Prince was not trans, he is proof that men need not be masculine

As Prince is mourned by millions across the world, his life and artistry are rightly being embraced as unconventional and as boundary-pushing in many ways, including in terms of gender. But, whereas 10 or 20 years ago, a man like Prince would have been celebrated, in death, as someone who did not conform to gender norms, today he is instead being transed. And this is a problem.

Prince - Black Trans Lives matter

It’s not a problem, to be clear, because people who suffer from sex dysphoria or who don’t conform to the gender binary are a problem, but because we need to allow people to push past gender stereotypes without being forced out of their sex. It is not progressive to say that a male who does not act like a stereotypical man must actually be a woman — it is regressive.

First, some basics: Gender is a hierarchy and a social construct. It exists to reinforce male dominance and female subordination by naturalizing gendered characteristics and attaching those characteristics to humans who are born male or female. So, women are said to be (and are socialized to be) passive, nurturing, emotional, delicate, weak, etc., and men are said to be (and socialized to be) aggressive, unemotional, violent, tough, strong, etc. What feminism tries to do is not, as some believe, embrace “femininity,” but reject femininity (and masculinity) — this isn’t a yin and yang kinda thing wherein we celebrate the “feminine” and “masculine” energy within us, it’s a “femininity”-and-“masculinity”-are-not-real-things-and-reinforce-sexism kinda thing.

Dan Zak at The Washington Post wrote that, “Bowie and Prince were transgender, in that they transcended gender,” but he’s wrong.

Refusing to adhere to masculine or feminine stereotypes does not make one trans, it makes one human. Which is to say that, while humans may be biologically male or female, they are not biologically feminine or masculine. A man can wear a skirt and still be a man and a woman can have facial hair and still be a woman. If we start to say that anyone who refuses or isn’t able to perform gender in the way society teaches them to is “trans,” we assume that the gender binary is real — that a person who is big and tall and hairy and who acts aggressively or pursues sex with women is a man and a person who wears heels and dresses and is gentle and polite and is objectified by men is a woman. Anyone who strays from these norms is, then, proclaimed “trans,” leaving no room for the rest of us to exist outside of these stereotypes.

What would be far more progressive would be to, as a society, accept that people are people, and that they should be able to wear and behave however they like. It would be even better is the ideas of “femininity” and “masculinity” didn’t exist at all. If not feeling comfortable or fitting into societal rules for gender makes one “trans,” then we’re all trans to some degree — not just those men who prefer dresses and those women who don’t want to be the object of the male gaze, not just those of us who’ve never felt comfortable behaving as women are meant to behave, like me.

We aren’t there yet, to be sure. Both men and women alike are punished harshly for defying gender norms and, more often than not, our “performances” of gender are not even something we are aware of, as it’s been so ingrained in us. But surely the freedom for men and women alike to escape these oppressive boxes entirely is the long-term goal.

Let’s celebrate men like Prince and David Bowie and women like K.D. Lang and Patti Smith for refusing to fit into the stereotypical boxes patriarchal society laid out for them, not assume that those who rebel must, naturally, be the opposite gender or trans.

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.

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  • faculty member

    yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!!!! Meghan Murphy, you are simply brilliant!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh thanks! Glad it resonated with you.

  • jdndcus

    I remember a few years ago informing my friend, to his actual disbelief, that Prince is (was) straight. The Eighties were an incredible time for challenging gender. Unfortunately it seems like we’ve only regressed since then.

  • “the opposite gender”? That’s conflating sex and gender. We do not have genders but rather are subjected TO gender.

    Excellent piece otherwise though.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Fair enough. Though in trans discourse, the way it is often (but not always) framed is that a person has transed from man to woman, rather than male to female, you know?

  • Meghan Murphy

    The price of saying entirely uncontroversial truths, eh? 🙂

  • Freddie Mercury was another performer who refused to live by male stereotypes. Especially during the first half of his career, his gender-bending style with emphasis on the “feminine” was legendary. I’ve seen people try to trans Mercury after his death which I’ve always found disrespectful, because he was a very proud gay male which you can see in the second half of his career when he embraced the castro look.

  • Jenny

    Wow incredible article! Hopefully this is shared enough to educate and give people a better understanding!

  • Meghan Murphy

    Well yes. I obviously wouldn’t advocate that anyone wear hyper feminized clothing because it’s mostly uncomfortable and not practical. But in this case, the point has to be made that wearing feminine clothing or makeup does not make one a woman and that men can still wear these things without becoming women, somehow…

    • Sally Hansen

      Didn’t you know, Meghan? Our lady brains mandate we wear lipstick!

  • Meghan Murphy

    I’m not a huge fan of Prince’s music to be honest, so there’s nothing I can recommend to you. (To those who are fans, that’s not a dis, nor is it to say he wasn’t very talented — I just never felt a very strong connection to his music.)

  • Rachel

    Brilliant article. I’ve saved it to arm myself with th discussions I can see will be coming up in the next few days when I catch up with friends…

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Rachel — glad to help!

  • Sally Hansen

    “The “Joan of Arc” was trans stuff makes me feel especially dead inside.” omg… this pisses me off so much…

  • Sally Hansen

    Very well articulated. he seemed complete comfortable with his body, fashion sense and sexuality. he pushed the boundaries with his art. that was the point. he definitely could not be described as “conventional” (which is what gender norms are).

