Feminist perspectives on transgendered people

(498 Posts)
toboldlygo Mon 28-Nov-11 19:10:37

Excuse the random intrusion (haven't posted here before) but I've been watching My Transsexual Summer on C4 and it's raised some questions for me; basically, I was just wondering if there was any sort of feminist consensus on transgendered/transsexual individuals, whether there's any difference in opinions depending on whether they are FtM or MtF, pre or post surgery etc.

Not looking for a bunfight, just curious, if it helps any I am a cisgendered female these days but went through a phase in my late teens of being desperately uncomfortable in my own gender and wanting very much to be male.

KRITIQ Mon 28-Nov-11 19:46:03

Tin can, labelled "worms," can opener.

EleanorRathbone Mon 28-Nov-11 19:49:36

No there is no feminist consensus.

emskaboo Mon 28-Nov-11 19:49:58

Grabs popcorn...

KRITIQ Mon 28-Nov-11 19:51:31

Serious answer - in my experience, there isn't a consensus on this issue amongst feminists (and there are diverse opinions within the wider feminist movement on many issues.) There are quite a few articles on the web that explain some of the discussion and rationales for varied viewpoints that might be useful to consult for a bit more background.

Prolesworth Mon 28-Nov-11 19:54:28

Julie Bindel puts a radical feminist position on this clearly and concisely here

I agree with her

madwomanintheattic Mon 28-Nov-11 19:56:55

there is no consensus.

feministcrashdummy Mon 28-Nov-11 20:05:46

Well a poster got threatened with legal action after a trans bun fight on here a while back so prob not the best topic to pick for a first op.

madwomanintheattic Mon 28-Nov-11 20:07:35

or, the best topic to pick for a 'first' op. depends which side of the fence you are, i guess...

toboldlygo Mon 28-Nov-11 20:16:16

While I was sure it would be a somewhat sensitive subject I wasn't aware there was previous can-of-worms type ground, for that I apologise. Just thought this would be the best area for discussion seeing as the program dealt with issues of gender, stereotypes, prejudice etc.

madwomanintheattic Mon 28-Nov-11 20:25:03

yep. totally the right area. but no consensus. such a lack of consensus, in fact, that it's best avoided completely. grin
google is your friend. or start with proles' julie bindel link.

i think there are probably loads of threads on here that haven't been deleted, so advanced search might also be your friend.

toboldlygo Mon 28-Nov-11 20:42:33

Julie Bindel link was interesting, actually, in that I found myself disagreeing with nearly everything she had to say. blush Has opened up a succession of interesting Wiki searches however so thanks for that. The problem with simply googling for transgender issues is that, as she says, it can be quite a vocal 'lobby' and a lot of the stuff seems very defensive, black-and-white 'you're for us or you're against us' type stuff.

One of the things I was most interested in was the person on the program who was proud to be identified as a transexual and wasn't concerned about passing as one gender or the other but perhaps identified as neither or a third gender; any recommendations for reading around that would be very welcomed.

EleanorRathbone Mon 28-Nov-11 21:35:54

here's an old thread that doesn't start off about trans but then gets into it

here's an old thread

motherinferior Mon 28-Nov-11 21:38:14

I used to be quite Bindelesque; now, knowing more about transpolitics and having at least one trans friend, I feel very differently.

TheButterflyEffect Mon 28-Nov-11 21:46:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

madwomanintheattic Mon 28-Nov-11 22:04:59

i've got loads of trans stuff grin but tend to veer away from the overtly for or against arguments. the old 'we are all individuals' line sits much more neatly with me.

are you interested in just the feminist view, or more trans stuff in general?

anything that questions a gender binary in terms of behaviour and innate personality traits has to be a good thing, but it gets complicated. grin

i have trans friends who have adopted a far more extreme model of femininity than my own, in order to 'pass', but in some ways that complicates the issue further.

EleanorRathbone Mon 28-Nov-11 22:08:08

here's another old thread. Loads of links on there

teatimesthree Mon 28-Nov-11 22:11:47

I love Julie Bindel, and she argues her case very well. But on a gut level, I empathise with transgendered people, and tend to think that as a feminist, I should be on their side.

toboldlygo Mon 28-Nov-11 22:35:32

I'm interested in both the feminist view and in the subject generally; I know I said I haven't posted here before but I've been reading with interest. I find myself disagreeing in lots of areas so it was daft of me to expect some kind of consensus on anything, really. grin

Obviously my own experience led me to seek out more information but back then it was a sort of teenaged panicking 'argh, I think I want to be a boy, what's this all about?' rather than examining the theory, politics, etc. and watching the program has reminded me that I'm quite ignorant of all that. I'd generally just like to read more about theories of transgender(ism?), the concept of transfeminism, reactions to that and so on.

"But on a gut level, I empathise with transgendered people, and tend to think that as a feminist, I should be on their side."

One of the comments on the article said something similar, and that by denying transwomen access to feminism there is the potential to exclude them from help in cases of violence and rape, something which I hadn't considered before. The levels to which transgendered people are subject to violence, rape, abuse etc. is shocking.

toboldlygo Mon 28-Nov-11 22:40:06

Reading this one with interest: plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-trans/

madwomanintheattic Tue 29-Nov-11 04:01:40

i like susan stryker. judith butler makes my head hurt but is interesting. all of my books are currently in a box though, as the house is being painted.

i don't think it's particularly surprising that people who identify as trans are subject to violence. it's a no brainer. well documented, and is regularly covered by the media. i don't know anyone that identifies as trans that isn't well aware that you can be beaten up just for existing.

but as a point of note, unless you really are wanting to start a row, you might not want to focus on rape.

EleanorRathbone Tue 29-Nov-11 06:12:21

I think as a feminist, I have the right to focus on those issues which affect women.

Transgender people have their own struggle and their own liberation movement which I support, not at the expense of women.

I've had this argument before, on the other thread. Did you read either of those OP?

KRITIQ Tue 29-Nov-11 07:50:47

The Stanford article is quite interesting. I've bookmarked it for a closer look later. Thanks.

WhollyGhost Tue 29-Nov-11 08:38:31

Trans issues are something that I have never discussed.

However I think it is a controversy because of attitudes to post modernism. If you believe that everything is a social construction, then questioning the gender binary is obviously right. If science and reason are seen merely as a source of authority, then they have no place in feminism.

But if you reject evidence and reason, you are left with tradition, religion, the influence of the powerful. Which is depressing to say the least.

I think that the radical feminist position (as outlined by Julie Bindel) is rooted in reason and science.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 29-Nov-11 09:46:21

I could well be wrong, but I think many people would say they are radical feminists and do believe gender is a social construction - they want to get rid of the whole idea of gender.

I find that helpful TBH.

I think feeling fundamentally uncomfortable with your body and/or the gender role you feel society expects of you, must be awful. To feel you need surgery must be awful. So I have a lot of sympathy.

But, if you are a feminist who spends a lot of time objecting to society constructing restrictive gender roles, you are naturally not going to be terribly happy with anyone who is keen to reinforce those roles, eg. by identifying being female with stereotypically 'feminine' behaviour. At the moment, this - adopting the stereotypical gender role of the opposite sex - is what is required of people who want to transition (and it's controversial to require it).

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