Neither cis nor TERF

For radical feminists, gender is understood as not merely a subjective internal sense of self; patriarchal gender norms are a product of culture, imposed on people and limiting everyone’s humanity.

Since it’s becoming more common for people to “self-identify” in terms of sex/gender, I want to do the same, by challenging two ways I have been inaccurately labeled.

I am routinely described as cisgender (defined as people whose internal sense of gender identity matches their biological sex). Because I have critiqued the ideology of the transgender movement, I also am often labeled a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist). But neither term is accurate — I don’t self-identify as cisgender or as exclusionary.

Instead, I identify as an adult male who rejects the rigid, repressive, and reactionary gender norms of patriarchy, and I believe that radical feminism offers the most compelling analysis of a patriarchal sex/gender system. The feminist critique I embrace is not an attack on, nor an exclusion of, anyone who suffers from gender dysphoria or identifies as transgender, but rather offers an alternative framework for understanding patriarchy’s sex/gender system and challenging those patriarchal gender norms.

I used “patriarchy/patriarchal” four times in the last paragraph for emphasis: From a radical feminist perspective, nothing in sex/gender politics makes sense except in the light of patriarchy. (I borrow that formulation from the late evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, who said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”)

“Patriarchy,” from Greek meaning “rule of the father,” can be narrowly understood as the organization of a human community (from a family to a larger society) that gives a male ruler dominance over other men, and overall gives men control over women. More generally, the term marks various systems of institutionalized male dominance.

In her 1986 book, The Creation of Patriarchy, the late historian Gerda Lerner defined patriarchy as “the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over women and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over women in the society in general.” Patriarchy implies, she continued, “that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that women are deprived of access to such power. It does not imply that women are either totally powerless or totally deprived of rights, influence and resources.” The specific forms patriarchy takes differ depending on time and place, “but the essence remains: some men control property and hold power over other men and over most women; men or male-dominated institutions control the sexuality and reproduction of females; most of the powerful institutions in society are dominated by men.”

In today’s world, patriarchy comes in forms both deeply conservative (such as Saudi Arabia) and superficially liberal (the United States), and the laws and customs of patriarchal societies vary. But at the core of patriarchy is men’s claim to control — sometimes even to own—women’s reproductive power and sexuality. In patriarchy, men make claims on, and about, women’s bodies that are at the core of assigning women lesser value in society.

Radical feminists, therefore, focus on the fight for women’s reproductive rights, and against men’s violence and sexual exploitation of women. As feminists from various traditions have long argued, it’s crucial to distinguish between biological sex categories and cultural gender norms.

There are three categories of biological human sex: male, female, and intersex. The vast majority of humans are born with male or female reproductive systems, secondary sexual characteristics, and chromosomal structure, and there is a small segment (the size of this category would depend on what degree of ambiguity is used to mark the category) born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the definitions of female or male — anomalies of sex chromosomes, gonads, and/or anatomic sex. People born intersex, a biological reality, typically don’t identify as transgender.

Beyond “sex” is “gender” (the non-biological meaning societies create out of sex differences). Gender plays out in a variety of ways, including gender roles (assigning males and females to different social, political, or economic roles); gender norms (expecting males and females to comply with different norms of behavior and appearance); and gendered traits and virtues (assuming that males and females will be intellectually, emotionally, or morally different from each other).

In short: Sex is a question of biologically determined male and female, gender of socially determined masculinity and femininity.

The dominant conception of masculinity in U.S. culture asserts that men are naturally competitive and aggressive, and that being a “real man” means struggling for control, conquest, and domination. A man looks at the world, sees what he wants, and takes it. This is sometimes labeled “toxic masculinity,” which implies it is an aberration from some “normal” masculinity. But this understanding of masculinity-as-seeking-dominance is the default setting for most males growing up in patriarchy, especially through the glorification of aggression in the military, sports, and business.

