Any appetite for further discussion on 'trans-feminism'?

(457 Posts)
CrewElla Sun 24-Aug-14 09:06:30

I made the mistake this morning of reading the comments on an article on the Guardian website re Kellie Maloney being 'outed' in the tabloids which led to me googling trans-feminism and coming across this article from the New Yorker: www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/04/woman-2

I haven't considered myself radical in the past and, at times, even (naively) said I had no need of feminism. Reading the New Yorker article I felt they so missed the point and tried to marginalise a view (woman have a need for spaces free from penises, whether the penis belongs to a man or a transwoman) that I don't think is that radical.

Am I being naive? Does anyone have the time/interest to read the article and share their views on it?

OverTheHandlebars Sun 24-Aug-14 14:05:27

I read the article and agree that it seems rather odd that the actual reason why radical feminists want spaces for females only was never mentioned. I suppose it's not that odd really, it fits with the general marginalisation of radical feminists.

I don't think it's at all radical to want penis-free spaces but I do think that that view is rapidly being painted as unreasonable, and without a rather more significant backlash to the whole gender identity politics movement than we have already seen then soon it will be near impossible to have those spaces. I think the popular idea that anyone can be a women if they say so has snuck up on a lot of people. I don't know how that idea can be reversed though.

ApocalypseThen Sun 24-Aug-14 14:11:26

I don't get what trans feminism is. All I have seen so far is transwomen talking about what they have decided they are entitled to from women - inclusion, acceptance on strictly their terms only, and deference.

I thought it was a more balanced article than many I've seen.

But I thought it was a pity they ended with that quotation, saying that women who are traumatized about male bodies have a responsibility to avoid transwomen if transwomen want to be in women-only spaces.

Why couldn't there be compromise - with some event for anyone, some for one group and some for another? I'm sure there must be times when tranwomen might prefer spaces on their own too -eg., I can imagine it'd be quite upsetting to be discussing something like reproductive capacity and find yourself in a room with several happily pregnant women, even if all those women did was be there, without saying anything. It would be a reminder of what your body didn't do.

JudysPriest Mon 25-Aug-14 15:23:04

All I have seen so far is transwomen talking about what they have decided they are entitled to from women - inclusion, acceptance on strictly their terms only, and deference.

This, after the discussions here I followed up with some further reading and I agree with you completely ApocalypseThen.

andiewithanie Tue 26-Aug-14 06:25:05

Is it surprising that after a lifetime of of being socialised as male, many trans people continue to behave as male? Not really.

CrewElla Wed 27-Aug-14 01:53:33

This plays over in my mind. I'm not sure why but I feel personally attacked/affronted by this.

I do think it was the last part of the article that particularly left me with a bad feeling and I would have liked it if the writer could have found some conciliatory ground or at least making penis-free spaces not seem like an extreme view.

It particularly rankles that it seems to be generally accepted by mainstream sources (media, support organisations, etc.) that women's rights are trumped by the rights of transwomen.

Is this even an issue for transmen? Or, as a PP pointed out (I can't check names on the iPad app, a window blocks the thread as I post), could it be that someone socialised as a woman continues to behave as a woman though identifying as a male.

Just curious, are there any youtube clips of transmen activists stating that they are the thing society is most afraid of, a man with a vagina?

It's the middle of the night, my thoughts are disjointed, I should be asleep, but with two toddlers this was the only time I found to return and reply.

Thanks to all for your thoughts. I am really trying to make sense of these issues.

andiewithanie Wed 27-Aug-14 09:51:45

the problem is it's always men who get to decide what's reasonable, which in LGB cicles means gay men, in liberal feminist circles 'feminist' men.

trans see any move that denies their identity as something that 'erases' them, i suspect this is because their identity is in large part the sum total of who they are. and this is (perhaps understandably) far more important to them than some silly* obsession with genitals. m2f trans seem particularly unable to see the significance of their being born with a penis, because for the most part they refuse to acknowledge that they had 'male' socialisation (beieving that not identifying as male meant they were never really complicit; failing to recognise that socialisation is something that's overwhelmingly done to you), and therefore don't understand the power dynamics at work. it's quite ironic really, because it means that those who 'most' identify as female are probably least able to participate in discourse around this subject.

*as they see it

SevenZarkSeven Wed 27-Aug-14 13:10:42

crewella

I have tried a couple of times via google to see what transmen have to say about feminism / transfeminism / if anything.

I haven't managed to find much TBH, although I did find a very well written article by a young transman who talked about feminism, male privilege etc and had views in line with what you would read on here. Which isn't surprising, I don't think, as they were born and raised female in our society so are going to have the experience all of us have had.

The fact that it seems to be transwomen who are taking the most extreme stances etc is quite telling in itself isn't it.

There are plenty of transpeople around who do have understanding with / agreement about the viewpoint many feminists have on gender / male privilege etc but as far as I can see they are being drowned out by some really extreme very loud aggressive people.

Having said all that I only post on here and read a few links here and there. I'm no expert and I'm not on twitter or anything, but that is the gist that I have got of it.

SevenZarkSeven Wed 27-Aug-14 13:14:50

Oh and like LRD I also found that article to be much more sympathetic to the position of the feminists they talk about, than a lot I have seen.

SevenZarkSeven Wed 27-Aug-14 13:16:04

"trans see any move that denies their identity as something that 'erases' them, i suspect this is because their identity is in large part the sum total of who they are."

