It is impossible to create good policy on transgenderism if we can’t even debate the issues

Debates in which people are condemned for thinking critically are unlikely to lead to responsible public policy.

Now that the “bathroom bill” has died in the Texas Legislature and the political fireworks are over — for the moment — we should step back and consider what makes the transgender issue so vexing.

Debates about gay rights and other hot-button “culture war” issues have long been divisive, but there’s something distinctive about this one: A large number of people are simply confused, for good reason. Many people don’t understand transgender activists’ claims about sex and gender, and the transgender movement has yet to offer a coherent explanation.

What does it mean for people born unambiguously male biologically — that is, not with one of the rare intersex conditions, a separate question from transgenderism — to claim to be female, or vice versa? As a matter of biology, male and female are categories defined by different roles in reproduction; a male human cannot be, or become, a female human. Hormones and surgery can create the appearance of a “sex change” but cannot transform a person into someone of the other sex category.

If the focus is on socially defined gender — the meaning a society makes of male/female sex differences — it’s easy to understand how someone born male might feel at odds with the norms of masculinity and more comfortable with the norms of femininity, or vice versa. People have a right to look and behave as they like without the constraints of patriarchal gender norms, but that does not require anyone to claim to have changed sex categories.

People who identify as transgender typically describe an internal subjective experience of belonging in the other category, and I am not challenging those self-reports. But an internal subjective experience doesn’t change physical realities in the world. For example, people who are dangerously underweight sometimes report an internal subjective experience of being overweight, but we don’t embrace that as reality and encourage them to diet.

When males who identify as transgender assert that they are female and, therefore, should be allowed in all-female spaces such as changing rooms or bathrooms, it’s no surprise that many people say, “I don’t understand.” That’s legitimate confusion — not bigotry or hate. But simply acknowledging the confusion can, in some places, lead to being labeled “transphobic,” and so many people keep quiet about their concerns.

This is very different from the debate over the status of gay men and lesbians. People who oppose gay marriage understand what same-sex attraction and intimacy is, even if they have not experienced it. When I argue for lesbian/gay rights, no one on the other side has ever said, “I don’t understand what it means to be attracted to someone of the same sex.”

The responses of transgender activists and supporters vary widely. Some argue that not just gender but even sex categories, male and female, are socially constructed, a claim that seems nonsensical to me and many others (the realities of sexual reproduction do not change based on social norms). Others propose that there can be a disconnection between chromosomal/gonadal/genital sex and “brain sex,” which could make sense only if there are meaningfully distinct male and female brains, which there aren’t. Others reject the idea of a binary, but human reproductive cells (called gametes) are either egg or sperm, which is a binary that can’t be wished away.

Let me be clear: I am not rejecting the internal subjective experiences reported by people who identify as transgender, nor am I suggesting that bigotry or violence against people who identify as transgender is acceptable. But until there is a coherent explanation of the transgender movement’s claims, it’s not discriminatory to maintain certain sex-segregated facilities, especially those that give girls and women privacy and safety from the routine intrusions of a male-dominated culture (not because transgender people are a distinctive threat, but because blurring the lines based on individuals’ unchallengeable assertion of an identity will lead to predators exploiting the ambiguity).

The underlying problem, from a critical feminist perspective, is institutionalized male dominance, what has long been called patriarchy. If we ever transcend the rigid, repressive, and reactionary gender norms of patriarchy — which constrain all our lives — people would feel free to live authentically without claiming they belong in a sex category that is contrary to the physical reality of their bodies.

Transgender activists acknowledge that we know little about the etiology — the cause or causes — of transgenderism. Within the transgender movement there is disagreement about whether this is a condition that requires medical treatment or just an aspect of identity like any other. Based on current knowledge, responsible public policy should approach transgenderism with a mental health model that explores people’s distress without immediately making assumptions about what the symptoms mean for identity. As long as the movement demands that we accept transgender as an identity that cannot be questioned, the policy questions — not only bathrooms, but whether it is ethical to give children powerful drugs to suppress puberty as a treatment for gender dysphoria — will be not only unresolved but unresolvable.

The transgender movement normalizes dramatic interventions into the body without a coherent explanation for the treatment, suggesting anyone who hesitates to endorse this is a bigot. If this continues, will children who show any signs of gender nonconformity routinely be encouraged to identify as transgender, hence in need of treatment, rather than challenge patriarchal gender norms? Will girls and women be expected to abandon their legitimate interests in privacy and safety based on a claim they can’t understand?

Pressing these questions is evidence of critical thinking and a commitment to justice for girls and women, not bigotry. We can recognize the distress and needs of people who identify as transgender, and at the same time ask these crucial questions and offer a feminist challenge to repressive gender norms. Debates in which people are condemned for thinking critically are unlikely to lead to responsible public policy.

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men. He can be reached at or through his website,

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  • M. Zoidberg

    That was very well put and it makes sense; too bad the other side won’t even stop to listen… :-/

  • FierceMild

    Nah, they don’t no platform men.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I agree that women are targeted particularly, but let’s not forget what happened to Kenneth Zucker…

      • OldPolarBear

        They’ve done it to Derrick Jensen, too (no relation to Robert)

  • SikanderG

    “Many people don’t understand transgender activists’ claims about sex and gender, and the transgender movement has yet to offer a coherent explanation.”

