Women are being censored because they wish to discuss the politics of gender. I say NO. Who wants to join me?

(1000 Posts)
Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 19:48:45

Ok, I'm guessing that many here have heard about Julie Burchill's explosive article defending her friend Suzanne Moore against trans activists.

I'm also guessing that there are a lot of women who don't know that trans activists have been becoming increasingly influential in many areas that affect Women's Rights since the 1980s and 90s. These areas include feminist websites and blogs (such as the F word), feminist meetings and conferences, women's music festivals, in feminist literature and in academia teaching gender studies (a subject that used to be taught as women's studies) and in post-modernist and queer theory circles.

Transactivists call any resistance to their increasing influence and presence in these areas of female interest "transphobic". Discussion of gender identity as an oppressive social construct and as a threat to feminism and women's rights is also considered transphobic. Consequently, discussion of women as being a political class of people oppressed due to our sex and our reproductive capacity is becoming harder and harder for feminists to have without being accused of transphobia and bigotry. This is very very concerning.

Numerous women have been threatened or silenced by these people (for example they have been no platformed and/or picketed at feminist events or attacked and threatened after writing articles or essays discussing gender identity).

Let me be very clear that this discussion is about transactivists and people who threaten others into silence. It is not about transpeople in general (some of whom have stated that they are afraid to get involved in the controversy).

In my opinion, no matter which side of the gender identity debate one stands on, surely we can all agree that debate should be allowed to take place. One side cannot be allowed to shout down, threaten and silence the other.

The recent events are not just about differing opinions on gender identity though (or I wouldn't be bothering to post this), they are about women's right to talk about and identify sex based oppression and male supremacy, and therefore to fight against sex based oppression and male supremacy. And that is why this is an important if not vital issue for women's rights.

I think women's rights politics are reaching a pivotal moment - a moment in which we must stand up for our right to discuss our status as second class citizens as a result of the biological fact that we are female. If we can't discuss it, we don't have much hope of fighting it.

bugbrennan.com/2013/01/19/for-every-one-of-us-you-silence-100-more-will-rise-to-take-her-place/

To summarise the link - a well known and influential feminist blogger has been censored for discussing the issues outlined above. She is not the first woman to be silenced by these people. I think it is about time we stood up to them.

Thanks for reading.

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 19:57:57

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/1658426-to-think-Julie-Burchill-went-too-far-in-this-article

This thread discusses the events that have set things off and is worth a read (it is very very long though!)

CrunchyFrog Sun 20-Jan-13 20:38:41

I'm in.

According to all the threads and blogs I've seen, I'm defined as transphobic, but I want to talk about it.

I do not want to be "cis" woman. I do not choose to define my gender in the very narrow way that people seem to want to (I would fail any of the criteria used to define womanhood, apart from the whole being a mother and mensturating thing - but talking about those is "cis privilege?"

Yeah, let's talk.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 20:44:18

Juat out of interest - is it acceptable to post a copyrighted picture of a transwoman (a friend of mine) from her blog on gendertrender as part of an article?

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 21:25:17

Good stuff CrunchyFrog. I agree with you.

Kim - if you are referring to what I think you are, I believe the copyrighted photo (of a public figure) was taken down and replaced with a noncopyrighted photo once the copyright had been brought to the blogger's attention.

I took action when I became aware of Mock’s campaign, specifically his charge that the public news-site photo I had used was off limits. To placate his male rage I replaced that pic with an alternate screen cap from another (NBC) appearance, and I kindly tweeted him that I had resolved his photo issue.

(I think we both know that the issue here is not the posting of a copyrighted photo of a public figure. There are photos of Janet Mock all over the internet - something which is pretty standard for a public figure.)

AnyFucker Sun 20-Jan-13 21:30:57

I am aware some of my views on the transgender issue would be classed by some as "transphobic"

I don't accept that

I don't accept that women who were born men have any right to use feminist spaces to forward their own agenda

I believe they should have their own spaces, and I would support them in that

I object to a group of people who are not biologically female hitching their wagon to female causes, and using "political correctness" to silence women who pull them up on it

lemonmuffin Sun 20-Jan-13 21:44:03

Not me. Sorry. I'm glad that transphobia is being exposed and shown up for what it is.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 21:47:43

I have to say that that gendertrender site makes Julie Burchill seem tame.

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 21:50:07

In total agreement with you AF.

You have basically summarised Sheila Jeffreys' submission to the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill

The right to ‘gender identity’: a clash with the rights of women. This submission addresses the addition of a new ‘protected attribute’ in the Human Rights Bill, that of ‘gender identity’. The protected attribute of ‘sex’, under which women are protected from discrimination, is still in the list, but adding the new category of ‘gender identity’, could potentially create a clash of rights between male-bodied transgenders on the one hand, and those disadvantaged on the grounds of sex, women. In other jurisdictions, such legislation has seen the emergence of successful legal challenges in which malebodied transgenders have sought access to spaces previously reserved for women, including women’s services such as sheltered housing, women’s toilets and women’s prisons.

edam Sun 20-Jan-13 21:52:43

I'm opposed to anyone trying to silence women. Whether they are transactivists or MRAs or whoever.

Extremely depressing if people who want to be treated as women are bullying women who were born with vaginas. If you want to join our gender, best not carry on like old-fashioned male chauvinists, surely?

WidowWadman Sun 20-Jan-13 21:53:31

I'm with lemonmuffin. I liked The f-word's take on it and am glad that those feminists who want to exclude and marginalise trans women are in the minority.

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 22:11:36

From your link WidowWadman,

Feminism is about a better set of values in which gender loses some of its power of oppression... (my bold)

You what??

gender loses some of its power of oppression

No. It. Isn't.

Feminism is not about gender losing some of its power of oppression.

Good Grief.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sun 20-Jan-13 22:12:26

"I do not want to be "cis" woman. "
No more do I - I was not aware opf this ludicrous expression until this week, the whole concept enrages me. I categorically refuse to be labelled in this manner.

inde Sun 20-Jan-13 22:13:25

To my mind radical feminists attitude to transgender people bears more than a passing similarity to the westover baptist church's attitude to gays. The Observer has now taken the Burchill article offline because it feels the offensive language used broke their editorial code.

Many correspondents pointed out that our own editorial code states "... we should not casually use words that are likely to offend" and cited clause 12 of the national Editors' Code: "The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability."

AnyFucker Sun 20-Jan-13 22:14:13

I replace "cis" with cif, and go clean my kitchen. It is meaningless to me.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sun 20-Jan-13 22:18:49

I wish I could be so insouciant, AnyFucker. I find it rather sinister. You will accept a label for what you are, which is not what you thought you were, and if you don't swallow it meekly like a good girl, you'll be fair game for any abuse or slander.
Well I won't have it. If anyone called me that to my face - and thnakfully I don;t move in circ;les where that's loikely - they'd have cause to regret it PDQ.

WidowWadman Sun 20-Jan-13 22:20:44

The right to gender identity does not clash with the rights of women. Maybe with the rights of bigots.

This obsession with what is between people's legs, the dismissing of people's realities based on one's own narrow experiences, and the active campaigning for the removal of hard fought for rights from an incredibly marginalised group whilst being totally blind to their own privilege is just sickening. And it's got f-all to do with feminism.

Mitchy1nge Sun 20-Jan-13 22:21:40

(hello beachcomber! It's lovely to 'see' you! smile)

I didn't know I was transphobic until reading about the cotton ceiling thing, yuk

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 22:22:25

Inde can we count on you to check out what Twitters policy is on calling people cunts and threatening them with violence?

Yunno, in the interests of balance.

WidowWadman Sun 20-Jan-13 22:26:11

Beachcomber, how about adding some context to those tweets? I do not agree with the aggressive tweets directed at Suzanne Moore, but that selection is rather, well, selective.

Storify of the tweets ^from^ and to SM

Suzanne Moore has used some pretty inflammatory language, and to pretend that the anger directed at her was based on the article, and not on her ignorant stance and offensive remarks afterwards is dishonest.

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 22:27:08

'Lo Mitchy, nice to see you too.

Can I suggest that people read Sheila Jeffrey's submission to the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill for an explanation of why 'gender identity rights' clash with the rights of women.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 22:27:22

I'd love to comment but it's been an incredibly busy week. Loads of articles about the freedom of the press to publish what they want, questions about what is offence and should it be published, attacks on the trans community and some pretty horrible and vile comments online when these articles have been published.

Fortunately in the real world where most of us live, my friends have been great and very supportive.

I'm sure radical feminists have got bigger things to worry about and bigger battles to fight in this world. I honestly don't think the transgendered community is that big and the issues they present are nothing compared to all the sexist bullshit that comes from the current system we all live in.

There's a whole load of daily sexist crap published in the media - maybe radical feminists should be getting incredibly vocal and angry about that rather than focussing their energy on the small trans community - most of whom just want to get on with their lives.

That's all I'm going to say because it's been a busy week and I'm tired and rather depressed reading all the comments about people like me online.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sun 20-Jan-13 22:29:04

There is no context - other than untreated mental illness - which satisfactorily explains or excuses threats to cut the woman's face off and feed it to wolves, or some of the other demented ravings on that feed.
It's the old story of rage when women have the cheek to define themselves or claim some kind of autonomy over their own identity. Plus ca change.

inde Sun 20-Jan-13 22:31:48

I'm against it Beachcomber. There is a difference between some random person on twitter calling Suzanne Moore that word and the Observer breaking their own code by using unnecessary offensive language.
Personally I would prevent people using twitter who used inflammatory language as well but unfortunately that will never happen.

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 22:37:09

WidowWadman, I linked to the other thread to give some context.

For the sake of brevity I shall C&P here a couple of comments I made on the context from the other thread.

Here they are;

I think what has pissed me off the most about this whole thing is that there has been a growing fashion of MTF trans modelling in Brazil and being held up as the ultimate in female body beautiful/femininity.

www.ibtimes.com/lea-t-other-brazilian-transgender-models-paved-way-fashions-latest-trend-photos-924395

"In some ways, the trans-models have a proverbial leg up on their female colleagues," The AP wrote. "Unlike even the thinnest of women, who often fight cellulite and stretch marks, the trans-models have long, sinewy limbs unscarred by such typically female afflictions. Once they’ve lasered away facial or body hair, they can sometimes look more feminine even than models who were born female."

I imagine that Moore's comment was a throwaway reference to this phenomenon. Now whilst one could say (as a feminist) that if MTF trans want to take on the job of being human coathangers for the notoriously misogynistic fashion industry, they are more than welcome to it; at the same time it is pretty galling for us lowly biological women to be told that this is what we should be aiming for in the old beauty shackles stakes...(AKA performing femininity AKA female oppression).

But no, we aren't going to talk about that. We are going to take huge offence at Moore's perfectly valid and factually true comment and pretend it was a callous remark thumbing her nose at the suffering of Brazilian trans who are the victims of violence (predominantly male violence). Riiiight because we all know that Suzanne Moore doesn't give a shit about male violence, oh, hang on a minute....

And if you read the tweets posted here you can see how ridiculous this whole thing is. Moore is accused of transphobia because she mentions Brazilian transmodels being held up to women as a beauty goal (they are). She is then told that transphobia kills.

Way to overreact.

Can we no longer mention transpeople in a factually true way without being accused of being transphobic and bad feminists?

Gosh. Just gosh.

I am with lemonmuffin and edam. I think they've pretty much said it. I'm sure, of course, there are nutter transgender folk, just as there are within any group. I imagine that assuming that they speak for all the transgender community would be kind of like saying that Margaret Thatcher * was the Chief Spokeswoman of All Women...

*Insert female hate figure of choice here

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 22:43:16

And I think that many transpeople thought it was an overreaction by some people - both trans and non trans.

A twitter row started. That's the internet for you - people feel safe commenting online.

I can imagine some people react angrily to a mysgonistic comment - even if not meant as such.

Julie Burchill then weighed in with an article - her article would have been very good if she had decided not to litter it with vile comments. Did she need to do that? Why couldn't she just make her argument?

<breaks promise not to comment>

notcitrus Sun 20-Jan-13 22:49:11

I'm not with you. Suzanne Moore wrote a decent article with one poorly-chosen offensive simile. When called on that she started with the insults - I'm not defending people who insulted her, but I was disappointed by Moore's reaction.

Burchill's article was simply a string of abusive terms - and 'censorship' is not the same as 'not having a column in a national newspaper'. She can start her own blog like everyone else.

Neuroscientists, psychologists, doctors and the law say women include those women born without traditionally female bodies. This doesn't threaten women in the slightest. Trans women really aren't that interesting - there's much larger battles for feminism to fight, surely, even if you think you can define woman better than all the groups I list above?

As for the word 'cis', it simply means 'not trans', on the same side. It's used in GCSE Chemistry for goodness' sake!

WidowWadman Sun 20-Jan-13 22:50:11

beachcomber you've conveniently ignored what sm tweeted, which was dismissive and derogatory. But then I guess that doesn't fit into your narrative. I said before that the tweets quoted on that hateful gendertrender site are nothing i agree with and i find it sad that the focus is on the few nasty morons rather than on the long list of thoughtful and articulate blogs and Postings

<applauds notcitrus >

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 22:52:32

It surely is worrying though that a few nutters seem to have been able to intimidate and silence women such as; Bindel, Burchill, Moore, Jeffreys, Daly, Janice Raymond plus countless feminist bloggers and less well known feminists.

We may not all agree with all of the above people, but do agree with shutting down an important debate, on a women's rights controversy, by the means of threats and violence?

Anyway, I don't think it is just a few nutters. There are some extremists but they have remarkable support from mainstream regular folk in calling any feminist who critics gender identity theory as being 'transphobic' for wanting to explore a political matter that has potentially important ramifications for women as a political class.

Yikes, say I. How did that happen?

Greythorne Sun 20-Jan-13 22:56:34

I am not a cis woman either.

Julie Burchill is a professional stirrer, always has been. I find it incredile - with all the crap spouted in national newspapers by people like Littlejohn, Toby Young et al - that Julie Burchill's article has been censored! Just proves the power of entrenched priviliege.

CrunchyFrog Sun 20-Jan-13 22:58:18

I was reading a thread on a dating forum earlier, I hope it's not terrible form to repeat it, but the person identifies as a transman.

"Hey all, I'm a transguy. So my question is, how likely do you think it is for a straight girl to date me? I'm curious because I've dated bisexuals and lesbians before, but they tend to see me as a woman, and not the guy that I am. I've been struggling with this for awhile. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated!"

((Co-incidentally, there was also a thread about this on relationships this week.)

This person quoted has fully intact, functioning female genitalia. They have not used any sort of hormone replacement therapy. So flying in the face of every kind of initial sexual attraction there has ever been - they want to be taken for the gender they believe that they are in their brain?

I'm a heterosexual woman. I do not choose to fuck people with female bodies. But because someone decides that they are the opposite gender, suddenly women are being narrow minded, transphobic, and prejudiced if they fail to (completely unconsciously - I didn't decide my sexual orientation, did you?) find them attractive and want to fuck them.

I'm sort of glad it's a F2M person speaking above, because so much of the attention is on the M2F community. I'd really like to see some stats on the relative numbers, they're hard to find.

Greythorne Sun 20-Jan-13 22:58:42

Thanks for explaining that 'cis' is used in GCSE chemistry. That it needs any explanation at all goes to show how unknown a term it is. But now I have been told it exists in GCSE chemistry, it must be alright!

Er, no.

edam Sun 20-Jan-13 22:59:11

Quite greythorne - both on the 'cis woman' thing and on the outrage directed at uppity women for daring to say things when men who are just as outspoken/offensive are not silenced.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:02:24

Maybe rad fems should be getting outraged about some of the crap men come out with in their columns and the regular sexist mysoginist crap published in the media on a daily basis?

Because it outrages me.

Greythorne Sun 20-Jan-13 23:07:27

My spelling is not dreadful, I just have fat fingers.

I'm sorry, I'm not going to read links because I am all talked out on this issue right now, and for the same reason I'm not going to get into yet another discussion of what 'cis' means to some people who want to use it to label me.

All I'm saying is yes, I agree, I want to be able to talk about this stuff without being told I'm 'cis' or that I must be being transphobic if I don't shut up.

kim - you know I like you and respect you very much but come on! You know rad fems are getting outraged at this stuff. And don't need telling twice to keep on doing it.

I find all this 'they should find their own spaces' very depressing.

Don't we have a common enemy? Isn't patriarchal oppression of women unjust whether we are born women or not?

If you want to reduce the influence of extremists or crazies of any stripe, go ahead, but why exclude and label a whole group?

