Is it actually possible to be a feminist and completely embrace trans rights?

(431 Posts)
BertrandRussell Fri 02-Sep-16 10:14:31

Because I am beginning to think that i will never be able to say anything about trans issues without being accused of being transphobic.

It seems to me that in some cases trans rights are just incompatible with women's rights. Obviously then, someone has to step aside- and if I want the ones stepping aside to be transwomen then I am being, I suppose, transphobic.

So has the time come for feminists to say to trans women "I support you to live the life you want to. I will stand up to and with you against people who abuse you and are violent to you. I will call you what you want to be called. I will defend your employment rights, your right to housing and any other "social" service. I will defend your right to appropriate medical treatment. In fact, I will defend you and support you in anything up to the point where your rights conflict with and take precedence over the rights of women. From that point, my allegiance is with women.

If this causes you to call me transphobic so be it. I will continue to support you up to that point regardless."

HemlockIsSpartacus Fri 02-Sep-16 10:26:44

Under my other name I watch women who are normally vocal feminists contort themselves to make sure that they are being trans inclusive in their discussion of women's issues - even then they still end up apologising for inadvertently offending someone. Mostly just by daring to admit out loud that they have a female reproductive system and sexual organs.

They've been robbed of so many words, and the ones they are allowed to use can only be used in conjunction with so many disclaimers as to become meaningless.

It's a very watered down and ineffectual version of feminism. The heart might be there but their revenues for talk and action are heavily stifled.

almondpudding Fri 02-Sep-16 11:03:03

I can't support the medical and psychological treatments being given to young gender non conforming women.

How as feminists can we decide to just politely ignore it?

I just keep thinking of the terrible history psychiatry has of treating women this way.

Soubriquet Fri 02-Sep-16 11:05:11

I think you can be supportive of trans rights but make it clear you do not prioritise them over women's rights.

Women shouldn't miss out and be demoted for another minority

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHorrid Fri 02-Sep-16 11:07:09

I don't think it's possible to be feminist and agree with what the more extreme transactivists push for.

But I would say I'm fine with transwomen and transmen and still happy to call myself a feminist. It doesn't mean I have to agree with everything any trans person has ever said.

HoneyDragon Fri 02-Sep-16 11:12:14

One thing that keeps bugging me is semantics. Which seems really trivial, but it does.

On trans issues a man can trans to a woman if they want to.

But so so so often I hear the other way round

A woman can trans to a boy if they want to.

It bugs me that somewhere in our subconsciousness that a man can be a woman but a woman can't be a man. Just a boy.

ITCouldBeWorse Fri 02-Sep-16 11:13:35

Of course.

Access to health care
Employment rights
Rights to housing
Rights to marriage

However not at the cost of other humans rights. Eg no laser hair removal to mtt on the nhs, if women are not able to access this for polycystic ovary problems.

Human rights, yes, priority no.

Though tbh, mtt have already benefitted from privilege, so they are accustomed to having it.

HairyLittlePoet Fri 02-Sep-16 11:16:55

If the right in question is "the right to be considered a protected group on the basis of objective criteria applicable to all membets of the entire group" then I can get behind it for all vulnerable or oppressed groups easily.

If the right is "the right to impose oneself upon an existing clearly and objectively defined oppressed group, whose criteria one fails to meet, and to subsequently redefine said criteria to meet the newcomers and exclude the existing group"...

then I'm gonna say no, I think.

BarryMerry Fri 02-Sep-16 12:23:26

At a theoretical level, no, unless we're talking about genuine gender non-conformity. There's two ways here to be gender non conformist... you can either individually opt out and swap gender attributes for yourself at a personal level and sod everyone else caught behind in the gender hierarchical framework (transing) or you can be gender non conformist by working at a collectivist, societal level to abolish gender/male supremacy and all its stereotypes and notions (radical feminism) and freeing up everyone to be and do who they want to be without the contents of their underwear having any influence on those choices.

At a pragmatic level, yes I definitely agree that trans should be a protected characteristic, but as transgender oppression happens along a different axis from women suffering oppression, which is overwhelmingly sex based (abortion rights, maternity pay, post natal depression care etc etc), then they should be treated as two distinct categories in law/politics. We have muddied the waters by conflating sex and gender... in the legal system and public policy that is a very dangerous thing as it leads to ill thought out legislation. Look at bad laws like the Dangerous Dogs Act in the 90's when you don't have crystal clear concepts and meanings laid down to start with.

witchywoohoo Fri 02-Sep-16 12:44:51

The same can be said of any minority group - Am I Islamophobic because I don't support cultural practices that subjugate women? Ultimately - I agree with your statement Bertrand.

Kallyno Sun 04-Sep-16 01:11:52

I would broadly agree with your statement, Bertrand. But I would want to add two disclaimers: (a) I have grave concerns about the status being given to gender by the trans community because this seems at odds with my feminism's (acknowledging feminism's plurality) central mission to reveal gender for the harmful, limited and limiting social construct it is, and (b) I have grave concerns about transing kids and teens.

GiddyOnZackHunt Sun 04-Sep-16 01:18:55

It's all good up to the point that people who were men start redefining people who have always been women.
Join in by all means but don't tell me how to play my game.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 04-Sep-16 01:36:30

Bertrand - the only thing I can see wrong with your OP is that it seems to accept the brand of 'transphobia' . It shouldn't; 'phobia' is about fear and/or hatred and I see none there.

microferret Sun 04-Sep-16 07:11:40

It's a tough one. I support the right of trans people to present as they wish and to be GNC. However when they write articles like this, my patience starts to run out www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/19/womens-colleges-should-reinvent-themselves-as-havens-for-trans-women

A comment under the article is particularly chilling:
^a core tenet of several feminist schools of thought (especially popular in academia) is that gender is a learned social construct, and is not inherent in a person. This means that these types of feminists cannot, and will never recognize trans women as being women, because they do not believe there is any inherent aspect to gender than what is between your legs.

