you consider autogynephilia/gender dysmorphia a medical condition. Alternately Anne Lawrence has suggested treating it as a form of sexual orientation.

      I don’t know how oppression by sexual orientation works, other than that people who are obviously not straight can be bullied/oppressed for it. But Jenner passed, so that doesn’t apply here. You can argue that not being allowed to be authentic is stressful (it is) but it wasn’t that long ago that no one was really allowed to be authentic (people predating the baby boom) and people didn’t really expect it, so the problem with that is that some groups are lagging behind others in the quest for authenticity, not that some groups are allowed and others aren’t.

      With disability the degree of exclusion depends on the degree of disability, and Jenner seems to have been fairly high functioning compared to others with gender dysphoria or with disabilities in general, since he could work, marry, support a family. Like having a limp rather than paraplegia – a problem at times but not so much to deal with compared to other situations.

      He certainly wasn’t oppressed as a member of an oppressed group, since no one really knew he was a member of an oppressed group. In his lifetime, women have made significant gains in terms of things like banking and work and legislation around rape and reproductive control. None of those thing would have affected him directly, since he was living as a boy/man.

      So not so similar.

  • Northern Free Thinker

    Dolezal has the upper hand on Jenner on four points :
    -She was abused as a child and likely has PTSD.
    -Race is not a strict concept, but exists fully in a spectrum of percentages in a swatch of different directions, so IDing to any pinpoint along that vast spectrum is totally realistic. (I’d like to see a three-dimensional point array with real world “race” combinations, compared to real word sex combinations).
    -She did not do it to “gain” anything. Many white people are heads of NAACP chapters. She did not want a magazine cover, only to improve the community of people around her, as she’d done for many years. A true member of her community. The organisation stood beside her.
    -She passes.
    Of all the multiple possible trans* combinations, visible minority is the most plausible.

    • Dolezal has my sympathy because of her family background – I can totally see why she would not want to be white. I don’t agree with her lying, but I get why she wanted to.

      However, I’m guessing she’s in a very white corner of the racial spectrum. I’m <0.1% Subsaharan African according to 23andme, and that's completely meaningless. I'm guessing a lot of other white people are the same, if they have any non-European genes at all. (I think a lot of white people have only European DNA.)

      She reminds me of Grey Owl, except he didn't work on behalf of Native rights – he was trying to save the beaver.

      • Erika

        I am also in a “very white corner” at 92% European. I look whiter than 99% of whites. People forget that phenotype and genotype are not the same thing, unless one is 100% one ancestral origin. I imagine that very few people are 100% from a single gene pool, since people have been mobile historically. In the “great melting pot” there are bound to be few 100%ers.

  • MLL

    I am wondering who different would all this have been if:
    -Jenner had been a woman transitioning to man
    -Dolezal had been a white man pretending to be a black man

    I am just thinking about when Chastity Bono transitioned to become a man and it was not that big deal. And regarding Dolezal, if she had been a while male, I can’t help but to think that perhaps the outrage would not have been this intense. But perhaps it would have been. I don’t know. What do you think? Does Jenner get a free pass because he is male and men can do what they want and Dolezal gets everybody so upset partly because she is a woman?

    • Eli

      I don’t think it’s specifically because she’s a woman, though obviously that factors in. What she did is ridiculous and harmful, but I don’t think the response would have been that much different had it been a white man doing the exact same thing.

      I feel that a larger factor in the whole difference between transgender and Dolezal’s “transracial” fiasco is that men experience racism. My gut feeling is that if something actively harms men, people are much more likely to consider it important to battle and it’s probably more likely to be taken seriously.

      • Morag

        “My gut feeling is that if something actively harms men, people are much more likely to consider it important to battle and it’s probably more likely to be taken seriously.”

        Yes. This is what makes women’s situation, as an oppressed class, unique. It’s an obvious point, but it needs to be said that there are no males in the female class to lend personhood and legitimacy, over time, to our movement.

        Still, I think Dolezal impersonating a black person while female plays into how this will play out. The example of Grey Owl isn’t perfect, but still makes for an interesting compare/contrast. He was forgiven, and even praised, for the work he did while impersonating an Aboriginal man (a “Red Indian,” in the parlance of the time):

        https://www.historicacanada.ca/content/heritage-minutes/grey-owl

    • I’ve been wondering that, too.

    • Erika
  • L

    This article (and the reader comments) are quite interesting. I think the question: if Bruce wants to be a woman, why can’t Rachel be black? is a pretty valid one and presents a real challenge to the idea that who you want to be is a matter of individual choice/feelings and absolutely nothing else. social issue but rather a malleable choice?”

    “If gender identity is an individual, personal thing, as we are told, is gendered oppression no longer a
    -A malleable choice for whom? And how does an individual opt into or out of oppression? I’m really trying to understand what it would look like for someone to live their daily lives with the ability to opt out of the impact of racism, sexism or classism on their lives.

    As a black female, I feel sort of all over the place about these ideas. This idea that identity is merely a matter of choice bugs me because it ascribes an amazing amount of power to the individual. And I think very few individuals really have that kind of power. Let’s say that I wanted to be a white female; this would require quite a bit on my part: (I couldn’t simply declare that I’m a white woman and suddenly it’s a reality)—I would need to alter my skin (because I am too brown to be read as white), my hair, my facial features, my name (all of which would cost money). I would need to ignore my entire family history and the culture in which I was raised. I would also need to alter my entire mindset and way of interacting with the world. I would probably have to move so that my cover wouldn’t be blown. And I would then need everyone around me to see me and treat me as white.

    It seems like if identity is really an individual choice, then I wouldn’t need to do all this stuff to make my choice a reality. The fact that I would need to do these things to be white really seems to show how identity is very much wrapped up in things that are outside of the control of an individual.

    • darlingolivia

      i agree.
      and what about how Rachel Dolzeal apparently received all these death threats and stuff from the KKK, which is beginning to look like fabrication. It’s embarrassing. Her ‘performance’ of blackness is a very weird one.

    • Diana

      That’s what I’m thinking: identity in the psychological sense is what one thinks they are, and another thing is what they actually are. So I think identity is in a way a choice, but who you really are (history, ancestry, genes, body… given things in general) is less so.

  • Dia

    Thank you for writing this, Meghan. You raised many questions I’ve been asking myself as I confront my feelings, especially with regards to Caitlyn Jenner. I’d been really caught up on my feelings and wondering why it made me a bit angry to think of Caitlyn speaking about what it feels like to be a woman or what it means to be a woman, and maybe I’m making too much of it since she’s really talking about HER experience, but since she is in a position of privilege and doesn’t seem to consider the experience of women in a sexist society, what she says about womanhood and femininity does matter. That made me think of a book I read by Sheila Jeffreys and her controversial views as a radical feminist on transgender women and transfemininity. Then I happened to catch an odd but, I think, imporant article that uses Caitlyn Jenner in a rather scary way: centered in the “Illuminati” narrative. I’m interested in the metaphorical language being used in these contexts and realized as I read that the word “transgender” has become a metaphor for dismantling, and to them, the degradation of a well-ordered (patriarchal) society because it’s representative of the disruption of gender roles/gender as the primary and desired (patriarchal) social ordering mechanism. I would just really love to hear your thoughts, Meghan, and anyone else’s. It’s yet another position from which to attack feminism; a backlash. It’s also become a popular narrative that is being used quite effectively to attack feminists because its proponents conceal the blatant anti-feminist perspective by couching feminism in a mysterious and interesting theory that many find makes sense in today’s social and politial climate.

    I wonder if you and the others commenting have read Sheila Jeffreys’ work? Your piece and several of the comments make me think of her book Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West, in which she articulates some very powerful and controversial issues about transfemininity and draws comparisons between beauty practices and female genital mutilation. Basically, she’s talking about one’s right to imitate or become a member of a subordinate class and all the implications of that. It got people REALLY upset.

    I looked her up to see if she’d written anything about it, but I didn’t find anything.

    What do you think about her radical position on “transfemininity?”

    Also, I’m sorry if I’m taking this in a strange direction, but it’s on my mind, and I do think it’s relevant. I’ve been trying to make sense of the whole Illuminati movement in relation to sexism and feminism. All of the discourse about transgender people is very metaphorical and is popping up among advocates of the Illuminati as leftist elite that are manipulating people through pop culture, i.e., the entertainmen industry, which they control. It seems that Caitlyn Jenner is being taken up by conspiracy theorists and used as a symbol supporting their belief in “the Illuminati agenda.” (http://vigilantcitizen.com/vigilantreport/the-agenda-behind-bruce-jenners-transformation/)
    It’s loaded with language that targets feminism without saying so outright, and declares the goal is “to debase, confuse and mix up the natural, harmonious order of things.” He even uses Goddess symbolism represented in pop culture by Kris Jenner, who emasculates Bruce and masculinizes herself.

    I do think it’s related to the points you make about gender identity and identity politics because if patriarchy is to remain, then gender identity can NOT be fluid; boundaries cannot be crossed, and roles cannot be reversed or abandoned. A transgender person is a major threat, and Jenner is now a prophecy fulilled. Think about it. Trans, to move to the other side of, gender = a trans/formation of society = a transgendered person threatens the foundation of the patriarchal social order. So now Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation has been an unfolding of the agenda to degrade a harmonious society, done via “the feminization of men” and “the masculinization of women.” Caitlyn being part of The Kardashians makes “the agenda” intelligible to the masses, and guys like this know that. He even made a YouTube video that shows up among videos about Jenner and the Kardashians. This is a belief system that people would be more willing to accept–he’s exploiting the fact that as many fans as they have, there is an increasing amount of people who really, really dislike them. Interestingly, the Kardashian women know they are being called “Illuminati,” and Kim claimed she did not even know what it is. The author of this article says she’s pretending.

    Really, it’s fascinating. It’s also troubling, but it’s just a new incarnation of the war we’re fighting. Many of us say feminism is about dismantling patriarchy. Now transgender people are at the center because they are the ultimate threat to the concept of gender itself. A man becoming a woman, crossing those lines, represents the transformation of society as a whole to one where women and men no longer know their place or act out their assigned roles. Order is destroyed. For them, this is the worst possible outcome. Scary stuff.

    • Jinny

      Dia: i don’t agree that mtt (male to trans) or ftt are in any way challenging the patriarchal construct of gender. they are keeping it right in it’s place. to go from masculinity to femininity, or the reverse, keeps the same sex role stereotypes. Patriarchy hasn’t changed at all. mtt is a new, dangerous method men have devised to continue to define women, to destroy women only spaces (the tragedy of the end of women’s colleges, etc.) and to silence and disappear women. Bruce Jenner is and always will be a man. I greatly admire your work, Meghan, but you are too kind in calling him she. For me, since I believe trans is an illusion, a dream, an impersonation, a delusion, it is difficult to have respect for those who claim to be able to do something which is not possible, fool mother nature, deny your biological sex. Are trans people disturbed, do they suffer mentally, probably. But it is the medical profession, playing all powerful and earning lots of money, which has enabled the trans movement. And yes, Sheila Jeffrey’s is amazing. I would not say she is controversial, she is a lesbian, radical feminist, speaking truth to power. That always riles up the patriarchy. Her book, Gender Hurts, says it all.
      Thank you Meghan for a thoughtful article.

      • Rich

        “For me, since I believe trans is an illusion, a dream, an impersonation, a delusion, it is difficult to have respect for those who claim to be able to do something which is not possible, fool mother nature, deny your biological sex.”

        I don’t blame trans people for wanting others to view them the way they imagine themselves to be. They have some kind of serious problem, and whether it is bio-chemical or psychological, it dominates their minds. It would be asking a lot of human nature to think that they should view themselves as deluded.