This is a really good point.

vezzie Wed 27-Aug-14 16:20:08

The last lines of that article struck me when I read it a few weeks ago

"But the pain of radical feminists, she insists, can’t trump trans rights. “If it were a perfect world, we would find ways to reach out and find ways of mutual healing,” she says. But, as it is, “I am going to have to say, It’s your place to stay out of spaces where transgender male-to-female people go. It’s not our job to avoid you.” ♦"

That strikes me as just a nonsense. It doesn't mean anything. The most harmless way for x people to stay out of places where y people go, is by mutual agreement (like agreeing which are men's and women's loos used to be, or in muslim countries, which are mens and women's parts of the house) - by harmless, I mean relative to something enforced by one group on another, like Jim Crow. We have loosely and strictly enforced conventions about adults' space / children's space too... etc.... which are all based on the idea that we agree which space is which.

It seems to me that what transwomen are rejecting is the very idea that we all agree that some spaces are not for people with penises - what would once have been called women only spaces. So how do women who want to, avoid people with penises? This is surely what the whole thing is about. This is surely what these women wanted, and are being hated for wanting, and now can't have, in the first place.

SevenZarkSeven Wed 27-Aug-14 16:30:47

"But the pain of radical feminists, she insists, can’t trump trans rights. “If it were a perfect world, we would find ways to reach out and find ways of mutual healing, she says. But, as it is, “I am going to have to say, It’s your place to stay out of spaces where transgender male-to-female people go. It’s not our job to avoid you."

Yes vezzie.

Also reading it again in your post, it presupposed that radical feminists are the only people who will have problems with male bodied people in female spaces, when actually it is lots and lots of women.

Additionally, transgender people don't stay out of spaces where radical feminists who want to meet as FAAB go, so where's the reciprocity. Women who don't want to be in space in certain situations with people who were born and raised male and/or have male bodies, aren't allowed to have that. But I don't think anyone is saying that trans people shouldn't be allowed to meet by themselves if <whoever else> wants to come along, are they?

SevenZarkSeven Wed 27-Aug-14 16:32:10

Say you want to access something that you would prefer to be done by someone without a male body. The suggestion then is that women who are not comfortable with that, should not access those services? Is that what's being said?

Hakluyt Wed 27-Aug-14 16:34:58

I still haven't quite decided what I think- but I do know that under no circumstances will I describe myself as cis.

gincamparidryvermouth Wed 27-Aug-14 17:19:24

FFS just wrote a post and lost it.

Seven - WRT your question about women wanting access to services provided by female-bodied people, google "rape relief kimberly nixon."

SevenZarkSeven Wed 27-Aug-14 18:45:54

I've heard of that example gin, I was just wondering if that was what the author of the article was getting at. Because they seem to be talking about radfems & women who might not want to share a space with male bodied people in certain situations as if they are one and the same group, and I didn't think it was clear at all what they were actually suggesting. Is the author talking about things like Feminist meetings, or about things like rape centres? No idea.

gincamparidryvermouth Wed 27-Aug-14 19:11:42

Is the author talking about things like Feminist meetings, or about things like rape centres?

The way I read it, the author is talking about both. I don't see how it makes sense any other way - what would be the basis for banning someone from a rape centre if you're letting them go to a feminist meeting? It would just be arbitrary. It is interesting though that the author doesn't touch on cases like Nixon's.

I wonder what would happen if a pre-operative transwoman applied for a job as a practice nurse: would the practice have any right to tell patients with vaginas that the person performing their smear test had a penis? Given that you can now have the sex on your birth certificate changed to "female" even if you haven't had GRS and have no intention of having GRS, what words are left for the hypothetical medical practice to describe the situation to patients with vaginas? Would the nurse with a penis's right to confidentiality trump my right as a patient with a vagina to choose the sex of the person who inserts a speculum into my vagina?

CrewElla Wed 27-Aug-14 20:16:06

SevenZarkSeven I find quite a lot when I google transfeminism or transfeminist - anything from the TransFeminist Manifesto (which I haven't read yet, just the first few pages so far) to the wikipedia entry for transfeminism (some helpful ideas for further reading, I think) to Julia Serano.

A few months ago I would have thought it was simple, feminism should be inclusive of all woman, but nothing is that simple, is it? Some examples have already been mentioned, rape crisis centres, nurses doing vaginal exams, I've seen people talking about something as simple as a changing room, or having a radical feminist meet-up that does exclude transwomen (nasty TERFs - I use that tongue in cheek, I dislike the term). I think the issues are complex.

I still do want feminism to be inclusive and there should be common ground between transwomen/transmen and feminism but I also recognise that I want the choice for penis-free spaces and I don't think I should be maligned for wanting that.

kim147 Wed 27-Aug-14 20:40:27

How do you know if a nurse has a penis?

kim147 Wed 27-Aug-14 20:41:50

Would you object to someone who looked like Paris Lees as a nurse?

kim147 Wed 27-Aug-14 20:43:22

Would it be ok if they had had surgery?

gincamparidryvermouth Wed 27-Aug-14 20:44:10

I would object to someone with a penis performing a smear test on me.

Why do you think I have to justify what I want when it comes to my own vagina?

SevenZarkSeven Wed 27-Aug-14 20:44:53

Transfeminist manifesto contains (for obvious reasons) zero content about loads of things which are main issues for feminists. Which is a problem from many people's perspective. And makes a bit of a mockery of the idea that these are the same people who are demanding access to FAAB feminist meetings, if they aren't interested in talking about what is going to make up a vast amount of the conversation!

However, it's not like some kind of "official document of transpeople" IYSWIM.

kim147 Wed 27-Aug-14 20:46:16

You don't have to justify. But how would you know?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now