If trans women want equality, they will need to fundamentally change how feminism views gender, or get rid of feminism itself.^

HemlockIsSpartacus Sun 04-Sep-16 08:00:46

Micro That is chilling, though at the same time it makes a change seeing someone spell it out rather than pretending that's not exactly what they are after

BertrandRussell Sun 04-Sep-16 08:27:35

I think one of my issues is that I can't decide whether possibly the way to go is just to ignore the real extremists on the grounds that they represent nobody but themselves. There are voices in feminism, or in socialism, for example, that I would not wish to be represented by. And I am sure most transpeople tread a more moderate path. However, it does seem that in some cases, the extreme voice is being listened to and acted on, and there doesn't seem to be much of an alternative. And as others have said, I worry about what that means for children and young people.

And there is, at the core, this fundamental dicotomy of what makes a woman. I'm not sure whether that can ever be resolved.

Lweji Sun 04-Sep-16 08:39:01

Finally a thread about this where I can pretty much agree with everyone.
smile
so far

I have not problem at all with trans, I even don't see major problems in many transwomen going to female spaces, but I have a problem with the stereotyping that gender assignment implies. No, women are not defined by wearing heels, make up and dresses. I don't think there's a typically female mind, although I can understand that some extremes among males identify themselves with the female extremes.
Sadly, increased gender stereotyping seems to push such people to the trans group.

NotAnotherHarlot Sun 04-Sep-16 08:46:47

Bertrand I said something almost identical the other day. For me it is I support you until trans rights seek to erase or diminish hard fought women's rights and freedoms.

I will fight to my last breath any group which seeks to erase and diminish women's rights and freedoms. It is irrelevant which group it is.

Bitofacow Sun 04-Sep-16 09:18:08

Yep I agree Bertrand.
I will continue to support you up to the point you wish to diminish the rights of women.
And also a massive relief that the tone of the debate on this thread is not as fevered as it has been elsewhere.

MatildaOfTuscany Sun 04-Sep-16 09:23:44

I know I've said this before, but it's Mill's positive and negative liberties. I fully support trans people's right to employment, housing, a dignified life free from harrassment and the threat of violence. But I do not accept women's rights being taken away.

And it's important to realise that "rights" are a human construct, and that there are situations where rights can genuinely conflict. Abortion is a good example. I have religious friends who sincerely believe that abortion is murder. I believe it's a to do with a woman's bodily autonomy and women's rights. Those views are fundamentally incompatible with each other. The law can't be neutral, it has to take a side (and I'm relieved to say where I live it comes down on the side of women's rights).

There are trans issues which fall into this area of conflicting rights - for instance a trans person's right to work as a health care professional may conflict directly with a woman's right not to have her genitals examined by someone of the opposite sex without her say-so (and associated issues round "outing" versus "informed consent"). The law can't be neutral, it has to take a side. And I'm very worried that we are being railroaded into a position where the side it takes is a knee-jerk "let's be liberal, woe betide we should do something that might be seen as transphobic" side, without thinking through the implications.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHorrid Sun 04-Sep-16 09:43:10

I think one of my issues is that I can't decide whether possibly the way to go is just to ignore the real extremists on the grounds that they represent nobody but themselves. There are voices in feminism, or in socialism, for example, that I would not wish to be represented by

This seems pretty sensible.

MostlyHet Sun 04-Sep-16 09:48:17

But I'm not sure we can ignore it. It's the issue of how laws get framed if the Gender Recognition Act gets replaced by self-declaration. Look at people like Danielle Muscato. I don't want to find myself in old age in an old people's home having my incontinence pads changed by someone with a beard who is legally entitled to do so because this person identifies as a woman on some days and a man on others - and if I object I'm the one who's committing an act of harrassment. I need the laws to be framed in such a way that I still have the right to protect my own bodily autonomy. And the way things are going, they won't be - not out of malice, or out of conspiracy, but because the trans lobby are shouting so loudly about inclusive language, self-identification and the like that the laws will have been drafted sloppily without full thought to the consequences.

NotAnotherHarlot Sun 04-Sep-16 09:59:06

We can't ignore it. It curtails women's and girls abilities to access intimate medical exams and treatments. It stops women and girls being able to swim and exercise because they don't feel safe to access showers and changing rooms. What about those whose religious beliefs have very specific requirements about being touched, seen unclad by men/boys? Are they supposed to say oh well, no smear tests/medical exams/pregnancy checks etc?

I spend a lot of time and energy teaching my daughters about bodily autonomy, I'm not going to say, oh but that person identifies as a woman so you need to not be uncomfortable and get naked.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 04-Sep-16 10:13:28

I use a communal women's changing room, and the teens aren't even comfortable being naked in front of other women.

MostlyHet Sun 04-Sep-16 10:14:35

To use my example - what transactivists are trying to create is a culture where an elderly woman in the situation I describe would be written off as a bigot on a par with "nutty old racist Aunt Gladys who doesn't like the black care workers", rather than as a woman legitimately concerned with her own right to bodily autonomy and dignity. And my fear is that the transactivists, by creating that culture, will create one where the law agrees with them, and the elderly woman no longer has a right to bodily autonomy and dignity.

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