I admit I'm biased though because A) I've had a number of trans friends over the years, who to me are simply 'women', and B) in my non-related research I'm a big-time constructivist, and I find this kind of primordialism with respect to 'biological women' perplexing.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:12:18

I know LRD smile

I do think it's crap that there is so much sexist crap in the media and I wish there was more outrage from people. I've really had my eyes opened to it all - not just from being on here but just being more aware and open to it all.

It's just everywhere.

I'm probably just a bit frustrated at the moment. It's been a hell of a week and has made me even more aware of how people view us.

And yes - some members of our community do not help. Some are very vocal, very passionate and very -well radical - if it helps, there's also battles within the community and "privilege".

"Passing" privilege - no doubt you can guess what that is grin

<ok - no more comments>

Oh - and, still not reading links, but I did want to say in response to inde's post here:

'To my mind radical feminists attitude to transgender people bears more than a passing similarity to the westover baptist church's attitude to gays. The Observer has now taken the Burchill article offline because it feels the offensive language used broke their editorial code.

Many correspondents pointed out that our own editorial code states "... we should not casually use words that are likely to offend" and cited clause 12 of the national Editors' Code: "The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability."'

I have just googled 'Guardian' with a word that's offensive to women - as offensive, I would suggest as any term in Burchill's article.

I got over ten million results.

Naturally I've not checked which of those are actually quotations from the newspaper, but it's obvious from the first few pages that many are.

That was one single word, btw. Imagine if we looked at all the words people habitually or 'casually' use to 'offend' women?

emskaboo Sun 20-Jan-13 23:21:14

I'm with you. I would like the space and opportunity without being shot down to discuss issues relating to gender and identity.

Oh an WW, Suzanne Moore was snippy and defensive in those tweets but I don't see how you can suggest that her tweets were analogous to people tweeting death threats.

Cruncy: errrr..... seriously? Is it really so hard to understand that a person might identify with a different gender than that of their sex organs?

So what if someone has female genitalia? If they self-identify as male, that's their right. Who are you to say they can't?

This honestly doesn't seem weird to me at all.

Snazzynewyear Sun 20-Jan-13 23:23:57

But women's position as a political class is not, I think, going to be improved by obsessively focusing on what a lot of people see as insular in-fighting. I tend to agree with the point made above - trans women are not a major threat here. What is it Wurtzel quotes Madonna as saying (about the Amy Fisher case) 'Fight the real enemy'?

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:26:40

Interesting blog title you linked to:

"You think I just don't understand, but I don't believe you."

CrunchyFrog Sun 20-Jan-13 23:32:01

It's not weird that the person is doing it. It's not understandable to me why they expect other people to essentially change their sexual orientation in order to facilitate their desires!

KRITIQ Sun 20-Jan-13 23:42:31

Okay, I've seem some ghastly articles and blogs vilifying trans women recently. Articles in a similar vein targeting women (generally) by by Men's Rights Activists, would be (absolutely rightly) condemned as misogynist invective, perhaps even hate speech by most contributors here.

However, personally I cannot fathom how some folks can square in their minds defending exactly the same thing, just because it is aimed at trans women.

I think this is similar to debates on abortion. Those who oppose it will never convince those who accept it they are wrong, or other way round.

As a feminist for well-over 30 years so far (and no, not a liberal/libertarian /choice feminist), I will never be convinced that one has to conform to some arbitrarily defined criteria for chromosomes, reproductive organs, appearance or "lived experience" to be a woman. If you experience the sharp end of patriarchal hegemony and misogyny, as white women, women of colour, disabled women, working class, well-educated, old, young, middle aged, parent or non parent, married, single or co-habiting, first world, developing world, Lesbian, bisexual, straight, queer and trans women do (often combined with other oppressive factors), in my book, you are a woman.

I also genuinely don't get why people get so aerated by term "cis." It is not used pejoratively. I've met folks who didn't like being called white with the, "we are all some colour or other so why make a deal of it" argument. I've met straight folks who don't want to be called heterosexual because think they are just "normal" and using it legitimises being gay. Can't help but think the "cis resistors" are following the same line of thought (i.e. refuse to accept that even in some ways, they are more socially, economically and politically privileged than transfolks.)

I don't think there can be a "middle ground" on this issue (just as I don't think there can really be on abortion.) No one is going to "win" this debate on Mumsnet. The same arguments and accusations will get trotted out and go round and round until the post count hits a grand. The only result is lots of people will feel angry and hurt by the exchange, nothing else. Certainly does zilch for the cause of feminism. So, I'll jump off the merry go round here.

If someone could give me examples of 'cis' privilege that applied to women as well as men, and didn't sound exactly like the patriarchy in action just as it always is, I might accept the term.

As it is, we've debated this at length and it is clear that 'cis privilege' simply means 'the privilege men have, women don't have, but we're ignoring women's experiences as usual'.

I don't think everyone has to agree it's offensive; I accept plenty of people may not mind it. But some of us do. Some of us don't like the idea that we're tarred with the same brush as privileged men, while not actually being able to benefit from any of that privilege. It may be a wonderful gesture of solidarity to call yourself a 'cis woman', but it is also putting women at the back of the queue. Again.

Sometimes it's probably worthwhile to make that gesture of solidarity. But I don't think it can be ok to say it has to be all of the time, with no time left for women.

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 23:53:56

I agree that it would be great if feminists and transpeople (who wanted to) got together and fought patriarchy.

Problem is though that we analyse gender in an entirely different way (at the moment).

Feminism describes gender as being a social construct imposed on human females in order to oppress us as the biological sex which has the reproductive capacity to carry and birth babies. In feminism a gender identity/gender role is a tool of oppression.

I have no issue with people of a biological sex who wish to conform to the gender role/identity that patriarchy attributes to the opposite sex (other than disagreeing when the above reinforces sexist and misogynist stereotypes). I don't think many feminists bother much about that.

What bothers us (politicly) is the notion that gender identity = biological sex. For obvious reasons.

I agree with that, beach.

It would be great if we could all get together. It may be that we'll eventually hammer out a way to look at all of this so that we can - I don't know. I do increasingly think that it sounds as if there must be the same 'feeling' in all of us that something is very wrong. I just think we're expressing it in ways that - at the moment - are pulling feminism and transactivism in opposite directions.

(Btw, when I say this ... I know I can't know what other people feel. So I know I may well be wrong that we're all sharing the same feeling. It's just my hunch.)

KRITIQ Mon 21-Jan-13 00:58:25

Just before bedtime . . . a final try at explaining why cis privilege is a thing, just like racial privilege, class privilege, etc. are also things.

I think most of us would agree that all men, even those who experience oppression for other reasons (e.g. due to disability, racism, homophobia, etc.) enjoy some measure of male privilege. That is because they will never face the forms of oppression that women face just for being women. Being free of the oppression another group of people faces in my mind means that one is privileged vis a vis that group.

For those who genuinely cannot fathom how cis people (i.e. those who are not trans, even if they experience other forms of oppression like racism, sexism, classism, etc.) are in any way privileged, one way to find out would be to look at experiences shared on #transdocfail and #transjobfail hashtags on twitter. A selection of the former can be found here.

Although I may experience discrimination in accessing health care or in getting and keeping a job for other reasons (i.e. sexism, ageism), I will never, ever face the experiences described in these accounts of discrimination because I am not a trans person.

I would like to think LRD that there could be a way the differing viewpoints could be hammered out, as you say. I was stunned to discover that many feminists felt so hostile to the idea of trans women as women, or even the very existence of trans people. I figured that just as many feminists of the early 20th century were hostile to the inclusion of working class women or women of colour in the movement and just as many feminists in the 70's opposed the inclusion of Lesbians, I thought this might be something that would likewise shift with time. Now, I'm not so sure.

As both bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins have noted, in the 1970's, white feminists were only willing to include women of colour under their own terms, often at "arms length" from the main body of the feminist movement. Some wanted Black feminists to "tone down" their concerns about sexism AND racism, so not to alienate those white feminists who weren't prepared to engage with what they saw as "diversions" from the main focus of feminism. Not surprisingly, many Black women (as hooks describes) found more solidarity in the Civil Rights movement, even through they felt they had to put up with a measure of sexism as a price. Others felt unable to call themselves feminists because of the main body of feminism's rejection of their lived experiences, so chose the term "womanist" to describe their political identity. Some did a bit of both. Many still feel there is no real place for them within feminism even - that their lived experiences still aren't regarded as "authentic" in the same way as those of white feminists are.

I don't think it's a coincidence that womanists / feminists of colour are more likely to be inclusive of trans women than feminists toward the radical end of the spectrum, who are mostly white. You could hear the disgust, and shouts of "white feminist fail," from blogs by women of colour when Suzanne Moore misleadingly tried to invoke the writings of bell hooks to claim that intersectionalism was divisive and shut down debate.

Must leave this now. I know by know how these things go. Night night.

I think making parallels is a natural thing to do and often a useful way to help us think about how we behave. So it is useful to say, feminists in the early 20th century acted in a certain way towards working class women, does that parallel what's going on here.

But it's not a proof that the two situations are the same, or comparable.

In the same way, while I can read all of the descriptions of what cis privilege feels like to people, and I can totally accept those people are feeling something real, I can't see how it's different from what women face every day. So I cannot see how women can exert cis privilege. Obviously, that may well be my blind spot, but simply drawing suggestive parallels isn't enough to convince me. Not enough to make me decide it'd be ok for me to accept an imposed label that I feel 'others' me.

I would just like the space and freedom to discuss this without getting told it's 'transphobia'.

WidowWadman Mon 21-Jan-13 06:59:46

The insistence that transphobic utterings aren't transphobic, kind of reminds me of the old "I'm not a racist, but..." trope.

Is it impossible to move beyond this reasoning 'I can draw a parallel between your activities and something nasty, therefore you are a bigot'?

Btw, having now read the link ... I do think the very good points are made problematic because the writer comes across as personally angry and keen to upset individuals. But then, if it's true JB is now the subject of a criminal investigation and Cathy Brennan has been getting death threads, it's not like I can't see why.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 09:04:40

Whether one thinks that cispriviledge exists or not, the fact is that women are being silenced (and not only from speaking about gender, women like Bindel, Jeffreys, etc are being harassed for speaking about women's rights in general by transactivists) . And notice that it is women who are being treated like this, not men. Not men, the ones who run the show, the ones who benefit from gender, the ones responsible for the vast vast majority of violence and hate against transpeople because they are trans. Men are not being challenged on this issue. And yet men are the ones who hold cisprivilege and who benefit from it.

Women are being targeted because we are expected to fulfil our socialized role and act submissive when told what to do, what to say, what is acceptable or not and which rights we are to be afforded. Women are expected to passively allow our very selves to be defined by others. We are expected, as the lower status group, to submit.

radicalprofeminist.blogspot.fr/2010/12/transgender-politics-of-shaming-women.html This is written by a man BTW;

The man and male supremacy that shows up through socialisation, structural conditioning, and learned political entitlements dictates which political groups are expected to accommodate others, or which groups will be systematically threatened, harassed, bullied, violated, and/or terrorised if they don't accept other groups.

This is what I see happening on the internet, and off of it: the political group "women", as defined above, is assumed to be a group that WILL accommodate the needs and wishes and wants of non-women, including when some members of the non-women identify as women.

And this is where the politics of shame and force really kick into high gear. Should some women refuse to accept that some people with some conditioned/structurally "gifted" male supremacist entitlements and privileges, acquired or afforded in childhood or beyond it, those women will be shamed, ridiculed, called misogynistic names, and be threatened in various ways, with at the very least insult, degradation, and derision. They won't simply be "critiqued" for not accepting and accommodating the needs and wishes of trans people. Which political group may only be critiqued, but usually not also systematically shamed harassed, insulted, degraded, ridiculed, called nasty/derogatory gender-specific names, and threatened or terrorised? Men.

I'm calling out the sexual/gender politics, racist and misogynistic to the core, of some women being targeted on transsexual and transgender blogs (on the blogs of people who have had some male privileges or entitlements for part of their lives) for such derision and misogynist bigotry, when most men are not. If that's not misogyny and sexism in action, pray tell, what is it?

I just wanted to share a couple of recent blog posts that give some sense of how absurd it is to talk about women having 'cis privilege'.

Here: toomuchtosayformyself.com/2011/04/20/an-occupational-hazard/

and here: timesonline.typepad.com/dons_life/2013/01/internet-fury.html

These posts really shook me to read, so I can't begin to imagine how the women who were the subjects of this felt. It feels pretty bitter to me that I've heard from a lot of sources recently that Burchill's language would never be used to any other group. Never? It seems to be the standard register of language used about women.

I think this sort of treatment is exactly why women end up in that socialized role of feeling we're meant to be accepting and agreeing all the time.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 09:25:15

And do people really think that it is transphobic to discuss gender identity as a social construct and to state that male bodied persons are not exactly the same as biological females and that the two therefore have different needs and political identities?

Because that is what we are talking about here.

Human females are accorded lower status in patriarchy than human males. We are afforded lower status due to our biology. Our political class and status is linked to our biology, directly.

We must be allowed to talk about our biology, our reproductive capacity and the oppression and discrimination which we suffer as a direct result thereof. We must also be able to challenge gender, gender roles, gender stereotypes and gender identity for the oppressive and controlling socio-structural-political constructs they are.

And it is perfectly possible to do so whilst respecting a transperson's rights to adopt the gender they wish, and whilst respecting a transperson's human and civil rights.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 09:32:30

And I agree with LRD on the subject of cis privilege. All the examples of cis privilege that I have ever seen have actually been examples of male privilege.

I do think that women as a class are rewarded for conforming to their imposed gender role/identity but that isn't privilege - that is just another manifestation of our lower status and oppression.

I very rarely see men being called out on their cisprivilege - it seems to be something that is done much more to women. Funny that.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 09:38:13

The Internet can be a horrible place and people can hide behind the anonymity and say some awful things. It's all so easy and people can say some truly disgusting things about other people - including gendertrender and I'll guess other websites as well.

The thing about Burchill's article is - it was in a National newspaper. Not a blog or a hate website but in a respected national newspaper.

I hate language like that being used against anybody - it doesn't help any argument and just adds to the hate. I've seen enough language like that used against transsexuals this week, and I have no doubt it's used against other people and groups as well.

I'm glad the language in the article was challenged. I do think that gender identity can be discussed but I do wish it could be discussed with less anger. I think Kritiq has it spot on. Like I've said plenty of times, most of us want to exist and to try to get on with our lives.

FloatyBeatie Mon 21-Jan-13 09:44:15

This whole area of discussion reminds me of how the coalition has repositioned the debate around benefits by focusing on "scroungers". The fact that there are some people who abuse the benefits system has functioned to reposition, e.g. disabled people as other, and to make it seem as if the onus was on them to justify themselves rather than the onus being on society at large to find ways of accommodating the challenges that their needs present. Similarly, the fact that there are some transactivists who behave badly functions to reposition transpeople as obstacles rather than allies in resisting gender oppression.

The real and painful problems that transgender people face are huge, and as Kim says, the number of transactivists presenting an intolerant face in the feminist movement is small -- and, crucially, the amount of danger and damage to women from transactivism is tiny compared with the whole burden of sexism and misogyny in other areas of society.

The effect of this area of discussion, like the effect of the "scroungers," debate is to divide the disempowered. Also, it seems to me that what hatefulness there is in the fallout between feminism and some transactivists has more to do with the dynamics of small activist movements and of internet conversation than it has with feminism or transgender themselves.

kim, did you see my post upthread about the Guardian?

It's clear that offensive language directed against women is routine, but what Burchill did was hate speech and had to be removed.

I don't think it was wrong that what she said was removed. I don't think it should have been published in the first place. I have no time for her kind of arguing. It's disgusting.

But I can't help noticing that referring to women in equivalent terminology - bitch, slut, slapper, slag, comparisons of the way we look to 'hookers' - that's seen as perfectly normal.

I want to be able to get angry about that, and to speak out against it, and I think it would be great if we could all be getting angry together and achieving something, but all I feel is silenced.

'The effect of this area of discussion, like the effect of the "scroungers," debate is to divide the disempowered.'

Spot on.

Greythorne Mon 21-Jan-13 09:47:01

I note that one all the other boards, when people use words like "coloured" or "half caste" or "retarded" or "mentally handicapped" they are picked up in a flash, even when it's pretty clear that they meant no malice, they didn't realise it was an unacceptable term or whatever. It is always explained that even if you don't see the term as racist / disablist / other, the people^in question do and it's their call.

Here, though, women are expected to simply accept an imposed label ("cis women"), and be told, "it's not at all pejorative, you know" and be asked "why are you getting upset about a term which is used in GCSE chemistry".

The mind boggles.

Oh, I don't know grey - to be fair, you do always get some people arguing that they should be perfectly entitled to call people 'retards' or 'coloured' because they're not personally offended by it and mean it well. It's exactly the same logic.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 09:50:13

LRD - look on this website. A women does something wrong and you get similar words sad Bitch and cow are used on this website frequently.