    I’m not sure what ‘the transgender movement’ refers to, but if you want intellectually satisfying attempts at answering these sorts of questions, you’re going to have to go into academic and some non-academic intellectual spaces. Academics generally do not do useful work on this issue, I am willing to admit, but there are some who do, and we are consistently ignored by transphobic radical feminists who use the pretense of confusion as an obstructionist rhetorical strategy. For example, Rebecca Reilly-Cooper has challenged people to produce a non-circular definition of ‘man’, ‘woman’, or ‘gender’ that allows for gender self-identification. I responded to her challenge by giving her two definitions that met her two criteria. She did not reply and then blocked me on Twitter. I have even challenged her to a debate (we’re both professional philosophers FWIW), and am happy to debate any radical feminist or conservative (their views are almost identical on this issue) with some philosophical ability on this issue, but this challenge has so far not been met by anyone.

    If you want to understand more on the subject, here is one informal blog post of mine from a while ago:

    In any case whether we have good analyses of gender identity or whatever is irrelevant to the issue of sex segregated spaces. There may be good reasons to maintain sex segregation for certain facilities, and good reason to get rid of sex segregation for other facilities or spaces, but that debate depends on normative considerations that have to do with privacy, fairness, etc. It does not hinge on whether you have a good grasp over what it means to ‘identify as a man’ or whatever. IMO the ontological issues of sex and gender are irrelevant to the policy questions around sex segregated spaces.

    • Hekate Jayne

      What are your 2, non circular definitions?

      • SikanderG

        One of them is in the blog post, and that is the definition I came up with. I’ll put it here again (you can read more detail in the blog post):

        1. Gender identity: a preference for occupying the social and physical space occupied by the groups historically picked out by sex terms. E.g. being male-identified means having a preference for being physically male-typical (to at least some degree), and being categorized socially the way that biologically male people historically have been.

        The other one is a definition my colleague came up with, and I do not endorse it but will give it as an example of a non-circular definition that allows self-identification:

        2. Gender identity: perceived resemblance to a prototype of masculinity or femininity. E.g. being female-identified is perceiving oneself as resembling a prototype of femininity.

        • Meghan Murphy

          See, but these actually kind of make sense. They acknowledge that a trans-identified person is not literally changing sex, but simply desires to live as the opposite sex or be perceived as the opposite sex. The second, especially, acknowledges that there is a desire to be perceived according to gender stereotypes assigned to the opposite sex.

          It would be helpful if transactivists adopted definitions like these, because at least then we could move the conversation forward in a productive way, imo.

          The problem is that in general transactivists refuse to agree on a definition, refuse to acknowledge that identifying as transgender doesn’t *literally* change one’s sex, refuse to acknowledge that transgenderism is rooted in personal desire for something different, and refuse to acknowledge that gender is just about social stereotypes.

        • Omzig Online

          Femininity and masculinity are stereotypes, not “prototypes.”

          Otherwise, I’d say that these are fairly satisfactory definitions. They at least recognize that trans-identified persons are simply perpetuating gender stereotypes by looking/behaving “feminine” or “masculine.”

          But performing a feminine stereotype does not entitle males to female-only spaces, just as being more masculine shouldn’t exclude any female from women’s spaces. If it did, I would be shit out of luck considering how poorly I perform this whole femininity charade.

          I also don’t think many males that identify as transwomen would agree with your definition of gender identity. Rather, they seem to think they can convolute the very definition of biological sex as well as material reality to accommodate their Gender Dysphoria, and that all of society should placate them so they won’t feel mad and sad and bad. While I don’t want anyone to feel mad or sad or bad, their feelings just won’t work as currency that allows them into female-only spaces.

    • Wren

      My goodness you are smug. So what are your “non-circular” definitions of man and woman?? You might have to dumb it down a bit for us non-professional philosophers.

      • corvid

        From his blog. Note that he doesn’t actually give definitions of “man”, “woman” or “gender”…

        “I define gender identity as identification with what I have previously called ‘sex form’*, which is the form taken on by those people historically referred to as ‘men’, ‘women’, ‘male’, ‘female’, etc. (and the equivalents in other languages). It includes general body shape and facial appearance, reproductive system, personality type, social role, and non-biological elements of appearance (dress, hair, etc.). This identification consists at least in a preference for taking on the relevant form to at least some degree, that is, a preference for being socially categorized in certain ways, and having a certain kind of body, appearance, etc.”

        Dear SikanderG, please define the aforementioned terms for us. Thanks.

        Your “gender identity” definition is full of things that don’t add up from a feminist perspective. Just FYI, “identification” with the so-called “sex-form” of the opposite sex does not literally make one a member of the opposite sex. Women take on many different forms, with the basic commonality being female biology/physiology. You can’t just dissect femaleness into a collection of traits that a man can emulate and thus claim to be female. What is the “facial appearance” of a female? Do you have an understanding of patriarchy and the fact that norms of dress and appearance are the trappings of our oppression?

    • G L.C

      Well your blog post is certainly informal, informal to the point where its mission to help us benighted ones ‘understand’ goes out the window in a stream of po-mo!