All that definitional work is necessary to explain why I am not cisgender. As a male human, this patriarchal conception of masculinity is not my “chosen” identity, nor do I believe it is my fate. As a short, skinny, effeminate child — when I show people my church confirmation picture taken at age 14, they often assume it is a photo of a much younger girl — I never felt very masculine. As an adult with feminist politics, I reject and struggle to overcome the masculinity norms in patriarchy. If we were someday to transcend patriarchy, would I feel more “like a man”? That would depend on how the term was defined, but in the world in which I live, I refuse to embrace the patriarchal gender identity handed to me, a position I defend in a recent book, The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men.

So, I’m not cisgender and I’m not transgender. I am not gender fluid, non-binary, or multi-gender. I self-identify as an adult biological XY male who rejects patriarchal gender norms and works from a radical feminist perspective to eliminate patriarchy, primarily through a critique of patriarchal norms in contemporary pornography.

For radical feminists, gender is understood as not merely a subjective internal sense of self; patriarchal gender norms are a product of culture, imposed on people and limiting everyone’s humanity. In such a political project, no one who wants to challenge patriarchy is excluded. Anyone who refuses to conform to patriarchal gender norms is welcome. Challenging patriarchy’s claims about how “normal” males and females should think/feel/act is encouraged.

But in such a project, it is necessary to name accurately the world and understand patriarchy. So, radical feminists continue to distinguish between biological sex and cultural gender, arguing that sex is a biological binary (we are a sexually dimorphic species) and gender is socially created hierarchy (in patriarchy).

There has been uncivil conduct on all sides of this debate, but it is only radical feminists who are routinely told that their position is hateful and that they should be excluded from the conversation. This has happened to me on occasion (including a speaking invitation rescinded after complaints to the event’s organizers, and protesters at another event attempting to shout me down), although radical feminist women are targeted much more intensely and often.

The most curious thing about my experience is that people rarely respond to the specifics of what I have written and instead simply denounce me, asserting that my arguments are outside the bounds of appropriate dialogue and need not be addressed. Often the denunciations imply that either I do not care about the very real concerns of transgender people regarding mental health, suicide, and violence, or that by making my arguments I actually am contributing to the violence against transgender people. I have been told that opponents of the transgender movement’s policy goals are simply bigots.

But there are important policy questions that are not resolved so simply, such as rules for participation in girls’ and women’s athletics; how to assign scholarships in women’s colleges; public financing for surgery that destroys healthy tissue; and the use of potentially dangerous hormone/drug therapies, especially for children. In Texas, where I live, the debate has focused on access to bathrooms and sex-segregated changing facilities, and the serious challenges raised by girls and women — concerns about privacy and how ambiguity in who has access increases the possibility of assault by non-transgender predators — have been dismissed as irrelevant.

As I always remind my students, reasonable people can and often do disagree, but reasonable conversation is difficult if we cannot agree on basic definitions of sex/gender and if those with a radical feminist analysis are labeled bigots and marginalized.

After four years of writing about this subject, I invite that conversation, and have been fortunate to have it with some in the transgender movement. But I challenge, firmly but politely, anyone who describes me as cisgender or calls me a TERF.

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 rjensen@austin.utexas.edu.

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  • acommentator

    “The most curious thing about my experience is that people rarely respond to the specifics of what I have written and instead simply denounce me, asserting that my arguments are outside the bounds of appropriate dialogue and need not be addressed.”

    Well, sure. In the world of identity politics, you don’t signal virtue by listening respectfully. At least, you don’t listen respectfully to the wrong people. You signal virtue by no platforming them.

    And of course, the idea that there could be something about an argument (“truth”, say) that would be more important than the feelings of the oppressed is very regressive.

  • DeColonise

    Robert Jensen is a very good writer.

    Thank you for posting.

  • Meghan Murphy

    It wasn’t deleted, it was in moderation. All comments must be approved manually before they appear on the site.

  • Jen Miller

    Strong article, thanks!