I agree with what you're saying - it's basically became acceptable and it shouldn't be.

Sorry, I'm honestly not being picky, but can you run that past me again kim?

You mean people use words like 'bitch' and 'cow' on MN? If so - true. They do. And not even necessarily because women do anything 'wrong' (not sure what anyone could do that'd make it ok to call them names).

Greythorne Mon 21-Jan-13 09:52:53

LRD, only read that first link of yours. It is horrifying.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 09:56:11

LRD - exactly. Look at AIBU when a women does something wrong / not very nice and look at the words used to describe her.

Then look at this link from the Spectator.

www.spectator.co.uk/columnists/rod-liddle/8823901/how-moore-burchill-and-featherstone-all-had-a-lovely-bitch-fight/

Great headline sad

kim - yep, exactly. The language against transpeople is deleted and a stink is kicked up ... the language against women doens't even register. sad

grey - yes, it is.

Branleuse Mon 21-Jan-13 10:00:15

i dont have a problem with being called a cis gender. Its only ever going to be used in the context of talking about trans people

Branleuse Mon 21-Jan-13 10:01:45

Any group of activists is going to have people in them who are fucking annoying, be that trans activists or feminist activists, or pretty much any group of people.
It should be able to be talked about reasonably, but that seems to be beyond many

That's true about groups of activists, absolutely. And more than 'fucking annoying'.

Any time there's a massive argument, some people are going to join in who just like fighting.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 10:05:56

From Julie Bindel on the subject of transactivism intimidation tactics;

Last year, I was nominated for the Stonewall Journalist of the Year award. This seemed fair enough since I write prolifically about sexuality and sexual identity. But I guessed that Stonewall would not dare give me the prize, because a powerful lobby affiliated with the lesbian and gay communities had been hounding me for five years. Six weeks later I, along with a police escort, walked past a huge demonstration of transsexuals and their supporters, shouting "Bindel the Bigot". Despite campaigning against gender discrimination, rape, child abuse and domestic violence for 30 years, I have been labelled a bigot because of a column I wrote in 2004 that questioned whether a sex change would make someone a woman or simply a man without a penis. Subsequently, I was "no platformed" by the National Union of Students Women's Campaign, a privilege previously afforded to fascist groups such as the BNP. As a leading feminist writer, I now find that a number of organisations are too frightened to ask me to speak at public events for fear of protests by transsexual lobbyists.

www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/2298/full

I mean what the actual fuck?

I think we need to stop pretending that we are looking at a small number of internet extremists. We aren't.

Women are no longer allowed to identify as a political class which suffers oppression as the result of our sex. That is what all this ultimately means. And make no mistake that none of this will affect the higher status political class that is men, because it won't, not one jot.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 10:09:29

And that's all down to some trans people is it?

No wonder you hate us.

We're not remotely looking at a small number of internet extremists. In fact, the most thoughtful and moderate voices I've heard have been on the internet.

What is scary is that I'm seeing a generation of people who're growing up simply accepting a hierarchy of oppression and assuming that questioning that hierarchy is bigotry. I know people who have never for a moment thought about any of these issues - and a large number of them straight, white males - who are still knee-jerk in their certainity that they know exactly which groups are most oppressed and most in need of their sympathy. And it's not women. Women have won the battles and they're now just making a fuss. Or women are still sore about the minor issues they face, and they need good, right-thinking men to lead the way and tell them what to worry about next.

It's not actually the fully paid-up transactivists who scare me - it's the people who accept everything without thinking about it. And who assume you could only disagree out of bigotry or ignorance.

kim - I think you're edging towards strawman arguments here.

I think the fault lies with the patriarchy. I won't speak for beach but I wouldn't be surprised if she also blames the patriarchy.

I don't see anyone saying 'and all this is down to trans people'.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 10:14:22

Branleuse do you really not mind being labelled as a person who identifies with the gender assigned to them as a lower status, second class, oppressed group?

As a person who is at peace with the idea that they exhibit submissive behaviours and are of less value to society, and that this is natural because it is intrinsically linked to your biological sex?

Because that is what cisgender means to women politically.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 10:16:05

I am with you Beachcomber.

I massively object to being told that the way I understand gender to be constructed counts as hate speech. I object to being told that it is not allowed to express disbelief of someone's claim to be a certain sex. It's a matter of conscience for me. If I say I believe that everyone claiming to be female is a woman, I'm lying. I'd better keep my fucking mouth zipped then hadn't I?

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 10:16:29

"It's not actually the fully paid-up transactivists who scare me - it's the people who accept everything without thinking about it. And who assume you could only disagree out of bigotry or ignorance."

Aint that the truth LRD.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 10:18:11

cis - a word some trans people use to talk about people whose body matches with what their brain tells them about their gender.

trans - a word used by trans people to talk about people whose body does not match with their gender identity

Can be used about men and women.

That's all I take it to mean.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 10:18:23

'It's not actually the fully paid-up transactivists who scare me - it's the people who accept everything without thinking about it. And who assume you could only disagree out of bigotry or ignorance.'

Yes.

I want to go back to something that Beachcomber said, as it's confusing me and I wonder if I'm the only one:

'And do people really think that it is transphobic to discuss gender identity as a social construct and to state that male bodied persons are not exactly the same as biological females and that the two therefore have different needs and political identities?'

My dealings with constructivism are in another field entirely (ethnic conflict) so I'm wondering if I've got this wrong. Because to me, if you accept that gender is a social construct, then it implies that people who were not necessarily born to that gender can still assume that identity and, thus, yes, assume the same political identity (perhaps not entirely at the collective level, but certainly at the individual level). To say that gender is a social construct but political identities are still rooted in biology is what we would call in my field, I think, a primordialist interpretation of identity (you are what you were born to).

To me, it doesn't quite make sense to say that someone can adopt a particular gender identity but not all the extended identities that are attached to that gender. But I admit this could be because of the prism through which I view identity, ethnicity being a key component of political identity in the parts of the world I focus on.

Basically, I'm wondering whether the root of this debate lies in the fact that people have different ideas about identity construction and attach different importance to the biological element. Because if that's the case, I don't really see any middle ground, just like in my field with the primordialists vs the situationalists.

What is constructivism, please?

I'm obviously not very well read in this area.

But it seems obvious to me there's a distinction between ideal and reality. We'd all like to see the social construct of gender got rid of. But it hasn't happened yet.

So how can it be right to say that, just because feminists don't agree with gender as a construct, it's women who should be the first to act as if it didn't exist? Surely this would only further entrench discrimination?

In fact I think that is what is happening. But that may be over-simple since I'm not familiar with all of your terminology.

LRD I think interpretations of constructivism vary quite a bit across fields, hence my confusion, as I suspect the way in which I'm used to it is not quite the same as in discussions about gender.

But for example with respect to ethnic conflict, it's a rebuke to the idea that ethno-political identities are rooted in blood -- inherent, automatic, and non-changing. Instead we say ethnic identities are socially constructed -- they are what people make them out to be, they change over time, and to some extent people can join or leave those identities.

It basically says that identity is fluid, and political identities are greatly influenced by socialised attitudes, not innate characteristics. Hence my confusion with respect to the role of biology in these debates, which seem to depend very heavily on constructivist thought.

Thank you, I'll have a look.

So which identities do you think are inherent/automatic? Because it seems to me that some transsexuals and some non-transsexuals think gender identity is innate. But I'd say, if it is, it's something I don't have. I don't think identity can be automatic or fixed or innate.

The issue to me is, within our society, the people who have wombs and vaginas, who're capable of having children or having abortions, are people who're discriminated against. This discrimination has a historical and cultural aspect, so our identities are naturally formed in reference to this. And, equally, this abuse of women can't be separated from the way women's bodies are. It's conditional on our biology being as it is.

I don't understand why that is an issue?

I would really like to get to a point where 'gender' wasn't a concept we used any more. I'd still have the same body I have now, but no-one would make assumptions about me based on it, and no-one would assume they had the right to interfear with my body.

Some of this seems to chime in with what people describe as being transsexual experiences, which is why I am not sure that there is such a thing as female cis privilege. But then, it seems transsexuals don't (all) want to get rid of gender as a concept, so I don't know how easily we can all agree.

I don't know if this makes sense of the issues with biology and social conditioning, but I try to imagine what it'd be like 'come the revolution' (just using that as shorthand, trying to think about a non-misogynistic world).

I would like to imagine that, if we didn't have misogyny and we didn't have the idea that gender is the organizing binary, then we'd all be a lot happier about how our identities relate to our bodies. I'd like to think that some people who're transsexual might not feel as if they needed to change anything about themselves, because maybe they'd be happy? But I can't really know and I can understand that that may sound as if I'm minimizing what it is that motivates people to do something as serious and expensive and difficult as transitioning.

But I think, even if ('come the revolution') people did feel deeply unhappy with their bodies, it wouldn't necessarily matter. I'd like to think if an individual is so deeply unhappy with part of their body that they feel the only option is to have surgery, who am I to judge that personal choice?

The difficulty in our very definitely misogynistic world is that that personal choice happens in a context, and that context is one where women's bodies are constantly being treated violently and women's identities are constantly being taken to pieces or hidden behind men's. In this context, mightn't it be acceptable to say I want to talk to other people who have the same body as me and whose experiences have been shaped by having that same body? I don't get why this is unreasonable.

drjohnsonscat Mon 21-Jan-13 11:11:32

ok feeling very undereducated here - read through the first few posts but I don't know what cis means.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 11:13:01

cis - a word some trans people use to talk about people whose body matches with what their brain tells them about their gender.

trans - a word used by trans people to talk about people whose body does not match with their gender identity

Can be used about men and women.

That's all I take it to mean.

I'm with you.

While I'm here I just want to say thanks to Kim for starting the other thread and to all those who contributed so respectfully and thoughtfully. It was a great discussion (that was full before I read to the end) that made me proud of MN and, I thought, put those involved in the whole JB and Twitter shitfest to shame.

drjohnson - as kim says, that's how it's usually used by transpeople.

The word itself is a fairly obscure Latin word. It means 'on the same side' (as in, for example, 'cis-Atlantic' would mean 'on the same side of the Atlantic', as opposed to 'trans-Atlantic').

It has been used in some academic contexts (like Chemistry) as a prefix for some time.

drjohnsonscat Mon 21-Jan-13 11:21:34

Thanks for that. Now I understand cis-priviledge.

Amazing how people want their experience to be the result of someone else's power, as opposed to just being their own experience. I don't find the accordance of my brain and body gender to be a privilege exactly!

It sounds a bit like the unfortunate politics in the deaf community where people with cochlear implants have "betrayed" the deaf community by entering the hearing world.

That's a really interesting comparison.

I've been trying for ages to think about what compares with this situation, because it is difficult - there's not just two sets of oppressed people, there's also a difference in terms of what those people believe is the right thing. I think that comparison sums it up perfectly. And, unfortunately, that makes me feel more that there really are some differences it's hard to resolve.

LRD -- with regard to only wanting to talk to people who are biologically women -- I'm not going to say it's unreasonable, but I just can't relate to it at all. To me, the enemy is oppression and I'm willing to talk to anyone who wants to fight it, with the understanding that that may bring some additional issues to the table and that's fine. I may find more solidarity with someone who was not born a woman than with someone who was (plenty of women aren't feminists!) so to me, to base those discussions on biology is a bit too narrow.

To me, whatever the original basis for oppression (i.e. biological differences) it has clearly grown over the millennia to include much more. And again, this is why I'm confused, because I think that as soon as you open up the idea of constructed identities, which are based on more than just biology, then you are essentially saying that it is not just biology that is a factor, at which point it seems strange to only want to talk to people who are biologically similar.

AliceWChild Mon 21-Jan-13 11:35:48

I'm in Beach. I'm so fed up with the silencing of women who want to talk about the politics of gender.

At my first encounter with trans politics, I remember thinking how terrible it was that trans people faced prejudice and wanting to stop that happening. I was new to feminism, let alone new to trans politics.

I then thought on it, and couldn't make sense of the whole idea of gender being something you feel. All my understanding directed me towards it being something socially constructed by a patriarchal society as an act of power. So what was this gender that was an innate part of someone, that they could feel and could be wrong? Feeling you don't fit with stereotypes of femininity and masculinity, absolutely made sense. Totally. But that this meant that you had to change your body to fit, baffled. (Tbh it also made me very uncomfortable that I could see young women who seemed very like me at that age, feeling they didn't fit, feeling at odds with the world, wanting to make the world change to be a better place, feeling at odds with femininity and all that entailed, finding the solution in making irreversible changes to their body, which would impact on their future choices regarding children.)

So I did lots of reading. Lots of speaking to people, in as far as you can. I quickly discovered asking the 'wrong' questions gets shouted down rather quickly. I went back to Butler, I tried to make connection to my own knowledge of associated theories which is pretty good, I read all the blogs that people kept saying 'wow awesome' about.

But nothing answered my fundamental questions. Nothing actually engaged in the political discussion of gender. It all got shouted down.

That led me to the point where I'm in. And its vital that women say this.

FloatyBeatie Mon 21-Jan-13 11:37:36

Agree, dreaming bohemian: there's a paradoxical kind of biological essentialism/anti-constructivism involved in saying that there is a monolithic biological basis for socially constructed gender oppression

caramelwaffle Mon 21-Jan-13 11:41:36

I'm with you Beach

dreaming - no, I didn't say that. I don't want to speak only to people who're biologically women, not at all.

I think a lot of the time, everyone ought to be speaking to each other. But sometimes, it's fine for people to go off into smaller groups. I wouldn't crash a meeting for lesbian feminists, for example. I would want to see women who were born/brought up as women have the same allowance to go off into a small group sometimes, is all.

That's why it's not strange to want to talk to people who're biologically similar - because it isn't something I'd always want to do, but only sometimes.

Also, I think you're downplaying the importance of growing up in a particular context (informed by biology), which is the thing that's really important to me. I'm not putting it very well. But, basically, sometimes it matters to me to talk to someone who knows what it is like to be cat-called for having breasts, and who's grown up with that experience.

It's not the sole defining moment of my life, or anything - but it's not something to be ignored, either.

Isn't it the case that the patriarchy (or whatever name you give to organized oppression of women) is the factor that places the emphasis on biology? It's the patriarchy that insists that biology separates men from women, and that gender has a biological basis. And it's the patriarchy that uses the facts of how women's bodies are, to oppress them.

In order to fight against that, you can't just ignore biology - it'd be like fighting in the dark. IMO.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 11:44:32

Alice " But that this meant that you had to change your body to fit, baffled. "

A lot of transpeople find happiness through the body changes and the role hormones play and the changes they make. I certainly have. It's like a big weight has come off my shoulders and I feel....normal.

What it all means, I don't know. But for the first time in my life, my mind is at peace. The conflict inside me is going away - and I want my body to match up with how I present and how I feel about myself.

It's a shame you got shouted down. Some transpeople are very passionate about things.

Floaty well put and thank you, I'm glad I'm not the only one!

LRD Ah okay, I see what you're saying. I guess I still wouldn't see that as talking to someone of the same biology, just someone with the same experiences, but that's just my perspective.

AliceWChild Mon 21-Jan-13 11:50:01

dreamingbohemian - what you're saying is really interesting. It shines a bit of light for me on why I see this battle over who is essentialist, with both 'sides' saying the other is. Which I've never understood. (To me saying gender is innate and something in the brain is essentialist)

My understanding of how the whole constructionism bit fits (don't recall whether its constructionism, or constructivism, and there is a difference. Which I've also forgotten), is that the 'social' is key. Gender is constructed by the powerful in patriarchal society. It's political. It's a way of constructing femininity and masculinity in ways that prop up patriarchy. So my gender is assigned based on the way I look, based on my sex, from birth. And so society treats me a particular way, expects particular behaviour from me etc. So I don't get to pick gender or attributes of it, it's placed on me. It's not an individual thing. It's a social thing. So I can say I'm something different till I'm blue in the face, but unless society labels me as something different I'm not. I've come to the conclusion that it's rooted in the whole structure/agency thing. I don't think we all have agency, free choices or are just individuals. I think our agency is variable depending on who we are, our choices are always limited and we are part of society. So thinking gender is something we as individuals can change doesn't fit with the way I see the world.

Would be interested in your thoughts on that. Only if you're interested of course. You've added a little layer to my onion.

Narked Mon 21-Jan-13 11:55:42

Gender is a social construct. Saying identifying with it equates to being a woman is offensive.