      This sentence however ‘What is essential is, again, the preference for occupying the social and physical space occupied by the groups historically picked out by sex terms.’ inadvertantly hits the nail on the head. It does seem to be about men who desire to occupy women’s spaces, for reasons known only to them…

    • Tired

      ‘There may be good reasons to maintain sex segregation for certain facilities, and good reason to get rid of sex segregation for other facilities or spaces, but that debate depends on normative considerations that have to do with privacy, fairness, etc. It does not hinge on whether you have a good grasp over what it means to ‘identify as a man’ or whatever. IMO the ontological issues of sex and gender are irrelevant to the policy questions around sex segregated spaces’

      But if the basis of segregation in the first place is sex segregation (which it is), then by your own reasoning, understanding what sex segregation means is a critical precondition to ‘privacy, fairness, etc’. It is about privacy, fairness (and actually it’s also about female participation in society) within the context of a society where women are excluded from society when these segregated spaces don’t exist. Indian progressives (men and women both) are fighting FOR segregated toilet facilities where they don’t actually exist as a right. Young women drop out of school or at least take a week off each month as there are no facilities for menstruating young women, sexual violence rates are much higher (remember the young woman who was raped to death on a bus a couple of years ago in front of her boyfriend? The same anti sexual assault campaigners are also campaigning for segregated toilets as it was identified as a critical next step).

      Why would we want to turn the clock back? We already KNOW what happens when there aren’t any safe spaces for women. It’s called history if you live in a privileged democratised first world country (and some more enlightened developing countries) and hell if you don’t.

    • Leo

      You can try and redefine ‘woman’ however you want, as ‘men’, as ‘small fluffy rodent’, ‘attack helicopter’, whatever, you’re still redefining it, everyone knows it, and women say NO!

      I’m pretty sure RadFems agree with Conservatives that the sky is blue, too, that don’t make us Conservative. You make claims for your arguments while trying to tar by association? Today my mum (not actually a Conservative) read a story to me from her (Tory rag) The Daily Mail, about women having more endurance than men (take a hint from that, dudes). Absolutely zero ambiguity that ‘women’ meant ‘adult human females’. Neither is there typically any ambiguity in the trans-obsessed LibDem Guardian, not on articles about sex discrimination, pregnancy, etc. People know what ‘woman’ means.

  • SikanderG

    And here is another, older post where I respond to a blog post of Rebecca Reilly-Cooper’s:

    • Leo


      “Is there something special about the word ‘gender’ that you must describe the hierarchy using that word, or that trans activists must describe their own ways of being using it? I think more discussions need to be had between these two camps, and I suggest at least one such discussion where the use (but not the mention) of the word ‘gender’ is prohibited.”

      We’re using words accurately, in their original senses. We do not need to have any more discussions with denialist transactivists, and we owe them zilch. When they deal with their internalised disableism and admit that they’re mentally ill/have a neurological condition, then we will talk.

      It’s so obvious how waffly and unclear you are compared to us, it’s just covering.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I feel ya 🙂

  • Meghan Murphy

    But those who support gender identity legislation and ideology are not all simply trying to fuck with women. Many are well intentioned and/or confused…

  • Meghan Murphy

    To be clear, I do agree that the transgender movement is an attack on feminism. And I also believe that men support gender identity ideology because it serves their interests, and demands nothing from them, in terms of sacrifice. That said, I think that there are many people new to the issue who believe that they are simply being ‘accepting’ and ‘open-minded’, to whom it would never occur that what they are supporting is regressive and sexist. I think we need to consider that many people do still need good arguments, in order to counter those who claim any questioning of the transgender movement equates to ‘transphobia.’

  • Meghan Murphy

    Oh yes, I’m with you. I’ve said many times that I’ve *tried* to be nice, coddle the confused, explain things with endless kindness, and just gave up after realizing “niceness” is not the issue. If people don’t want to understand, they won’t. I am so angered by those who accuse feminists of being too ‘mean’ in their arguments. Like, do they really believe that women being ‘nice’ will change anything at all? Have they been asleep for all of human history?

    All that said, I don’t think there is anything *wrong* with explaining our arguments in a clear, considerate manner. I’m positive that it does get through to some people. What I think is ‘wrong’ is the idea that if women would just be nicer, more people would support feminism.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Meh. I’ve posted much worse from anti-feminists and I’m not particularly interested in policing the language feminists use here, in a space for feminist discussion. I post comments with the word ‘cis’ and ‘TERF’ in them regularly. Go police women over at The Establishment or some other third wave garbage fire. Go tell them they perpetuate misogyny and violence against women every time they say the word ‘TERF.’ We’ll wait.

    I don’t answer to anti-feminists. I am not accountable to anti-feminists.

    You come here and accuse me of ‘transphobia’ over and over again for opposing gender identity dogma (which I most certainly consider a smear and an attack), but then demand I police the language other women use? Please.

  • Atheist

    Males act all bumbling around and confused about every single abusive action that they choose

    Ain’t that the truth. Men doing things to hurt others then claiming they didn’t know it was harmful.

    I had a male tell me this once: “I just act. I don’t ask permission because it’s easier to ask for forgiveness later.”

    And you know what? He’s right. He’s absolutely right. People are so eager to forgive men it’s fucking outrageous. People find it easier to believe “he’s a big doofus moron” and forgive him no matter what he did. Or they’ll talk about how “he was abused, therefore, we can forgive him for raping/murdering/ect.”