  • Elsa Leon

    Look at the comments in this article villifiying a woman for defending female only spaces. Theyre even remarking on her appearance as not feminine enough “which one is the woman?” I want to throw up

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/05/watch-california-gop-candidate-stalks-harasses-trans-woman-attempting-use-dennys-ladies-room/

    • Alienigena

      I am always amazed at how much sympathy slim or slight men get for their inability to put on muscle (such a tragedy) while women who are mesomorphs (not a real thing I know but I do put on muscle relatively easily) are looked at as freaks, undeserving of sympathy but deserving of homophobic slurs usually directed at men. Yeah, cry me a river guys. I do have stereotypical secondary sexual characteristics (hourglass-ish body type (broad shoulders and fairly broad hips) but minimal upper endowments and I am short, small feet). I have gotten a lot of aggressive male behaviour directed at me because I look strong. I think I am going to be diagnosed with hypoglycemia (blood tests and a doctor’s call (the man himself not his nurse) re test results). I have lost weight, sweat profusely with exercise, am ravenously hungry after eating and exercising, and mostly I feel like fainting even while lying down, so my life is currently a bundle of hilarity. I realise men can have these symptoms too but at least people feel sympathy for them, I think it is much more often women who are expected to tough it out and not complain. I had a physical in late December (it is now mid-May) because I was feeling this way and my doctor suggested I was not drinking enough water (I drink at least 2 litres a day, in addition to other beverages mostly juice) or too many caffeinated beverages (I drink caffeinated soda only, not energy drinks not coffee or tea, and not every day). Doctors are so dismissive that I have begun to try to avoid them, even when I start feeling worse. So, I don’t think men perceived as feminine have it any rougher than strong looking women. I remember being 9 and having a girl younger than me suggest that I was two years younger than I was and just lying about my age to impress people (kids do that?). So being perceived as younger (and in need of correction) or not of the norm seems pretty standard from my vantage point.

  • will

    Do you have an actual point to make?

    re·pres·sive

    rəˈpresiv/Submit

    adjective

    (especially of a social or political system) inhibiting or restraining the freedom of a person or group of people.

    “a repressive regime”

    synonyms: oppressive, authoritarian, despotic, tyrannical, dictatorial, fascist, autocratic, totalitarian, undemocratic

    “a repressive military regime”

    inhibiting or preventing the awareness of certain thoughts or feelings.

    “a repressive moral code”

  • Littona

    Great article.

    According to a science magazine I trust (a French science mag called “Science et Vie”), the overall prevalence of intersexuality may be around 2% (highest estimate) if one includes all possible types of the condition. Chromosomal intersexuality is around 0.2%. The figures may be helpful to know, especially as certain trans activists give caricatural and wrong numbers. 2% is rather average (neither low nor extremely high) compared to other birth defects if they’re also counted in groups according to the affected function (3 to 6% of babies worldwide are born with any kind of severe birth defect).

  • woodrose

    Trans activists tell us it is genuine VIOLENCE to ‘misgender’ a person, yet they continue to ‘misgender’ me every time they call me ‘cis,’ and will not listen when people object.

    Neither cis nor terf. I’m with Robert.

    • Trond Kval Nordli

      Yes, it’s funny how so many trans activists (not trans people in general) love to misgender other people – if they disagree with them.

    • April Neault

      Exactly. Isn’t it very telling who gets to decide their labels and who doesn’t? I reject both the terms cis and terf, just like Robert.
      The simple fact that I couldn’t identify outta these terms was my first clue as to who this movement benefits and who is being told to sit down and shut up (as usual).
      I reject the patriarchy. I reject gender. And I certainly reject the terms my oppressor gives to me. It is absolutely paramount that women do not let our oppressors dictate our language.

  • OldPolarBear

    Excellent post here, Robert Jensen. Read carefully and in fact savored the good writing and clarity. Shared on FB also and hope I can get a response or two. My “political” shares, as opposed to cute animals or pretty flowers, etc., rarely get any reaction, but maybe some of the FB friends are reading.

