Transgenderism doesn’t disrupt the ‘gender binary’, it reinforces the most misogynist stereotypes

A common claim from defenders of gender identity ideology is that transgenderism subverts “gender binaries,” freeing individuals from rigid ideas about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. By contrast, those of us labeled “TERFs,” on account of our refusal to abandon women’s sex-based rights and protections to male fetishists and who understand that “woman” means “adult human female” are often accused of upholding the “gender binary,” or even, as a journalist named Emma Vigeland tweeted today, “upholding the patriarchy.”

Vigeland, who is co-host of what I understand to be a leftist news show called The Majority Report and who previously worked with The Young Turks, is making a name for herself (I had never heard of her prior, in any case) by attacking women’s right to sex-segregated sport, using compelling arguments such as “I’m a hundred percent right about this,” “I don’t give a shit about the scientific explanations,” and “If that’s not fair… I don’t give a shit, I don’t give a shit.”

Vigeland’s most recent tweet attacking “TERFs” demonstrates a kind of confusion held by many proponents of transgenderism, treating the ideology as a “liberating” practice, upending all sorts of oppressive structures and old-fashioned ideas about men and women.

The tweet is appropriately word salady, as faux-intellectuals who attempt to use academic sounding words in the hope of intimidating the plebs are prone to, reading:

“TERFism actually upholds patriarchy by gatekeeping femininity, insisting that the boundaries of womanhood are drawn by sexual and/or reproductive organs. By reinforcing existing gender binaries, TERFs lock women into the male gaze: whether for baby-making or mere sexualization.”

While my preference nowadays is to avoid jargon that obscures the material reality of what is being discussed and to use language that actually makes sense to the reader, for the purposes of dissecting Vigeland’s claims, lets go ahead and use her language.

“TERFism,” referring literally to “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” but more casually to those individuals who believe you cannot change biological sex through declaration (or at all), does not “gatekeep femininity.” One could argue it “gatekeeps” biological sex, but of course biological sex “gatekeeps” itself, regardless of what others think. What radical feminists opposed to the concept of transgenderism argue is in fact that gender is not innate, and that men and women should not be limited to stereotyped gender roles. In other words, these feminists believe that men and women should be free to be whomever they like, in as far as their personalities, preferences, emotions, and appearances go. This does not translate to literally altering one’s biological sex, of course, as this is impossible.

No radical feminist wants to “gatekeep femininity.” They would prefer to get rid of “femininity” entirely.

All that said, the “boundaries of womanhood” are “drawn” by things like “sexual and/or reproductive organs,” as well as by chromosomes and a variety of other sex-specific physical/biological characteristics. How else does one define “female” and “male” if not by biological, physical, material characteristics?

WELL. Funny you ask. If you are a proponent of gender identity ideology, like young Emma, you would define “male” and “female” based on gender binaries. In Transland, gender stereotypes define material reality, so if a man prefers or adopts “feminine” gender stereotypes, he is a woman. And not just that, but self-identified “transwomen” tend to take on the most sexist, the most misogynistic, and frankly the most insulting stereotypes of all — often those exemplified in pornography and the pornographic fantasies of men.

This is laid out very well in a new film currently available to watch on Twitter, called What is a Woman: WRONG ANSWERS ONLY. We see man after trans-identified man insisting he is a “bimbo” and a “slut” — a “girl,” even. The whole thing, from behaviour to outfits to descriptions of what it is to “be a girl,” is a fantasy that no actual woman (or girl) would relate to, yet we are not only expected to play along but to abandon femaleness itself to men who wish to redefine it to suit their fantasies.

Indeed, the trans concept of “womanhood” is defined by that “male gaze” Vigeland attempts to reference. Talk about “patriarchal”! Under transgenderism, “woman” is reduced to a male fantasy — redefined to suit men’s preferences, regardless of what actual women think about it. A “woman” becomes a kind of Mr. Potato Head one can adhere breasts or a wig to, maybe to poke some holes into, permitting fuckability (but without either the pleasure or the reproduction) — quite literally a thing to be fucked, or at least admired, like a doll.

Transgenderism in both theory and practice epitomizes the worst of all sexist stereotypes, upending nothing but reality and in fact drawing us backwards into a violent fantasy land feminists fought to escape for decades.

Nice try with the gender studies paper, though, Emma.

Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.