        What I have zero respect for is the Orwellian pressure on the rest of us to pretend to believe that this delusion is true.

      • Dia

        I personally don’t find Sheila controversial. I meant to suggest she is controversial to the public, and the internet is full of aggressive attacks from other “feminists.” I think she’s spot on. But since she can rile other self-identified feminist women to the point where they marginalize her work and would probably go as far as to say she isn’t a real feminist because she’s too radical, I’d say that would make her controversial to most. Her books have been life changing to me, and I wish a lot of the young “3rd wave” feminists, many of whom have been so nasty on so many levels I find them impossible to talk to, would read her with an open mind. But where I went to grad school, I don’t know one women’s studies professor who would include her on their syllabus. My entire point was exactly what you said. What I SAID was the perspective of right wing conspiracy theorists who believe that feminists are part of a secret elite society and THEY view transgender women/men as challenging the patriarchal construct of gender, and these folks are hell bent on keeping it in place. That isn’t MY point of view, it’s theirs, and I find it interesting that they are angrily using Jenner as some sort of proof. This is typical, actually. There is a faction that believes a transgender woman is a threat to the patriarchal status quo, and one that believes a transgender woman reinforces it. I find that interesting. That’s what I meant. I myself was trying to just present a point of view that’s circulating out there around Jenner’s transformation without inserting my own feelings on the subject.
        Personally, I find it difficult to accept someone who is able to pick and choose what they feel are the nice and “fun” parts about being a woman without having to experience our realities. I think I am being too generous in calling Jenner “she” because if I’m being honest, I do not see Jenner as a female. I see her as a male who had some cosmetic surgery, wears dresses, and has a glam squad. Kim Kardashian talks about how hard it is and how they are adjusting, but then focuses the conversation on how many glam squads and stylists she hired for “her.” That really annoys me. Again, rich white male celeb can cherry pick “female” experiences. Does “she” menstruate? Does she have to deal with the choice to have or not have children and face the judgments that come wit every “choice?” Does she experience all the bulls*t pressures placed on mothers? I could go on and on. She takes hormones, gets some breast implants, shaves her adam’s apple, and “feminizes” her face and I’m supposed to accept her as a woman? Why isn’t she simply a biological male (he says he has no plans to have surgery on his genitals) with implants, doing what lots of women do–have cosmetic surgery to change their looks, deciding that dressing up and putting makeup on is fun? I don’t know. I’m not dimishing her feelings or struggles. I’m just trying to work through how I feel. I also find it really interesting how Caitlyn Jenner is simultaneously a symbol for freedom and acceptance for many people, but also an example that will be used to hinder feminist aims and social equality in general.

        • Jinny

          Dia: Thanks for clarifying. I agree with all you have said. One additional thing is that mtt’s view of women is of course a male, patriarchal and therefore misogynist view. They have no clue what we are like. I don’t get the sense that they care about women, are hostile in fact. They are creating a persona that straight men will like, trying for the “ideal” male vision of a woman: super “feminine”. Many, but of course not all, want to attract straight men. Wouldn’t it be ironic if straight men began to see mtt’s as the ideal “woman” and abandoned women, who after all, have stopped trying to please men so much and instead are pleasing themselves and other women? Oh well, it’s a nice dream. But I think the hypocrisy of mtt’s trying to claim “womanhood”, to dictate what women are, to sneer at women who see through the ruse, the act, creates the rage many of us feel at the whole weak, hypocritical discussion of trans issues from the so called confused, woman hating and ignoring liberal/left. As to violence against trans, that male violence is a part of a pattern which has at it’s core male violence against women, where three women in the U.S.A every day are killed by men, where one in three women worldwide will be sexually abused by men in their lifetime. The epidemic needs to be confronted, to be stopped, to be recognized as a continuum. As to the academy disappearing Sheila Jeffreys, who is such a great and continuous ally for women, so important a writer, in the tradition of Andrea Dworkin, their lack of courage where radical feminism is concerned, has, I believe, weakened the academy and exhibited a follower mentality, a weakening of intellectual curiosity. But Sheila’s return to England with the goal to meet the challenge of lesbian disappearance head on will be welcomed and hopefully a catalyst for giving new energy to harness all our growing rage and help draw us into a new movement of women rising. I feel the stirrings.

          • S.Law

            I am waiting for men to start using human form robots as surrogates in intimate contexts. I think that is a more realistic step. I mean one guy in the US (a few years ago I think) was having relations with his pet dogs. Then there were those men in NY (including a cop) who were planning to kidnap and cannibalize women. I mean how far does this ‘if it makes me feel good I should be allowed to do it’ thinking go. I think there would be more concern for the welfare of a pet than there would be for a child or an adult woman being abused. I agree the dog can’t speak up for itself but at least it can bite. And not be expected to apologise.

          • David

            “I think there would be more concern for the welfare of a pet than there would be for a child or an adult woman being abused.”

            Denmark recently made bestiality illegal. Previously, sex with animals was legal as long as the animal was unharmed.

            The arguments used to make sex with animals illegal, we don’t know if they are being harmed and we cannot tell if they genuinely consent so lets err on the safe side, also applies to women in prostitution.

            So you are right, there is more concern for animals than for children and women being abused. It’s probably because it is unacceptable to victim-blame an animal.

          • Rich

            “They are creating a persona that straight men will like, trying for the “ideal” male vision of a woman: super “feminine”. Many, but of course not all, want to attract straight men. Wouldn’t it be ironic if straight men began to see mtt’s as the ideal “woman” and abandoned women”

            You have to be kidding. Straight men do not want to be involved with trans-women. And that includes, by the way, so called “progressive” men. They talk a good game about trans-women being accepted as actual women, but they don’t date that way.

    • Henri

      Dia, transgender reinforces gender binary and masculine / feminine stereotyping, so I’m not sure how this is going to disrupt patriarchy. Iran supports transsexualism and covers the majority of its expenses for surgery as a method used to keep the gender binary intact and remove homosexuality. Do you mean non-conforming people under the transgender ‘umbrella’ such as gender fluid or pre-op transgender that do not conform to gender stereotype (a small %))? Sorry, I am not aware of the “Illuminati” – I will have to check this out and hope to hell it’s not another neo-liberal anti-feminist group. Also, it’s very difficult for young people to come across any radical feminist books today. Therefore, no surprises there is a jump in anti-feminism or pro-sex feminism – or what I call having a ‘penis perspective.’ This is especially true in academia due to the drive for further individualism under the guise of post modernism.

      • Erika

        Illuminati is a silly conspiracy theory.

    • Transgender identity politickers are 1) not concerned with actual transsexuals and 2) no threat to patriarchy, as they are *all about brainsex.* I wrote a whole blog about that here: thenewbacklash.blogspot.com

  • Ssäb

    Thank you so much for this well-written essay, that deals very clearly with all the points I was wondering about as well (although in a rather fuzzy way).

  • K

    Then only women raised in your culture with your experiences are women. I have a womb but that’s not my history or culture so I guess I *aint* a woman according to you. Different women have different experiences. there’s no experience every woman on earth has in common so who decides which experiences qualify somebody to be a woman? If its just being oppressed, being subject to rape, being afraid, being attacked by men for not complying with their idea of what women should be, trans women qualify more than most. Do you want to enforce biology fertility & childbirth as the standard of womanhood? Bc societies have tried that & it usually isn’t great for women. Lucky women aren’t a group & you don’t have authority to decide who is a woman.

    Trans men exist too. If people just decided to switch sex for no reason you could become a man. If you don’t is it because you “feel like a woman” in some undefinable way…?

    • Mosaic

      These two ideas cannot logically co-exist:

      A. Women are not a group

      B. People can transition into Group Women

    • darlingolivia

      oh thank goodness, a voice of sanity in a comments section filled with transphobia

    • J

      I feel like a woman because I have to wipe front to back and sign petitions for tax free tampons. Also because I get treated by others based on the fact that I have a vagina. So were you. To deny that your name, what you were dressed in, what toys you got, how you were talked to (etc) was not based on the fact you were born female (aka with a vagina) is disingenuous. Women do share experiences because patriarchy is a system that treats penis-owners (aka men) and vagina-owners (aka women) differently, with women below men on the hierarchy it built. To deny this is to deny reality, which is unreasonable and foolish.

    • “If people just decided to switch sex for no reason you could become a man. If you don’t is it because you “feel like a woman” in some undefinable way…?”

      Did it never occur to you that perhaps the reason radical feminists do not switch sex is because they don’t like the thought of having their healthy genitalia surgically altered? For people who recognise that they need healthy bodies in order to survive and that a body is not merely a canvas for self expression (distinct from some mystical “soul”, which is said to exist) the thought of surgeons sticking knives into areas where they do not need to be stuck is terrifying.

      If wanting to avoid pain, bodily damage and the loss of tens of thousands of dollars equates to “feeling like a woman”, then I daresay most people feel like a woman. In fact, if radical feminists were suddenly transformed (through magic and against their will) into male-bodied people I do not think they would opt for sex change surgery. If they did, it would be because they wanted their original body and not because they had mysterious inner feelings of womanhood or believed that there was an inherent mismatch between their brain and their alternate male body.

      Of course, I am speculating here, but I am pretty sure that most women commenting here find the surgical transition process more horrifying than the thought of having a penis. That is why they do not opt for sex change surgery. Some would also perceive it as an act of capitulation. Radicals aim to change societies, not healthy, functioning bodies.

    • Empirical Thinker

      You can argue that no experience is universal. For example, would you say that because some people are born without legs, we should be forbidden to say that humans are bipedal? What about chromosomes? Is it phobic to say that humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes because some people have a different number? Is any science not phobic in your mind?

      I do not feel female. I AM female. I am harassed on the basis of being female. I am currently living in a country where being a female can be difficult due to harassment but also due to menstruation stigma and other factors. The word “female” is a scientific definition. It doesn’t belong to whoever wants it. And if you think acting super-feminine and sexy is what makes someone female, you are a misogynist. I am female because of my biology. I am myself because of my personality. Period.

      • lizor

        ^^^YES!^^^

    • gxm17

      Worldwide, the vast majority of women live in patriarchal societies with laws denying the bodily autonomy of human beings born with female reproductive organs. Their wombs are not their own and are subject to laws and restrictions on birth control, abortion, and reproductive health care. Globally, many women and girls are denied education, property rights, and are sold or traded as chattel. Some are killed at birth, others are killed to save the family “honor” after they have been raped. All because they were born without male reproductive organs. This is a reality that you seem unaware of, which leads one to wonder where you are from that you don’t realize how lucky, and rare, it is for a born woman to have full bodily autonomy.

  • “…some have speculated that she suffers from mental illness, that she has some kind of addiction to victimhood, is a compulsive liar, or is suffering from body dysmorphic disorder.”

    Everyone always wants to go for the dramatic explanations, don’t they? I think it is likely to be something far simpler and less extreme. This woman was under the impression that all black people behave the same way (in terms of music, food and stylistic choices) and felt that because she was an adherent of those practices she was therefore black. No one ever sat down with her and explained that anyone can enjoy any kind of music, food, etc. regardless of their racial characteristics and that being physically black has real consequences. It can result in someone being refused employment, paid less for the same work, shot by the police or by (other) racist criminals. If you are physically white, practicing black culture will not cause you to experience these consequences.