  • Hannah

    Wait, so they can call whoever they want transgender (or at least they have no problem with it) but all hell breaks loose if someone “misgenders” them? Lol.

  • pandora50

    Well put and so glad you said it. I’m getting really tired of the transing of the dead that is done. I saw this meme go through on my newsfeed today (was actually waiting to see how long it would take!) and was shocked. He showed what gender non-conforming actually is, whereas trans completely conforms to patriarchy’s gender stereotypes. Prepare for backlash and know that we’re here to get your back 🙂

  • soyouretheone

    Meghan I love all your stuff, and totally agree about the whole thing you are writing about so well here about it in fact being regressive to classify someone that doesn’t act according to gender norms as trans! but this is the first one where there’s a point I would ask a small clarification: You said that feminism is the rejection of femininity and masculinity? But so much of our fight is against things that really are male/ not female, such as violence and I kinda feel that it’s really important and appreciate how you frequently name it: male violence. The stats don’t bear up to just culture versus inherent differences sometimes. For instance, 97%+ of violent crime are committed by males. Also, I don’t think the violence against michfest by trans females would have happened to men’s groups by trans males. In other words, it seems the development of xx vs xy brains, hormones, etc do result in some real differences, and our job as feminists is to make sure that those people/aspects that are female/feminine aren’t discounted, discredited, looked down upon, etc just for the fact of being female or feminine. I’m still learning: What is the radfem take on this? I guess I had assumed that radfem acknowledges some differences or male or female characteristics, but I just started reading about last year! Anyway thanks for all you do.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well I think there are probably differences of opinion in this area, but I don’t believe men are inherently violent or aggressive. I think men are socialized towards violence. So I think male violence is about masculinity and the gender hierarchy. Even if there are actual genetic/biological reasons for male violence, I still believe it’s a choice to act upon it — a choice that is either sanctioned and encouraged by society or not.

  • Misanthropia

    Would he have been as successful if he were a GNC female?

  • therealcie

    Sadly, the people who do this sort of misguided thing hurt rather than help trans people. I just want to slap them while screaming “Wake up!” at the top of my lungs.

  • The gender binary is still so strong with some people that they can only see men and women, and trans people as people transitioning from one, to the other. These people often coincide with people who think you are either straight, or gay, or transitioning between the two. They don’t get that both gender and sexual orientation are broad spectrums, and one can be mostly male, and mostly prefer women, but still wear a skirt and heals, as well as makeup, and kiss a cute boy, and still rather go home with your girlfriend to have gender bending sex.

    • Morag999

      What’s with the current obsession with spectrums? Spectrums, as a concept, aren’t radical because they change almost nothing, except (at best, AND at worst) to make us feel more comfy and cozy within oppressive structures. You know what else is on a spectrum? Sociopathy/psychopathy. Also on a spectrum is the colour of shit.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    Ah, MRA darling Christina Hoff Sommers. ‘Nuff said?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I know right? Too funny when dudes try to bring her up in their attempts at ‘civil debate’ as though, 1) Any feminist in the whole world takes her seriously, 2) It isn’t a dead giveaway.

      • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

        Also love how they come in with a totally unrelated “point” with the expectation that you will defend against it. Because they used a female username? So very covert. They all act the exact same way, the lack of self awareness is absolutely baffling!

        • Refael Fishzon

          I’m sorry, are you talking about me? Do I have a “female” username? As far as the point itself, I mean, yeah it’s not really related, but it’s not completely off subject. I should probably email these, though.

        • Refael Fishzon

          Nor a liberal feminist.

      • Refael Fishzon

        If it isn’t clear, I don’t agree with her argument in this video or generally with the point. Also, it does seem totally ridiculous to a feminist that patriarchy is over and there’s nothing more to do, so I could understand why feminists don’t take Sommers seriously, but there is a recent backlash against feminism and on that wave, the notion the really women control everything, or at least are equal to men in western societies, is far from unacceptable. This doesn’t relate to this conversation of course, but wolves don’t avoid you ust because you don’t take them seriously.

    • Refael Fishzon

      No, not for me. I really wanted someone to answer that!

    • Pod0riji7

      I recall the weird reverence, creepy fan art and hoards of clingy MRA/gamergate dudes calling her “Based Mom” (based meaning“my favorite.”) How they adopted her as a mother figure is what’s most creepy to me. Not leader, not representative, but mummy dearest. This lovingly drawn by some MRA fanboy image of the “ghost feminist” unleashing her ethereal fury upon the soft,passively drawn bulwark of Christina Hoff Sommers Christ-like visage will never not amuse me.

  • Lucia Lola

    “Refusing to adhere to masculine or feminine stereotypes does not make one trans, it makes one human.”

    Thank you, Meghan. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is what made me love Prince, made him so attractive to me, as a human being. It was his refusal to play the feminine/masculine constructs dictated by society that was incredible and admirable. It was his refusal to not eschew one for the other in defining himself that was to be looked up to. At least by me. That they are attempting to claim this individual as “one of their own” by applying their narrative to what is so uniquely his infuriates me. Celebrate alongside the rest of us, a person who refused to adhere to garbage gender lines.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Clearly feminists are aware that the gender binary really exists. By “real”, I meant “natural,” “biological,” “unchangeable,” or “innate.” You really don’t need to explain, here, how harmful it is. We get it. Obviously.

    “The latin prefix ‘trans-‘ really does mean ‘beyond’ as well as ‘across’.”