    I’m going to leave a link here that is maybe kind of or totally OT, but maybe not. You mention “toxic masculinity,” and quite by coincidence on the same day, Juan Cole* shared something on Facebook and said it was “a searing critique of toxic masculinity” so I watched it and found it very interesting. It’s a short film about 26 minutes long. Don’t want to do spoilers, but there are two characters, both men. No women at all, but then they don’t harass or talk about any women either. Sort of an “anti-Bechdel-rule” film? Today’s school shooting makes it even more relevant, I think, although there is not an extreme level of violence. One of the characters in this film looks spookily similar to the gun-packing, flag-carrying, MAGA-hat-wearing loon in this video. YMMV on the film. I think it does offer an interesting take on toxic masculinity.

    *Juan Cole, if for those who don’t know and/or care, is a scholar of middle-east studies at U. of Michigan. He also blogs about other social and political topics at Informed Comment. When my nephew was in Afghanistan, I read him every day because he covered what was going on there really well. I since have some issues with him, but that’s another matter and he still does valuable work.

  • Meghan Murphy

    But he doesn’t ‘have a masculine gender identity.’ Keep up.

    • mail_turtle

      I think I’m keeping up, as he gives clues about having a masculine identity, such as “I never felt very masculine” (so he feels at least a little masculine?) and “this patriarchal conception of masculinity is not my “chosen” identity” (so it’s his, but he did not choose it? or does he identify with some other conception of masculinity?).

      Yes, if he doesn’t have a masculine gender identity, then it’s clear that he is not cis-gender. But in that case, why would he need (this is the word that he uses) a big introduction and special definitions to explain that “cisgender” does not apply to him?

      • Meghan Murphy

        You are being intentionally obtuse and I’m not playing.

      • Serai 1

        How about “he doesn’t have to explain himself to you”? At least, not any farther than he already HAS in this article (which is already pretty exhaustive). If you can’t glean the meaning of this carefully constructed and thoroughly explained argument, then it seems to me you’re just JAQing off.

  • sonje

    Only scientologists use the term ‘suppressive’ as far as I know.

  • Meghan Murphy

    The point is that he doesn’t ‘identify’ as masculine. Masculinity is socialized/imposed. He is pushing back against masculinity.

  • Trond Kval Nordli

    You have to start understanding that masculine and male is not the same thing.

  • Topazthecat

    Robert always mentions intellectual and emotional assumed differences between the sexes,but out over 100 years of intelligence testing,the sexes have been consistently equal in intelligence with much more overlap in their abilities too,and decades worth of tons of psychological research studies has found the sexes are psychologically more alike too in almost all of their traits and abilities.

  • Meghan Murphy

    But he wasn’t born masculine. He was born male. Babies don’t have gender identities.

  • Serai 1

    Bullying is how the patriarchy has always gotten what it wants, and the voices shouting down any questioning are just another aspect of the patriarchy, albeit one masquerading as revolutionary.

  • Serai 1

    It’s just another way that men intrude on, harass, and threaten women. No matter what, THEY must have what they want. Doesn’t matter how violent, unfair, or bullying, they get to have what they want. Whether it’s owning women’s bodies or hijacking women’s identites – doesn’t matter, they get to have it. And they feel utterly entitled to use any tactics they want, no matter how illogical, insulting, or violating. Nope, they want it, they get it. The ultimate schoolyard bullies.

  • Serai 1

    Their attitude proves they are not, in fact, women, but men – no matter how vehemently they might try to argue otherwise. Calling yourself a barn door ain’t gonna make you one, no matter how much you think it will.

  • Cassandra

    “If I was a tween-aged girl being exposed to gonzo porn for the first time, I wouldn’t want to grow into being a “woman” if it meant that I was going to be anally raped, choked and called a slut. I’d probably want to find some way of opting out, and calling myself “non binary” and declaring my sexual orientation as “asexual” might seem a better way to go.”

    This is spot on.