    I think one thing that gets people confused is that biological males who chose to adhere to femininity appear to suffer from the same problems that biological females do, such as rape, domestic violence, low pay, etc. and people therefore conclude that it would be wrong not to see them as women. But things like rape and abuse are only manifestations of women’s oppression, they are not the core or it (which is not to say that they are trivial or unimportant.) Society expects those who are born female to behave in a subordinate manner and take on a subordinate role. It trains them for this role practically from the moment of birth. It does not expect those who are born biologically male, as a group, to behave in a subordinate manner. If a biological male choses to practice subordination (in the form of femininity) they will be dominated, but they have the ability to opt out of femininity, because they are not part of the group that society expects to be feminine.

    So while the mistreatment of males who adhere to femininity may appear similar to the oppression of women on the surface, it is not one and the same. In fact, I hypothesise that the (mostly male) people who abuse non-masculine males (including gay males, males who are perceived as being “not manly enough” and males who perceive themselves as women) do so because they want the targets of their abuse to be more masculine. Their desire is for the males they are abusing to reassert their position on top of the hierarchy. This is by no means an act of altruism, rather it is usually about suring up the abuser’s own position in the hierarchy, by maintaining the reputation (for lack of a better word) of males as a group, as dominating and aggressive. The intention is not to force the targets out of a subordinate role, not into one.

    Of course, none of this makes such abusive behaviour acceptable. Not only do such behaviours directly cause harm, but they play a part in maintaining hierarchical relationships, by discouraging people from being conscientious objectors to the violent roles forced upon them. We do not need to defend the right of biological males to not be masculine, but I do not see how a movement which buys into the idea that males who do not adhere to masculinity (or who adhere to femininity) are suffering from some kind of mind-body mismatch and thus need to have their healthy bodies surgically altered can do adequately do that. Ironically the only movement that does stand up for this right in the radical feminist movement.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Everyone always wants to go for the dramatic explanations, don’t they? I think it is likely to be something far simpler and less extreme. This woman was under the impression that all black people behave the same way (in terms of music, food and stylistic choices) and felt that because she was an adherent of those practices she was therefore black. No one ever sat down with her and explained that anyone can enjoy any kind of music, food, etc. regardless of their racial characteristics and that being physically black has real consequences. It can result in someone being refused employment, paid less for the same work, shot by the police or by (other) racist criminals. If you are physically white, practicing black culture will not cause you to experience these consequences.”

      I hear you, but at the same time, I mean she MUST have understood all these things, based on her work? I mean, how can one do so much work on behalf of black people, teach the courses she taught, etc., and not understand how racist discrimination works?

      • Erika

        Some people miss what is right in front of them.

        • Meghan Murphy

          An addition to this convo — anyone watch Dolezal’s interview with Melissa Harris-Perry? Like, she talks about her own critique of cultural appropriation! It’s all so strange… http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/watch/rachel-dolezal-breaks-her-silence-465691715976

          • andeväsen

            That was a pretty good interview. There were many parallel issues to sex.

            She explains that being black means: “I’ve really gone there with the experience…really owning what it means to experience and live blackness…another aspect would be that I from a very young age felt… a spiritual, visceral just very instinctual connection with… black is beautiful…just the black experience, and wanting to celebrate that, and I didn’t know how to articulate that as a young child…didn’t have words for what was going on. But certainly that was shut down. I was socially conditioned to not own that and to be limited to whatever biological identity was thrust upon me and narrated to me. So I kind of felt pretty awkward a lot of times with that.”

            And: “I felt very isolated with my identity virtually my entire life. That nobody really got it. And that I didn’t really have the personal agency to express it.”

            Totally a mirror of the way gender identity has been constructed.

            However she does have more insight than, say, Paris Lees when it comes to how others may perceive her identity as being appropriative:

            “Stepping outside of myself, I would probably be enraged. I would be…how dare she claim this? But they don’t know me. They really don’t know what I’ve actually walked through and how hard it is. This has not been something that is just a casual come and go sort of identity…an identity crisis that is just going to fade away…If you are rejected by the black community what do you do? I’ll be me… At the same time I never want to be a liability to the cause and I take that seriously.”

            And the post-mortem chat with Melissa Harris-Perry:
            “Here’s what I like: I am so invested in my black womanhood. I am so proud of the struggle and the joy and the hair and the self-expression that I am going to police this space because it matters to me. And so the more that I can see that policing not as a kind of narrow biological concern but rather as a like this is my space and you have to prove to me that you deserve to be here.”

      • liv

        The whole Trans – racial thing is a new conversation. There have been cases in us history where white people identified as indian. And other cases of other races. Sometimes it is to get advantage. To “pass” so you can run a business or marry who you want. Other times you find the person was raised with that identity or they were so tramatized they reject their race.

        In another vein, how many times have I read that excuse that women give to give up their name in marriage that their original family or father was awful? And people are just as angry about the notions of last names as they are about identified race. Ask any multiracial kid about being accused of “acting like” it is like shaming a man who takes his wife’s name or who acts “feminine”.

        At the root the anger is about class and power.

        In this case, the white woman had a tramatic childhood. Her parents were abusive (gee they look like such nice people now you might say). But Google it people. Her parents were so abusive that one black son filed in courts for freedom from his parents and his sister adopted him as a court deal. So one of the 4 black kids WAS her son legally ( people called her a liar on this). She chose to move far away to go to really, an all black college and she identified and wanted to be black early. She felt they were more her tribe and she was raised with 4 black kids. No wonder. If identity is what you feel inside and she says she identifies black..then we ought not to immediately shame that. I think we can question what is performance? When Michelle Obama straightens her hair, is she taking on non black culture?

        • Erika

          Ms Dolezal sued Howard U for discrimination because she felt she was rejected for being a white woman. That tells me she knew darn well that she was white in adulthood. Just because one’s parents are abusive, that does not mean that is a norm for their race. It also doesn’t make one magically an “other.”

          • jelly

            There is no “magically” making an “other” here due to abuse. However, I can see the argument that someone would identify with another tribe so to speak.

            One question for you Erika: how does Rachel Dolezal’s race identity effect your own ability to live as your race?

          • Erika

            My race? Which one?

          • jelly

            Parse it out for us.

            How do you identify? And why?

            And how does Rachel Dolezal effect your living your identity as you want?

          • Erika

            I think your point is that one’s racial ID doesn’t affect others. That is not true in the Dolezal case and it is not generally true in the USA. Why? Because countries like the USA have affirmative action. Whites impersonating blacks should not take scholarships and positions set aside for blacks. Now we can debate whether or not the USA should continue affirmative action, or change how it is applied, but until it is changed or discontinued, a person’s choice to appropriate another’s race does very much affect them and their opportunities.

            As I have previously stated I am of mixed European, Asian, and African ancestry— a true Mediterranean person and also a Pole.

        • andeväsen

          Well…if we are speculating on the origins of her ‘race identity’ – rather than taking it as face value as insisted by gender identitarians, then, yeah, I could imagine such a scenario.

          I don’t think it is a coincidence that there have been allegations of serious child abuse in the household she grew up in, with the 2 adults in the household being white and the other abused kids in ths household (apart from Rachel Dolezal) being black.

          Supposing the white adults in the household were also very keen on rigid race boundaries, ‘othering’ the black siblings because of their race, it would not be a surprise for the abused white child to relate more strongly to her fellow abused children, who also happened to be black and ‘othered’, than to her white abusive parents and white abusive older sibling.

  • Tim

    Thank you so much for this! I have been trying to sort out my own thoughts about both situations, and it seems really hard to find any kind of nuanced, thoughtful arguments. Especially in the case of Jenner, there seem to be two opposite poles — one of fawning support and the other of hateful “jokes,” Facebook memes, etc. posted by right wingers. A few writers have briefly brought up the comparison, only to quickly hand-wave and say, “It’s not the same thing,” without bothering to say why it’s not the same thing. And I’ve never really felt that it is the same thing or that it isn’t the same thing, just that the question is one that can’t be dismissed that easily.

    I’ve only recently found this site and I really have liked your posts and those of the other contributors. There are points of view here that are just not being heard enough.

    • Rich

      “A few writers have briefly brought up the comparison, only to quickly hand-wave and say, “It’s not the same thing,” without bothering to say why it’s not the same thing.”

      I can’t remember where I read it (probably Huffpo) but the article I read that mentioned and then dismissed the comparison did indeed say why the comparison was inapt: because, it said, Jenner is “really” a woman and the NAACP lady is not “really” black. And Jenner is “really” a woman because of the female brain thing. This is the current “progressive” take on this, that Jenner is really a woman, that it is not just feelings, that there is something scientifically provably female about him, something that he has in common with actual women, and that something is what makes a woman a woman, not the physical body.

      Now it seems to be the obvious rejoinder would be that if this is true, and trans people’s brain chemistry is out of whack, the obvious thing to treat is their brain chemistry, not their perfectly healthy bodies. But this does not fit in well with our “be whoever you want to be” culture. Even the mainline churches these days glorify personal inclination, whereas they used to deem it suspect and corrupt (via the, to my agnostic mind, insightful metaphor of original sin).

      • J

        I think the reason people can’t say it’s the same thing is because they can’t do to black people (as a racial class) what they do to women (as a sex class). People still think it’s okay to say you “feel like a woman” or that you have a “female brain”, but imagine how people might react if you said there is a “black brain”. It’s not the same thing to these writers because they don’t think black people have black brains or that white people can have black brains. We’ve been through this with scientific racism, where black people were put under white people as less taxonomically evolved. While we know we can’t say there’s a “black brain”, for some reason it’s still okay to say there’s a “female brain”. The only commonality that black brains have in common is they’ve all be socialized as black. Any minute differences in white-black brains is based on socialization. Same for male-female. The brain is a muscle, not an program. Its differences are based on use. Once people realize how sexist it is to say a man has a “female brain”, the house of cards comes tumbling from identity politics and neoliberalism. Writers won’t say why it’s different because if they say it’s the same, they are saying there is such thing as a black brain. If they say it’s different and explain why, they expose themselves as sexist essentialists.

      • tinfoil hattie

        “be whoever you want to be except don’t even think of pretending to be another race we only meant be a woman if you want to be one because it’s totally different because ladybrains”

  • Erika

    Another excellent blog post by Ms Murphy! Ms. Murphy, you are excellent at expressing these complex thoughts that are so hard to communicate.

    I take exception to only one thing:

    “It is, in part, because gender is not seen as something one inherits, that it is viewed as more “fluid” than race.”

    From the perspective of biology, biological sex, is indeed something one inherits on an equal basis as race. When the sperm penetrates the egg, a person’s DNA is present and they inherit (99.9+% of the time) either XX (female) or XY (male) chromosomes at the same exact time that they inherit their ethnic / racial heritage. If anything is more fluid, it is actually race and ethnicity, as many of us are a mix, though we appear to be wholly one race. For example, I look European, and I have skin whiter than most Polish people. The lightest foundation face make up actually darkens my skin and gives me “color.” However, I am 92% European, 7% Asian and 1% African. (I have had my DNA sequenced.)

    • Meghan Murphy

      Interesting! Thanks so much for contributing this info!

  • Erika

    Ms Murphy, your excellent writing has me hoping that you will write a rebuttal to Mr Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) He authored an editorial about the subject on the cover of the “Intelligence Report” magazine entitled, “In the Crosshairs” Summer 2015 issue 158. I want to make it clear that the SPLC does a lot of wonderful work sticking up for disadvantaged people and I have been a financial supporter over the years. However, I am disappointed in the sloppy and uncritical journalism in this instance. On p1 in an editorial about the article he even uses the troubling and inaccurate transsexual boilerplate language of “sex they were assigned at birth.” Of course, sex isn’t “assigned,” it is observed. He sneers at the idea that a person presenting themselves as a transsexual can be deemed a “liar who is just angling to sneak into bathrooms belonging to another gender to assault your next victim.” He later goes on to note that supposedly, “Even some feminists despise transwomen, saying they’re not women at all.” As if belief in biological reality automatically denotes despising others. He makes zero mention of transsexual crimes against actual born women such as those they were caught committing at Michigan Fest where transsexuals committed acts of vandalism, issued rape threats, and followed actual born women around while hissing threats of violence. That is just the editorial! I will read the main article on p. 27 and report on any inaccuracies there if I get time. Of course, there have been many more recorded, scrupulously researched reports of Male-to-trans people committing actual acts of violence against born women when allowed into female-only spaces, such as a 280-lb martial arts expert (Male-to-trans) allowed into a woman’s prison who knocked out an actual woman’s teeth. I know I am preaching to the choir and there have been 1000s of such incidents. Will you write a rebuttal? Please.