    That may well be true, but the way it is commonly used is to signal a transition from one gender to another (sometimes “sex,” as people claim a transwoman is no longer male but female).

    “Should we conclude that the author finds the term ‘trans’ abhorrent?”

    Should we conclude your aim here is to argue strawmans and misconstrue the actual words I’ve written, which are pretty clear?

    It isn’t feminists that insist trans must mean “across”, it’s those who’ve insisted that there is such a thing as “feeling like” a man or a woman “on the inside” and who believe that if one doesn’t feel comfortable in one’s “gender” one must naturally be the other one.

    What is the purpose of the terms “transman” and “transwoman” if not to signal that one has somehow switched from “man” to “woman.”

    It’s this binary we are challenging and questioning, not the notion that people are “non-binary,” (assuming you mean that people don’t actually fit into the categories allowed for us, in terms of gender) as you call it. (Although, as I understand it, “non-binary” is used with regard to “gender identity,” something I am also critical of, as I don’t believe gender is a personal identity, but rather, as I explained, something that is imposed on people.)

    • will

      Thanks for your patience in explaining this Meghan. People have such a hard time with this simple concept. To reiterate what you wrote with such crystalline clarity above: “[Prince being transed is] not a problem, to be clear, because people who suffer from sex dysphoria or who don’t conform to the gender binary are a problem, but because we need to allow people to push past gender stereotypes without being forced out of their sex. It is not progressive to say that a male who does not act like a stereotypical man must actually be a woman — it is regressive.”

      It seems the whole concept of the binary is so foundational to western, colonial capitalism, it is virtually invisible even while it so so excruciatingly unavoidably visible. A study from a couple of years ago found that preference for “masculine” features in males and “feminine” features in females is a distinct characteristic of urban industrialized cultures (i.e. in the heartland(s) of western capitalism). We virtually invented masculinity and femininity.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, this is what I’ve read as well.

  • Misanthropia

    I’m taking about the public reception. You can be a good musician with talent but if the environment isn’t supportive you can’t really grow and shine.

  • OldPolarBear

    OK, fair enough, that was kind of mean, and probably me trying to make a too-clever-by-half reference to the Wachowskis and their movie franchise. But I’m not sure which vulnerable people you think I’m dehumanizing. People who camp outside of MichFest, or even go inside, and threaten violence? People who physically assault table staffers, some of them born, “cis,” female women, at an environmental conference? People who demand the no-platforming of a 77 YO, born-woman, “cis” female pioneer of 2nd-wave feminism and throw stuff at her? Yes, those people are humans, too, but it seems like not very nice ones. And “vulnerable” is not the first word that that comes to my mind to describe them.

    Anyway, it was a simile, and it was about the possible behavior of certain people being like a thing, not that I was saying they are that thing. Also, I just don’t get your “includes vulnerable female people and gay people” part. Female people are female, not trans, and gay people are gay, not trans. I know many of them are troubled and distressed about gender-questioning feelings, believe me, I was one of them. For those people, I want the elimination of gender as a thing in society, and compassionate assistance to work through their emotional issues.

    • Meghan Murphy

      People are seeking out all sorts of incomprehensible reasons to call me names and attack me, today, based on this piece. They can’t come up with an argument to save their lives and it’s hard to know who they are, as they all hide behind anonymity, but boy oh boy do they loooove to hurl names my way.

    • noth1ngness

      ‘Also, I just don’t get your “includes vulnerable female people and gay
      people” part. Female people are female, not trans, and gay people are
      gay, not trans. I know many of them are troubled and distressed about
      gender-questioning feelings, believe me, I was one of them. For those
      people, I want the elimination of gender as a thing in society, and
      compassionate assistance to work through their emotional issues.’

      But that was my point — that some people who identify as trans are distressed gnc girls & women, many of them attracted to other girls and women. And if we all want to work towards a future where gender is destroyed and no girl feels the need to try to identify out of their female reality (which, I agree with you, no girl or woman truly can), we need to, as you put it, show compassionate assistance to these people, or as I would put it, remember empathy. When you talk about trans people in a dehumanizing way, distressed female people who currently see themselves as trans read your words and are likely turned off from exploring more anti-gender criticism. I’m not saying don’t be angry; I’m angry too. I’m just being protective of the radical feminist or anti-gender movement.

  • DeColonise

    While I was never so much into his music I did like Prince for going his own way and I bet he influenced many boys and young men throughout the times, myself incl, to dare to stand a bit outside society in terms of how you present yourself (clothing mostly). Yes it has invoked quite a few homophobic slurs throughout the years and some other nasty comments but for myself at least, men like Prince, was a stronger force than the bullies. To claim he was transgender is to revoke plenty of boys and young men a ‘hero’ when it comes to go against social norms in how to dress and so on.
    Not saying he has been the only one, but he sure has influenced plenty I’m sure.

  • Morag999

    “Anyway, it seems to me that the lyrics of his songs and the accompanying videos were pretty standard, garden-variety female objectification.”

    Yup, you said it.

    I was a fan of his music and of his melodramatic and operatic style when I was a teenager. I still like many of his songs and videos — they are so colourful and exciting. Also, no doubt he was photogenic and, in unusual ways, a pretty, sexy man. But even back then — though I didn’t have a feminist consciousness as a teen — I was turned off by a certain obscene quality in a lot of his work. By which I mean, now, a pornographic quality. His work is definitely porn-inspired.