FloatyBeatie Mon 21-Jan-13 12:12:13

And not only is there a paradoxical kind of biological essentialism/anti-constructivism involved in saying that there is a monolithic biological basis for socially constructed gender oppression, there is a further essentialist restriction in considering certain zones of biology and not others. Genitalia and hormones are represented as the essential basis of socially constructed gender, with its consequent oppression, but other, putative, invisible biological characteristics are downgraded -- namely the hypothesised neurological components that might be an element in the causation of gender dysphoria. When this possible basis for gender dysphoria is mentioned, people are quick to say that a reductivist biological-neurological account of gender is being promoted -- but in fact you could see it instead as redressing the more narrow biological essentialism of restricting oneself just to focussing on some biological features (genitalia) and ignoring others (neurology).

I am very far from endorsing all of the widespread neurological reductionism that is so popular at the moment (and I haven't a clue about whether the hypothesised brain-basis for gender dysphoria is a correct one), but I just wanted to point out that there is an equally reductionist element at work elsewhere

EldritchCleavage Mon 21-Jan-13 12:19:53

I've no relevant experience to bring to this re transactivists and feminists, buut I wholeheartedly agree that women's right to talk about and identify sex based oppression and male supremacy, and therefore to fight against sex based oppression and male supremacy is vitally important.

As for this: I also genuinely don't get why people get so aerated by term "cis." It is not used pejoratively. I've met folks who didn't like being called white with the, "we are all some colour or other so why make a deal of it" argument. I've met straight folks who don't want to be called heterosexual because think they are just "normal" and using it legitimises being gay. Can't help but think the "cis resistors" are following the same line of thought (i.e. refuse to accept that even in some ways, they are more socially, economically and politically privileged than transfolks

Can I say that to me is has real parallels with how my race is described. Nothing gets to me faster than having my right of self-description and self-definition away by being told I must apply to myself a term I have not chosen. You can double that when the language imposition comes from someone who holds him or herself out as having a superior understanding of my disadvantaged group than me.

I accept my heterosexuality privileges me. I don't accept that I no longer have the power to name myself. I expect the majority of transpeople understand that latter point very well.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 12:21:21

No, Kim, it isn't all down to transpeople. And I don't hate transpeople. Your post saying that I do is a personal attack BTW.

I'm very unhappy with society and the way it is treating human females in all this. Although I am not surprised, women have been getting treated like this since forever. And I am angry that it is happening to us again.

I think transactivits and trans politics are being used by a society that doesn't give a shit about women other than that they be kept in their place.

Transactivists (and I mean the intimidating, threatening aggressive ones, not the people who fight for transpeople to be treated as humans with fair and equal human rights) are being used like hired guns.

Thanks Alice, I'm glad my confusion isn't a total waste of time then smile

I would agree that gender has been largely constructed by patriarchal forces, but I think what's really exciting today is that this is changing. Individuals are challenging those constructs, not just blindly accepting the gender that is laid upon them at birth. People across the spectrum are challenging not just the individual aspects of the construct but the ways in which it is assigned.

You say, 'So I can say I'm something different till I'm blue in the face, but unless society labels me as something different I'm not.' But doesn't this go back to your earlier question, about why people would change their bodies? Part (not all) of this is to ease that process of societal acceptance. There are many other ways as well to signal your rejection of the identity that society wants to impose on you.

I can see that getting rid of gender constructs altogether is a good thing, but it seems to me that this goal is actually furthered when people reject the biological basis for it, when we accept that people can choose their gender. Because if society can no longer determine your gender for you, doesn't that make it less powerful? If you can float back and forth between gender identities over the course of your life, doesn't this diminish the control that gender has over us?

I think basically, the more we can accept gender as fluid and changeable, the less it can be used to prop up rigid systems of oppression. And eventually it would cease to be a really meaningful marker of difference.

AliceWChild Mon 21-Jan-13 12:25:02

Kim - I can get that. And it makes me really fucking angry that patriarchy does that to people. But I can't go from that, to thinking that the there is something 'wrong' with the individual that needs 'fixing'. And that therefore we have to change whole ways of seeing the world to fit with it. I blame the patriarchy. And I know that doesn't help you, but it doesn't help me either.

dreaming - I would want, sometimes, to talk to someone with both the same biology, and the same social experience of what that biology has been made to mean in our society.

I'm not good at abstractions. But - I remember when I first found MN, what it was like that there were all these women who would talk about things like sex or pregnancy or abortion, and not just the physical, biological stuff, but the common experiences that resulted from it. On this site people routinely have threads discussing what it is actually like to get pregnant and have an abortion, or what it's like to miscarry, or whatever. That's an experience that is both social and biological.

That doesn't mean I never want to talk to men (or women with hysterectomies) about these things - but isn't the interesting bit how the biological realities interact with what we feel and what society seems to think of us? I don't think I'm automatically sexist because sometimes I want to discuss this stuff without men, and I don't think I'm automatically transphobic because sometimes I want to discuss it without transwomen.

FairPhyllis Mon 21-Jan-13 12:28:30

I'm with you Beach.

I don't believe anyone has the right to censor discussion of gender. I reject the label 'cis'. I believe political classes should be able to organise on the basis of their common experiences and interests. I believe that the silencing of women who speak about gender is a manifestation of patriarchy. I think this trend threatens all the gains feminism has made.

I think that telling feminists what "bigger" issues they should be angry about instead reeks of male privilege. Women get to decide what their priorities are.

I will say though that I do find the sheer vitriol in gendertrender and some other radfem blogs really hard to stomach. I would like to be able to have productive discussions about gender and gender identity theory - but if transactivists and supporters just try to shut you down all the time by shouting 'transphobia' then I can see how you reach breaking point.

amillionyears Mon 21-Jan-13 12:37:59

I cant say I understand even the majority of what is being said here, but is the gist of it, that transwomen are not being accepted as women?

GothAnneGeddes Mon 21-Jan-13 12:39:41

Not in my name.

Gender trender is a hateful site, that links to even more hateful ones.

You might want to paint yourself as the victims against the "big bad transactivists", all you're doing is stirring yourselves up into a festering hatred against a group of people who have many struggles in their ordinary lives.

The likes of Cathy Brennan et al:

want sex change surgery outlawed,

claim that trans women are either penis-wielding usurpers or

have "fuck -holes" that smell of dead meat.

Out trans people online without their permission.

Gloat about murder trans people and claim they deserved and that they wish all trans people would die.

Any just generally spend vast amounts of time being hateful and self-congratulatory instead of doing any actual useful work.

You do not speak for all feminists, all feminism and you do not speak for me.

Meanwhile: www.transgenderdor.org/

LRD But would you rather talk about abortion with a pro-choice, pro-feminist male friend, or a rabidly anti-choice, anti-feminist woman?

I have personally found it easier to discuss pregnancy and children with male friends who have children than female friends who don't.

I'm not arguing with you, not at all, but what I find interesting is that I really don't connect my biology with my discourse with others. I think it's all much more situational and dependent.

dreaming - all of them, but not necessarily all at the same time. That's the point I'm trying to make. There's nothing wrong with forming sub-groups in order to have a discussion.

I'm not sure I want discussions to be 'easy' all the time. I found the thread kim started really difficult in a lot of places, but also really, hugely helpful and interesting in terms of letting me work out what I thought.

I do think it is fascinating how some of us obviously place much stronger emphasis on biology, others on gender identity, others on shifting situations and our reactions to them. I don't think those differences are bad, though. They shouldn't automatically be labelled as transphobic.

drjohnsonscat Mon 21-Jan-13 12:43:30

you are obviously all a lot better read as feminists than I am.

I suppose my feeling on this is that for me feminism is about women being a majority living in a world run by and for a minority who have managed to convince themselves, and us, that they are the norm.

I don't really want to see my feminism get hung up on the issues of what is a very small group of people. Not that those people shouldn't have their voice heard and their issues dealt with. But why are these cis privileges being pegged onto feminism? Why are women having to account for themselves (again)? It almost adds to the sense of us not being the norm - "we're the other and the victim and the ones who use special pleading so the cis privilege type issues must be ours as well..."

Meanwhile, the men go about their business as usual.

Floaty that's fascinating and a really good point. What do we even mean by 'biological'? We are still just on the limits of understanding the human brain and how neurology interacts with society.

Agreed LRD, it's really interesting. It does make me despair a bit though because I don't see a lot of room for common ground.

EldritchCleavage Mon 21-Jan-13 12:51:11

Genuine question: if it is a small minority of transactivists who cause the problems the OP is about why not name and shame? It strikes me this is an area where emphasising individual culpability over group identity could actually be healthier.

Narked Mon 21-Jan-13 12:51:41

XX?

drj - kim's long thread has loads of good discussion on it. I'm picking lots up as I go along, so I'm also needing to get to be better read.

dreaming - me too. But there is also a lot of certainty, isn't there? We all know some things are definitely worth fighting for, and most of the time, don't we just stick to those?

beach is right (IMO) that this is an important issue we need to be able to discuss, but if that discussion doesn't get to consensus, it doesn't mean we have to keep re-hashing things - we can just focus on something else for a bit, right?

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 12:59:12

'Genuine question: if it is a small minority of transactivists who cause the problems the OP is about why not name and shame?'

Then GothAnneGeddes and others will complain that you are outing them without their permission. Cathy Brennan has been accused of outing transgender activists when she has posted their death threats to her online.
Women are supposed to take this stuff and shut up about it.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 13:02:44

I find it interesting that quite a few people have wondered why there seems to be such a fuss over a relatively small population - people who identify as trans do not exist in huge numbers after all, so why are feminists so hung up on them? Right?

The reason for the fuss is not the existence of transpeople or how many they are or how they choose to live. The reason for the fuss is that in order to accommodate the transpolitical notion of 'gender identity' being the deciding factor in which sex a human is legally defined as, the definition of female has been changed. And that has huge ramifications for women. That is what we care about - not how individuals choose to express their gender compliance.

This has ramifications for women on two levels: one - that of sex segregated spaces which women need in order to refuge from sexualised violence, harassment, voyeurism and political oppression. Two - that of women no longer having an identity which is that of our biological sex despite us being oppressed due to that biological sex.

GothAnneGeddes Mon 21-Jan-13 13:08:07

Turnip - I was referring to sites like "Pretendbian" which posts photos of trans women taken from dating sites or blogs without their knowledge or consent and then makes oh-so feminist remarks about their attractiveness.

As Kim pointed out, in the original post Beach had linked to, a photo of one of Kim's friends had been used without her permission. Why should these amazing radfems have to ask permission from subhuman lessers (which is how they view trans women), right?

People making death threats should be reported to the police and screen shots taken of the threat. I have no issue with them being named.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 13:10:47

'subhuman lessers (which is how they view trans women), right?'

You're just being silly now.

People did that with Cath Elliott, too, didn't they? It would seem there are people who're horrible on all sides of any debate.

I don't know who made the death threads on Brennan but I do hope she has gone to the police.

But if we're being oppressed on the basis of our biology, why would you want that biology to be the defining characteristic of our identity?

GothAnneGeddes Mon 21-Jan-13 13:16:13

Turnip - I honestly wish I was.

Just look on sites like "Twanzphobic since forever" and other sites of that ilk and tell me that they don't view trans women as subhuman (and worse).

That's what I find so sinister about this thread. It's an attempt to put a logically face on what is naked, ugly hatred.

dreaming - does anyone want it?

I don't know that I do. In an ideal world my biology wouldn't be at issue. But we are oppressed by it and ignoring it makes it harder to counteract that.

goth - but isn't it equally 'naked, ugly hatred' on both sides? No-one seriously thinks death threats, or sites set up to attack someone's appearance without their knowledge, are in any way acceptable. There are some nasty, twisted people who call themselves rad fems or transactivists, who do these things - but can't we just look at them as the lunatic fridge and disengage?

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 13:21:27

Those sites are very angry but I have never seen them calling for transgender people to die - perhaps you have. And meanwhile the 'die Cis scum' meme continues.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 13:21:49

(btw, it's Tunip not Turnip. Thanks.)

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 13:23:39

I'm not too sure how helpful it is to get into 'he said/she said' type accusations.

I think there has been unpleasantness on both sides - feelings run high on this issue, but that is no excuse for nasty language, mocking or intimidation. From anybody.

I do think people have the right to express themselves on a political matter in direct and factual language however, say in the manner of Sheila Jeffreys, without being shouted down, no platformed and intimidated.

Let us be free to debate transgenderism without being accused of 'hate speech'. Researchers and theorists who question the practice of transgenderism are subjected to campaigns of intimidation

EldritchCleavage Mon 21-Jan-13 13:25:13

Goth, I was absolutely horrified to read the quotations you posted earlier. I suspect a lot of other posters on here simply don't know the depths of hatred to which some people have gone. But surely we need to see and treat it as unrepresentative and bizarre extremism(on both sides). I can't feel any loyalty to people who express those kinds of views, even if in other contexts we have the same views.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 13:27:10

The 'ugly naked hatred' against women who talk about this stuff is breathtaking. You saw the tweets against Suzanne Moore, I'm sure. But by naming that for what it is we are 'stirring ourselves up into a festering hatred'.

GothAnneGeddes Mon 21-Jan-13 13:30:54

LRD - but Cathy Brennan - who wants SRS outlawed is the vanguard of this movement and the blogs all link to each other.

Tunip - what exactly is saying that trans people shouldn't exist? Tell me how you'd feel about a site that said that gay people shouldn't exist?

You will find few within wider feminism defending "die cis scum", although USians do have a Free Speech is Sacroscant fetish.

Moreover, you'll find very few claiming that "die cis scum" is essential for the future of feminism.

"Die cis scum" is extremist said by very few, "Trans people are mutilated males who shouldn't be accepted by society" is normal discourse in Gender Trender circles.

So, it's ok to display 'ugly, naked hatred' towards someone, so long as you disagree with them? confused

LRD -- I'm not saying ignore biology, but it seems to me there is a lot of insistence here on biology as what defines a woman. That it's important to maintain a female identity that is rooted in biology. I just don't quite get this, because surely if biology is the root of oppression, it makes sense to diminish its centrality and meaningfulness. We might be limited in our capacity to do this, but that doesn't mean there's nothing we can do -- constructs are not solely defined by the oppressor.

GothAnneGeddes Mon 21-Jan-13 13:34:22

Tunip - I saw what was posted on Storify, SM did not cover herself in glory their either.

Anyway, if someone discussed race and got hatemail from some black people, would it be ok to be racist?

Or is it just when trans people are involved that it's ok to hate them all and claim they have too many rights as a result?

dreaming - ah, ok. Well, but, in order to identify a root of oppression, don't we have to name it, and analyze it, and establish which groups of people are affected by it?

I like the idea constructs are not solely defined by the oppressor. I hope that maybe what people are doing with terminology helps here - like using 'she or he' not just he, that sort of thing. I will have to think more about how that could be made to work with biology too.

This may be a daft point, but I was thinking about it yesterday - isn't it odd that the biology we're used to being told about is binary (male vs female), but actually there's not a binary opposition early on, it's more unbalanced than that. There's XX and XY, not XX and YY. I think to understand how to re-defined constructs in a non-oppressive way I'd have to think a lot about how biology as a discipline gets taught and thought about.

goth - but if you can see why it's not ok to be racist in response to someone sending hate mail, why are you justifying misogyny as a response to attacks on transpeople? Surely none of it makes any sense?

AliceWChild Mon 21-Jan-13 13:47:51

DB - thanks. It's about power innit. You see I think it is people with power that define social constructs. I think ultimately attempts to redefine them by those without power will be subsumed and redefined by those with power so they can continue to perpetuate their power. I'm thinking out loud a bit, but we've gone from feminists identifying gender as socially constructed therefore not actually existing, to queer theory playing about with gender and subverting it, to an alignment with trans arguments which take gender back to something that actually exists in people's brains. It starts to seem like patriarchy started to notice that people spotting gender was socially constructed, and therefore optional, needed reframing as something necessary that meant patriarchy could prop it right back up again. Does that make any sense? It's a bit fresh out of my head.

GothAnneGeddes Mon 21-Jan-13 13:48:19

LRD - read my post again. The term I used was hatemail - something that is clearly not justified.

If in my example someone discussed race and received hatemail - the hate mail is clearly wrong, regardless of the sender.

But, the recipient would NOT then be justified to say "Look at those black people sending me hatemail, well they are "racist remark" " and then have one of your friends do a massive piece in a Sunday paper using hateful speech against black people, telling them they'd better watch out as the white people are getting angry.

I do think you can see this whole debate as a struggle amongst women to self-define the construct.

All in-groups have processes to determine who is or is not a member of that group, and often those criteria are subject to fierce debate and subject to change. It is not just a vertical interaction between oppressor and oppressed, there are horizontal processes within the oppressed group as well.

I've read it again - I'm sorry, I don't follow what you're getting at?

You're assuming that transpeople are in the position of black people, and anyone who objects to them is a bigot, like a racist.