    • Erika

      Following up on the SPLC article, the main article wasn’t too bad, except for the part where a man takes liberties and sticks his hand up a “lady’s” dress without invitation and discovers she has a penis. There is no thought that going against a woman’s will is wrong. However, p.34 “War of Words A decades-long battle continues to rage between a segment of the radical feminist community and some trans activists” just left me speechless. They repeatedly mischaracterize Cathy Brennan and state that she is “considered among transactivists as a primary adversary of trans rights” among other things. I wish I had a scanner! Article states that radfems have “threatened violence against transactivists” and many other false statements. Definitely needs a rebuttal!

  • mauritia

    “Simply, femininity and objectification aren’t “good” for women.”

    Absolutely not. However, the fact that you are continually bringing this up in the context of trans women like Jenner and Laverne Cox is maybe a little suspect? I don’t think femininity is better when performed by a trans woman than by anyone else. However, it’s certainly not worse, and it’s more understandable that someone new to being publicly perceived as a woman would be more eager to adopt the superficial trapping of femininity, especially out of pressure to pass.

    Caitlyn Jenner is a rich white Republican and I don’t want to make her out to be a freedom fighter or whatever. But I don’t think what she’s doing is hurting me in any substantial way. Her Vanity Fair cover just makes her one of thousands of women who have posed sexy-like on the cover of magazines. I don’t see any reason to single out the trans women for perpetuating the objectification of women when it has been around long before they were ever recognized by society.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I’ve critiqued objectification, femininity, and sexualization, for YEARS, within the context of women. Where have you been?

      “Continually?” Twice. In all the five years I’ve been writing about feminism and representations of women in the media.

    • J

      The objectification of women in today’s western, patriarchal society is the creation of men. It makes a difference because women are socialized (aka brainwashed) into seeking personal value from being a desirable object for men. Men are socialized (aka brainwashed) into entitlement and dominance. When a woman does something where she hopes to be attractive (aka objectified), she is doing it because she has spent her life being taught that that’s what she has to offer. Since men were taught entitlement and dominance, their demonstration of “womanhood” (which is framed a celebration for trans women) is not based on an internal feeling of desperately seeking patriarchy’s approval, but of wanting to participate in that “fun”, sexualized self objectification of womanhood. Many trans women started as cross dressing autogynephiles. Yes, it makes a difference. In one case, we critique a system that forces women into subservience and less value. In another, a man is celebrating the sexualization of women’s subservience. Many trans women are still sexually attracted to women. This is definitely not the same thing as “all women”, because trans women (unless they’ve passed as women from childhood) are socialized as men whether they want to be men or not.

  • liv

    We’ve generally gotten to the point where gay is understood as not a choice. (Although some experiment and are not gay and some are bisexual).

    We’re entering into accepting that gender identity is not the equipment you’re born with. And that straight women who are butch are still women and women without the ability to have kids are women and older women are still viable and relevant women as sexual and powerful without kids or grandkids. Wait we haven’t come that far…

    However it is worthwhile to talk about gender performance. Why is it to “feel like a woman” we are told to wear heels and makeup and etc (or cover ourselves and humbly not make eye contact)?

    If people say that identity is deep and not all the externally genetically assigned attributes, then why not race?

    Because all the arguments that people have about the requirement to suffer from birth and “you can’t really understand” and “you cant decide race you are born with it” etc are the same arguments people throw at Trans people.

    Ya kinda wonder how mixed race people get treated or light skinned black people who can pass as another race get treated by the purists demanding suffering.

    My question is: how does someone’s choice of presentational sex or race or age effect your living your sex or race or age or orientation? Much like: how does gay marriage effect your marriage?

    Also as a humorous note, c Jenner told Diane that he is Trans and becoming a woman…a woman who desires female sex partners. But oh no, he will not be a lesbian! Oh no. That is a bridge too far. Apparently there’s a loophole where becoming a woman who desires women not men allows you to avoid the dyke taint. Maybe it’s the republicanism.

    I don’t accept that mentally healthy people are conservative republicans. That is what I object to in c jenner’s Diane sawyer interview. That is wholly satanic to identify as a bush supporter.

    • lizor

      “Jenner told Diane that he is Trans and becoming a woman…a woman who desires female sex partners. But oh no, he will not be a lesbian! Oh no. That is a bridge too far.”

      Just when you thought this gobbledegook could not be any more insulting to women.

      • purple sage

        The reason Jenner doesn’t identify as a lesbian is because a lesbian is a woman attracted to women, and he is a man attracted to women. He knows he is a straight man and not a lesbian. If he truly believed he was a woman then he would understand himself to be a lesbian.

    • J

      Choices matter. Acceptance of popular thought matters. Do you think all the world’s atrocities happened by accident, a freak coincidence after a series of personal choices that in no way related? If we think that “feeling like a woman” (when you aren’t one and inherently can only guess what “woman” feels like), then we accept sexist stereotypes which essentialize all women, and which bring society further from realizing the systemic oppression women face. Instead of systems of oppression, we just get “personal choices”. If neoliberalism wins, homelessness is their own fault (their choices), Jews shouldn’t have been so Jewish in Germany, and blacks should have just been good cotton pickers or chose a different job. Right. No. I won’t accept neoliberalism or the dominance of choicey choosiness. Systems matter, and choices that support systems matter.

    • L

      To Liv:
      “If people say that identity is deep and not all the externally genetically assigned attributes, then why not race?”

      I’m not sure I totally understand what you mean by deep, are you using it to mean personal or internal or individual? I think its important to keep in mind that sex (which society uses to shape gender) is biological, just like race (which is socially constructed) also has biological components. So part of what makes me a member of the black race is my skin color which is rooted in biology.

      “Because all the arguments that people have about the requirement to suffer from birth and “you can’t really understand” and “you cant decide race you are born with it” etc are the same arguments people throw at Trans people.”
      Well, I can’t (and didn’t) decide the race I’m born with, that is something that is decided from me from my birth. My parents are both black, I have features that are recognized as black, I was raised in black culture, I was viewed as black and treated as black. These are all things in which I don’t (and didn’t) have the power of choice.

      I think when people say “you can’t really understand” (not really a phrase I love) they mean that you can’t claim to have the experiences of someone outside of what you are. As a black female, I can never have the 1st person experience of whiteness (what it is like to be born white, raised white, treated/viewed as white).

      “Ya kinda wonder how mixed race people get treated or light skinned black people who can pass as another race get treated by the purists demanding suffering.”

      I don’t think the women on this post who shared their experiences about being women were demanding suffering to be a woman, I think they were highlighting the idea that because they are women (not because of how they felt or self-identified) they had certain experiences.
      I think that just as women have certain experiences, so too do people who are multiracial have certain experiences because they are multiracial. (And from what I’ve read, being multiracial isn’t an oppression-free/suffering-free existence).

      Just like the existence of intersex people doesn’t negate the unique experience of women or men, similarly the existence of multiracial people doesn’t negate the unique experience of white, black, and etc. See Jonah Mix article for a more complete explanation: http://jonahmix.com/2015/06/13/sex-race-wealth-and-gender-when-identity-does-and-doesnt-matter/

      And yes conservatism is cray-cray, but liberalism is starting to get pretty crazy too!

  • Philip Rose

    People who convert to Judaism are welcomed, even though they don’t share the history of pogroms and the Holocaust.

    • J

      So? They don’t pretend they DO share that history, and converts don’t demand the Jews stop talking about their ethnic history “because #notalljews”.

    • vagabondi

      People who want to convert to Judaism are strongly discouraged. They have to request permission to begin the process from a rabbi, who refuses three times. If the potential convert still wants to join, then the rabbi will begin the process. They are tested before a panel of three rabbis on Jewish history, theology, etc.

      If men who wanted to convert to women would ask us, and then study women’s history, and read up on feminist theory, and then be tested before a panel of three prominent feminists (I nominate Meghan as one!) before we had to accept them, we might be having a whole different conversation here.

      Oh, and one more thing: for gentile men who want to become jewish, the circumcision is not optional.

    • They convert to the Jewish religion, not to the Jewish ethnicity. There’s a difference. Not everyone born with dark curly hair, dark eyes and whatever other traits the Nazis used to identify Jewish people is an adherent of the Jewish religion. In fact many people with Jewish ancestry who are recognised as Jewish by the Israel state do not believe in Judaism (the religion) or even in a god.

      I think it is important that the Holocaust be recognised as an act of genocide against the Jewish race (and other groups.) Why? Because otherwise we are implying that its victims could have just converted away from the Jewish religion and avoided the whole thing. Of course, I do not endorse religious persecution either, but the Nazis made it very clear that they targeted Jews based on their racial characteristics (specifically their physical appearance and ancestry.) That was how they identified who the supposed enemy was. It had little to do with religion.

      I think it would be kind of insulting to imply that all the Jews killed were martyrs for the Jewish religion, when many of them probably did not believe in it. I would like to see a Holocaust film in which the ethnically Jewish victims were atheists (or otherwise non-religious), instead of people who could be mentally “strong” in the face of atrocities, because they had a god to turn to. I do not think it is particularly virtuous for victims of a genocide (or similar horrors) to be “strong” (i.e. to act as though they have not really been harmed) in the first place. People should be mentally distraught over the fact that such a thing has happened to them. That’s the only reaction that is going to lead to people fighting against that sort of thing.

      I know I am getting a bit side-tracked here. The important thing is that there are people who get mistreated because of physical characteristics that they cannot control (e.g. women and oppressed racial groups) and other people who get persecuted as a result of how they behave (e.g. political radicals, adherents of minority religions, gender non-conformists.) You cannot lump these people into unified categories, because doing so usually reinforces stereotypes and implies that people made a choice to become martyrs when they did not.

    • andeväsen

      Is womanhood an evangelising religion or cult then?

  • This is a good article in many ways, but it would have been even stronger if you (Meghan) explicitly distinguished between merely having the gender identity of the opposite sex and wishing to transition, and appropriating the lives and realities of members of the opposite sex; and between recognizing an identity as psychologically real and accepting that a person is whatever they identify as. For example, a male-bodied person being trans is not inherently appropriative, but if she claims to be a woman and does not qualify it with ‘trans’, then that is appropriation IMO. And we can acknowledge that she is a biologically male person with a female gender identity and living culturally as a female without claiming that she is thereby a female. The same applies to transracial: Dolezal is a white person who identifies as black. I guess you could call her transblack, but that is not a type of black person.

    In my experience, these matters are greatly simplified if we avoid the language of social construction. Sex is biological and ethnicity biological and ancestral/historical; these properties are given social significance/importance (usually in an oppressive way); and people often have psychological identities of these properties (what these identities exactly are is an interesting and difficult philosophical question. For now I think that they are representations of some sort, of oneself as resembling an archetype of male or female, where the archetype includes bodily shape, personality traits and perhaps social role. It seems that when someone ‘identifies as a man’, for example, they are centered in the male form in a certain way, seeing themselves as fitting better in it. There might also be an element of desire or preference in it). Sometimes people can have identities of biological/ancestral groups they are not actually members of, and some of these people will live as members of such groups. You can think of them as honourary members, if you like. On this view there’s no confusion about what makes a woman, or a black person, or whatever.