    Anyway, most “gender-bending” men, when it comes to how they view and treat women, turn out to be pretty ordinary. Like you say, “garden-variety.”

    • wolcotte

      Except that he worked with more female musicians than any other artist. Yes, he surrounded himself with sexily dressed women, but they were more than just props, he treated them as collaborators and equals. I thought this article did a great job gathering examples of the women he worked with over the years:

      • Morag999

        Thanks wolcotte. Glad to know he was so supportive of many women’s careers in the music industry. Seems, too, that many of these women remember him as a genuine friend.

        However, I’m still going to stick to my agreement with OldPolarBear and my observation that most men who play around with their gender presentation, or who create a sensational, ambiguous or shocking look and persona for themselves as part of their artistry, will, nonetheless, often promulgate conventional views around heterosexual rituals and the objectification/pornification of women.

        That is, that so-called gender-bending — while definitely brave and gutsy in the face of violent homophobia (which can affect flamboyant straight men, too) — isn’t revolutionary in itself. It leaves all the structures oppressive to females intact.

        That, of course, doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a good, generous, loving and supportive man to individual women. Sounds like he was.

  • fragglerock

    FFFFFFaaantastic explanation! So glad to read an articulate voice of reason! Thank you!

  • Cassandra

    This is a wonderful piece that explains the regressiveness of transgenderism/queer theory/identity politics as well as anything I’ve ever read. Prince was a straight dude who happened to wear clothing designated “for women.” Clothing has nothing to do with flippin’ male or female. It’s just scraps of fabric. It’s made-up fashion nonsense that changes all the time. He was extremely masculine, actually. He was a human being with a variety of human personality traits that can belong to any human being, male or female. Geez Louise with the trans-ing of dead people. It’s so invasive and insulting to common sense.

  • Lierre Keith

    Just FYI–he punched Sinead O’Connor and held her captive. Some of you might want to know about that.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Why am I not at all surprised.

    • jklee

      Pretty sure the article wasn’t saying that Prince was the most perfect feminist man ever. Since we live in the sick soup of patriarchy it’s going to be infused into everything and everyone. My own appreciation for the edge he skirted doesn’t mean I assume he was a perfect man, obviously he was a weirdo, and full of degrading pop culture sexism. I like this article a lot though because it points out the value of his sexual expression at a time when everyone’s looking at it pretty closely. Also, it matters to me that through all of that he was empowering to women in subtle and important ways. I felt that growing up, and it felt good to my fledgling radical feminist self. It doesn’t mean that half of his stuff doesn’t make me cringe, it means I can appreciate the subtleties. ( And the dude just died, this is the time to do that). (And it sounds like Sinead threw plenty of punches herself, good for her). It’s complex in everyone. The most well hidden, deep ( and massively glossed over) sexism I have seen has come from DGR enthusiasts who’d rather I didn’t think for myself or feel differently than them about the tiniest of details, or the relentless hero worship.

  • Shane Camastro

    Your analysis is super limited and actually reinforces cissexism. Please reflect on what you’ve written. Even your unfortunate choice of words – “…does not make one trans, it makes one human” (as if to insinuate that humanness is over transness) or “while humans may be biologically male or female” (which is incorrect and denies the complexity of sex). Prince never identified (openly) as trans but he did discuss that his gender was outside of the binary. His gender. Not his gender expression, which clearly was not the masculinity we are so often assuming men will fall into. This is also fantastic. Gender expression is certainly different than gender identity but Prince embodied those things in his own way and spoke very openly about them. Trans people are only people who identify as trans. Since Prince never openly stated that, that is the only valid reason to not say he was trans. So, I agree that folks can express their genders in a multitude of ways without being trans, but your article does more to reinforce transmisogyny and gender based violence /stereotypes (which effect trans, nonbinary and gender complex (like Prince) people disproportionately so no – we are not all “trans”). Just really, really disappointed in this analysis.

    • Meghan Murphy

      You’ve said a whole lotta words without saying much of anything. “Cissexism” is not a real thing, for starters (and speaking of “unfortunate choices of words”). You may be “disappointed” in this analysis, and I wish you would actually make an analysis. Gender is about much more than simply “personal expression,” which you either don’t understand or refuse to acknowledge.

      You can’t just make a bunch of accusations without backing them up, despite what the rest of the internet likes to think. Try again. Use real words.

      • Cassandra

        “Cissexism” is indeed NOT a thing.

    • Misanthropia

      Women have no privilege along the axis of sex. Get that shit out of here

    • Melissa Cutler

      You wrote: “Prince never identified (openly) as trans but he did discuss that his gender was outside of the binary.”
      It’s my understanding that trans individuals embrace the concept of a gender binary and that they feel that they were born into the body of one of the two binary genders but have the souls of the opposite gender on the binary. So, then, how could Prince feel like his gender existed outside the binary, and yet embody what it means to be trans. Those seem like opposite ideologies. Would you mind clarifying?

    • lk

      (as if to insinuate that humanness is over transness)..I think one could make the argument that we are all human 1st before and above anything else: trans, black, gay, vegetarian and etc.

      (which is incorrect and denies the complexity of sex)…for the most part, biological sex is incredibly simple. The vast majority the human race was and is of two categories: male and female.

      Male: humans with a reproductive system that includes (penis, scrotum, testicles, sperm);xy chromosomes.