  • Deborah

    Finally having a chance to weigh in here….I agree this is a great article that needed writing. More to the point, I agree that trans activists are gaining themselves more enemies than supporters with their violence, hatred and lack of reason. I used to have tremendous sympathy for trans people, before I knew about ladydicks, for example. Now…not so much. Anyway, I just discovered that the LGBTQ term has new letters added on, to make it even more of a fucking mouthful: LGBTQIA+, to include “intersex” and “asexual”. What does asexuality have to do with gender identity or biological sex??? This just feels like a desperate attempt to recruit as many to the cause as possible whether of not they want to have anything to do with this inclusion, or not.

  • Zuzanna Smith

    When I hear people say they “identify” with someone or something to me that means they have had the same or similar experiences as that person. So when a male says he “identifies as female” that already is a clear fiction and fantasy. How can you identify with a reproductive system, genitals and life experiences due to a female body that you’ve never had and never will have? And before you go all “women aren’t just genitals”, I deliberately said female because female is a description of a sexed body. So in fact you cannot in any way identify as female, what you are in reality saying is that in your choice to take up the cultural cues, stereotypes and male ideas of what you think a female would do, think, act like, wear, etc. and this for you means you could know what it’s like to be female. Hell no. It’s your male take on experiences you did not have, a male fantasy. Just like the “trans butch lesbian” label for some dude who looks like a dude and is heterosexual. We’re not buying it bro.

  • Zuzanna Smith

    He’s been male since conception, it’s not something he has to identify with. How do you identify with existing? He was born male and learned (like we all did) what was acceptable behavior, dress, etc. for a male in our society, which is something he can accept or reject, and in many cases something he has to unlearn, but it’s not innate it’s learned and encouraged and many times policed.

    • mail_turtle

      You don’t *have* to identify as male/masculine or female/feminine, but most people do. Most people’s identify is not based on their eye colour, but it *can* be. If you believe that blue eyed people have some specific characteristics, and you recognize these characteristics in yourself, then you can identify as a “blue eyed person”. If you later find out that eye colour really has nothing to do with your character, preferences and your inner experiences then you have effectively dropped this belief (it means you no longer identify as “blue eyed”, though you may still have blue eyes).

      • Meghan Murphy

        Stop conflating sex and gender or I’ll stop approving your comments. Thanks.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Good to know you don’t understand or care about women’s rights.

  • Meghan Murphy

    You suggested Robert say “I don’t identify as masculine anymore.” But he never *did* “identify” as masculine.

    • mail_turtle

      What is your definition of “to identify as masculine”? In my vocabulary it means “to believe that you are a masculine person” (whether this belief is established through nature or nurture is a different question). Maybe we are not agreeing because you are using a different definition?

      If Robert never believed he was masculine (which in my vocabulary means that he never had a gender identify) then it immediately follows that the label ‘cisgender’ does not apply to him (because ‘cisgender’ applies when your gender identity and genitals “match”).

      • Meghan Murphy

        One does not ‘identify as masculine’, as gender is imposed, not chosen. Stop making us all repeat ourselves over and over again.

  • fluffywhitedog fluffy

    Exactly. Even through extraordinary barriers women built the modern world: computing, wireless signal, DNA, dark matter etc. We’d be holidaying on the moon by now if the barriers weren’t there.

  • fluffywhitedog fluffy

    Interesting you say that, because I’ve long leaned thought that biology & conditioning are one and the same for men: that one just amplifies the other. They are not diametrically opposed – because it’s men who invented those norms in the 1st place, not aliens.

    For women, however, biology and conditioning are polar opposites because they had no say in the making of the conditioning.

  • Raelee

    according to you, there’s no concrete definition of sex, so trans people are what they say… yet, without a concrete definition of sex, being trans doesn’t make sense then. They can’t know what a female is, cause you just said so… if there’s no defining biological markers, definition, etc, then people would be neither male or female. (supposedly) without a known definition, people wouldn’t know what they are transitioning to….

    But even you must see how illogical that is! Trans people DO have an understanding, idea, definition, etc of sex – since obviously they are identifying as such.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Gender identity legislation threatens women’s sex-based rights.

  • Melanie

    Those opportunities are now open to and are being filled by transwomen, so not so much anymore. Men will always find a way to set women back. This one is particularly creative, I’ll give them that.