    Finally, as much as I hate to sound like a Social Justice Warrior (I’m really not one), some remarks made in this thread are transphobic. For example: “some of the problems with appropriating an entire gender’s history and erasing it in favour of a pair of five inch heels and some breast implants…” This is a disparaging way of describing someone’s transition and their identity. Transwomen do not transition because they want to put on heels. And highlighting these external objects deliberately takes attention away from the subjectivity of the trans person, from the way that transition generally allows for greater authenticity and self-expression. This is her life and journey you are talking about, not ‘a pair of five inch heels and some breast implants.’ And no, Jenner’s transition is not appropriation: it’s her self-expression and her controlling her own bodily form and destiny, which she has every right to do and in which we should support her.

    And: “His identity is an insult to our reality.”

    Speak for yourself. I am a biological female and I do not feel even remotely insulted by any transwoman’s or transman’s identity. Their identities are part of who they are, and you’re saying you’re insulted by that, so you’re saying you’re insulted by their very existence. And what exactly is insulting about it? That they feel a certain way? I suggest you step out of your own narrow world and recognize that other people have subjectivities too, and try to look at things from their point of view instead of measuring them against your ideological assumptions and goals. If you want resources on this subject, ‘Boy I am’ (feminism-themed) and ‘I’dentity’ are good documentaries, and both on YouTube.

    • J

      “merely having the gender identity of the opposite sex”

      Sex doesn’t have an innate gender identity.

      “biologically male person with a female gender identity”

      Sex doesn’t have an innate gender identity.

      “Transwomen do not transition because they want to put on heels”

      Tell me more about how a man identifies as a female “gender identity” without stereotyping women.

      “transition generally allows for greater authenticity and self-expression.”

      No, it reinforces that if you don’t want to conform to gender rules, you should transition and therefore affirm that you need to look like a different sex in order for it to be appropriate for you to behave that way. It reinforces the gender binary. Authenticity and self expression would be a man who expresses his femininity while still acknowledging his self as a man, and by acknowledging that that’s okay.

      Speaking of YouTube. Go watch “the mask you live in” by missrepresentation. That’s the results of boys bring taught they’re “girls” (a bad thing) if they express any emotion we have feminized.

      Jenner is an appropriator. His whole identity is built on stereotypes of women. He doesn’t know what it’s like to feel like a woman because he is a man. All he knows is what it feels like to not fit in to what “men” are supposed to do/feel. The definition of “woman” is not “not a man”. For him to declare that he knows what it feels like to be a woman is ludicrous.

      Sex doesn’t have an innate gender identity

      • “Sex doesn’t have an innate gender identity.”

        I can’t even make sense of this statement. Sexes don’t have gender identities, people do. But what was your point? Are you saying there is no such thing as a gender identity? If you, you are out of touch with reality. Many trans and non-trans people alike report having gender identities, just as many people report having cultural identities, familial identities, religious identities, etc. Of course not everyone has one — I don’t, for example — but many people do. In general, unless you have evidence that people are lying, you should presume they are telling the truth, including when they talk about their sense of self. Is there any reputed psychologist who denies the existence of gender identity?

        “Tell me more about how a man identifies as a female “gender identity” without stereotyping women.”

        If you claim that the only reason anyone has the gender identity they do is because they stereotype the sex they are identified with, then the burden of proof is on you to defend that claim. Radical feminists seem to have accepted this as a dogma, and to my knowledge nobody has yet given empirical support for it. At most, stereotyping might have a role to play in the formation of some people’s gender identities, but stereotyping alone is not enough for the formation of a strong, stable and immutable identity which is usually present from infancy. Are you telling me that a three-year-old child who says he’s a boy (whatever his sex) has somehow learned gender stereotypes and decided that he must be a boy to have certain personality traits? I already know this is false, but if you claim it’s true I’d like to see some evidence for it. And anyway, recognizing oneself as more ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ is not the same as stereotyping.

        But what claim of mine is this supposed to challenge? I didn’t say anything about the origins of gender identity, though I did offer a brief analysis of gender identity (i.e. what it amounts to). I could agree with your claim above (though I don’t), and still stand by my claim that we can recognize that people have psychological gender identities without thereby believing they are the sex they identify as. I.e., we can recognize that, for example, a transman has a male gender identity and yet not agree with the claim that he is thereby a man.

        “No, it reinforces that if you don’t want to conform to gender rules, you should transition and therefore affirm that you need to look like a different sex in order for it to be appropriate for you to behave that way.”

        This is a tired old trope that radical feminists perpetuate without ever supporting it with anything resembling evidence. Sometimes gender norms and homophobia pressure people to transition, but not always, and when they do, it is under circumstances of extreme persecution (e.g. where one potentially faces violent attacks, etc.). There are people, like me, who are gender non-conforming and are willing to endure the difficulties that come with it (which are not always that great, btw, especially for female-bodied people). People like us will not transition even if we know it’ll make things easier for us, because it is not normal for a person to wish to undergo difficult surgeries and hormone treatments, or even to change their name and persona in the relevant ways. Gender non-conforming people who are not trans will usually resist against the pressure put on us to conform and even to transition, because we don’t have dysphoria and opposite sex identity. But transgender people are a different story. Even when they have the freedom to be gender non-conforming, they still assert their identities in a spontaneous way and in most cases will transition when given the opportunity.

        But regardless, the claim of mine you were responding to is that transition involves changing oneself to be able to express oneself more authentically. This has nothing to do with whether transition reinforces gender norms. Suppose it did (though it doesn’t), so what? How does that challenge the claim that the person is able to express themselves better after they transition?

        “Jenner is an appropriator. His whole identity is built on stereotypes of women… For him to declare that he knows what it feels like to be a woman is ludicrous.”

        You think trans people lie when their self-descriptions and self-expressions don’t fit your ideology. You have no evidence that ‘his whole identity is built on stereotypes of women’. How do you know what’s going on in her mind? Since you’re apparently omniscient about the source of everyone’s identities, you should write a book about it and I’m sure it’ll be authoritative for psychologists everywhere. You might want to try listening to trans people and experts rather than imposing your dogmas on everyone else, like some sort of religious fanatic.

        Jenner never claimed she knows what it feels like to be a biological female. She knows what it feels like to be herself. She feels that the female form and living as a female fit her better. Something in her sense of self involves or results in this feeling. You may not understand it, but that just means there are open questions about the nature and origins of identities. If you don’t get how someone can identify as the opposite sex, then do the intellectual thing and try to understand. Don’t presume some answers to those questions because they’re ideologically convenient and then assert them without evidence.

        I was planning on watching ‘The Mask You Live In’ anyway, but I don’t need to watch it to know that males are subjected to gender norms. I am a gender non-conforming female and have friends who are gender non-conforming females and males, including more than one who was borderline transgender at one point. I know of males whose parents have attempted to murder them because of their gender non-conformity. However, I also know and know of trans people who are not merely trying to fit into gender norms. They are able to be gender non-conforming, but they actually have a dissatisfaction with their bodies that other gender non-conforming people don’t have. Additionally, they have the gender identity of the opposite sex, which mere gender non-conformity does not guarantee.

        I strongly suggest you watch the two documentaries I mentioned. You won’t get hurt, you will only get educated if you let yourself.

        • tinfoil hattie

          Gender has been twisted around to mean “I am whatever I say I am and whatever I feel like! That’s my ‘gender’!”

          But gender is a social construct, and trying to change the definition is really kinda stupid.

          I’m a woman. I was born a girl. I grew up into a woman. I have performed gender stereotypes assigned to woman. I perform less and less of them now. I don’t wear make-up. I say whatever I feel. I no longer care if people “like” me or are “offended” by things I say. I take up space. I laugh loudly and eat with gusto.

          I’m a woman.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            “[..] take up space. I laugh loudly and eat with gusto”

            ^That last part made me chuckle!

            I do most [if not ALL] of those things myself, and in the spirit of things I’d like to add; I burp out loud when I feel like it. A polite ‘excuse me’ suffices and low and behold; I’m still a woman too! Can you believe it? After all, we all know burping is not the womanly kind of thing women, with their lady-brains, inherently do….

            So hey! I must be a man then! 😉

        • Missfit

          ‘Are you telling me that a three-year-old child who says he’s a boy (whatever his sex) has somehow learned gender stereotypes and decided that he must be a boy to have certain personality traits?’

          How do you know this to be false? I would say yes. On what other basis a girl would say she is a boy? Not because she has a penis, obviously. My daughter is 3 years old. She told me the other day that she was a boy. I asked her why and she told me that she looked like a boy. She has been misgendered some times. And I know exactly why, it is because she has short hair (and also often wears gender neutral clothes). I’m not pushing this on her, she’s the one who constantly ask to have her hair cut. Then another day she decides she does not want to wear the blue shirt she used to love anymore because blue is for boys (even though the shirt has butterflies on it!). Children this age are absolutely getting the gender cues from society. I’m telling my daughther that she can wear and do what she likes, she’s still a girl.

          Gender is based on the premise that certain human qualities are masculine by virtue that they belong to men and others feminine, pertaining to women. Qualities ascribed to women are linked to their ornamental and domestic functions under patriarchy. If you say that transwomen ‘identify as the opposite sex’, what are they identifying with exactly? With having female sexual organs? Apparently not. It is this thing we call gender. We are told transwomen are women. We are asked to define women by gender. We are asked to have people with penises access our locker rooms and other women’s spaces on the basis that they are women. No. Someone with a penis is a man. We are asked to redefine what constitutes a woman and we say no.

          • “On what other basis a girl would say she is a boy?”

            Just because you don’t know why people have the identities they do, doesn’t mean it must be because of the internalization of stereotype. The example you cited is of a child who is not expressing a stable and established gender identity. Not every statement of being a boy or a girl is an expression of gender identity. Your niece grew out of her mistaken assertion that she is a boy, and many of us similarly grow out of thinking in gender stereotypes. But many people have stable identities that they do not grow out of, even when they know what gender stereotypes are and are critical of them. There are transgender and non-transgender people who are aware of and critical of gender stereotypes (often feminists as well) who nevertheless report having gender identities. Psychologists do not diagnose people as having Gender Dysphoria based on temporary reports of being a boy or girl. They are careful to distinguish between kids going through phases or categorizing themselves based on stereotype alone, and those with an innate, stable gender identities.

            Tell me, though: on you view, how do you explain those cases where gender identity comes apart from conformity to stereotypes? Why do butch females not say they’re men, and ‘effeminate’ males not say they’re women? Why do all the drag queens and tomboys of the world not transition? Why do some people have no gender identity at all and others have one, when they live in the same society with the same gender stereotypes?

            You still have not given any evidence that gender stereotypes are solely responsible for the formation of gender identity. All you have done is describe your incredulity at the fact that such identities exist in a way that can be at odds with sex. But if you don’t understand how it’s possible, then maybe you should find out in an open-minded way, without preconceptions and without political vested interest.

            I already offered a toy analysis of gender identity, which obviously everyone ignored because it was intellectual and not political mumbo jumbo. Besides that, there are the two very interesting documentaries that I recommended — both of which are available for free on YouTube –, which don’t directly address the issue of gender identity but depict individuals who make for useful case studies. And there are books on feminist metaphysics and trans studies, such as ‘You’ve Changed!’ (Ed. Laurie Shrage) and ‘Feminist Metaphysics’ (Ed. Charlotte Witt). Of what I’ve read of these books, the question of what gender identity is has not been satisfactorily answered, but they may be illuminating in other ways and they at least raise the questions.