    This should horrify everyone. Somehow it doesn’t.

    I’m sure if I respond to some of the problematic things in this article, I will be seen as the Queen Meaner because the big bumbling male is just trying his hardest, therefore, shut the fuck up. So I will shut the fuck up, because men always escape accountability anyway.

    (Maybe I should change my handle to “Queen Meaner.”)

  • Omzig Online

    So much for “not expressing any position on the issue,” eh? When you want to police feminist discourse by labeling a commenter as transphobic for calling a human with a penis a “man,” it kind of signals exactly where you stand on the issue.

    Also, the word “cis” is generally understood to be a slur by many women, including myself. You may have honestly not understood that until now, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. I think there might be some good articles on this website that address the use of the word “cis” if you wish to understand this position better. So, without policing too much of *your* language, you may simply call us women.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments, SikanderG!

  • Meghan Murphy

    To me it looks as though she probably just felt pestered and eventually blocked:

  • Amy

    “I did not express any position on the issue in my original comment.” Yes you did, you might not think the comment showed your opinion and character, but it did, you’re not as smart as you think you are.

  • Amy

    “I think it’s because dudes in dresses know that males won’t take it” you hit the nail on the head. men don’t put up with crazy BS and threats like most women have to. so they attack us, because, you know, we’re subhuman

  • Amy

    I agree with Jenson, patriarchy constrain us all, why is it so popular then? Sure it super sucks for females, but also affects men who don’t conform.

  • Raelee

    Obviously they don’t care what happens to women. Our bodies are just road blocks that need to be rammed through.

    Even if we give them proof, tell them how we feel, explain with logic, it won’t matter. Only men are supposed to feel safe and validated.

    It’s exhausting we even have to explain this. There’s no way anyone with an average IQ couldn’t understand this. It must be ignorance, entitlement, and privilege because it sure isn’t empathy, understanding, or listening.

  • Hekate Jayne

    It’s amazing to me that we are trying to keep penis out of places that are mostly places where we are partially disrobed, places that were created so that we could participate in public life by women before us.

    And we are not allowed to say NO. And we are called hateful, bigoted, transphobic, just for trying to maintain a few boundaries.

    Did all of the male violence stop? Are we liberated? Did I miss it?

    And while we are talked at incessantly about what horrible bitches we are being, no one wants to acknowledge how creepy and invasive this male dominance is.

  • Cassandra

    “I think, looking back, we’ll eventually see that the reason it’s taken off because the notion of “oppressive” women serves many psychological and political functions during this crisis in late-stage capitalism the 21st century Anglo-American sphere is spinning through.”

    Yup. It’s just another face of anti female liberation. Just backlash, very simple. Another layer of MRA drivel.

    “I also don’t think it’s going to get that much further, because this crisis is going to overrun it.”

    Which crisis are you referring to? The one of female spaces/privacy? If so, I really, really hope you’re right.

  • corvid

    “I do not support trying to define gender, though I realize that people who offer definitions of gender often have good intentions and come up with excellent definitions. The reasons I oppose the project of defining this concept (and potentially others) is that there needs to be a certain fluidity in our use of terms, which is not allowed by any definition of gender or by the project of coming up with definitions, and because I think we should move away from gender talk.”

    So we are supposed to be building life-affecting legislation around a concept that has no definition?

    “I also do not entirely distinguish between sex and gender: I consider gender identity to be a component of sex***, along with general body form and appearance. The overall individual — mind, body, etc. — should be the subject of sex attribution, not merely the ‘biological’ part.”

    What do you mean when you say gender identity is a component of sex?

    Every cell in our bodies is sexed. There is no part of us that isn’t “biological.” Do you believe in a split between mind and body?

  • corvid

    Okay, since you won’t define “man” or “woman”, I will.

    A “woman” is an adult human female. A female is a member of the sex that produces ova and gestates/bears young.

    A “man” is an adult human male. A male is a member of the sex that produces sperm that fertilizes ova.

    As has been discussed at length on this site, humans are sexually dimorphic. There are a small number of people born with disorders of sexual development but this does not disprove sexual dimorphism. Female cells contain Barr Bodies, and male cells do not.

    This biology is the basis upon which women are oppressed by men.

    We can fetishize and “identify” with the opposite sex until we are blue in the face, but it has no bearing on reality. “Gender identity” is imaginary.

    • Wren

      “I’m not a philosopher. I work as a cashier.”

      I’m still cracking up about this guy’s self-appointed status as “professional philosopher” which I’m fairly certain is a euphemism for UNEMPLOYED.

      • corvid

        Haha! Hey SikanderG, how’s life in Mom’s basement? Does she know what you’re up to? Don’t make me define “mother”…..

        • Wren


  • Meghan Murphy

    Comment moderation is not up for debate. Move on.

  • G L.C

    Another of your wise ‘aphorisms’ is that?

  • Omzig Online

    What doesn’t exist? Her intelligence? Our intelligence as an audience?
    Please, please tell me I’m misinterpreting your comment, because it really sounds like you just tried to hand Hakate Jayne a very lame and immature schoolyard insult.

  • unfashionable

    I don’t doubt that. But in my experience, nothing convinces like palpable successes. I’m thinking of 1970s feminist activism, for example.

    • FierceMild

      True, sister. Let’s get some of them.