That is in itself, surely, just as offensive? Why is it ok to characterise one kind of hateful attitude as bad, but not bad enough to justify any response, whereas the other kind you equate with racism and condemn as bigotry?

I don't think racism is a good parallel, because misogyny and transphobia aren't neat opposites.

Alice -- I do see and I think those are great points -- it is all about power. I kind of think though that the response of those in power might not be as subtle as you're saying -- they are too reactionary for that. They will be more obvious. They won't be promoting the arguments of trans inclusion, they will be clinging to old-school sexism, so we get sexy teenage pop stars and trendy labiaplasty, etc.

I think you are so right though, it's not like the oppressor sits back and lets the oppressed redefine the construct without any fight-back.

chibi Mon 21-Jan-13 14:00:48

who has defended burchill's . language? which spokesperson for feminism has said yes, actually, it is great to call transpeople hateful names (apart from random bloggers)?

why should i have to exculpate myself for the statements of others?

and yet, that's how a number of posts here read - feminists think transpeople have too many rights, feminists think transpeople are subhuman.

ok. i promise i will never ever again make julie burchill write hateful articles about transpeople again, and i promise to have her shot from a cannon into space if she does. sorry i made her do it, it was all my fault. confused hmm

drwitch Mon 21-Jan-13 14:04:06

some really interesting and thoughtprovoking stuff here can i summarise my thoughts
Q1 are there some people who hate transexuals and think that surgery should be outlawed? - yes clearly
Q2 are these people representative of any group of feminsts-no
Q3 have there been some very nasty attacks on women writing about transgender issues from a less than sympathetic point of view- yes clearly
Q4 are these representative of transpeople - no
Q5 do many feminists question the possibility that people can truly be women but born as men or vice versa? yes as many believe gender to be a social not a biological construct
Q6 are some of us uncomfortable with the idea of surgery? yes because it can appear that people are mutilating themselves in order to get acceptance to be the sort of people they want to be.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 14:04:22

But if we're being oppressed on the basis of our biology, why would you want that biology to be the defining characteristic of our identity?

DreamingBohemian I don't think it is about arguing for biology being the defining characteristic of our entire identity.

It is about us being allowed to have a biological identity (that of human females) which is recognised for the specific requirements that identity presents (that of pregnancy, birth, menstruation, health aspects of the female reproductive system, etc) but without it being used as a pretext for oppressing us.

Equality in other words.

Males are not the default human in biology, although they are in society.

Greythorne Mon 21-Jan-13 14:18:24

chibi Mon 21-Jan-13 14:00:48
who has defended burchill's . language?

The only person I see applauding Burchill is Rod Liddle!

But as far as I can tell, you are arguing that women can be considered women (in the identity sense) only if they are biologically born as such. If they are not biologically a woman, then they cannot be considered a woman. So how is biology not the defining characteristic and criteria of being a woman?

Are there any other groups who self-identify as women whose membership you would reject? It doesn't sound like it. Is the basis for rejecting trans people the fact that they are not biologically born women? It sounds like it. So it seems to me that biology is the first and foremost marker of differentiation, in your view.

chibi Mon 21-Jan-13 14:20:11

that noted leader of the feminist movement in the uk

between me putting her up to it, and old . liddle cheering her on, feminism is doooooooooooomed

if anyone needs me i'll be in to corner being a beautiful genderfree unoppressible unicorn

Greythorne Mon 21-Jan-13 14:20:24

Genuine question: please can someone give concrete examples of 'cis privilege'?

I see people above arguing that whet is widely put forward as 'cis privilege' is actually 'male privilege'.

Any concrete example which refute this?

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 14:31:33

Another aspect of the politics of all this; that I know a lot of lesbian women in particular are concerned about, is the homophobic societal pressure on gay men and lesbian women to transition rather than come out. Many lesbian feminists have expressed concern about this and have said that they could easily have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and encouraged to transition to men when they are not men at all - they are lesbian women who refuse to perform femininity as required by strict patriarchal gender norms.

For example, Iran, a country where homosexuality is punishable by death, is one of the countries with the highest rate of sex-reassignment surgeries.

This again is something that people should be able to discuss without being called transphobic and intimidated. But it seems that is not allowed.

amillionyears Mon 21-Jan-13 14:39:27

Sexing eggs.
I know someone who used to do this.

When people sex eggs for hatching, some eggs show up as being mixed, neither 100% male or 100% female.
So I dont see why transpeople cannot be who they feel themselves to be.

dreaming - I would accept someone who'd been born to cries of 'it's a girl!', raised as a woman, and then found they had XY chromosomes, as a woman. I don't know what others think to this. But for me, it's not that biology itself is completely defining - it's that biology is set out as the basic binary division from birth.

A person raised as female who turned out to have XY chromosomes would not be able to be pregnant or have a period, but they would have been brought up to expect that they were part of the group of people to whom those things happened.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 14:48:32

dreamingbohemian, there is a biological difference between human females and human males is there not?

In fact the only difference between human females and males is biological, much of it reproductive.

As far as I am concerned, women are female, yes.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 14:56:14

Although I agree with what LRD says in the unusual cases where the above happens.

I guess for me, female is biological and woman is biology + socialisation.

WidowWadman Mon 21-Jan-13 15:00:44

chibi "who has defended burchill's . language? which spokesperson for feminism has said yes, actually, it is great to call transpeople hateful names (apart from random bloggers)?"

Maybe not a spokesperson for feminism, but Janet Street Porter has defended Burchill's language in her SIndy column yesterday. And I can see on this and on the other thread a lot of moaning how poor Julie and other people who wrote hateful stuff have been "silenced". Because it's apparently ok to tell trans people to cut it out, but not those who want them banned.

WidowWadman Mon 21-Jan-13 15:04:01

LRD "So, it's ok to display 'ugly, naked hatred' towards someone, so long as you disagree with them?"

That seems to be Burchill's argument, and the argument of that person in the OP link, complaining about wordpress having put a stop to the hatespeech they published.

That's interesting, beach, I was wondering if anyone would agree, or not.

I agree with your female/woman definition.

I'm speculating now, so bear with me (or skip this post). I was thinking how, in the US especially, lots of people choose to identify as 'black' because it is a cultural and political identity, not merely a matter of race. It's not because people think about race in a simplistic way.

Back in the day, extremely racist people believed that if you were part black and part white, you'd taken on the characteristics of the 'black' part of you. They thought being black determined who you were, how intelligent you were, what your sex life was like - it's a really horrible view of race. It separated 'men' (=white humans) from people who were considered less than men.

We would think it absurd and offensive if someone suggesting that identifying as 'black' meant that you accepted that horrible, binary view of race, where being born black meant your whole identity was mapped out.

But we know why people identify as black, and that identity has roots in the extreme racism I'm describing.

I think the situation with women identifying biologically as 'women' is perhaps similar?

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 15:04:54

amillionyears, I think you may be talking about intersex eggs.

A lot of intersex people feel their existence has been hijacked by transpolitics - they often say that they feel 'colonized'.

Intersex is a biological identity.

cherryblossomlife.com/2012/06/11/intersex-community-unite-with-radfems-against-the-transsexual-empire/

WW - well, thank god I've disagreed with Burchill many, many times and condemned her piece on the last thread you and I were on.

There are countless biological differences within the human race -- not all of them are meaningful, or rise to the level of impacting upon identity. Diabetics and non-diabetics are biologically different, but this has not become a major cleavage in society.

The biological differences between men and women are only significant because we attach significance to them, and have done throughout human history.

The crux of a constructivist argument would be that it is too simple to say that women are women because they are biologically born that way. Nothing about identity is innate, it all stems from the way we think about ourselves.

Obviously biology is an important element of gender identity, but I personally don't believe it's the only one, or should be used as a criteria for group inclusion. To me, the defining criteria should be whether one is oppressed by the patriarchy by virtue of one's identity, whether born or assumed.

Absolutely! That is what I have been trying to say. It's not that I think biology should be important per se - but society attached significance to it, and has done through history.

I don't know what gender identity is, outside of roles like 'femininity' and 'masculinity', though, and this is something I struggle with. Some people (trans and not) feel a strong gender identity. I don't think that I do.

amillionyears Mon 21-Jan-13 15:12:39

Thanks for the link Beachcomber. Will have a more in depth read later.
On first glance, I am now more confused than ever re the thread.
Thanks anyway.

drwitch Mon 21-Jan-13 15:15:15

yes yes and more yes
i think of myself as a woman, this is part of my identity not directly because of the shape of my bits but indirectly because the shape of my bits determines how I am treated and the expectations placed on me

chibi Mon 21-Jan-13 15:19:31

oh ok. people who don't, nor ever have identified as feminists said something hateful about transpeople, and that is feminism's fault, and MNers, especially those on this thread need to...apologise? disavow it, more than they already have?

i see posters wanting space to discuss ideas around gender, and how it affects them as women, but i don't see anyone shouting death to transpeople, using slurs or otherwise. MN is shit hot on deleting transphobic posts, and there haven't been any deletions on this thread yet, i don't think.

probably these posts from MNers saying terrible things about transpeople on this thread, and using hate speech are really obvious, and i'm missing them cos i'm just a thicko. can anyone direct me to them?

AnyFucker Mon 21-Jan-13 15:21:45

I have never verbally abused a transgender person because of their transgender status. I have pulled people up for being very fucking rude though.

I don't think I have, either, AF.

I think people who're transgender are (generalization) in a pretty horrible position, and often demonstrably suffering hugely. I'm aware that we could trot out examples of individuals who don't fit that profile and who might even be doing horrible things to the people around them. But I reckon by and large, most of these people will be ordinary people who're struggling. The issue is not with individuals. The issue is the way our whole society has rallied round and decided that it can find a new way to push women's issues down. Which I honestly think is what is happening.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 15:42:49

I just want to live and be accepted. I've said this before on plenty of these threads but I'll say it again.

Yes - there are biological differences between men and women. Personally I think it's more complex than simple XX and XY chromosomes. I know enought about genetics, gene expression, epigenetics and the fact that quite simply things go wrong to understand that each cell is complicated.

As for the brain - we're only beginning to understand how that works. The soul, what makes us us. I have no idea if there are male / female brain diffences or even if there is a part of the brain that tells us "what we are". It would be arrogant to say there is or to deny it. No one knows.

All I can say is that from the age of 12, things felt very wrong. I totally didn't fit in. Is that the pressure society places on us for gender expectations or something deeper? That's a good question. No denying society places a lot of pressure on people to conform and it is hard for males and females to defy gender expectations.

But it's deeper. I want with all my heart to walk down the street, to sit at a bar and to live so people take me for a woman. Just like you are reading this post. I want to sound like one without people thinking she used to be a man, I want to appear as one without people thinking that's a man and I want my body to match my appearance. I want sex with a man without him even questioning anything.

That's a big ask. I'm lucky - I pass ok and hardly get second looks. Until I open my mouth. I have a past which I can't hide.

I don't know why my body and mind are telling me this but they are. I can't explain it in terms of gender theory or constructivism. My surgery is at the end of the year and I can't wait. Yes - it's massive surgery and it's painful (penile hair removal sad ) but it's something I have to do.

Women or man - I don't know. Male or female. Who knows? I just want to live my life the best I can with as few hassles. It may be politics to some people but there are also real human beings involved.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 15:45:03

You're welcome amillionyears, although this is a much better link if you are looking for scientific info on intersex conditions.

www.aissg.org/21_OVERVIEW.HTM

AliceWChild Mon 21-Jan-13 16:00:02

Kim, I think everyone just wants to be accepted for who they are. All politics is about real people. I don't argue that gender is socially constructed rather than innate as some abstract game. I do so because I want to be accepted as me. I don't want 'femininity' to be used by patriarchy as a way to oppress me. I don't want my son to get told because he's a boy 'masculinity' is innate and he must conform. It's all about people.

amillionyears Mon 21-Jan-13 16:05:18

I love Kim147

amillionyears Mon 21-Jan-13 16:06:39

I am a happily married woman btw

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 16:10:22

Kim, I wish you all the best and I hope you find the peace you are looking for.

I think maybe one of the big differences is that you want to walk down the street and be accepted as a woman. I, as a woman, want to go through life being accepted as a human.

And I agree with Alice that politics is about real people. I care about this issue because it is very real to me - not as an academic subject that it is fun to debate over.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 21-Jan-13 16:10:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

'I just want to live and be accepted. I've said this before on plenty of these threads but I'll say it again.

Yes - there are biological differences between men and women. Personally I think it's more complex than simple XX and XY chromosomes. I know enought about genetics, gene expression, epigenetics and the fact that quite simply things go wrong to understand that each cell is complicated.

As for the brain - we're only beginning to understand how that works. The soul, what makes us us. I have no idea if there are male / female brain diffences or even if there is a part of the brain that tells us "what we are". It would be arrogant to say there is or to deny it. No one knows.

All I can say is that from the age of 12, things felt very wrong. I totally didn't fit in. Is that the pressure society places on us for gender expectations or something deeper? That's a good question. No denying society places a lot of pressure on people to conform and it is hard for males and females to defy gender expectations.

But it's deeper. I want with all my heart to walk down the street, to sit at a bar and to live'

Right up to here, kim, I was nodding along. I stop there, because I don't know what it's like to be accepted as a woman. I've always felt as if being a woman made me automatically on the outside, not accepted. It's always felt as if just by the look of my body, people feel it's ok to comment on my sex life and how my private parts look, and what I enjoy sexually. Or they look at me and assume I'm 'frigid' and an inferior version of what they are. They assume my genitals are an abbreviated version of theirs, that probably doesn't function right (because, we all know women don't always come, right? hmm).

I want to be able to talk without 99% of people listening judging me for not being feminine enough, or for being too 'shrill' or too 'masculine' or whatever. I would love to find that during a conversation, I'd be allowed to comment without having to interrupt or fight for it. I would love to have just one conversation with a senior academic in my field, where he doesn't stand too close and wait for me to step back. I would love to know how I'm mean to act when I don't feel as if I fit in with my gender at all. Because my gender is meant to be simpering and flirting and keeping quiet during the important talks.

I would love not to have this body with breasts and curves, that means when I walk down the street, men stare and catcall and make me feel like a freak show.

I don't know what you're going through, and I know I don't know, and I wish you luck - but so much of what you describe sounds exactly like what I'm used to already.

AnyFucker Mon 21-Jan-13 16:18:48

I think maybe one of the big differences is that you want to walk down the street and be accepted as a woman. I, as a woman, want to go through life being accepted as a human.

hear, hear BC

AnyFucker Mon 21-Jan-13 16:20:16

and this is where feminist issues and transgender issues diverge for me

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 16:21:54

Me too AF.

And what LRD said.

AnyFucker Mon 21-Jan-13 16:26:09

I can see some convergence too, of course, don't get me wrong.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 21-Jan-13 16:26:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WidowWadman Mon 21-Jan-13 16:30:56

And I can't see for the life of me how Kim's wish to be accepted as a woman threatens other women's wishes to be accepted as humans.

I think there's a huge amount of convergence. Otherwise I wouldn't be feeling kim's account chimes in so exactly with what I feel. It's just so frustrating that we're still so far apart, despite that convergence.

AnyFucker Mon 21-Jan-13 16:33:58

Kim's personal wish to be what she wants to be does not, WW.

drwitch Mon 21-Jan-13 16:36:19

and me, i think the worry for me about transgender issues is they take the problem- society defining roles and people struggling to come to terms with these roles and then come up with very individualistic solutions to these problems - change yourself

it may certainly be possible that in a truly equal society there will be people who are unhappy with their biological sex but these will not necessarily be the same people that are unhappy with their gender roles currently. I may wish to walk into a bar and be wined and dined and flirted with but actually prefer to have a penis rather than a vagina, i may wish to play football but not like my penis

I feel that Kim's situation is her business. I appreciate her talking about it, but I also see that it's private. And I don't think we can understand when we've not been there.

But I don't follow how we got from kims's post to women being accepted as humans? confused Can you unpack that a bit for me, WW?

FreyaSnow Mon 21-Jan-13 16:37:24

I know that it has already been said, but I want to agree that I really don't think that transgender people are responsible for women being told off for talking about a. the political implications of having a female body or b. gender . Transgender people are a very small group and clearly other people with another agenda are pushing this.

I have certainly seen situations where women who are not transgender have been discussing or writing about gender, particularly their own experience of not feeling entirely feminine or masculine, and being told to stop because they have no right to discuss it as it is a transgender issue. But it isn't solely a transgender issue; it is something almost all women I have met experience (with the exception of my Grandma, who could quite legitimately be called cis gendered).

I think you're splitting hairs tbh.

I'm pretty sure kim would like to walk down the street feeling like a woman AND human. Don't we all want to feel like human beings?