            And anyway, even if you do believe that gender identity is entirely explained by internalization of gender stereotype, that is not at odds with my original claims that a) we can recognize the reality of psychological gender identity while still denying that a person is whatever they identify as, and b) merely having the identity of some other group is not in itself appropriation. Dolezal is not black just because she identifies as black, a female with a male gender identity is not a man, etc. This is a position that I don’t see how you could even disagree with. But Dolezal is also not appropriating just by identifying as black, and Jenner is not appropriating by identifying as a woman. Even if you believe that the only reason people have the identities they do is because of gender/racial stereotypes, it doesn’t follow from that that their having those identities amounts to appropriation.

        • Diana

          Children are aware of gender norms at a very young age (see this paper: Children’s Search for Gender Cues: Cognitive Perspectives on Gender Development, Carol Lynn Martin and Diane Ruble).

          A better question than what is sex or gender is: what is identity, and especially, what is gender identity? Wikipedia says:
          “Gender identity is a person’s private sense and subjective experience of their own gender. This is generally described as one’s private sense of being a man or a woman, consisting primarily of the acceptance of membership into a category of people: male or female. ”

          Note the words subjective, private, acceptance. I think that transgenderism is mainly a question of (not) accepting your own body, whatever its form is, and of course a matter of (not) accepting the imposed gender norms. Also, as this paper says (Newmann, Barbara. Development Through Life: A Psychosocial Approach), ” Gender identity is affected by influence of others, social interactions, and a child’s own personal interest. Understanding gender can be broken down into four parts: (1) understanding the concept of gender, (2) learning gender role standards and stereotypes, (3) identifying with parents, and (4) forming gender preference.” (Wikipedia)

          Hence gender identity is largely a result of external influences. Almost everyone struggles with gender norms, some by obsessively conforming, others by feeling restrained by them… Both rejection of one’s body and struggle with gender norms are mental issues and can be helped accordingly I think. Another thing is if the causes for transsexualism are neurological, but then “identity” has little to do with it.

        • lizor

          Simply: my female reproductive organs in no way predispose me to bleach and flat-iron my hair, teeter around on pink stilettos or enjoy being “practiced on” by some entitled little boy in prep for a female prize he wants to have around on a more long-term basis than he want me. In other words, “Sex doesn’t have an innate gender identity”. It really is not a difficult statement to interpret. If J had said “sex lanone does not dictate innate gender identity would you have found it easier to understand?

          It’s true that the words “sex” and “gender” are used interchangeably in many discussions of trans politics in ways that are not helpful. But in service clarity, I say that as far as discussions on this blog go, “sex” indicates the reproductive organs and secondary sex characteristics that the majority of mammals are born with. (Yes, yes, “intersex”, but I am – shockingly – referring to a majority population without gumming up the linguistic works by acknowledging every possible variance from the generalized norm. As another commenter astutely observed – “would you say that because some people are born without legs, we should be forbidden to say that humans are bipedal?”). “Gender” is alternately the social construct built on the expectations, reactions and dangers linked to whichever reproductive organs you have, or conversely, for some, a reported experience of “essence” that is, according to high-profile trans women like Paris Dees and Laverne Cox, correlated with long pretty hair and posing for porn spreads. You don’t seem to want to acknowledge the fact that some of the most vocal leaders of the trans movement actually DO equate their identity with high heels and implants.

          “If you claim that the only reason anyone has the gender identity they do is because they stereotype the sex they are identified with, then the burden of proof is on you to defend that claim. Radical feminists seem to have accepted this as a dogma, and to my knowledge nobody has yet given empirical support for it.”

          Well, I don’t see anyone saying that the ONLY reason people form gender indentities is because they STEREOTYPE…” You are putting words in peoples’ mouths. There is lots of sociological evidence over many decades that demonstrates that humans are socially coerced towards clusters of behaviours that are constructed under a gender binary right from birth, and the direction of that coercion is based on which reproductive organs that person has. (I’m guessing you are well aware of that evidence already. )That “gender identities” are formed in that context is self-evident and significant to the whole question of “essences” that supposedly exist outside of any social context and that therefore are above discussion.

          “At most, stereotyping might have a role to play in the formation of some people’s gender identities, but stereotyping alone is not enough for the formation of a strong, stable and immutable identity which is usually present from infancy.” Actually, the burden of proof is on YOU to back that up with empirical evidence, or perhaps a rational argument that demonstrates the existence of a gendered “essence” in the absence of socialization and fetishization of gender roles.

        • J

          Honestly it’s like talking to a logical fallacy. How can I reason with someone who doesn’t appear to understand the basics of reason?

          “‘Sex doesn’t have an innate gender identity.’

          I can’t even make sense of this statement. Sexes don’t have gender identities, people do.”

          Don’t pretend you didn’t JUST SAY, “merely having the gender identity of the opposite sex,” or, “biologically male person with a female gender identity,” both of which apply a “matched” gender identity to a SEX. Clearly, you think sexes DO have gender identities. That’s why I said, “Sex doesn’t have an innate gender identity,” and so if you “can’t make sense of this statement,” my only suggestion is to re-read what you wrote, and to re-examine your actual thoughts on the relationship between gender identity and sex, and perhaps notice some internal presuppositions which you may not have noticed you had previously. In particular, pay attention to the word, “innate,” which I used each time in my sentence.

          “Are you saying there is no such thing as a gender identity? If you, you are out of touch with reality.”

          Straw man logical fallacy. Argue against what I said, not what you re-phrase and misrepresent my words to mean. It’s cheating to re-structure someone’s argument so that it’s easier for you to debate. I said that there’s no such thing as INNATE gender identity according to sex. Nothing more, nothing less.

          However, gender is a social construct, and it is enforced on you according to your sex. You’re not born with it, but you are taught it over time by society at large. It is not something you “identify with,” it’s something you’re given and it’s something that causes a social stir when you act against it. Boys are called “girls” (again, a bad thing) when they mess up their masculine performance, and girls are called bossy (but graduate to bitches with age) when they fail at performing femininity.

          “If you claim that the only reason anyone has the gender identity they do is because they stereotype the sex they are identified with, then the burden of proof is on you to defend that claim.”

          Another straw man. I said gender identity is not innate according to your sex. The burden of proof (logical fallacy) is for someone to prove the existence of something. You can’t prove a negative. I’m saying that by default, when we’re born, we don’t have a gender. Because gender doesn’t actually exist beyond social construction. So if you’re saying that you can be BORN in the “wrong gender,” the burden of proof is on you. That’s like saying, “Prove God doesn’t exist.” It’s impossible to prove a negative. You have to prove the positive.

          “I didn’t say anything about the origins of gender identity.”

          By saying “gender identity of the opposite sex,” and, “biologically male person with a female gender identity,” you did say something about the origins of gender identity. Sex is something you’re born with. To say that there is a matching gender for each sex implies that gender is “something you’re born with,” or that certain genders “match” certain sexes. That’s incredibly sexist.

          “This is a tired old trope that radical feminists perpetuate without ever supporting it with anything resembling evidence.”

          I’m not sure you actually know what a trope is if you think a radical feminist idea is “a tired old trope,” considering any radical feminist that actually has her voice heard usually has her life, job, or security threatened. It’s not like these are popular ideas, or stereotypes that have been painted into popular figures of speech. Come on. Be realistic. The tired old trope is the “wrong body” idea, which perpetuates the idea that women and men are “supposed to” act in certain ways.

          Everything you say about the reasons for trans people’s transitions is true. There’s a variety of reasons, and threats against them can inspire a wish to change into a “passing” presentation of themselves. But that doesn’t actually mean they’re women, or that women have to stop talking about what makes them women because it makes men feel less like women. Personally, I listen to gender critical trans women who say that they have come to terms with the fact that they made a decision for their own mental survival but that they aren’t going to say that it’s because they actually ARE something which they inherently don’t know they are. It’s like saying you KNOW you’re a peach. How the hell do you know what it feels like to be a peach? All you know is that you don’t feel right how you currently are. To say that you are someone you’re not is saying that you know what it’s like to be someone you’re not. To say you know what it’s like to be someone you’re not is to say that you know the experiences of someone when you’ve never shared those experiences. It’s presumptuous, it’s essentialist, it’s sexist. I think everyone should be able to express themselves however they want, and if a man wants to present an identity that superficially looks like the one women are forced to have, he can go right ahead. But don’t then go to women saying that they’re doing feminism wrong because it doesn’t put men at the centre, or that your identity is in the “wrong sex” (which implies sex and gender “match”, which is sexist). Just tell the truth: that you don’t feel comfortable performing the mix or formula of masculinity and femininity that society forces you to have, that you are going to live more freely, and that you are going to perform the formula that you like best. But don’t then go and say that you are something that you are not. And don’t tell people who actually are that thing to stop talking about their experiences because you can’t have a period or care about abortions.

          ” If you don’t get how someone can identify as the opposite sex, then do the intellectual thing and try to understand.”

          Sex doesn’t have an innate gender identity.

          “Additionally, they have the gender identity of the opposite sex.”

          Sex doesn’t have an innate gender identity.

          “I strongly suggest you watch the two documentaries I mentioned. You won’t get hurt, you will only get educated if you let yourself.”

          Don’t talk to me under the presupposition that I’m uneducated. People can disagree with you and – hey, what do you know – be into acquiring knowledge for a hobby. I’m happy to watch documentaries, read articles, and speak with people who live in and between the lines of socially constructed gender. I’m not afraid of getting hurt by the acquisition of knowledge, and I don’t regularly restrict myself from acquiring knowledge. So don’t speak to me under a presupposition that I’m afraid that watching a movie will hurt me. Come on.

          • lizor

            ^^^ brilliant response^^^.

            I especially admire the paragraph that begins with “Everything you say about the reasons for trans people’s transitions is true. “. Thank you so much for your clear, articulate thoughts, J.

          • marv

            “Because gender doesn’t actually exist beyond social construction. So if you’re saying that you can be BORN in the “wrong gender,” the burden of proof is on you. That’s like saying, “Prove God doesn’t exist.” It’s impossible to prove a negative. You have to prove the positive.”

            Your comparison appeals to me. An identity based on god’s love is not provable. There is no observable evidence for the existence of god. It is based on faith not sight. People swear by god’s presence in the deepest recesses of themselves. Gender seems to evoke similar convictions. Plus it’s no revelation to anyone here that religion is pro-gender. New Agers are as well but want to mix it up like their secular counterparts.

            “Identitarians” are involutionists. They develop systems of thought and feeling that involve so much complexity they are not open to liberating change anymore. They become mentally lost in an inner void and try to draw others inside.

        • andeväsen

          “Many trans and non-trans people alike report having gender identities, just as many people report having cultural identities, familial identities, religious identities, etc.”

          Cultural, family and religious identities are shaped by and inseperable from people’s environments. The environment is claimed to have no bearing on a person’s gender identity: (1) even though the world treats a person as a man, their gender identity is that of a woman and their self-description is considered legally valid; however (2) even though the world treats a person as Harish Patel, their familial identity is that of Prince Harry, 5th in line to the English crown and their self-description is not considered legally valid.

          Therefore gender identity is not “just as” those other identities. Gender identity as it has been constructed is an exception amongst all other personal identities.

          Also: “Don’t presume some answers to those questions because they’re ideologically convenient and then assert them without evidence”, “do the intellectual thing and try to understand”, “you will only get educated if you let yourself” and etc.

          There is no evidence to back up a person’s gender identity apart from their self-report. It is, by definition, self-evident. Solipsistic evidence is the only requirement for gender identity. It begins and ends with self-report. It is solely dependent on the self. It is not, with respect, rocket science.