  • Alienigena

    The festival? No, it was the “herland feminist film and video festival” in Calgary, Alberta. It was started in 1989 and was really ahead of its time. It paid artist fees (festivals just don’t do this). The majority of work screened had to be by Canadian women. Films/videos submitted for consideration had to have women in three of the top creative roles (e.g. writer, director, animator, editor, producer). The festival offered a video production workshop at no charge to several women once per year for several years. The festival provided subsidies (and childcare services) to women who needed financial help to attend the festival. The festival used community based programming (indigenous segment was programmed by indigenous women, for example). It operated on a consensus model. The festival had a lesbian segment (or two) every festival, etc. Festival documents are now archived in the Glenbow Museum.

    I had no problems with the festival mandate or its principles. The women who formed the festival were brilliant. I never met them but they obviously were a font of great ideas. The festival was a project of the Calgary Status of Women Action Committee (CSWAC) and it ran into trouble with CRA (Canadian tax agency) because of what was considered the political work of CSWAC, specifically a pamphlet called “Watering down the milk”. Ultimately the festival lost its charitable status making it very difficult to raise additional funds and to grow. We lost our charitable status in 2004 under a Liberal regime. But there was also constant push back from volunteers about the mandate of the festival and questions like
    Why can’t we screen films that have women actors but no women in creative roles (director, writer)?
    Why don’t we allow men to be part of the programming committees? Material submitted to the festival tackled difficult subjects like birth control and abortion. We wanted to ensure that the programming committees were a safe space for female programmers. One segment per year was supported by the Calgary Birth Control Association when appropriate (subject matter matched their mandate).
    Why are we called a feminist festival (don’t people just assume that we are, so why include feminist in our name, etc.)?

    and so on.

    Right wing media hated us for some reason. We were just a small alternative festival but they found reasons to criticise the pittance we received from government (mostly federal funding, the provincial funding was just reimbursement of artist fees that we paid to filmmakers). I will grant that the community was supportive for the most part and missed us when we shut down in 2007.

    But I would ask where were they when it came time to attend the festival. During the 2004 NHL playoffs, which were a very big deal in the city, even people who had worked on festival publications (e.g. programme) did not attend the festival because they were watching playoff hockey, apparently. Not being a fan of professional sports and certainly not contact sports I never understood this.

    At times it seemed like death by a thousand cuts because of the constant questioning of our mandate and lack of commitment of the membership (which at times was over a thousand people). Maybe we just failed to evolve but I have to say the direction in which we were going was not one I liked very much.

  • FierceMild

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t solely a feeling of pestering that led to Dr. Reilly-Cooper blocking you.

  • FierceMild

    I actually thought, in my innocence, that he did mean TERF…more fool me.

  • Omzig Online

    Exactly. I think it’s so weird that the liberal left totes itself as the party that loves science (re:climate change), but then abandons science completely to embrace fucking gender stereotypes. To them, feminimity and masculinity are material things that must be preserved and cemented into public policy at all costs, while Biology is just a wishy-washy imaginary concept that can be changed at random whim.

    • FierceMild

      I’m sure you’ve already heard or read this, but it’s really apropos of your point about the Left. I was listening to it today while I mowed the lawn.

      • Omzig Online

        Pure genius! She was fucking brilliant.

  • Morag999

    “I’m still formulating my view on how to use terms like ‘man’ and ‘woman’ … ”

    Nice work, if you can get it.

    Ha! You’re just too much!

  • Atheist

    Explaining, at this point, is just a waste of time. They just argue you in circles, demanding you repeatedly clarify yourself, define your terms, ect.

    It. never. fucking. ends.

    At any point a male wants to talk to me, I just assume he’s interested in gaslighting to me. I assume that of misogynist women as well, since nigel huggers are obviously batting for the male team.

  • Amy

    I agree, it does have some benefits for men, very true. But i’m think about a boy who wants to wear makeup and gets harassed. Men have it better no doubt, but they are still supposed to conform, which Ive heard some of them complain about. But yeah, those same guys don’t want to give up their wife/slaves either.

    • will

      “But i’m think about a boy who wants to wear makeup and gets harassed.”

      A boy like Bruce Jenner, who want’s to wear makeup and gets named “Woman of the year” for it?

      There are sexist social restraints which feminists have been fighting to dismantle for a very long time now and with every small gain men double down to prevent the erosion of those restraints. This is a clear demonstration of where a cost/benefit analysis of patriarchy lands for men.

      Raising concerns about the restraints of a sex-based hierarchy for those at the top belongs in the category of “White man’s burden”, or the complaints by the wealthy (which FTR, I have had explained to be directly by more than one millionaire) that the “responsibility” of having all of the money and resources is “really difficult”.

      • Hekate Jayne

        THANK YOU.

        Especially for that last paragraph.

      • FierceMild


  • corvid

    These terms don’t have different meanings based on the situation. “Woman” and “man” refer to biology, which is real.
    Your own definition of “gender identity” ties it to invented gender stereotypes and an outside perception of what the opposite sex is like, based on observed shapes and forms that are not representative of all members of that sex. That is to say, “gender identity” is imaginary. You’re saying we should base legislation that will in some areas supersede sex-based protections for women (as in the case of public bathrooms) on something that is imaginary.