Being a woman is part of my humanity. I don't want to erase it and just be 'human', I would just like to get rid of all the negative aspects vis-a-vis the patriarchy.

Who is splitting hairs? confused

I agree with you, everyone wants to feel human. And IMO, deserves to.

AnyFucker Mon 21-Jan-13 16:43:08

"splitting hairs" ?

to be treated like a piece of meat, simply there as a male's plaything is dehumanising

there was a very long thread on here once where all the myriad ways women are treated less than human were described ("small sexual assaults")

don't minimise that, most women have experienced it at some point in their lives

I think that to respond to kim's 'I want to feel like a woman' with 'I want to feel like a human' is splitting hairs, because it's not like kim is saying she doesn't also want to feel like a human. I think it's creating a bit of a false dichotomy ('they want to be women and we want to be human').

AliceWChild Mon 21-Jan-13 16:48:21

Totally agree drwitch. It happens all over, this depoliticisation to render society's failings as individual problems. It reminds me of the idea that's it's the poor's fault for being poor. Conveniently hiding the structural problems that lead to lack of jobs etc.

Um, how am I minimising sexual assault? confused

With due respect, I've been raped, I don't need to read a thread about it.

As I just explained, 'splitting hairs' is how I saw the response to kim's post. That's all.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 16:49:30

Of course Kim's personal wish to present and be accepted as a woman isn't a threat.

The issue is when changes are made by male dominated society to laws that threaten women's rights. Rights that women have struggled very hard for, rights that many many women do not have yet. Women are not treated as fully human in patriarchy (men are).

WidowWadman Mon 21-Jan-13 16:49:48

LRD - it was a response to BC saying "I think maybe one of the big differences is that you want to walk down the street and be accepted as a woman. I, as a woman, want to go through life being accepted as a human."

Also, of course, Kim's situation is private. But there are feminists actively campaigning against her being able to live her private situation, e.g. Sheila Jeffreys, or that person behind gendertrender linked to in the OP. Not discussing political aspects in the abstract, but actively calling for a ban of treatment which helps Kim and so many other transsexuals.

If you accept that her situation is private, can you also accept that calling for her treatment to be outlawed is an intrusion of her privacy?

Charlizee Mon 21-Jan-13 16:50:49

Sex workers in Ireland are being censored because they wish to discuss the politics of changes in prostitution law.

There are NO sex workers allowed at the hearings. The debate and decision making is being done entirely by people who don't work in the sex industry without any input from those who do.

Is this a feminist issue?

www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KJcCH4NXSak

The video is less than 2 mins long please have a quick look.

MordionAgenos Mon 21-Jan-13 16:52:03

I found Kim's ambition to sit at a bar quite interesting. That's something I wouldn't do on my own, from bitter bitter experience (and I'm an old gimmer now). But I'm not fussed about it, to be honest. I'm all about the getting more women in senior positions debate. Or ensuring equal education and opportunities for girls issue. And I don't want those debates derailed by other issues, rooted in an idea of 'what women do' (or, what women are allowed to do or what women should want to do) which has been moulded by the patriarchy.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 16:58:59

WidowWadman Jeffrey's disagrees with gender reassignment surgery because she thinks it is inhumane. She thinks it is a violent surgical 'corrective' measure which has a shaky track record in terms of both physical and psychological success.

She would like to discuss that with others who have similar reservations about the practice - there are lots of people who share her concerns.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 17:06:05

And AFAIA she is most vocal on the matter when it concerns children.

www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/cedaw_crc_contributions/SheilaJeffreys.pdf

I'm with beach here again.

As a femininst, I am conflicted about surgery. People seek surgery to make themselves feel more like women, and I hope I am sensitive to the pain they're feeling, that makes them feel surgery will be a cure. But it's not a simple issue. I don't know much about how people object to surgery, but I don't immediately see why it'd be wrong to be concerned that surgery might not be working as the people operated on hoped it would? Am I being very naive here?

window, when you say feminists are campaigning against women like kim ... I can't help but wonder, what about all of us women? There has never, so far as I know, been a situation where women could rely on their private situations staying private, and their decision to walk down a street, staying private. I can see why this feels shocking and unfair if you'd expected more decent, fair treatment. It seems shocking and unfair to me.

But ... why am I being told I'm to blame? Why am I getting lectures about how, if I want to discuss these issues that affect me, I must accept that I am somehow trasphobic?

I don't have time to be trasphobic. I am busy trying to find a tiny bit of space for myself.

emskaboo Mon 21-Jan-13 18:05:31

Hear hear LRD

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 18:09:05

Another example of Sheila Jeffreys' analysis with regards to children. It is hard to argue with and strikes me as perfectly reasonable, not transphobic.

www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=2162

WidowWadman Mon 21-Jan-13 18:12:25

BC "She would like to discuss that with others who have similar reservations about the practice - there are lots of people who share her concerns. "

Yeah, she'd like to discuss it with those who agree with her, but doesn't want to hear from or about those who'd be negatively affected by her campaign.

LRD - I don't understand the point of your whataboutery. Stopping trans people from living the gender identity they feel is the right one from them doesn't change anything for the better.

I think there's nothing wrong with discussing surgery, the pros and cons, and the issues connected with it. What I find wrong is actively campaigning for it to be banned.

FreyaSnow Mon 21-Jan-13 18:29:04

If large numbers of gender non-conforming children who began medical treatment as children later regret it, it will be viewed as a massive human rights violation by future generations. It will be seen as similar to the medical treatments that were given to gay young people in the 1950s, and much of the diagnostic criteria remains the same. It seems a matter of conscience to question it. But perhaps I'm biased because I grew up with a gender non-conforming sibling.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 18:53:22

This is also well worth a read if you want to understand Sheila Jeffreys' analysis. There is lots to consider and discuss.

www.rapereliefshelter.bc.ca/sites/default/files/imce/Transgender%20Activism%20A%20Lesbian%20Feminist%20Perspective%20by%20Sheila%20Jeffreys%2C%20Journal%20of%20Lesbian%20Studies%201997%5B1%5D.pdf

WidowWadman do you know Sheila Jeffreys? What makes you think that she doesn't talk to transgender people?

Have you read much of her work? (She quotes transgender people she has spoken to all the time.)

FairPhyllis Mon 21-Jan-13 19:04:10

I agree with the points made here about surgery. It may be too soon to know whether surgery, on the whole, is an effective treatment for most transgender people. But we don't have a good track record on medical treatments for conditions related to psychological distress about the body. We have also in the past wrongly pathologised non-gender conforming behaviour by gay children. These things make it perfectly reasonable to discuss whether surgery is an appropriate response to people experiencing distress about the body and gender. If it's wrong, or wrong for some people, then the effects are going to be pretty catastrophic.

I have a friend who was treated as a teenager by a well known "ex-gay" therapist in the 1990s, and it has had terrible psychological consequences for him. At the time he wanted the "treatment" though.

drwitch Mon 21-Jan-13 19:06:10

i think surgery or hormone treatment for children should be banned, they are just too young to know. It just seems a bit sick to tell a child that if he wants to put on a dress and play with dolls that he should not have a willy. Many children feel weird about different parts of their body at sometime this may continue until adulthood or may not. Alligning it with wanting to be "atypical" seems to re-inforce the problem. Morevoer, is it not possible that a boy could both hate his willy AND want to climb trees.
I am NOT saying that surgery for adults should be banned or stopped but the risks are just too great for children

TiggyD Mon 21-Jan-13 19:54:24

Boys don't get surgery. They can get drugs that block puberty which are reversible, but for surgery they would have to wait until they're an adult. I don't know any trans person who advocates surgery on children.

SpeverendRooner Mon 21-Jan-13 20:01:39

Would somebody mind posting a link to "Kim's thread", mentioned above? The search function and my phone browser don't seem to agree with one another...

Tortington Mon 21-Jan-13 20:09:51

i thought men could be feminists?

there is something very dangerous in ANY quarter about saying that This club, political, gender, race, disability - is for certain people only.

vesuvia Mon 21-Jan-13 20:14:13

TiggyD wrote "Boys don't get surgery. They can get drugs that block puberty which are reversible, but for surgery they would have to wait until they're an adult."

The surgery is now done on people who are as young as 16 years old.

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 20:17:18

Just to clarify - yes - to feel human but for me, I have this inner feeling that is so strong to just look, sound and quite honestly to be taken and thought of as female. Not to be thought of as a male. I can't explain it but that's what I need to do. I know I will never have the experiences you had growing up, will never know what it's like to carry life inside you and there's nothing I can do about.

I just want and need to be taken for "an ordinary women" by people. That's all.

And yes - I have sat in a bar by myself waiting for some friends to join me. It was an "interesting" experience. I did get approached by a bloke who decided to put his hands on me.

I can't explain it - obviously I want to be "human" or whatever the phrase was - but I just want to blend in.

FreyaSnow Mon 21-Jan-13 20:21:02

Custardo, I definitely think that is a debate worth having. If lots of people no longer want anything whatsoever segregated by sex, age, disability etc, that's something everyone should discuss and we could reorganise things. Certainly lots of younger people seem to not want single sex toilets and changing rooms anymore, and educating by age seems also to be going out of fashion.

Whether or not people were supportive of then introducing a new system of segregation based on gender would then be a separate argument.

MiniTheMinx Mon 21-Jan-13 20:36:14

Thank you Beach for all the interesting links, I am reading what Sheila Jeffreys has to say in relation to children. Reading about the case of the young girl named Alex, something suddenly dawned on me. When I grew up in the 70's children were pretty free from early gender stereotyping, we wore green not pink, we climbed trees with the boys, I had scaletrix etc. However now there is so much pressure through the media, through children's television for boys and girls to play with different things, for girls to wear pink and behave in certain ways. This effects too how adults behave towards children and it is far more common for people to make generalisations about what boys and girls do, think, how they act, what they should look like.

Surely if children (and indeed adults) are now being pigeon holed along very inflexible gender identifiers ( I don't know how to express this exactly) but markers then surely more people will simply not feel any belonging to the gender they are assigned. No wonder so many children now express the fear that they don't feel comfortable in the gender they are assigned.

No treatment should be given to children. What adults choose to do, up to them. They only thing I don't like is having to now prefix woman with cis. It is obviously opening the door for the day when transgender women will become simply women, and us well, we will be other......cis women.

TiggyD Mon 21-Jan-13 20:51:41

You don't have to prefix woman with cis unless you talking about cis and trans stuff which would be a nightmare if you made no distinction between the 2. Just call 'cis' women and 'trans' women women. If you call 'cis' women women and 'trans' women 'trans' women you'll be doing what you said you don't like to other people and labeling yourself as 'normal' and them as 'other'

kim147 Mon 21-Jan-13 20:57:51

"They only thing I don't like is having to now prefix woman with cis. It is obviously opening the door for the day when transgender women will become simply women, and us well, we will be other......cis women."

That's the plan confused

FreyaSnow Mon 21-Jan-13 21:13:07

Tiggy, the purpose of naming particular groups isn't solely to make sure nobody gets to claim the title of 'normal.' We rarely name people to solely mean they are not something. There isn't a specific word that just means not gay, or not Muslim, or not from Somalia or not a woman. It doesn't mean that gay people, Muslims, the population of Somalia or women are disadvantaged. If you name a group of people it has to describe something about what they are. So a person who is not gay might say they are asexual, bisexual, heterosexual and so on and it means a specific thing. It does not just mean 'not gay.'

If people who are not trans are to have identities that describe what they are rather than what they are not, they have to agree with what the identity means. Lots of people who are not trans do not feel that their gender identity matches their assigned sex at birth; they find their gender troubling but for different reasons than trans people do, so there needs to be a range of descriptions related to gender that the people taking on those identities actually agree describes their experiences.

WidowWadman Mon 21-Jan-13 21:17:24

"There isn't a specific word that just means not gay"

There is two. Straight. Heterosexual.

MiniTheMinx Mon 21-Jan-13 21:18:22

It's a conspiracy clearly wink well I won't be using any prefix. Partly because I accept any adult to be what they say they are. I regularly bump into a French woman in the mornings, she is so bright and friendly. She was apparently a he. I can't imagine describing her as a trans women. I wouldn't be terrible happy if she referred to me as a cis. But then I don't really care whats going on under peoples clothes, I only really care about whats going on between their ears. I am concerned though that there seems to be more and more children being treated with hormones. They might have "treated" me I was a tomboy. In fact I clearly remember saying at about 8yrs to my best friend (a boy) I wish I was a boy! I often said this to my mother as a child. I am of course very happy and I am a woman.

FreyaSnow Mon 21-Jan-13 21:22:50

No, straight means a person who is sexually and/or romantically attracted solely of the same gender or sex. It has a meaning in its own right. It does not just mean not gay. If it just meant not gay then straight would also includes categories like demisexual, pansexual, asexual, bisexual and so on.

chibi Mon 21-Jan-13 21:23:08

Does not gay = heterosexual? Really? [Confused]

FreyaSnow Mon 21-Jan-13 21:23:24

Sorry, I meant opposite gender or sex, not same.

MiniTheMinx Mon 21-Jan-13 21:24:33

Do people now referred to as "Trans" like this label?

FreyaSnow Mon 21-Jan-13 21:33:14

I think that collectively it is trans* to be inclusive of a range of different trans experiences. The star is important I think, from what I see people using. Individually trans people will want to be described using different terms. Trans* is an umbrella term.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 21:36:46
MiniTheMinx Mon 21-Jan-13 21:39:52

What is pansexual? I wonder what the world would be like without labels?

TiggyD Mon 21-Jan-13 21:42:29

Trans people on the whole would rather be known as people. Trans women would rather be called women.

Where has the * come from? New one on me!

amillionyears Mon 21-Jan-13 21:42:33

I think people need to accept who they feel they are.
Even if society struggles with that.

FreyaSnow Mon 21-Jan-13 21:43:17

I think it means you're attracted to all genders and sexes.

MiniTheMinx Mon 21-Jan-13 21:45:12

Thanks Beach, will have a read. I can't read some of the blogs. I really can't.

Beachcomber Mon 21-Jan-13 22:01:44

There is a lot of anger in the blogs and that often makes for uncomfortable reading (although there is often very good analysis to be found). No worries.

edam Mon 21-Jan-13 22:40:51

Surely m to f transpeople should be embracing feminism, not attacking it? Unless someone is a quisling, keen to curry favour with the powerful by attacking their fellow members of the oppressed class/group/whatever.

marfisa Mon 21-Jan-13 23:54:44

I'm a woman and a feminist. I don't feel threatened or bullied or censored by transgendered people in any way. I can't think of any "women only" conversation that I would want to exclude transgendered people from. No two women are alike anyway!

I don't see why the term 'cis' is so threatening either. It's just one more way of acknowledging the complexity of identity. LRD, I usually appreciate your posts a lot, but I can't see where you're coming from when you argue that cis privilege is just male privilege in disguise. I am a white, middle-class, educated, cis woman - that doesn't make me any less a woman, or reduce the impact of any gender-based discrimination I might experience.

This is an interesting thread, though, and I particularly appreciate kim147's contributions.

sangiec Tue 22-Jan-13 01:34:45
sangiec Tue 22-Jan-13 01:35:17
FloraFox Tue 22-Jan-13 06:16:59

I am with you Beach.

I am not a radfem nor a lesbian. I have no particular desire to form or join a women's only group or go to a women's music festival. But I'm astounded that so many liberal feminists are effectively saying radfems and lesbians cannot be free to organise themselves on the terms they determine and campaign for whatever issues they want unless they accept an externally imposed dogma they fundamentally don't believe.

Beach hits the nail on the head that one side cannot be allowed to silence the other.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 10:35:18

That's pretty much it for me too FloraFox except I probably am a radical feminist.

And you know, having thought a lot about this lately, I think my main issue is with the silencing and intimidation. I see a sort of conflict of interests for both feminists and transgender people and there must surely be a way to work it out but it can only be worked out if there is dialogue. If there can't be dialogue then at the very least there should be mutual civility and respect of boundaries and the right to hold and express a differing opinion.

I don't know an awful lot about the history of transitioning but it seems to me that the post-modernist/queer theory schools have played a role in us arriving at the current mess. When I was younger, transitioning was described as being 'transsexual' and there was very much the idea of a person's body not fitting how they felt and wanted to live - there seemed to be an accepted idea that the person's genitals did not fit and were something the person wanted to rid themselves of. Now, whilst I find that incredibly sad and destructive, I can empathise with the concept and can see how very real it is for the person concerned. I think the medical community is being irresponsible and probably unethical in providing surgical and chemical treatments - but that is my opinion and I accept that a transitioning person no doubt sees things differently. Transvestites and crossdressers were entirely different to transsexual people.