  • elle.usher

    OK, question. Serious question. What would you like us trans people to do? I’ve never heard a concrete answer to this and if i’m going to take yallses ideology seriously, i need an answer to this question, even though I already feel like I know the answer.

    • Meghan Murphy

      What do you mean, what would we like trans-identified people to do? Do with what?

  • Meghan Murphy

    Do you mean your feelings about gender? I mean, for one, you could understand that we *all* have feelings about gender, and that gender does not ‘fit’ any of this. Aside from that, I mean, you are free to feel however you like, and you should be able to appear as ‘feminine’ as you like as well. But that does not mean you may force *others* to lie, and say that because of your feelings or appearance, you literally are female. Make sense?

  • Meghan Murphy

    Wanting to be the opposite sex doesn’t actually make you the opposite sex. Also, I believe that many if not most of those who identify as trans today don’t actually “model themselves the opposite sex, ” but the opposite ‘gender.’ Meaning that men fetishize femininity and try to adopt ‘feminine’ traits or clothing. Most don’t actually get surgery.

  • Meghan Murphy

    “Many if not most.” Jenner is a good example, as are most ‘transwomen’ in the spotlight. Gender fetishizes gender. Like, that’s what it does. Subordination is fetishized via femininity, for ex. Why do you believe men adopting uber feminine practices/an uber feminine appearance is not fetishizing femininity?

    • Megan Jones

      Because he used to wander around in lingerie he fetishizes the feminine? He has stylists now and people who help him transition toward become whatever type of feminine makes him feel comfortable with himself. It seems to me that women do this as well – identify with/perform whatever type of feminine they feel comfortable with. The borders have expanded and women are now allowed to perform many different types of feminine that before may have met with social exclusion, criminal punishment, incarceration,etc. A lot of those performances occur in what has typically been the “masculine.” Why aren’t we including female trans in the conversation? Are you suggesting that female trans “fetishize” the masculine? And are you taking a Freudian tact that sexuality outside of reproduction is pathological?

      • Meghan Murphy

        Radical feminism analyzes gender as a system that reinforces male dominance and female subordination under patriarchy. That’s what ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ are = stereotypes imposed on people, based on their sex, that normalizes/reinforces this hierarchy. Femininity isn’t ‘comfortable’ for anyone. Neither is masculinity, I’d argue. People are not stereotypes. Femininity, in particular, = high heels, uncomfortable clothing, being passive and polite, not speaking up, etc.

        Jenner was sexually turned on by femininity. That’s why he played around in his daughters’ clothing. He had a fetish, like many ‘transwomen’ do. It’s called autogynephilia.

        • Megan Jones

          Interesting that you still refuse to speak about women. I get that you think male to female trans is pathological and predatory.

          • Meghan Murphy

            The reason why feminists talk about ‘transwomen’ is because we don’t want men in our spaces. Females are welcome.

            That said, if you were paying attention, you’d see that feminists talk about the transing of lesbians all the time.

          • Megan Jones

            Meaning you and the people you speak for (not necessarily all or even most feminists) think safe houses should be open to heterosexual women, lesbians and transmen because that kind of a mix is safe, whereas the presence of transwomen would not be. So your suggestion is segregation for transwomen for their own protection and for the protection of women.

          • Meghan Murphy

            What I mean is that feminists — actual feminists who understand what feminism is and why women’s rights matter — believe females should have access to certain female-only spaces, such as change rooms and transition houses. This has zero to do with how one feels about their body, one’s understanding of gender, or one’s “identity.” It is only about having been born male or female.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Um, no? I’m suggesting that certain spaces (like, literally a few spaces) should be female only. i.e. no males allowed. Regardless of how they identify. And yes, you are correct! Children are often allowed in safe houses with their mothers. In change rooms too. Because what would their mothers do with them otherwise? Just not adult males.

  • Meghan Murphy

    What on earth are you talking about? How does keeping men out of spaces where women are escaping male violence ‘ghettoize’ them?