      Female: humans with a reproductive system that includes (vagina,uterus, eggs, ovaries); xx chromosomes.

      A very small portion of the human race is intersex or indeterminate.

      “your article does more to reinforce transmisogyny and gender based violence” How does this article reinforce any kind of violence?

    • yummymoussaka

      You know the world is going insane when valuing people’s humanity above their gender can be considered “hateful” somehow.

      It’s like if someone says to a transwoman “I don’t accept the idea that you’re a woman simply by feeling like one. But I recognize that you’re a human being and deserve the same respect and bodily autonomy as any other human being.” This person would be ripped apart for being “transphobic!” and “transmisogynistic!”

      Recognizing that “stereotypical feminine traits” doesn’t necessarily make a man into a woman is not denying that people are more complex than gender roles would allow. People can be any mix of traits considered masculine or feminine, no matter which gender they were “assigned at birth”. The possibilities are infinite. How’s that for complex?

      The idea that “men must be masculine and women must be feminine, therefore feminine men must actually be women” is the one that reinforces gender roles and pigeonholes people. That’s the one that oversimplifies.

      I think we all share the wish that people can just be themselves without having to worry whether they fit the expectations they’re saddled with because of the genitals they’re born with.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Also, the violence and misogyny in Purple Rain… Part of the reason I never was a huge fan, as well as the fact that, as others have also said, I honestly never found his music particularly thrilling, for the most part.

  • DarklingMagick

    I guess everyone’s forgotten about a certain David Bowie…

    • Meghan Murphy

      Huh? How so?

      • Lavender

        I’m not sure this was the intended message, but I think what this person
        may be saying is that they agree with you – that there was a time when artists like Bowie could
        defy gender without it being assumed that they were trans. Men could violate the rules of masculinity and still be men. It’s scary to think that those were such blatantly sexist times and yet gender was being openly mocked by cultural icons. And now, here we are…

        • Meghan Murphy

          Ah. Right.

        • northernTNT

          I don’t consider Bowie as “defying gender”. On stage, people wear costumes. In older days, all theatre roles, male or female, were played by females in many cultures (patriarchy and such) were all those guys playing female roles transgender? no. What happens on the stage is stage, not life.
          In Real Life, Bowie was always a very bisexual very male. But beyond that, he was a human who liked to have fun.

  • will

    Yup. A rich, famous, straight, conservative, christian, misogynist, homophobic male puts on a dress and presto! – you’ve got liberal a progressive icon.

    Kind of rights a bell…

  • will

    Yup. I’ve witnessed graduate students struggling to not “speak in binaries”. Ever. It was painful. It’s obviously useful to interrogate rigid categories, but in an ironic twist (spectrums good/binaries bad!), to rigidly reject any “binary” whatsoever (yes/no; in/out; here/there; this/that) renders analysis impossible and makes for excruciatingly boring, pointless discussions.

  • Melanie

    But the global pornography and sex industries are not violence, and don’t encourage or reinforce violence, or impact women disproportionately. Porn is ‘free speech’. I’m just really disappoined in the liberl left’s contradictory, hypocritical analysis.

  • Misanthropia

    Men are not more ‘prone’ to committing violence. This is the same kind of rubbish that rapists, domestic abusers and other disgusting men use to justify what they do.

    • How do you explain that 80-85% of violence worldwide is committed by men? And increased aggression in other male primates (and other male mammals) during mating season (year-round in primates without a mating season)? I am NOT saying men are naturally violent – violence is learned behaviour. I am saying they appear to be at higher risk of learning it, not just in humans, but in other mammals as well.

      You don’t have to believe this, but I think it’s a mistake to dismiss it completely. I recommend that people keep an eye on the issue, is all.

  • Refael Fishzon

    I get what you’re saying (I think), but what she emphasizes (and for the love of God, I never said I agreed with her!) is not contradictory to that paritcular opinion. Like, what can you do? Equality is a term so lashed and worn out it means the exact same thing for different groups or individuals. She just had the opinion that gender roles are inherent, and that just translated to a moronic video title. Personally, I really hate titles that are asking a rhetorical question as if they don’t have an opinion already. And Hoff Sommers is the worst offender of this.

  • Lavender

    About high heels – apparently Sheila E said that the reason Prince has had so many problems with his knees and hips is because he did so much jumping around in high heels. In fact, it sounds like he may have overdosed on pain meds because he wouldn’t get surgery on his hip. Although I can think of a few men I’d like to watch walking around on cobblestones in stilettos as a form of torturous retribution, they are seriously so bad for your body. I will never wear another pair again.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I used sex dysphoria based on the way other transwomen described their condition/experience:

    “Gender dysphoria” doesn’t really make much sense if you think about it, anyway, seeing as gender is a social category, not a biological one, and because people who suffer from gender/sex dysphoria want to be the opposite sex. But whatever, call it gender dysphoria if you prefer.

  • Meghan Murphy

    You sure are desperate to find something to argue about, aren’t you? Keep looking, bud.

  • I don’t think it makes the feminist movement useless. The feminist movement has already done a lot of good, so how can it be useless. I do think it means that we probably shouldn’t assume that boys/men need the same upbringing/socialization girls/women do – they may need more of something on average than girls/women do to make them more collaborative, less combative. Like how men and women have different medical needs in some situations. Or how students with disabilities need additional supports.