          • Diana

            This guy Shuvo Ghosh writes that fetuses have a gender identity. (“The gender identity of a fetus, and later of an infant, is still incomplete by definition.”).

            Of course Dr. Ghosh is a transition doctor.

          • andeväsen

            That man is scary especially because he is a child development specialist. “Perhaps one day people with gender identity conflict will not be conflicted at all,” says Dr. Ghosh, “but simply be accepted for who they are despite the skin they are born in to.” It is as if he has some insight that a post-gender philosophy would benefit everyone, but is happy to reinforce gender in practice for kids and their families.

        • gxm17

          Gender, much like race, is a man-made domination device. Gender has been used to oppress half of all humanity. It is not an “identity,” it is a tool of oppression. An identity built on gender is inherently inauthentic, at best.

          Can you “make sense” of these four sentences? Or would you prefer to blather for another ten paragraphs in an “intellectual” word fog?

      • Empirical Thinker

        Nail. Head. Bam.

    • Mosaic

      Bruce Jenner kept his penis.

      A man who wants to perform the superficial aspects of femininity while also wanting to keep his penis is not a man suffering from gender dysphoria that makes him believe he should have the body of a woman.

      The best you can say is that Jenner self-identifies as a woman with a penis, and that isn’t a woman by any definition.

      • I shouldn’t be arguing with people on the internet, but I’m bored so I will address this ignorant comment:

        – Not all trans people have dysphoria about all of their body-parts. You don’t have to have dysphoria to be trans.
        – I agree that Jenner is not a woman. She is a transwoman, who, btw, has every right to keep her penis if she wills.
        – There’s nothing wrong with her dressing the way she wants or expressing herself the way she wants. It’s not any worse when she does it than when females do it. You should also appreciate that genderist society expects trans people to conform to certain norms in order to accept them.

        • Non-PC RadFem

          “Ignorant” [?]

          ^This one is an example of “go home and do it again.”

          You won’t gain any sympathies around here by accusing people of being ignorant.
          The funnier part is that you believe we haven’t heard before about the items you listed. Like, a billion times already!

          First, there was mansplaining, then came transplaining…. I wonder what’s next? White folks Raceplaining to non-whites? Or maybe we’ll get our Plutocrats overlords Classplain to us; lowly peasants, how we just don’t-get-it because we’re all just so hopelessly “ignorant” about how rich people are being unfairly demonized by the poor 99%…

        • andeväsen

          “You don’t have to have dysphoria to be trans.”

          Untrue. You do. Dysphoria merely means discomfort and doesn’t necessarily mean bodily discomfort. Discomfort with the gender to which you have been “assigned” precedes wishing to be treated as another gender.

          In a similar way, “you don’t have to have dysphoria to be feminist” is also untrue. Discomfort with the gender to which you have been “assigned” precedes wishing to abolish gender.

          • “Treated as another gender” – LOL. How many times do we hear transwomen saying “Treat me like a woman, do everything I want.” Those are two diametrically opposed demands. Make up your mind, or own up that you want to be treated as a male fantasy, not an actual woman.

        • tinfoil hattie

          Ha the use of “females” as a noun always lets me know not to bother with a commenter.

        • J

          “I shouldn’t be arguing with people on the internet, but I’m bored so I will address this ignorant comment.”

          Translation:
          “I am above you measley members of the peasantry but as I have time, I shall use my freshly polished boots to crush you where you stand. Die, ants.”

          Lol. No but seriously. You might want to learn a little respect for those who don’t share your opinion. Your ideas aren’t novel and have all been considered by most people who are commenting. Treating people as if you are superior or that you have some kind of unaccessed knowledge through some sort of childish fantasy of omniscience will only earn you negative backlash as a result.

      • jelly

        You know the cutting off of a penis shouldn’t be your yardstick here, pun intended. It could be about a person not wanting to have possible ongoing urinary problems etc, etc, and also his age and wanting as much time to live without pain and disability as he wants.

        The surgery of “cutting of the penis” and constructing a vagina and rerouting the urinary tract is not an exact science and there can be significant drawbacks and years of fixing it right.

        But I do agree that he reserves the right to not fully transition and when he doesn’t want to identify as a lesbian, that’s sort of the kicker for me that he didn’t sign on for everything.

        But, really, life is that way. The people moving in and gentrifying neighborhoods are called posers. Did they suffer enough and stick with the neighborhood during that bad years? Can they be called truly locals then?

        If you get highly educated and lose your slang, are you just uppity to your family and friends? Are you truly still a member?

        If your book gets published and it is wildly successful although you were kinda poor before and worked your way up, is it an olympics of “yeah but….” in our community? Did you suffer enough to be a successful woman?

        If you color your hair and do body alteration, are you still a member of your family if you chose not to suffer society’s punishment for being fat, having a big nose, having genetically mousey hair?

        The yardstick of suffering enough and “true experience” and the requirement that it be lifetime is strange. Its a strange ethic to have a list of admirable people but require a suffering olympics. In a way that is stereotypically female to have a “suffer-off” where you can’t be happy for that one over there because she was not pious and humble enough from matchgirl backgrounds.

        I think we ought to debate compliance for advantage vs true identity. We’ve got a long way to go to true identity.

        • Laur

          Why does Jenner have to pump his body full of hormones and get fake boobs in order to live his “true identity”? What is being “real” about that? Why can’t Jenner just dress as he pleases but not want people to honor his fetish by calling him a woman?

          • Non-PC RadFem

            “Why can’t Jenner just dress as he pleases but not want people to honor his fetish by calling him a woman?

            …because it would hurt his manly-man ‘fee-fees’… :/

  • Dandelion

    The legal reasoning in US civil rights legislation is based on the immutability of certain characteristics: race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, and disability. Because of historical discrimination combined with that immutability, the law established protected classes. But if the concept of immutability founders, so does the reasoning on which civil rights protection is based. This is similar, in the US, to abortion rights being founded on the right to privacy: if it can be shown there is in fact no right to privacy (a place we’re rapidly moving toward) then there is no right to abortion, In this way, the transgender community’s notion of material, biological reality as fluid and changeable is a time-bomb. The right in the US is far more organized and long-term strategic than people realize. See, for instance, the Powell Memo, authored by Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell in the late 1960s laying out a strategic and tactical plan to turn the U.S. to the right via media acquisition, control over charitable and research foundations, and targeting specific laws. Just about everything Powell laid out, the right did, and here we are. For this reason, I wasn’t at all surprised that Rick Santorum, who’s equated gay sex with bestiality, expressed support of Caitlyn Jenner. Legal thinkers on the right, I’m sure, have already discussed the way that killing the immutabiliity of biological race,sex, etc. will do tremendous damage to civil rights protection and to identity politics, which right now is the only politics the American left has.

    • derrington

      I think the powerful are incredibly strategic thinkers and know fully well how to plan for keeping hold of power too.

      • Non-PC RadFem

        No offence, but they’re not “incredibly strategic thinkers” they’re just assholes, plain and simple. If you, or I had the same money and resources as they do, we would be able to do as they do if not more than they do, and I’d like to think we would do it for the betterment of humanity, not the other way around.

        Being selfish is incredibly straight forward: more for me, less for everyone else and destroy rivals whenever possible. Not a whole lot of deep thinking involved.

        Being egalitarian on the other hand; takes real brain power. For one: it takes empathy, and they clearly have none of that.

        • dandelion

          Here’s a link to the Powell Memo written in 1971 outlining a strategic plan to reshape secondary and college education and textbooks, media ownership and editorial staff, change charitable foundations’ purpose and staff, increase stock ownership and mobilize stockholders on behalf of corporatism, and change the composition of the judiciary throughout the US. Believe me, the right thinks far more strategically than the left. Witness the very successful long-term strategic chipping away at abortion rights, state by state.
          http://reclaimdemocracy.org/powell_memo_lewis/

          • Lee

            It sounds inconsequential, but all you have to do is look at what happened to MTV after Bush took office. Almost overnight, it was nothing but Britney and Carson and boy bands. Nothing that affected the audience in any real way, no real news or art, was allowed, just like that. MTV was “dangerous” to the youth, so they coopted it completely, while almost no one noticed, despite long-term and popular TV personalities being let-go in favor of plastic people from out of nowhere, exactly coinciding with the election.

            Places like Jezebel are now thought-leaders…

    • Anne Rogers

      What about religion? For some reason it is also protected despite being a choice and extremely mutable.

  • jelly

    One question for you: how does Rachel Dolezal’s race identity effect your ability to live as your race?

    • Erika

      You asked me the same question. Again, the obvious answer is that many American institutions practice affirmative action. Whites masquerading as blacks take scholarships and positions from them. We can debate about the need for, or practical application of, those policies, but until they are repealed or changed, they are what they are. For example, in college admissions one can get “points” for claiming African ancestry. These points can offset lower standardized test scores or lower grades. Employers and government agencies in the USA often also have some version of affirmative action.

    • Matthew

      The same could have been argued about Al Jolson in the 1920s.

  • bfgs

    As a woman of color, I’m reminded of the racial dating preference debates. People who defend their racial preferences in dating often say they can’t help they’re attracted to one race or a few races, and claim that by that logic, heterosexuals must be “sexist” if they are only attracted to another gender. Many people consider racial dating preferences to be racist and a reflection of our disordered society, yet virtually everyone affirms sexual orientations (effectively gendered dating preference) as something innate.*
    Similarly, a lot of the press coverage considers racial identity arbitrary and a social construction (so someone can’t “feel” like they’re innately another race, with a few exceptions**) but gender identity is innate and someone can “feel” like another gender.
    Meghan, since you quoted two colleagues/friends who are transwomen, it would be really interesting to read a longer article about their thoughts regarding compulsory femininity and perception of the high-profile media coverage of Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner.

    *I’ve heard about Adrienne Rich’s writings on Compulsory Heterosexuality, but not sure how mainstream they are.
    **Transracial adoptees, for one example.

    • lizor

      Have you Miranda Yardley’s recent post?

      http://mirandayardley.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-caitlyn/

    • k.f. morton

      “virtually everyone affirms sexual orientations (effectively gendered dating preference) as something innate”

      This is something that really fascinates me – the extent to which sexual orientation may be socialised/constructed. It seems to be very taboo – political lesbians, for instance, are generally disdained in popular media. But if we can concede that the way we perceive the attractiveness of racial traits is socially mediated, why can’t we concede the same may be possible in relation to gendered attraction? Really interesting thought, thanks for sharing!

  • Buster Brown

    I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out the psychological dynamics going on with Dolezal and Jenner. As this story of Dolezal continues to unravel, I believe she is going to be the proverbial fly in the ointment, not the ointment. I think she has some kind of Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Munchhausen Syndrome. Obviously, she is also a very shrewd woman. She is also bold and calculating. After all, as a white woman, she sued Howard University, an historic black university for discrimination. Then, while pretending to be black, she gave a lecture on black hair and announced she was going natural. With that in mind, I think she was knowledgeable about the colorism discrimination that permeates the African American Community, and how it could be used to her advantage. I’m speaking here about skin color hierarchy. There is a very painful history associated with this- as I’m sure some of you are aware of. In some cases, if your skin was darker than a paper bag, you were denied access to social clubs, fraternities, sororities, positions in entertainment, etc., etc. I am very much aware of this phenomenon because I’ve experienced it. Dolezal pretending to be an African American with white skin and blue eyes would make her the center of attention in an African American Institution. She would also be a major curiosity among whites. If you are a narcissist, it’s a perfect role.