  • corvid

    P.S.: You still haven’t told us what the “facial appearance” of a female is. Or the “personality type.” I’ll go first. I have a square jaw, a strong brow, and thin lips.

    Perhaps what you’re thinking is something like this?

    • Hekate Jayne


      But you know what he means. Lots of lipstick, fake eyelashes, resting face that isn’t bitchy. A heavily made up face that never shows anything except kindness and understanding. A face that smiles on demand of males.

      Aka ladyface.

      And all women have the same “personality”. Males created it! Femininity! Always willing to do all of the emotional labor, loves to cook and clean and take care of her male, birthing his babies and making his sandwiches. You know, like a sex giver, maid, cook, etc.

      And if we don’t do all of these things, no worries! There’s always a male around to shove us forcibly right back into our naturally occurring feminine nature. They are helpful like that.

      • corvid

        Without a doubt.

        If anyone wants to see something totally disturbing, google “facial feminization surgery” and check out the images. Unreal. (Except it is real. Just not in the way they think.)

        • Hekate Jayne

          Why did I look? Ugh.

          Shaving bone? That is just deranged.

          These guys slap on some lipstick and libfems line up to tell them how beautiful they are. And I think to myself “really?”, because all of these guys seem to be 50 year old white dudes.

          And the performance of feminine that they all choose is always the same, they seem to be emulating (what they think is) a 20 year old woman.

          I think that it’s part of the delusion, that they think that they are actually hitting the conventional beauty mark of a 20 year old. They look nothing like that to me. They just end up looking like a sad old male drag queen.

          • corvid

            A few things strike me about the images. One is that the nose almost invariably gets smaller and “cuter” i.e. slightly upturned. Why? Some of the biggest noses I’ve seen have belonged to women. In general I think noses get more pronounced as we age… These guys aren’t just going for the ideal, they want to turn back the clock, as you’ve observed. When a female does this it’s viewed as kind of sad and desperate, but we’re supposed to cheer when a man does it?

            I mean, I will concede that men in general have much more facial hair than women, and their faces and necks can be broader and bonier. However facial structure can vary widely. My concern is that in trying to “feminize” male faces surgeons fall back on stereotypical forms, the kind of forms that people like SikanderG want to legitimize as “gender identity.”

            Another thing I find interesting is the relative lack of “facial masculinization” surgery images… indicating perhaps that testosterone alone produces enough desired changes, and it could be that FTT women lack the kind of resources it takes to afford facial surgeries… still, it’s telling to me that there is a lot more effort involved in “feminizing” a face.

    • FierceMild

      You’re totally Minnie Driver!

  • Wren

    Suddenly, after coming here and trying to convince us that he has a non-circular definition of gender identity, he says that we shouldn’t discuss it! All this and he insults OUR intelligence. Like, how much time did I waste reading this idiots posts??

    If the definition of stupidity is wasting a lovely morning reading the posts of some nut job pomo dickhead, then call me stupid.

  • Hekate Jayne

    What I mean is that we should put each other first, and support each other first.

    If I see a woman that might need help, and I am in the position to offer that help, then I do it. Sometimes, I can’t offer tangible help, but I can listen. Or even just be present.

    And I think that will bring change. Maybe just a little bit at a time, and maybe just for individual women. But I have had a few instances where I have seen women that I don’t personally know getting shit from males, and I say something.

    If enough of us do these types of things, then males will come to understand that we aren’t going to put up with their shit. It’s not easy to do, and you run the risk of embarrassing yourself or being told to mind your own business. But those things don’t bother me. I lack the ability to be embarrassed, and I haven’t been told to mind my own business yet.

    Anyway. That’s what I mean. Sticking together, being aware of each other, protecting each other, if needed and if we can.

    • Retorter

      Agree! I don’t ever stfu when I see a woman getting shit from a dude, ever (I used to, of course, because not one of us was born to walk through the absolute hell-fire of misogyny loosed on us without fearing it for a good long while). Even if that woman doesn’t show gratitude or even *feel* gratitude, she knows another woman has her back, and other women see it, and feel braver.

  • Liz

    Hahah I just realized it sounds like I christened myself “good and kind” with my comment! “Yeah that sounds like me, good and kind” LOL

    I guess I was trying to say I can see how well-meaning people can just go along with the trans issue without thinking about it or be confused at first by the radical feminist points against the “feelings” argument.

    • FierceMild

      My version of kind has no room for ‘nice’. I have a feeling you’d pass that particular bar.

  • FierceMild

    It is confusing and difficult to step outside our socialization. There was a point at which I simply hadn’t followed the implications through on trans rights. I didn’t understand why everybody was sooooo upset about some men who preferred to think of themselves as women using the women’s restroom to avoid other men. I’d encountered that scenario several times and I just felt bad for those people. Living like that must be hard. Then I found out about rape crises shelters, and battered women’s shelters, and prisons, and changing rooms. That flipped it like a switch for me.

  • Melanie

    Made up words and jargon that nobody understands are also a feature of pomo speak. My favourite part of your essay is when you said that we need to be clearer with our language. Yes we do.

  • Meghan Murphy

    It must be lonely being the only intelligent person in the entire world. Perhaps you could start a movement all your own?

    You’re done engaging here, in any case. Aurevoir mon ami!