    I think men themselves are pretty unhappy when they are left to run wild.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I understand what the diagnosis refers to and I explained why I used the term I did. Are you an anti-feminist? Or do you just spend a lot of time condescending to or trying to ‘call out’ feminists online?

    • bluedye33139

      I’m a liberal, so probably that translates to anti-feminist to you? You have a marvelous ability to reinterpret words as you hear them, and I don’t play the “What is true feminism?” game very much.

      Gender Dysphoria is a diagnostic category for people who rebel against expected or assigned gender roles, and it is used in the healthcare system as a billing category for transgender care. I came to this discussion because you are online publicly proclaiming that Prince is not trans because he did not want to be a woman, and I pointed out that your misunderstanding here is that Gender Dysphoria does not require someone to want to be the “opposite” sex. That’s my part in this discussion.

      Should I not have responded to Morag? Do you have speech rules that include “Do not respond to people addressing you by name”? If you have such an odd rule, post it. If this discussion is not meant to be public, you could put up a paywall or membership wall to keep these discussions secret, you know.

      • Meghan Murphy

        No, gender dysphoria is a diagnostic category for people who believe they are the opposite sex (‘gender,’ they say, but because gender isn’t innate and because there is a deep desire to have the physical features of the opposite sex and live as the opposite sex, what they mean is ‘sex’ not ‘gender’). There is no diagnostic category for people who rebel against expected or assigned gender roles, unless all feminists are suffering from gender dysphoria.

        If you want to rebel against expected gender roles, you can (and should!) do that. But that is not a medical condition/psychological disorder. That has nothing to do with feeling like you are a man trapped in a woman’s body, for example.

      • Fiona1933

        EVERYBODY rebels against gender roles! Nobody is totally ‘binary’ and there is no need for a diagnostic condition. Its just senseless. Whats required is for the US especially to realise that gender roles are ridiculous and rigid. They had a part to play long ago, but now that women can work and control their fertility, there is no need for them.

        i live in Hong Kong and there is hardly any gender here at all. Because there is cheap domestic help, women are free to be like men, and have both kids and career, which they do. Very few women choose the decorative role and those who do always seem unhappy. Most people here pursue careers. additionally, there is no cat-calling and its safe to live alone and to walk about after dark, anywhere, just like a man. Result is no difference between men and women. Both are tender nurturing parents, openly physically affectionate. Both are free to be soft or hard, driven or gentle.
        Today I had clients who are a millionaire tough property developer and her husband, a very hot nurse. Yesterday an investment banker married to a woman who owns six factories and runs it all herself.
        And the younger generation hang out together. No problem being friends. You dont hear Chinese men say things like “dont be friends with women. Treat them as bodies to conquer, and move on if you cant get sex”…they would never do that. They never say stupid shit like “I respect women’ because everyone respects everyone. There’s no bullying here, no one gets called ‘loser’

        • bluedye33139

          I hope that one day the entire world will become a paradise for gender, like Hong Kong. Thank you for your inspiring words.

  • I’m not sure raising boys like girls would be enough (though there would certainly be benefits). They seem to need more exercise, for example.

  • Meghan Murphy

    What continues to be odd about this conversation is that I have demonstrated that I know exactly what gender dysphoria is, whereas you have not.

    Instead, you’ve resorted to accusing me of ‘typing hateful things,’ which I most certainly have not done.

    You are not losing this argument very gracefully, friend.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Almost done? We’re all waiting in anticipation for your next non-argument!

    • bluedye33139

      As I mentioned above, someone addressed me by name and you jumped in. If you do not want this to be a public forum, there are ways to make it not public. I applaud your protective instinct, stepping in to stop communication between the person who posted at me and myself, and I can see that there is an intense need here to control this space. I’ll forgive you, since after all we know some of the same people in the Lower Mainland and I would hate for this to become a thing.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Ah, it must be so nice for you to post anonymous comments attacking public people on the internet though isn’t it? God forbid you actually debate with any integrity whatsoever, amirite? If you are so invested in public forums and accuracy in communication, why not just address me with your real name, in that case?

        P.S. Excellent attempt at the social threats but I really don’t give a fuck who you know or what your friends think about me xx

  • Morag999

    “I mean, clearly you are going to be typing hateful things about black trans people the next time you see a story about a black person in another country whose gender presentation offends you.”

    You’re telling bald-faced, mudslinging lies.

    And Meghan Murphy doesn’t “type things”; she writes.

  • Edalia

    Really great article. I agree. I think the raised awareness for trans issues will eventually pave the way for people accepting a greater amount of non-binary expression. Through my explorations of my own gender I’ve often become disheartened by how binary even other trans people can be. It’s good to read a balanced article like this. I think many trans people get pushed into fitting into rigid ideas of gender in order to get support from doctors and the community. I’m not disputing the validity of the many trans people who do fit the cliche gender roles but in many people’s minds (often older generations) there’s still the notion that there’s something abhorrent about a man expressing femininity or a woman masculinity without identifying/transitioning as the other gender.

    • Morag999

      I have to wonder if your navel-gazing explorations of your own gender (huh?) have affected your reading comprehension and your understanding of feminist critique in general. Good grief, what a lot of “non-binary” claptrap.

      Also: you have mixed up the “older generations” for the regressive younger ones. As your comment illustrates, we’re going backwards now, as the work of older feminists is steadily being undone.

      • Edalia

        I have to wonder if your naval gazing of feminist critique (que?) has affected your reading comprehension and your ability to follow something without attaching your own anxieties to it as you go.

