Why has the trans/sex/gender debate emerged at this moment?

(183 Posts)
UptheChimney Sun 06-Jul-14 08:31:53

That's it: what is at stake that this argument/attack on feminists from trans people has emerged at this moment?

As a late 70s feminist, my experience of trans issues was that there was huge discrimination for those who didn't fit into heteronormativity, and I could see how lesbian & gay people had much in common with trans people. And with feminists.

Solidaritry wasn't uniform: while lesbian feminism was very strong, gay men were pretty misogynist -- and elements of the male gay movement still are -- the non-monogamous etc etc versions of "gay lifestyles" are pretty masculinist in a very unreconstructed way: the idea that men are driven by sex, and should have the freedom to have sex when/where/whatever. But that's another thread.

So what are the views on why this battle between trans people and some feminists? Is it another "What about teh menz?" Is it because women are expected simply to care about everyone else?

Ideas? Views?

CrotchMaven Tue 08-Jul-14 06:49:31






Romeyroo Tue 08-Jul-14 07:18:20

Crotchmaven, that is precisely what made me uncomfortable, that the joke was on women, and as one of two women in the room, both unpromoted, on me. I thought the story/joke was staggeringly inappropriate, but it also gets to the heart of the matter. The discrimination I face is because I am a mother, juggling work and dc, as well as generations of baggage about what it means to be a woman.

Dervel, am on a different page, so can't check I have your name right, the point about space I think is the wider social context and not just the individual. If you have been physically or sexually abused by a man, it does not matter who the individual opposite you is, whether they have body dysphoria or not, there will be an instinctive feeling of fear at their physical presence. That is the best way I can explain it. I would like to be open and 'PC' about this, but because of things that have happened to me, I would leave a changing room if there was a male physical form there. That is not me being transphobic, it is me protecting my emotional well-being.

That apart, I shall slowly work my way through the threads listed.

MontyGlee Tue 08-Jul-14 07:46:10

Irritated? Am I supposed to apologise? This is a new thread about the issue so it's not as if the matter's been settled? Or maybe some people think it has. confused

I shall scan the threads. Thank you for posting them.

kim147 Tue 08-Jul-14 08:29:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Tue 08-Jul-14 08:39:18

some people need to check their privilege.

Possibly the most irritating phrase ever invented Monty. Especially when referring to women against men.

If a scholarship created to help a woman who has done exceptionally well in STEM despite being a female and being pushed in to other directions goes to a man who had all the advantages of being a man... (though he now identifies as a woman even if he has a penis). Is it women refusing to check their privilege? Or men?

If the local police force have a quota for females and the job goes to a 6ft 3, 16 stone trans woman. Who has the privilege?

If transwomen who were raised to speak over women and have their voices heard use their voices to shout down women and say they can't fight for reproductive rights because they aren't "women's issues" (because they can't get pregnant) who is exerting their privilege there?

What privilege do I have? That I am a woman and love dresses and nail polishes and fancy handbags so I must be cis? Because I don't. Because I wear jeans and plain tshirts and I wear my hair tied back and I have hairy legs and pits. What makes me woman is that I have a vagina and have been judged because of it. I am judged for not performing femininity as much as a trans woman is judge for performing it. But not performing it doesn't make me a man. But if I buy in the the trans idea of being a woman I am actually a man. They are defining who I am as male. And I reject that. Their privilege is allowing them to redefine womanhood.

CaptChaos Tue 08-Jul-14 08:57:32

Nail on head RFFU.

ArcheryAnnie Tue 08-Jul-14 09:01:44

Hear, hear, ReallyFuckingFedUp. Well said.

7Days Tue 08-Jul-14 09:20:44

The debate is framed as radfem ideaology being incompatible with trans ideaology, in terms of definitions of gender. But it seems as though trans politics is the one rejecting all forms of feminism. There seems to be lip service paid to the notion of feminism, sure, but no real recognition that women are oppressed at all. A sense that it's a bunch of dafties complaining when there is real oppression to be fought.
So why wouldn't feminists devote their time to the trans cause, it's not like they have much going on themselves.

That's not a comment on individuals, just an observation of the tone of the whole thing

MontyGlee Tue 08-Jul-14 09:23:17

The fact remains that their day-to-day life is a gauntlet of attitudes and barriers that are far worse than most of us will ever have to endure. No theorising about hypothetical positions is going to change that.

MontyGlee Tue 08-Jul-14 09:25:27

I can see that there are clashes between feminism and some elements of trans-politics. Fair enough... but that's not what I said. A person and their politics are two separate things.

MontyGlee Tue 08-Jul-14 09:26:21

... and (sorry for the quick-fire posts) are we judging all trans women by the opinons of some?

chibi Tue 08-Jul-14 09:29:20

monty you state that transwomen face barriers much greater than most of us ever will

who are you assuming is 'us' - who is included and who is excluded?

check your own privilege hmm

ArcheryAnnie Tue 08-Jul-14 09:30:31

The fact remains that their day-to-day life is a gauntlet of attitudes and barriers that are far worse than most of us will ever have to endure. No theorising about hypothetical positions is going to change that.