    Now about Caitlynn Jenner. I happened to stumble on a YouTube video by someone who calls herself “Freelee The Bananna Girl”. Apparently she is a Vegan or special diet advocate or something. She has the body of a child, but that’s another subject. In her video, she was debating whether a skinny girl’s body was more desirable than a curvy one. She attempted to solved the matter by concluding that all women had vaginas. What transpired next were angry comments from transgendered advocates calling her transphobic. Why? Because all women don’t have vaginas! Say what now?! So, she basically apologized for having a vagina. Now this is an example of how this debate is getting insane. I feel the same way about Caitynn Jenner. Women are expected to walk on eggshells to not to offend the dignity of Caitlyn Jenner’s womanhood. If they dare not accept it, they will be hounded by accusations of transphobia, and the usual demeaning sexists nouns. You will probably hear the usual, you’re jealous, too. In some cases this may include threats of bodily harm. Women are expected to not question any of this, while their own womanhood is violated, EVERYDAY! This tremendous pressure for women to acknowledge Transwomen, is not applied to men to accept Trans Men? You should ask yourself, why? Why must women, yet again, discount their own suffering to benefit another. Why are our issues and spaces disrespected. When is Chaz Bono going to appear on Esquire?

    Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge here that there are other victims in all of this. We can see how the 3 ex-wives in Caitlynn Jenner’s life have been rendered persona non grata. While he played the part of straight, white, Republican male, he used them in his masquerade. He impregnated them and produced 6 children. But that is of no consequence. If he abused them that is unimportant. Women born female don’t matter here. His son Brody’s girlfriend is disregarded when Jenner commandeered her name, Kaitlynn,as his own. This dismissal of women was also exhibited when Laverne Cox pleaded for the convicted felon, Luis Morales, to received medical services. The purpose, so he may transition into womanhood. Morales is now known as Synthia China Blast. He is in prison for the rape, murder and abuse of the corpse of a 13 year-old girl. Ebony Brown, the victim, will never see womanhood. But that doesn’t matter, because real women’s lives don’t. We saw yet another example here with Christopher Hambrook also know as Jessica Hambrook. He was a transgendered woman that was placed in a Toronto women’s shelter where he proceeded to rape women. When he was convicted, transgendered activists advocated for him to be put in a woman’s prison. But again, the women that he rape with his penis lives are irreverent, and so are the lives of the women in the prison.

    As I said in the beginning here, there are some things that are psychologically perplexing. And, as women we should demand that this issue is debated further. And puh-leeze, this is not transphobia. This is about having a frank discussion, something women should not be afraid to do. Womanhood is being sold as a cheap commodity. It’s as though there is a yearning to embody the essence of womanhood- not out of the love of women; but, because “some” “not all”, think they can do womanhood better- than an actual woman. It’s some kind of grotesque competition or monstrous vanity. Many years ago on one of those trash talk shows, they featured on a bevy of drag queens. At one point you had drag queens screaming at the women in the audience that they looked better than them. What is all of this really about? Obviously I’m not an expert on human behavior. But I wholeheartedly believe there is something here that needs further investigation. Whatever it is, Rachel Dolezal also fits in it… somewhere.

    • Jonas

      This post is one of the most powerful posts I read in a long time.

      Thank you for writing this.

      Transgenderism, if it can be called an -ism, is really one of the most messed up things to come out of the dominant culture in modern times.
      It more often than not, end up sheltering abusers, murderers, rapists and so on and as soon as these violent men claim “womanhood” as you say, anything they have done (or do) is rendered mostly invisible or almost impossible to talk about.

      It’s horrifying yet I’m not at all surprised this movement is mostly driven forward by white hetero males and to their advantage they have an army of soldiers who is out there day & night threatening/bullying people (most women of course) into silence.

      • Rich

        “It more often than not, end up sheltering abusers, murderers, rapists and so on and as soon as these violent men claim “womanhood” as you say, anything they have done (or do) is rendered mostly invisible or almost impossible to talk about.”

        Whoa–that is way over the top, IMO. I understand why people think first of the strident activist types that they hear from, but the Transwomen I have actually come across (thus not counting nuts on the internet) are pretty inoffensive. I have a close relative who is starting this now. He is a quite young man who is no threat to any one (except to the extent, in conjunction with the medical industry, he is a threat to himself). The idea that “more often then not” they are rapists and murderers is ridiculous.

        What they are, “more often than not”, is troubled people whose problem the medical industry has decided to exacerbate by way of massive medical intervention to break the part of them that is not broken because it is unfashionable, at the present time, to acknowledge what is broken.

        • Jonas

          I don’t think it is over the top. Not other political movement/ideology besides Transgenderism, as far as I know, have been better off to cater to rapists, murderers and other extremely mean men. While at the same time being of zero help to those with actual dysphoria ie. transsexuals.

          I am not talking about individuals here, I am talking about an ideology that has no boundaries. ANY man can be a transwoman, some takes it even further and claim any male can magically become female according to transgender ideology by saying the magic sentence “I’m a woman” and you are done. It’s totally nuts.

          • Jonas

            Online you see transwomen as well oppose this ideology claiming it is of zero help transpeople and without a doubt putting actual women back when it comes to social/human rights.
            But transpeople who also want to shed light on this ideology is of course just as viciously attacked as women are for not wanting men in women only spaces.
            “truscum” and “terfs” two slurs, one is used on transpeople the other is on women used up by transactivists and non-transactivist men who enjoys using transgender ideology as a freecard to harass women and get away with it.

            As long as this is happening on a large scale, which it do, I don’t think its over the top to call out transgender ideology and who really benefits from this ideology.

          • Rich

            “As long as this is happening on a large scale, which it do, I don’t think its over the top to call out transgender ideology and who really benefits from this ideology.”

            I have no problem “calling out” the ideology. But I think it is ridiculous to say that “more often than not” trans activism results in shelter (whatever that means) for rapists and murderers. As best as I can see, “more often than not” it “results in” (and benefits) some boy being able to wear girls clothing to school. At a more extreme end, he might be able to play on a girls sports team. He does not belong there, of course, but that hardly makes him the equivalent of a rapist or murderer.

          • Morag

            ‘As best as I can see, “more often than not” it “results in” (and benefits) some boy being able to wear girls clothing to school. At a more extreme end, he might be able to play on a girls sports team. He does not belong there, of course, but that hardly makes him the equivalent of a rapist or murderer.’

            Nothing in Jonas’ comment, that I can see, was including transing children — most of whom are victims. Victims, not only of their parents, but of transgenderist ideology itself and of the doctors who profit from this ideology. Children, even toddlers, are being used to legitimize transactivism, and to distract us from the grown men who are — yes, more often than not — sexually motivated to transition.

            To say that the most this ideology results in is boys wearing girly clothing, and playing on girls’ sports teams, is dismissive not only of these kids (who are being abused physically/medically, sexually, emotionally and intellectually) but of girls and women everywhere who are paying the price for what amounts to a men’s rights movement to expand their sexual proclivities and thrills into public space. Against our will.

            Jonas is correct when he says that public acceptance of transgenderism, under the guise of civil rights for a minority, is offering shelter to male fetishists, abusers, rapists and murderers. These stories are everywhere — just look and listen.

            Perhaps you’re stuck on the phrase “more often than not”? Well, how often is it OK to honour a man’s “gender identity” over the safety, comfort, and dignity of girls and women? This is what is happening.

            And if we want to talk about how often a man’s gender identity is favoured well above the intellectual integrity of women, and well above our right to define ourselves as persons, not costumes and notions in the male imagination, well, then this is happening more than more often than not. Whenever “gender identity” trumps sex — ideologically, socially, legally — it’s 100% of the time.

          • Jonas

            I think you read me wrong, or that we talk past eachother or how I shall say. I’m not saying all trans activism results in that. I was saying transgender ideology more often than not ends up catering to these kind of men because there is simply no boundaries as to whom is a trans and not.
            Haven’t you noticed how many men hides behind this ideology and currently is getting away with an amazing amount of shitty behaviour and attitudes just because they claim transwoman status, or just claim to be women, period ?

            When you have a political ideology that men can use to actually push for rapists to be inserted in women only prisons something is very, very wrong. And so far the only group of people that really takes this head on is feminists. Even though I see more and more is waking up to what goes on in this political ideology it goes slow. The silencing that currently goes on is amazing.

            If your friend there for example, that you mentioned before, would claim that there is a difference between women and transwomen (ie. he knows what female and male human beings are) he will be in a lot of trouble if he says that to the wrong crowd thanks to this ideology.

            transgender ideology harms women and transpeople.

          • Jonas

            And I’m sorry but I don’t think transgenderism will help any male to wear what this culture sees as clothes for females safely.

            Homophobia exists with or without this ideology.
            And its homophobia that most men, that are either behaving feminine or dressing feminine, is victims off and as long as we men don’t takes on this homophobia head on, nothing will change for these males.

    • purple sage

      Fantastic post, Buster Brown! Thank you.

    • Lee

      I do think there’s some kind of fetishization and idealization, and then devaluation and hatred, that MRA’s, rapists, stalkers, porn-addicts, misogynists in general, etc. and some transwomen may have in common.

      It’s not limited to women. If you listen to racists and homophobes, their obsession with the object of their hatred is often coming from some kind of jealousy (else, why the obsession with something/someone you don’t like?).

      So, I guess what I’m saying is, yes, I think many MRA’s and other woman-haters actually want, in some sense, to be women, or at least what they imagine women to be. This is something feminism is dead-on about — that men would be so much happier if they were able to explore the ‘non-masculine’ things they are so afraid of/attracted to. They try, instead, to extract those things they do not allow themselves to have from actual human beings and it doesn’t work and they get angry.

      • Laur

        “It’s not limited to women. If you listen to racists and homophobes, their obsession with the object of their hatred is often coming from some kind of jealousy (else, why the obsession with something/someone you don’t like?)”

        The fascination may not be limited to misogynists, but misogyny itself is almost always sexualized. When men who transition talk among themselves, many times they are honest and say when they first started wearing women’s clothes, they always got erections, or that their sexual fantasies as men were often based around having a vagina and breasts. I’m not bold enough to say a fetish is what’s going on in every single case, but having spent time around transwomen, it’s become clear to me that for many, many of them, that is a large factor.

        The men with sexual fetishes usually want to declare themselves “lesbians” after transition. There is another group of men who has issues with being gay men, and transition so they can be “straight.” This isn’t something I’m pulling out of my ass: there is research on this, almost entirely done before trans gendering became a taboo topic to look honestly at.

        The website http://www.transgenderreality.com discusses men’s fetishes in more detail.

  • Non-PC RadFem

    Oh Meghan… not wanting to add to your headaches, but I just came across this today [on the bright side, the author seems to be a fan of yours :)]

    A Voice for Men [MRAs Group] Aligns With Trans and Pro-Exploitation Lobby Against Meghan Murphy
    https://mancheeze.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/a-voice-for-men-aligns-with-trans-and-pro-exploitation-lobby-against-meghan-murphy/

    ^Oh there’s a surprise [not]!! MRAs and Trans-activists having a lot in common between them… who would have thought it? :/

    .

    PS: I leave it up your discretion to post, or not post this, Meghan. Either way you choose, I totally understand 🙂

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh no worries. I saw it last month and found it rather amusing, more than anything else.

      • Non-PC RadFem

        Dog bless your patience and/or sense of humor, I would be fuming if in your shoes.
        But thank the spirits, you’re far more level headed than some of us [<namely, mostly: me] are 😉

        There’s also some drama and a good deal of eye-openers going on the comment section too… (just sayin’) O-O

    • river

      Thanks Meghan. We owe you! xxx

    • Matthew

      Trans is essentially MRApe propaganda with a make-up kit.