        I agree though that we’re going backwards in many respects, but mainly in the overt sexualisation that seems to come with people saying they’re empowering people.

        Also, In what way do you find younger generations regressive?

  • Sera Heikkilä

    Great article. A question that I’m left to wonder though is what about gender non-conforming trans people? Like a trans women who dresses in a “manly” way. Where do they fit in all of this?

    • northernTNT

      Let’s be honest, there is no such thing as a GNC trans because the very definition of trans is to conform to the other gender. The whole trans-trender non-binary crowd are not trans, they’re just lost souls!

  • Excellent piece. As an adolescent, Prince was fascinating to me for the reasons you describe: he defied much of what I had been taught was masculine, and yet he was an overtly heterosexual man.

  • That stork thing is a myth. Babies are socially constructed into the world. The pain women feel is metaphorical.

  • FakeFeminist

    “Bowie and Prince were transgender, in that they transcended gender”

    This just in: Gender abolitionists are and have always been trans. “TERF” really is a slur — and it’s a transphobic one. Lmao.

  • northernTNT

    Don’t say that to the author, say that to all the trans-trenders who are swearing up and down left and right that they are just fine with their body, they just WANT to be in the other sex’s attire.

  • northernTNT

    “Gender” is not a scientific term, so when shrinks invented “gender identity disorder” and subsequently “gender dysphoria” there were already being anti-scientific. Shrinks. sigh.

  • northernTNT

    Unfortunately, your scientific understanding is falling short. The majority of the trans folks in the media these days don’t even have gender dysphoria, therefore, they are NOT transgender, they are trans-trenders.

  • Jane

    If Prince were “trans” then both of my parents would be considered “trans” too. But, neither of them identifies as such.

    My father took on the role of taking care of kids, cooking, and cleaning, and didn’t consider that to negate him being a man. My mother took on the role of being the bread-winner, going out and working, and being in charge of the household, and didn’t consider that to negate her being a woman. My parents were far from perfect, but in terms of gender, they didn’t have any issues at all.

    I still remember my mother getting dressed and ready to go out to dinner with my father — she’d be done and my father would be strutting around in front of the mirror like one of my teenage female friends, asking me which outfit looked better. I’d look over at my mom and then at my dad and tell them that it seemed like my mom was the dad and my dad was the mom. But, then my mother asked me why couldn’t a woman do the things she did and a man do the things my father did. I had no answer. There was none. I mean, there were tasks that had to be completed and there were various, complementary personality traits. But I could find no reason that certain tasks and traits should go to one sex while the rest should go to the other.

    My parents divorced (for reasons having nothing to do with gender) and my mother is now with a man who acts like the ‘man’ in the relationship…and it actually bothers me. While my parents had dismissed gender all together, this guy appreciates my mother because she’s the ‘woman,’ and because he recognizes the role, there’s this divide that ends up aligning with the stereotypical, limiting, societal roles. By all accounts, he’s not a jerk, but even after years, I still can’t stand how he relates to me or her. My mother was much less demeaning, dominating, and entitled when she had the ‘man’ role.

    I guess the right ‘man’ for the job really is a woman?

  • Fiona1933

    You are not becoming ‘womanly’. Womanly means, to do with women, adult human females. Womanly means whatever women do, whether that ,means being nurturing or driven and ambitious, motherly or career-minded, gentle or violent…women come in all possible types. There is no such thing as becoming womanly. There is only becoming yourself.
    There is no gender binary, and the latest neuroscience proves this. The latest studies have shown that trans-proving studies cherry-pick evidence, have flimsy premises, and above all, totally ignore the effect environment and socialisation have on the brain…brain, not mind.

    What you have is a brain miswiring which causes you to perceive yourself as in the wrong body. The hormones you take are messing about with you, but they arent making you womanly, because you have to be a woman for that and sex is biological. Right now, there is no way to rewire brains, so people, like me, with Asperger’s, have to just put up with it. At least your brain glitch can be addressed with surgery. But thats what it is, a glitch. People with anorexia think they are fat, there are people who develop multiple personality disorders…they dissociate too. It would be far better if research was done to find out why some people cant live in their bodies. But of course, hormones and surgery generate money and brain rewiring wouldnt.

    By the way, I have found alternative therapies to be extremely powerful and helpful.

    But please, stop saying words like ‘womanly’, because I suspect you mean, traditionally feminine. You mean softer and sweeter and all the things women have fought hard to discard.

  • Fiona1933

    It is what I think.

  • Fiona1933

    And worse, is the transing of children. Today I taught a little boy aged 2. He doesnt even know the difference between a boy and a girl. It hasnt occurred to him that there is one. Yet here are these appalling gender therapists claiming that if a girl pulls the barrettes from her hair, its a ‘gender message’. Get the puberty blockers ready. Get ready to sterilise another teenager.

    Gender Critical has a story about a girl who in 18 months has changed name 5 times and each time claimed a different trendy identity, from a vampire, to a demigirl to finally a transman. Went to a therapist: after only one session, walked away with testosterone. Just wait for the next ten years, when these teens hit full adulthood and realise they are mutilated and sterile. They will be crying then: “Why didnt anyone stop me? Why did you let me do this…I was only a child!”

  • Meghan Murphy

    “Trans” only exists, as we understand it, within a context of patriarchy and a gender hierarchy. Without gender, there would be nothing to ‘trans’ to. Stop pretending as though a current trend is somehow applicable to cultures that existed pre-civilization/pre-capitalism.