If that's truly the case for you, then I'm glad for you. It isn't the case for many other women, nor for the class of women as a whole.

And yes, the current strand of extreme trans activism is mostly what we are talking about on these threads, and I haven't seen anybody contest the fact that there are plenty of trans women just trying to live their lives in peace - this has been stated again and again. But it is the extreme, misogynistic, homophobic trans activism that is setting the policy agenda and changing norms, so yes, that's what many of us focus on. Because we have to.

MontyGlee Tue 08-Jul-14 09:43:55

You seriously think that, in the UK, women as a class face a tougher time than trans women? You're off your rocker.

ArcheryAnnie Tue 08-Jul-14 09:45:35

And you must be a very, very privileged person living in a bubble to think so, Monty.

MontyGlee Tue 08-Jul-14 09:48:55

Ask a male friend or relative to spend a day carrying out normal business in a dress, wig and make up and then let me know how they get on. Then we can talk about who's living in a bubble.

LurcioAgain Tue 08-Jul-14 09:57:51

Ask your average woman to spend a day as an unskilled labourer on a building site and see how she gets on...

Makes about as much sense as an analogy.

Try this instead. Imagine a poor black woman in Mississippi or Texas who's had a contraception failure. According to one allegedly feminist website someone linked to recently the most important issue facing abortion providers is to get their language right so it includes transmen who might need abortions. Really? Seriously?

gotagoldtoof Tue 08-Jul-14 10:01:38

I am consistently grateful to the feminists on thks board who give me food for thought and a quick bit of educating when I dip in and out. Thank you.

<jumps back onto merry-go-round>

Once upon a time, there was an idea. It was a really old idea. It was that men and women were naturally totally different. That they thought differently and should have different roles in the world. This idea lived in a big castle, guarded by knights in armour with big swords and sharp lances.

Not everyone agreed with this idea. Some people thought that while you could see differences in the way men's and women's bodies were shaped and what they did to make babies, this didn't mean that they were so different in other ways or that they had to live by all these rules about how they should behave.

So, along came a new idea to lead a rebellion against the old. The new idea was that there was a difference between sex and gender. Sex was the body shape and what body parts did to make babies. Gender was all the made up rules about how people should and should not behave, rules that people got punished for breaking.

And now, the new idea stands in a deep, dark forest at a fork in the path. One path goes to Radfem town, where people believe that gender is a two tier system, with men at the top and women at the bottom. They want to get rid of this system completely, so that women are liberated.

The other path goes to vocaltransactivistville, where people believe that gender is something real, a person's innate identity. Here, people need gender to stay as it is, so that it can still be their identity. And because the leaders grew up in the castle as Lords and Knights, they are used to getting their own way. And it is very difficult to be a rebel, because the idea in the castle is still there and the knights still have very sharp swords, that they use to punish people they think break the rules. So the leaders do have something to fight for.

But right now, the people in vocaltransactivistville are marching up the path to Radfem town, to make them stop talking about how they think sex and gender are different and to insist they don't call themselves women any more. They want them to change how everyone talks about women as a group, because they think that talking about the problems women who are biologically female experience oppresses them just as much as the original idea did, if not more. They are furious with the people in Radfem town, because of how they want to talk about women and the problems women face.

As they march up the path, they shout insults and threats to the people in Radfem Town.

Meanwhile, a lot of the people in vocaltransactivistville just want to get on with their lives, accepted for who they are and not discriminated against or abused. Most of the people in Radfem town agree that they should be supported in doing this. But many are afraid to speak up, because then everyone's violence turns on them.

Meanwhile, the original idea still sits in its castle, guarded by its knights. Eating caviar and playing GTA5 on its x-box.

ArcheryAnnie Tue 08-Jul-14 10:05:06

Huh, Monty? What has that got to do with anything? You do know that there are plenty of passing trans people - you might know trans people and not be aware that they are trans?

And by the same token, there are plenty of not-trans but gender non-conforming people, including plenty of lesbians, who deal with the fallout from being gender non-conforming every day. It's hardly confined to non-passing trans women, and never has been.

Meanwhile, a lot of the people in vocaltransactivistville just want to get on with their lives, accepted for who they are and not discriminated against or abused. Most of the people in Radfem town agree that they should be supported in doing this. But many* are afraid to speak up, because then everyone's violence turns on them.

*in vocaltransactivistville

Hazchem Tue 08-Jul-14 10:12:10

I want to hang out in Radfem town smile

Radfem town, the quiet room where there is tea… grin

Hazchem Tue 08-Jul-14 10:21:07

and cake

MontyGlee Tue 08-Jul-14 10:55:05

I get it; if someone is raised and socialised as one gender, but is convinced that they are the other, then there is a suggestion that there is a natural difference. This is contrary to radfem theory, so...

I just know that I give thanks that it's not something I have to deal with. The abuse, not fitting into society, the stripping of dignity... It must be horrible.

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