  • Meghan Murphy

    No, I don’t. Transition houses are not permanent housing, and of course are not ideal. Regardless, they should be male free (aside from young children). Women escaping male violence should have access to spaces where they can feel safe and heal, away from men. This is basic stuff.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yoooooo what are you even arguing about?? Women here at FC LITERALLY WORK IN LITERAL TRANSITION HOUSES. The women who write for this site and edit our content and ally with us and do interviews with us ARE THE ACTUAL, LITERAL WOMEN WHO BUILT AND RUN TRANSITION HOUSES. You have no clue what you are talking about or who you are talking to.

    First you were trying to build an argument in favour of men accessing women’s spaces, which you seem to have abandoned, because clearly you have no argument. Now you’re attempting to lecture us about things that the women here actually do, day in and day out. Stop yourself. It’s embarrassing.

    • Megan Jones

      Oh I most definitely know about safe houses, and you have presented a false image of them as this vague “female safe space” you like to toss out. At least Viriginia Woolf recognized that it’s a room of one’s own. But let’s see, what else did you pick – change rooms. Now there’s a really good example of female safe spaces too. Leave your cellphone on a bench and see how long it lasts. Why not just say we don’t want transwomen to come into female change rooms because we’re afraid of them. We think they’re pathological men, but if nothing else they’re symbolic of male violence. At least you’d get past the hyperventilating and make a clear comment. But you’ve hung your entire argument on “proof” that transwomen are just lying men. Newsflash. Everyone knows transwomen were born men and identify as women. OMG, even they know. Holy. How much verbiage has been spent on Feminist Current to argue what everyone already knows. Meanwhile, you refuse to answer what your suggestion is for them in terms of meeting their needs for shelter. Should they be segregated? You think if you stick to just the one sentence, “Um I’m just saying men don’t belong in female safe spaces,” you can dodge realities and win your one point: transwomen don’t belong anywhere near women’s shelters. Good for you Meghan, except as I said, those women in safe houses will likely to encounter many helpful, trustworthy, safe men along their journey to wellness, so there’s no reason why transwomen can’t participate in helping female victims of abuse. But what kind of irresponsible response can I expect from Feminist Current re: our social obligation to help transwomen who have no where else but a shelter to turn to, Meghan? I won’t ask you for ideas on how to improve the outcomes for women who do encounter domestic violence and abuse, because you clearly think “not ideal female safe spaces” are good enough. Woooo. You’re a demagogue Meghan, not a feminist. Trust me. I’m not embarrassed by you.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I agree that everyone knows this! And yet! Trans activists keep insisting otherwise — that ‘transwomen are women’ (this is the mantra, yes?) and that, therefore, they should be allowed access to all women’s spaces, to women-only shortlists, to women’s sports teams/competitions etc.

        You are trying to manipulate this argument into a very odd one, in an attempt to derail from the point.

        Let’s try this: do you believe women deserve women-only spaces, sports teams, access to grants specific to women, etc? Do you believe women deserve rights at all, specific to their having been born female under patriarchy?

  • Meghan Murphy

    “Transwomen” are male. If you don’t believe women are entitled to specific rights, spaces, grants, etc., then I can only assume you don’t believe women are oppressed as a class of people, under patriarchy, and that you are unaware that men are a threat to women. Not all men, but only men. Violence against women and things like sexual assault are perpetrated primarily by males.

    • Megan Jones

      Wow Meghan. Enough with the mansplaining. There must be some kind of glitch happening there, or maybe you’re not able to, in fact, get beyond two sentences. And you know what they say about assume. I’ll bet you $1 I know more about male violence than you do. Way more. Way, way, way more. Can’t stress that enough – way, way, way, way, way more.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Stating facts is ‘mansplaining’? That sounds rather sexist, don’t you think?

  • Meghan Murphy

    Stating facts about material reality is not ‘abusive.’

    You should look up the term ‘biological essentialism’, because it means the opposite of what you think it does. Trans activists are the ones advocating biological essentialism (i.e. that ‘gender’ is innate), not feminists.