    Also, women are female. It’s really not that complicated.

    We are opposed to femininity and masculinity (i.e. gender).

    • Puppet of Putin

      I speculate “gender” is used commonly where “sex” was intended but they liked avoiding “sex” and it was safely presumed the two match. Doubt that bathrooms segregated intending to keep masculine and feminine gender identities from each other. Lawsuits will soon force women’s rooms to trade a few stalls for urinals, and increased facilities laws achieved by feminists that achieved parity for biological differences… should this be undone because people redefine bathrooms as gendered not sexed?

      People with special needs should have their own facilities. Family, physically disabled, transgender should share individual room facilities so they’re accommodated without affecting others’ privacy unless they can pass in a men’s or women’s rooms. All genders should have right to take a piss, but peeing next to men or women isn’t a right or a reasonable expectation.

    • Puppet of Putin

      Stop pretending that male and female biology has no affect on personality. Everyone has every right to any personality traits, but as groups there are certainly measurable patterns that emerge for each gender that likely stand out as much as the physical differences. Brain chemistry and hormones are real, and are solid reasons to expect differences and although we’ve barely begun studies that will help us understand them fully.

      Not all are opposed to gender. Some would say diversity is our strength. We also have good success in life by pairing up, despite skepticism by some, and genders become equal partnerships that compliment each other; allowing us to aspire to become good partners, but also our own individuals.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Talking about a ‘third gender’ that exists in some other cultures does not mean ‘transgenderism’ as it has manifested itself in the West, today, spans history/culture.

    That women are female is not an opinion. It is a fact. Please stop dumping empty academic jargon on me like it means something. It doesn’t. And it doesn’t fool me. Just use real words that mean things.

  • Meghan Murphy

    “If you are arguing that women are inherently female then there’s nothing stopping a man from wanting to become a woman. And if you are arguing that men are inherently male then there’s nothing stopping a woman from wanting to become a man.”

    I have no idea what this means.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Females are female, males are males. A woman is an adult human female. A man is an adult human male.

  • Morag999

    OK, this comment of yours is pretty cuckoo. Crazy-making stuff.

    Try to keep it simple. You could, for instance, listen to Boy George in this 1985 interview — just the first 50 seconds of the video. In a few short words, he explains what a man is.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Again, what you are saying makes no sense. Females are female. Women are adult human females. That is simply a fact.

  • Morag999

    ‘So in other words, if a guy gets a sex change he’s no longer a “real” man?’

    That doesn’t fly. I think you know it, too.

  • Alias Darker

    Gender is not a social construct but biological . The physical difference between us and men are there to prove it . the fact that we can have babies and they can’t is another proof . the same goes for every living being on earth .

    • Meghan Murphy

      You are confusing sex with gender. Yes, there are physical differences between men and women. That = sex. Gender is just the social stereotypes imposed on men and women, based on their biological sex.

      • Alias Darker

        in my opinion gender follows the same principles as sex . i don’t think it was imposed, more like espoused by men and women . don’t forget that ont only men set trends in the past . us women did too . we were not as powerless than history is telling us

      • Alias Darker

        thanks for answering anyways 🙂

      • VLCampbell

        Megan, respectfully, I would submit that you’re confusing gender with gender stereotypes. The term gender has been synonymous with biological sex for a very, very long time – until it was co-opted recently, it’s history of usage effectively erased, and turned into a synonym for gender stereotypes instead – which no one any longer seems to care about or have a problem with perpetuating one way or another. As a second wave feminist, the dominant transgender narrative seems awfully reinforcing of traditional gender roles and norms, and leaves me feeling like we completely failed at getting across the most basic of feminist tenants – to a degree that I remain completely confused about.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Gender *is* stereotypes. Gender is what we attach to people based on their sex. Sex only became synonymous with gender in the 70s, to protect squeamish male judges from thinking about sexual activity when referring to biological sex. That’s really not very long, in the grand scheme of things. Either way, sex and gender do not mean the same thing, despite the fact some people mistakenly use them synonymously. They mean different things.

  • Puppet of Putin

    I try to understand.
    “Biological sex and gender aren’t necessarily the same.” Ok. Got it. Go on…
    “When they don’t match, it’s medically necessary to modify my body as much as possible to match my gender.” What?? Non sequitir.

  • Puppet of Putin

    His preferences in his mates don’t make him patriarchal. He doesn’t need to justify what he desires, but biological reasons are clear: youth is linked to fertility and preferences regarding signs of fertility are rewarded by natural selection, so a biological preference to youth is very possible.

  • Puppet of Putin

    autogenaphilia and autogynaphilia satisfied?

  • Puppet of Putin

    Questions that spark controversy are the ones most worth asking. Discouraging questions turns open minds into stagnated ideas and assumptions. Exploring them brings out truth among open minds that can handle uncomfortable discussions and refrain from judgement.

  • Meghan Murphy

    There have been and are other versions and understandings of something similar or comparable to “gender” in other times and cultures, if that’s what you mean?

    But under the context of Western patriarchy, “gender” does refer to “masculine” and “feminine” — i.e. stereotypes applied to males and females.

    “Sex” has a specific meaning. And it doesn’t mean “personality” or “preferences.” It’s just about biology.

    Perhaps I’m unclear about what it is you are getting at or arguing?