  • radwonka

    I wanted a non circular definition bro. Not “yeah it’s a preference, a preference that can’t be defined or explained”. It looks like you are the only one who is still learning to read English. I suggest starting with something more intellectual than Trans Ideology/Postmodernism, like

    PS: once again, ad hominems and personal attack are not arguments. And trans ideology is still bullshit.

  • will

    Oh why not just go all in and call us “Bad Lady Poopy-Pantses”. We know that’s what you mean.

  • will

    Who the fuck do you think you are playing a feeble game of “gotcha!” re:someone else’s moderation policies? Whatever delusional solipsistic “identity” you filter the material world through, you perform the role of Typical Arrogant Prick perfectly.

  • Tired

    ‘Maybe you just mean you found it difficult to understand’

    No, not at all. But thanks for pretty much meeting the mansplaining criteria there. Da little womenz don’t understand my not even technical definitions. LOLs. Of course you aren’t speaking about ‘women’s’ spaces. Of course you are talking about ‘social spaces’. Because if you actually spoke or cared about spaces for women, none of your comments would make sense.

    Seeing as you are such a philosopher and all, you’ll remember the first year argument about how 1 + 1 only = 2 when you have precise definitions about what the 1 and the 1 are right? eg 1 male cat and 1 female cat on heat can = multiple litters throughout the space of a year and can = 27. It’s not just the initial 1 + 1 that counts it’s the time period you are measuring as well (and in this example, do we count subsequent litters as well?? in which case 1 + 1 could = 358 within a year)

    Even the most misogynistic philosophers to ever exist agreed that definitions mean something. How could they have stuck women in boxes as property, or less than human if they didn’t (you have to define what human is if you intend to exclude half the population from being human – and that’s just the women – add in POC etc and you are looking at a small percentage of men dictating how all other human beings will be categorised.)

    You’ve broken pretty much every rule of philosophy in your posts to make your point. Which is not a point, it’s just a view / opinion on your behalf. Sure, you’re entitled to it but don’t pretend you are some super intellectual.
    You might even BE a guru in philosophical circles (tho I don’t believe that for a second) but you have failed communication 101 here. Plus logic (in the philosophical sense and reasoning as well). TLDR, fraud on all counts

  • Tired

    Ha ha yeah right. Cos women don’t exist. At least the misogynists of old acknowledged we existed (if only so they could exploit us). You, on the other hand….

  • Tired

    Yawn, ok.

  • Morag999

    What is non-binary made of?
    What is non-binary made of?
      Sugar and snails
      And trans-masculine tails
    That’s what the spectrum is made of

    Or, how about:

    There once was a ze
    Who had a little bee
    Right in the middle of zir bonnet
    And when ze was girl
    Ze was very girl indeed
    And when ze was boy
    Ze was horrid

    • Wren

      Gahahaha!! You’re brilliant!!

    • FierceMild

      I laughed so hard I peed!!

    • Hekate Jayne


  • Morag999

    SikanderG is actually female.

    But like other females with a gender identity, she’s not a woman. Or, rather, she sorta is, but also not really. I’m not sure because, of course, I’m no philosopher. But according to her professional, philosophical writings, she’s both non-binary and trans-masculine. You know, she’s fancy and fluid and stuff? So, obviously, not much in common with plain females! She’s also more smarter and more better. It’s kinda hard to understand, unless yer real intelligent.

    • radwonka

      Oh I see, it’s hard to know who is male or female or nonbinary or literally nothing nowadays! There are so many identities!

      Thanks god, people like SikanderG exists! Phew! I’m reassured! Her main conclusion is ” I don’t know”. Wow! Deep! So superior! I bet she has the most original personality on earth! Because, We, females, are not special enough…

      (BTW, I love your sarcasm, your comments always make me laugh xD)

  • Cassandra

    Cis is a slur. It says we agree with gender identity/our own oppression and we don’t.

  • Retorter

    Absolutely f#$@ing right. People! STOP caving in and letting men play the dufus caveman routine everytime they’re called out on their newest game of violate the woman. They. Do. Not. Give. A. Shit. About. Us.

  • Retorter

    God, what a fantastic comment. Holy shit, my heart just stopped for a second when I read it, especially those last 3 sentences. You have a talent for saying things exactly as they should be said. Effective and precise. Love it.

    • Hekate Jayne

      Thanks, retorter.

      It’s more male confusion, isn’t it? “Help me understand, I am so broken and needy, fulfill your feminine nature by fixing meeeeeeeee!”

      Nope. I have cake to eat, dogs to pet, movies to watch, books to read.

      Knowing that male confusion is a con doesn’t help me, but giving myself permission to ignore their big black manhole of never ending needy confusion changes things.

  • Retorter

    Yeah, I’ve never even heard a whisper of that happening to him, and can’t see it happening, either. I also don’t think it has anything to do with how he expresses himself. Gawd knows, plenty of women who are amazing writers and speakers get no-platformed; it is definitely a phenomenon that affects women more, because they’re women.

    • Iona Robey

      What i meant was, it’s a combination – the fact that he’s male combined with the fact that he’s a smart writer. He’s careful. Even in speaking he’s not too passionate, either, which helps. Someone mentioned that it happened to Derrick Jensen and I can sort of understand why – I feel like he thinks of who his audience is when he’s speaking less than Robert does. Robert is careful to make sure nothing he says sounds too extreme and lays things out as simply and calmly as possible. I think for that reason he’s great for our cause. He knows his place as a man in this movement. There are loads of female writers of course who are better and in a position to get through to other women with more power, in their writing and their speaking. Andrea Dworkin was the perfect example.