Then the post-moderinst and queer theory influence changed things and transsexualism suddenly became encompassed in transgenderism. And, that was were things got tricky for me as a feminist - because it seemed that a person could be male bodied and not take synthetic hormones but simply identity with another gender and that was enough for them to be considered of another sex. And that just sounded like so much pomo bullshit to me.

Around the same time, discussions got shut down. Transphobia became a buzz word and any questioning of this post-modernist idea of gender identity = sex became unacceptable.

Then after lobbying and activism we got the Gender Recognition Act (without much discussion being had, certainly women's rights actors weren't asked what they thought) and we all had to accept that male bodied persons who identified with some abstract, patriarchal and oppressive concept of a female gender had the right to access women's safe spaces. And if you didn't accept that you were at best illiberal and retrogressive and at worst a transphobe and a bigot.

And, ever since, feminists have been saying 'hold on a minute' but there is a wall of non-discussion and an insistence that an adult male bodied person is in the same sex, social and political class as FAAB women who were born girls, grew up oppressed by female gender and have the bodies and biology of human females.

In a similar way there has been a shutting down of the discussion of societal homophobia (and issues of body image, abuse, self-esteem, etc) pressuring young women (and men) to 'transition'.

This is another link to an article written by Sheila Jeffreys. It is most thought provoking.

The campaign against radical feminists who criticize the harmful practice of transgenderism has been quite effective up ’til now in preventing any rethinking. But I think a tipping point has been reached. Support for the practice has been almost total on the left, amongst all those who see themselves as progressive, amongst feminists and queer theorists and activists. Now it is clear that a rethinking is beginning, in the medical profession and amongst an increasingly broad swathe of feminists. The fact that transgenderism has had such blanket support despite the fact that it involves sterilization, other brutal surgeries, and the ingestion of harmful drugs for life, is not without precedent in the history of ‘sexual surgeries’. The campaign to sterilize the ‘unfit’ was instigated by physicians and biological scientists, the very same groups of professionals involved in the construction of transgenderism, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 10:39:17

Thanks for the link sangiec - that is certainly how I see things. This for example That isn't hate, it's dissent.

WidowWadman Tue 22-Jan-13 10:46:45

You object to 'cis' but use 'FAAB'. What's the difference?

Thank you for that really clear post about postmodernism/queer theory, Beach. I had an inkling that something like this had happened - I was actually just about to ask about the difference between TS and TG - does TS still exist or is it all called TG now?

WidowWadman the way I understand it is -

FAAB - you were born and someone said, 'It's a girl!' - it's something that actually happened and which has had a huge effect on the way the world has treated you ever since that moment.

Cis - literally, 'on the same side' - your body matches a concept of what 'gender' you are. If you believe that gender is a social construct this can have no meaning except that you are perfectly happy in the little 'feminine' box that the patriarchy tries to shove you into. That's why I'm not happy being called 'cis'.

OptimisticPessimist Tue 22-Jan-13 11:05:31

I'm in.

I find it quite hard to explain my objection to the word "cis" - to me accepting that word means I accept that I have an innate gender identity (and that gender in general is innate) and that that gender identity matches the one associated with my body. I don't accept any of those things, and so to accept the label cis means describing myself as something that I don't believe to be true. I hope that makes sense, I am tired and my brain is fuzzy, I'm MN'ing to avoid essay writing blush

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 22-Jan-13 11:07:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AbigailAdams Tue 22-Jan-13 11:09:05

I'm in too, Beach. Only just managed to read all the thread. Thank you for starting it. I too am not happy about being called "cis". PlentyofPubeGardens has explained it nicely. Thank you, as well, Beach for explaining postmodernism/queer theory too.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 11:26:42

FAAB = female assigned at birth.

It is a factual description of a concrete biology reality (and includes intersex people who were identified as girls at birth). FAAB is a term that women have come up to describe themselves, when necessary, in a discussion about transgernderism.

Cisgender = a person whose (patriarchaly imposed) gender identity corresponds to that attributed by patriarchy to their biological sex.

Gender is an abstract notion, a social construct, a status hierarchy, a political tool. It is a socio-political construct based on the patriarchal notion of male=masculinity=dominant/oppressor/higher status/higher value/gender priviledged and female=femininity=submissive/subjugated/oppressed/lower status/lower value/non-gender privileged.

Gender identity is which gender/gender role one identifies with or has been socialized to accept. Many feminists reject gender entirely and many many women do not identify with (or reject socialization of) the femininity=submissive/subjugated/oppressed/lower status/lower value socio-political role. As a consequence these women are not cis and may even reject the entire concept of cis as being a patriarchal construct in the same way that gender is. (Although possibly even more flawed as it is a social construct constructed of a social construct therefore even further removed from concrete reality than gender itself.)

Cis is a patriarchal term which has been imposed (mostly on women) and is both dictatorial and othering. It is used to gloss over the politics of gender that are contradictory to the politics of the phenomenon of transgenderism. Cis is yet another term which attempts to pass a socially constructed hierarchy and privilege system as a concrete reality. It is a politically loaded term and IMO in the case of women, a gaslighting one.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 11:29:46

sorry for typos!

(biological reality) and I think I said (identity) in a previous post when I meant (identify).

I do proof read but am working so not very careful!

EldritchCleavage Tue 22-Jan-13 11:55:31

Cis - literally, 'on the same side' - your body matches a concept of what 'gender' you are. If you believe that gender is a social construct this can have no meaning except that you are perfectly happy in the little 'feminine' box that the patriarchy tries to shove you into. That's why I'm not happy being called 'cis'

Very well put, PoPG. I agree entirely.

GothAnneGeddes Tue 22-Jan-13 11:57:59

This is getting ludicrous now.

Trans people should not be allowed to exist and should be shunned because the term "cis" is such a huge abusive act. Really?

Also, saying "Sheila Jefferys said" every time you want to make a point is just an Appeal to an Authority debating tactic.

You claim to want to demolish the patriarchy, but you'll use exactly the same tools (holding up individuals as authorities who should not be questioned) as they do.

Also, using a trans-hating website to dismiss the solidarity between trans and intersex people is another poor debating tactic.

Look what Google brings:
http://www.isna.org/node/190

As for "anger is not hate", since the anger is directed at trans people, shouldn't they be the ones to decide that? Just like we as feminists don't allow MRA's to define misogyny for us.

Or can Stormfront claim that their anger towards non-whites, isn't hate either, so is equally acceptable?

kim147 Tue 22-Jan-13 12:04:54

What amazes me is that a trans thread pretty much guarantees 1000 posts - some of them very angry about labelling.

Yet other threads on here about domestic violence, abuse, women in the media, porn etc don't generate anywhere as much comment.

The trans community is seriously small. Compared to all the crap women face, the trans community is tiny.

I honestly don't think the size of the trans community is enough to threaten women and their right to speak out. There's far bigger things out there that need addressing.

But it's always the trans ones that get a lot of posts - and by the same posters.

GothAnneGeddes Tue 22-Jan-13 12:14:45

Kim - it is an utterly pointless fixation and yet it actually consumes some feminists beyond the point of all reason. Someone said on the last thread that trans issues were not the hill they wanted to die on, sadly lots would disagree.

It is incredibly sad.

I hope you're ok, these threads must be very hard for you.

FloatyBeatie Tue 22-Jan-13 12:15:46

I too hope you are ok kim. I've kind of given up on this thread. I guess it is hard for you to do that though.

CrunchyFrog Tue 22-Jan-13 12:32:19

You do keep telling people what they're allowed to get annoyed about, Kim.

While it may only affect a small number, the power that small number have had - to change the law, in order to reflect a feeling rather than physical fact (And is that transphobic? A person with a woman's body who is legally defined as a man, or vice versa, that is being based upon feelings and perceptions, rather than biological fact, is it not?) in a startling short space of time - I'm living in a country where it was still impossible to rape your wife under the law 20 years ago.

This very small number of people have managed to redefine what gender means.

I genuinely think that at least part of it is fear on the part of (mainly male) law-makers - as a society we are so invested in gender roles that when someone subverts them, as M2F trans people do in an obvious way, they have to be seen as "other." And to many men, they are the default, so "other" = "woman." A woman is a defective man, in their eyes.

So small as the number may be, the law has changed to support them. That makes it seem to me, (and not in a tin-hat-wearing-conspiricy way, but just in the way that living in patriarchy means it's easier to get patriarchal stuff passed) that reinforcing these strict gender roles is something that supports society as it stands.

I have said before, I do not "fit" any definition of female I've seen from a trans POV. I don't live as a man, I just live as me, which I know is easier as a woman who is unfeminine than a man who is unmasculine. If it could go both ways - if it was acceptable to be a feminine man - would that mean fewer people opting for surgery?
.
I just don't think it's a done deal. I haven't seen any good, solid evidence based science that says this is a disorder, that can only be mended with surgery. It feels like some of the earlier barbaric treatments for difference, such as those meted out to homosexuals, or "hysterical" females, or social deviants. Only Trans people are expected to be grateful for it.

More research needed. Especially into why the massive (3x as many) M2F : F2M ratio difference. I read somewhere something about the ratio of white/ grey matter in male/ female brains, anyone ever heard anything about that?

drwitch Tue 22-Jan-13 12:43:30

this thread gets a lots of traffic because it gets at the crucial debates
a) is gender real or socially constructed?
b) is the best strategy to try and fit in with what society ordains or to change society?

I think this issue is not as important as domestic violence, female genitial mutilation of course but because we are all agreed there is less to talk about unless we are planning a particular campaign- see the toy threads.

also i don't think anybody is saying that trans people shouldn't exist

GothAnneGeddes Tue 22-Jan-13 13:22:32

So the law is a tool of the patriarchy, but science isn't? Or is science only feminist friendly when it's used against those you deem as an enemy?

There's also no current scientific basis for homosexuality either, so are you sure that science is what you want as the ultimate arbiter here?

As for the "no one said that trans people shouldn't exist?"

Anti trans people make it very clear that someone pre surgery is someone playing dress up for nefarious purposes but they want to ban sex reassignment surgery.

Then there's the general claim that trans people are either deluded or seek to harm women by trying to become one.

So what exactly are trans people meant to do?

Kim has more right then anyone here to talk about this, she is trans. Would you like a man to come and tell you all what to say about sexism? Thought not.
A lot of these arguments used by the anti-trans people were earlier used by homophobes and racists. It is a hideous irony to see them so eagerly embraced by those claiming to aid women.

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 13:26:30

I think one of the problems with these discussions is that they are viewed as being about women who are not trans as a group and trans people as a group disagreeing. It seems to be more about people who want to promote a gender binary against people who do not. Many trans people do not want a gender binary either, see it as damaging, don't want the gender man or woman and don't feel they fit into it. Obviously their views are not the ones people listen to because they don't reinforce the structures of wider society, and because they're attacked by trans activists with a conservative view on gender.

I think constructive things to do (because although these debates are needed they can be depressing) are to keep campaigning for certain issues that are getting thrown under a bus by the current agenda (safe childbirth for example) and learn about parallel ways to feminism that non-binary promoting trans people have been dismantling gender. As a parent, I think they may have practical examples that could help people as individuals growing up deal with the oppression of gender. And individual understanding can give people the strength to fight for collective rights.

EldritchCleavage Tue 22-Jan-13 13:28:19

Trans people should not be allowed to exist and should be shunned because the term "cis" is such a huge abusive act. Really?

That's absolutely not what I think, Goth. And I want to make clear that I have never had any negative experience caused by trans people, or even by the arguments apparently pursued by trans activists that give rise to such strong feelings on here. I agree with drwitch-the threads are lively because this is an issue that allows people to debate the fundamentals of a lot of key issues. As a bit of a novice so far as the social/political/feminist theory is concerned, I find these threads illuminating (if a bit depressing when they get so hostile).

I'm with you too Beachcomber. Thank you for this thread. I am in my forties and been on the receiving end of silencing tactics my whole life. I know only too well what a bigot is. If I speak from my own experience and reality as a woman and as a feminist on the subject of gender I will be labelled as a bigot. The only alternative is to not speak on the issue. I am angry and upset that finally the patriarchy has found a way to shut us up.

Wow, GothAnne, that's a lot of straw women for one post!

I'm about done with this thread too. I'm getting frustrated with the incoherent arguments.

You say you're not opposed to trans people, just the way they shut down debate. But then you dismiss transgenderism as pomo bullshit, you insist that biology is the defining characteristic of being a woman, and you link to people who apparently want to ban reassignment treatments. Do you really not see the problem there?

You say you are not transphobic, you only want to be able to discuss things with likeminded people. Of course it's okay to want to discuss things with likeminded people, but you are deciding in advance who is likeminded on the basis of their sexual or biological identity. How is it not bigotry to make assumptions about someone based on their identity and exclude them because of that?

And then when people do challenge the merits of your argument, you trot out old Sheila Jeffreys. I don't bleeding care what Sheila Jeffreys has to say about anything. You can say the same thing in fifty different ways, it's the substance of the argument I'm challenging.

I don't know any of you and I really don't want to make assumptions, but I suspect that this revulsion toward trans people -- and I'm sorry, that's a strong word, but it really does come across as revulsion -- is not actually the end result of rational theorising, but rather stems from some unexamined insecurity within the radfem movement and is then dressed up in fancy jargon to make it sound palatable.

It's the 21st century. We have unimaginable capabilities to fight the oppressor, we have new technologies and tactics and allies and ideas, it is such an exciting time. But all of those things depend on openness, transparency, sharing, connecting, abandoning labels and divisions and creating new identities. So can you imagine how depressing it is to read about radfem rejection of the trans community? How 20th century it all sounds?

I'm sorry to be harsh but really, I despair.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 13:45:56

Well, what CrunchFrog and drwitch said so well really.

Sure people who transition, or wish to, are small in number (although apparently increasing) and yet, in accordance with the (highly controversial) politics of transgenderism, laws and attitudes have been shifted in subtle but fundamental ways which affect everybody, and which affect women in different ways to men.

I think it is entirely to be expected that people will have something to say about that, especially when, as mentioned above, we are touching on matters of great controversy such as oppressive socio-political constructs and the individual's relationship to them.

We are now in the situation where the controversy has been highlighted due to a shutting down of debate in an extraordinarily aggressive and effective manner. Trying to say 'nothing to see here folks' isn't going to work and actually just looks like more attempts to shut down debate.

I'm sorry Kim if threads like these are unpleasant for you. I did think about your being a member of MN before I started the thread and decided that that wasn't a reason for me to not start this discussion. You started a thread about Julie Burchill and transgender issues the other day. I see no reason why other members of MN cannot start threads on similar subjects. You are not alone in finding certain subjects on MN unpleasant/frustrating/close to home.

GothAnne, nobody has said this; Trans people should not be allowed to exist and should be shunned because the term "cis" is such a huge abusive act. And I don't think it is conducive to sensible discussion to pretend that they have. Thank your for your feedback on my 'debating tactics' - only thing is, I'm not 'debating' and I don't have any 'tactics'. I'm just chewing the feminist fat on a subject that I care about, and one that I think people who wish to, should be able to discuss.

If you have criticisms of Sheila Jeffreys' analysis I would be interested to hear them. Perhaps you have an opinion on this for example which fits in with what CrunchyFrog said;

In the case of transgenderism the social engineering should be abundantly clear. The practice straightens out those who are a problem for the politically constructed gender structure that founds male domination. Those who do not conform to gender rules, and homosexuals, are surgically reconstructed to fit in. A whole industry and politics has developed to carve ‘gender’ onto the bodies of adults and children. Maintenance of the gender system is vital to the survival of male domination. Any challenge to the idea of gender threatens the main justification for the subordination of women.

radicalhub.com/2011/05/31/guest-post-sheila-jeffreys/

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 14:01:11

Ok, some cross postings here.

Yunno what this makes me think of?

When women discuss women's rights issues and patriarchy and they get called manhaters.

dreamingbohemian I didn't dismiss transgenderism as pomo bullshit. I said that the notion that "a person could be male bodied and not take synthetic hormones but simply identify with another gender and that was enough for them to be considered of another sex" struck me as pomo bullshit.

If you disagree, I'm all ears as to why.

GothAnneGeddes Tue 22-Jan-13 14:06:36

More Sheila Jefferys!!

That's your response?

This isn't debate, it's the pushing of hierarchical dogma wrapped up as feminism.

And yy to what dreamingbohemian said.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 14:10:15

And I think FreyaSnow nailed it with this;

I think one of the problems with these discussions is that they are viewed as being about women who are not trans as a group and trans people as a group disagreeing. It seems to be more about people who want to promote a gender binary against people who do not. Many trans people do not want a gender binary either, see it as damaging, don't want the gender man or woman and don't feel they fit into it. Obviously their views are not the ones people listen to because they don't reinforce the structures of wider society, and because they're attacked by trans activists with a conservative view on gender.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 14:19:38

WildEyedAndHairy sad and angry with you on the silencing tactics. I hear you on the patriarchy having found a pretty good one here.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 22-Jan-13 14:23:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GothAnneGeddes Tue 22-Jan-13 14:23:46

Beach - I find you're being very disingenuous.