      • Retorter

        Yes, totally, I can really see what you’re saying about Robert, now that you’ve pointed it out.

  • Aylune B. Papyrus

    It always starts with questions, especially this one.
    The thing is, it is relatively easy to believe anything, as long as you don’t ask too many questions. The same goes for transgender ideology. The only way to support it unequivocally is to ask no questions at all, or if you have one, file it for “later”.
    You can always roll with the twisted logic of any ideology, that’s not hard.

  • Omzig Online

    See, this is exactly the problem that the author, Robert Jensen, is pointing out.

    “I’m still formulating my view on how to use terms like ‘man’ and ‘woman'”??


    Trans activist can’t seem to put together coherent, concrete definitions for their ideology.

    If you want the rest of the world to change actual policies in the real world, you’re gonna have to come up with more than vague, ethereal gibberish masquerading as “philosophy.”

  • Meghan Murphy

    I think lots of feminists (and gay and lesbian people in general) have asked that question…

  • Meghan Murphy

    Trans activists marginalize, lie about, and incite/threaten/perpetrate violence against feminists. Why should their voices be included?

    • Claire Avina

      Not all trans people are trans activists just like not all feminists are Valerie Solanas. Some of us read radfem texts and try to develop our opinions in a considered manner. So often I see radfems and other feminists conflate the highly visible trans activists that use tactics I find abhorrent with the rest of us. If my assertive, femme, environmental lawyer self isn’t a challenge to patriarchal norms I don’t know what is. I wish we could all get along.

      • Meghan Murphy

        No, all trans identified people are not trans activists… A “transactivist” is an activist who pushes trans ideology… But of course what is being requested here is that a trans identified person who believes in trans ideology be included.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Have you missed the no-plaforming of feminists around the world? The smear campaigns? The violence against women? The witch hunts? The death and rape threats? The changes to the language we are allowed to use to describe women, women’s rights, and women’s bodies? All this has happened very quickly — within only a few years, it seems.

    • marina brown

      I deal with helping a number of people who experience rape and death threats. That’s why i teach personal internet security.

      That having been said, most feminists are not lacking for platforms. Here you have a rather impressive platform as you do on twitter even though you argue against trans people having full rights or inclusion. Loosing platforms because people disagree with you is just a consequence of speech. I am pretty sure i’m not welcome a lot of places because i argue that promoting nazi ideology is inciting and or conspiring to commit genocide.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Yes, I have a platform. I created the platform myself. Most publications in North American will not publish the arguments I and my sisters make. Nonetheless, I have yet to see trans activists fired, deplatformed, or publicly smeared as countless feminists have. I have yet to see a trans activist beat up or threatened with violence, as feminists have been by trans activists.

        I have never argued against trans rights and the ‘inclusion’ comment is manipulative, as what I argue *for* is women’s right to women-only space. I don’t argue that trans-identified people be excluded from society at large.

        The fact you won’t even address my arguments with integrity says so much about the politics and intent behind trans activism.

        • marina brown

          If you haven’t seen trans people deplatformed you have not been looking. My dear friend Sylvia Rivera was removed from platforms repeatedly and even banned from the NY LGBT center for bringing in homeless street youth on a freezing night.

          A lot of women see trans women as women and don’t argue for putting trans women in mens rooms or otherwise placing them in positions where they are prone to be victimized.

          Honestly i would need to study your arguments better to really address them but in reality i’m not that interested. I’m far more interested in tracking the nazis and fascists that threaten us all.

          The positions of yours that have irritated me most were your apparent comment about going after anti-war activists not long after 9/11 and your comments opposing antifascists.

          I’m proud to have been opposed to war from the moment the planes struck the towers til now. Unlike most Americans i was not crying out for Muslim blood.

          Anyway i should not have entered into this conversation at all. Please be safe.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “The positions of yours that have irritated me most were your apparent comment about going after anti-war activists not long after 9/11 and your comments opposing antifascists.”

            I don’t know what you mean. Please elaborate.

            In any case, women are being subjected to violence and violent threats on account of transactivism and the comparison of feminists to nazis. The fact you don’t care about that is shocking.

  • Meghan Murphy

    That was a very long “sentence”…

    Can you show me some examples of these threats? Who are they coming from?

    Who is saying trans identified people don’t exist?

    If you bully and threaten people into adopting your dogma and beat them up when they ask questions people are gonna compare you to fascists, yeah…

  • Meghan Murphy

    I have no idea what your argument is.

  • Omzig Online

    Were you drunk when you wrote this? This entire comment is incoherent word-vomit.

  • Meghan Murphy

    A ‘sense of self’, no matter where is comes from, still does not literally make males female…

    • Claire Avina

      If by that you mean that cisgender women are oppressed based on their biology in many ways trans people are not I agree but there is also a lot of overlap. Overall the gestalt of this site is an underlying animosity for transfemme people that is in addition to legitimate anger at trans people that do not honestly account for the issues ciswomen face.

      • Meghan Murphy

        What is a “transfemme person”?