You describe JB's article as "explosive", which completely minimises the hatred and demeaning language it contains and in fact incites towards trans people.

Even worse hatred and vile speech on the blogs you link to is painted as "anger".

You are trying to rally people to a cause without showing them the true face and beliefs of those within it, because I know and I suspect you do too, that if they saw the hateful language used, they would want no part of it.

EldritchCleavage Tue 22-Jan-13 14:28:04

Actually I have to agree with Goth on describing Burchill's article as 'explosive' (though I don't think it incited anything). That's a misdescription, to me. It was repellent.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 14:28:30

GothAnne, again, thanks for your feedback on me.

I'd rather talk about the actual issues though than have things get personal - I think that is when discussions about sensitive and controversial issue go wrong.

I'm trying to articulate why I disagree, because my disagreement is very visceral.

I'm thinking of a very dear friend of mine. When I met him, he was a gay man in a long-term relationship with another gay man. Today he is living as a woman and has a girlfriend. He is not taking hormones and has no plans for surgery (now) but he has otherwise completely altered his appearance to look like a woman, he's taken a woman's name and asked us all to use it, he basically is trying to live as much like a woman as possible without physically altering his body.

I honestly don't think any of this is odd or disturbing or 'sad' or problematic in any way. To me, she is now a woman, that's how I think of her, and I don't see why this should be a problem for anyone. So the idea that you would say to her: you are not a woman, and you have no place in our discussion of women's issues because you weren't born with a vagina -- well, it seems pretty hateful to me. You may think what she's doing is pomo bullshit but it's not, it's just her life, and she is actually the happiest she has ever been.

I don't think womanhood resides in my genitalia. It is so much more than that. And it's a glorious, wonderful thing to be a woman, why not celebrate when people choose to identify with it?

You see it as someone claiming something they are not entitled to. I don't think it's for us to decide who is entitled or not. Again, 21st century: it is not the old world of membership lists and box-ticking criteria and fellow traveler tests, it is a new world where you can join movements with a click of the button and 'the more the merrier'. Those are the movements that are flourishing.

I guess I would put it like this: whatever the perceived risks to the feminist movement of embracing the trans community, they are outweighed by the benefits. You would have new allies, new paths of activity, you would be seen as inclusive and evolving with the times. It would be such a positive step, and positivity is a great asset in any activist movement.

WidowWadman Tue 22-Jan-13 14:31:44

"It seems to be more about people who want to promote a gender binary against people who do not."

This just doesn't make sense. You keep claiming to be against a binary and at the same time promote segregation along the lines of the binary you profess to be against.

GothAnneGeddes Tue 22-Jan-13 14:31:57

Beach - I have no knowledge of you personally. to make it clear, it is your tactics here I find disingenuous.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 14:33:52

On the 'explosive' thing - it was a word I chose because things have exploded since the publishing of that article.

We had a long thread the other day about the article and the language it contained on which I expressed to posters (including GothAnne) that I thought Burchill had been out of order. I didn't really see the point of this thread as to being rehashing all what had been said on the other one about the Burchill article as there is a wider discussion to be had too. Of course people will talk about what they want to on threads however and if people want to re-examine Burchill's attitude and language then why not.

Ok, I got a bit lost. Apparently my posts are 'whataboutery', whatever that means. And I'm probably all wrong because I'm not keeping to the correct topics like a good little feminist.

But here's what I struggle with: if you say womanhood doesn't reside in the genitals for you - great. If you say being a woman is a wonderful thing so it's lovely when someone identifies as female - that's great too.

But where I struggle is - that's not acknowledging that the world we live in is not a perfect, happy world where everyone acknowledges women are more than their genitals and everyone sees womanhood as something to celebrate.

We live in a world where women are discriminated against, and abused, and largely it is targeted at our female bodies.

Therefore, we need to be able to discuss those bodies, and this identity of being a 'woman'.

It's not about saying 'you're not entitled to do this, how dare you?', it's about saying 'can I please have a space too?'.

Up the thread, kim said in confusion that the 'aim' was for transwomen to become women and 'cis' women to become other. I can't quite get past that post. I don't know if it was a joke, or if you honestly don't see why that's not ok, but I am really stunned we can still be discussing this after a post like that.

I have no issue at all with someone's personal decision to do whatever they like to their body. And I can call someone 'she' or 'he' or 'mooncup rose' if that's what they'd like, but I really do want to be able to keep calling myself a woman, please.

WidowWadman Tue 22-Jan-13 14:36:43

Beachcomber you say you found Burchill's language out of order (and I agree with that), but at the same time you start a thread protesting against the 'silencing' of the 'gendertrender' blog which has been using as bad, if not worse language?

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 14:37:51

DB, this is all about real people and their lived experiences. We all know that.

Freya funny, because it seems to me to be denying people their lived experiences (i.e., telling people who consider themselves to be women that they aren't and never will be)

drwitch Tue 22-Jan-13 14:46:39

dreaming in a world where biological sex does not determine how you are treated and the roles you are assigned people like your friend would be more and more common. I and some others are not saying that per (gender neutral pronoun derived from "women on the edge of time) should not live like this but that FAAB people have a particular set of experiences that define us as a group and that trans people cannot share this

I feel that the current trend towards hormones and surgery makes the life of dreaming's friend harder not easier. I also feel that the more women/men adopt these different roles but remain open about their biology, the closer we will get to the ideal world I crave, I also feel that such individualistic strategies are not enough

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 14:47:45

Dreamingbohemian does it clear things up at all if I say that for me;

female = sex

woman = sex + socialization

I was careful to say that I think asserting that a male bodied person (with male chromosomes) who takes no hormones and has had no surgery is female (ie they have changed their sex ), is not credible.

For me there is a difference between female and woman. A political difference.

I'm glad your friend is happy and my political views don't take issue with people like your friend living their lives in the manner of their choosing. Would you consider your friend to be of the female sex?

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 14:48:22

I don't think it is about that. It is more about how everyone can accommodated, which means considering different needs in different contexts.

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 14:49:06

Sorry, was responding to DB.

drwitch Tue 22-Jan-13 14:50:40

I also would swap a world in which only those with XX chromozones were considered women for one in which anybody could be considered one right away, we just don't live in such a world, it is not feminism that is keeping trans people out of women only spaces but the patriarchy

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 14:51:24

And I don't think what your friend is doing is pomo bullshit. At all.

I think post-modernists and patriarchs using your friend's life to argue that a person can change sex through the means of gender identity is bullshit.

But let's say my friend does pass as a woman (and she does frequently). She will still be subject to sexist discrimination as a woman, even though she was not born as one. No one will care if she has a uterus or not, if they think she is a woman they will treat her like one, including negatively.

The biological component to sexism is not the only element. The idea of 'woman' encompasses so much more.

It's true, my friend does not have to personally worry about abortion or birth control, but there are still countless other areas where she will be subject to sexism because of her female identity. I think we should be focusing on those shared areas of concern, not excluding people because our issues are not 100% the same.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 14:59:02

Up the thread, kim said in confusion that the 'aim' was for transwomen to become women and 'cis' women to become other. I can't quite get past that post. I don't know if it was a joke, or if you honestly don't see why that's not ok, but I am really stunned we can still be discussing this after a post like that.

LRD I noticed that too but I assumed it was some sort of typo <hopeful>

Although perhaps what was meant is that the aim is for most women to be considered 'trans' in the sense that they reject the gender identity traditionally imposed on women. Which is an interesting idea but one I disagree with due to my rejection of gender as a patriarchal social construct.

Beachcomber Sorry, that doesn't clear things up for me. You include 'sex' as part of the definition of both 'female' and 'woman', so presumably you are saying that someone who is biologically male cannot be considered a woman. And that is the essence of what I disagree with.

Apologies if I'm not interpreting that correctly. Do you agree that my friend is a woman?

dreaming, if I divorced my DH and married a woman, I would presumably get whatever discrimination my mates who're lesbians get. It wouldn't mean I would feel ok saying 'now let me come along to your weekly group where you discuss what it was like growing up gay'. Because I don't have those experienes. I've heard a mate of mine talking about what it was like for her being 18 and having people call her 'dyke' to her face, and people telling her her relationship isn't real.

I think this is quite a good comparison. I'm bisexual - I am not a lesbian. I wouldn't make out that I know what it's like to be one. Sometimes it's interesting to talk to other women who're attracted to women and we have some of the same experiences, sure. But my lived experience is different, as well as similar.

If someone born male feels they're female inside and starts to live as a woman, their experiences will be a mix of similar to those of other women, and different.

I don't understand why it's not considered ok to say this.

I've never met a straight feminist who thought that she ought to be entitled to lesbian-only meetings, or a white feminist who moaned about the existence of Southall Black Sisters (and I hope to god such people don't exist). I don't see what is wrong with saying that.

As a second point - I reckon I and lots of others would have much more to talk about with transwomen if we weren't being labelled as 'cis'. Once I get past that, we end up talking about what it's like to have these different-but-similar experiences of not feeling our gender identity fits with our bodies, fits with how society sees us. Those could be productive conversations, but they are shut down by this label that says 'you 'cis' women don't get a voice here'.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 15:14:34

No, I don't agree that your friend is a woman. However if we met I would respect her chosen identity by use of pronouns, etc.

I was just trying to explain that I think the idea that one can change sex not credible.

A human male can live as a woman. Of course they can. And as you say they will no doubt be on the receiving end of sexism and misogyny.

I do think there is a difference between FAAB women who have experienced misogyny all their lives and been socialized to internalise it and normalise it and men whose formative years were lived as male. Which is why I don't think your friend is a woman (for me woman means having lived and been socialized as a girl, a female teenager, etc. Our socialization starts from the minute we are born). I also don't think your friend is female.

I respect her right to live as a woman though and wish her peace and happiness.

kim147 Tue 22-Jan-13 15:14:56

LRDUp the thread, kim said in confusion that the 'aim' was for transwomen to become women and 'cis' women to become other. I can't quite get past that post. I don't know if it was a joke, or if you honestly don't see why that's not ok, but I am really stunned we can still be discussing this after a post like that.

That was a joke - someone commented on transwoman becoming women and women becoming cis-woman.

It was a sarcastic comment - hence the confused icon. I honestly thought you knew me well enough on here to appreciate my thoughts and position on all that.

marfisa Tue 22-Jan-13 15:17:27

I still can't see why being "labelled" as cis is a problem. Cis means that you don't consider yourself a transgendered person. It's as simple as that.

Most of the women on this thread ARE cis and so am I. You can dislike the word, but refusing to acknowledge the fact that you possess a certain type of privilege doesn't change the fact that you possess it. It's like being white and not wanting to call yourself white, or having an Oxbridge degree and not wanting to call yourself an Oxbridge graduate.

What about intersex people, whose stories have been told at least since the 16th century? People whose genitalia don't fall obviously into the penis/vagina opposition?

Is there a pull-down-your-pants test that people have to take in order to call themselves radical feminists? Because if so, I guess I'm not interested in being one. I'm a feminist because I don't like it when gender is used to justify instances of exclusion.

I think queer theory is absolutely right on because it acknowledges that binary oppositions like straight/gay, male/female, penis/vagina don't tell the whole story about gender and identity.

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 15:19:14

DB, surely the point is that there are types of oppression that only happen to trans people, and as such there are occasions where some of them may want their own spaces. People who have female reproductive organs, regardless of what gender they might be, experience types of oppression that are only done to them. So some of them want their own spaces sometimes.

And sometimes many different kinds of people will want to meet together. And some people will want acknowledgement of their sex in some situations and their gender or lack of it in others. Some people might not want to tell others their gender and some may not want to tell others their sex. Some may stay as one gender, some may move between many genders over their life or a week.

It is just a lot more complicated if we are to accommodate everyone than making out that there are two genders and biological sex no longer matters. Because lots of people don't fit into the binary and a person still dies every 90 seconds in childbirth. There's no threat more visceral to me than that one.

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 15:20:43

I don't thin cis is as simple as all that though marfisa. It is a very patriarchy propping term.

LRD those are very good points, and I agree that shared experiences are important if the whole point of something is to share experiences. But when it comes to a political movement, are we really comfortable saying that it can only be joined by people with shared experiences? What if those experiences overlap, say, 70%? What if my partner is the one with the shared experience and I'm supportive of them?

I guess it's a deeper question though, what is the basis of feminism? Who gets to be a feminist and join in? I prefer a more inclusive approach, even if that causes some bumps. Possibly I'm being too idealistic though.

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 15:23:16

Marfisa, many people have explained why they don't like cis. If you explain what you don't understand about their statements they might be able to clarify. The points you are raising were addressed.

marfisa Tue 22-Jan-13 15:25:47

Freya, I do see what you mean about groups wanting their own spaces. I just don't see trans people as threatening/compromising feminist spaces (at least not any feminist spaces that I can imagine).

And yes, biological sex does matter. It just doesn't tell the whole story.

BC, how has cis functioned as a patriarchy-propping term? How? I know loads of feminist women who have no problem identifying as cis, and they would be very surprised to know that they are somehow propping up the patriarchy.

TiggyD Tue 22-Jan-13 15:26:39

I think you (*LDR*) have used the word 'cis' more than anybody I know or talk to or post on the bits of the internet I read. I only know one trans person who I remember using it a few times on a trans forum.

marfisa - no, that is how you define cis.

No one has yet been able to describe what 'privilege' 'cis' women might have. To some people (*tiggy*, for example), the question of what women get to call themselves is clearly far too tedious to talk about. Indeed, tiggy, you're quite happy to make cracks at me for using the word - why is that, exactly? Where do you get off telling me what to talk about?

My issue with 'cis' is that no, I don't feel any 'gender identity' that fits with my body or with how society sees me. So it is actually very insulting to have people assuming these things are all 'on the same side' for me, or that it's some great privilege .... which I don't have.

If someone else wants to call themselves 'cis', that is fine. I know some women do feel a strong sense of gender identity. I can imagine it must be really nice to feel that your body and your sense of yourself and the way society sees you, all fit together and feel good. I imagine that's wonderful. But it is rude to assume someone else feels like that.

marfisa Tue 22-Jan-13 15:31:33

Another analogy (though an imperfect one) is the term neurotypical (used in contrast to the term non-neurotypical, which might identify people on the autism spectrum, for example). It's a term designed to avoid the opposition of "normal" / "not-normal", because in that opposition the "not-normal" term is implicitly pejorative.

Beachcomber if you don't consider my friend a woman, there is no way we will ever find common ground. I am really trying to understand your point of view but I think ultimately you are taking an extremely closed-minded position that no amount of theorising can justify (and I am really trying to follow the theory, but it seems to me there are some critical contradictions within it).

yy to marfisa's posts btw

dreaming - but I didn't say that! I didn't say that a political movement can only be joined by people with the same experiences.

All I have said is that I want a space for women to talk, and I want to be able to debate without being labelled 'cis' and without someone telling me that just to open my mouth, is transphobic.

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 15:33:43

Marfisa, then presumably you wouldn't use those spaces. If women have particular issues regarding things that have happened to their bodies (childbirth interventions and similar), they may want to take about that with people with the same kind of body. It doesn't mean everyone else has to be excluded from everything feminist or everything involving people with female reproductive organs.

marfisa, I don't get it. You can understand that 'normal/non-normal' is perjorative, but you don't see why other labels might be? confused

Surely it is perjorative to label someone with a belief system they don't belive?

drwitch Tue 22-Jan-13 15:33:55

from wikipedia
Kristen Schilt and Laurel Westbrook defined cisgender as a label for "individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity"

in which case any woman who refuses to be a stepford wife is not cis- so the concept is meaningless

FairPhyllis Tue 22-Jan-13 15:34:23

I still can't see why being "labelled" as cis is a problem. Cis means that you don't consider yourself a transgendered person. It's as simple as that.

This might go some way to explaining how I feel about this:

I still can't see why being "labelled" as coloured is a problem. Coloured means that you don't consider yourself a white person. It's as simple as that.

'Cis' is a term loaded with a view of gender I do not subscribe to. Why should I take it as a descriptor for myself to oblige someone else? Was there a memo I missed about it being OK to impose labels on groups who object to them?

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 15:39:52

Marfisa, NT has a specific meaning, as does ASD, ADHD and so on. The people those terms apply to agree they are in some way defined by that word. A lot of people who others assume are cis don't think the meaning of is does define their own experience of their gender identity.

I think if the different gender identities were fully explained to everyone and taught properly, the vast majority of people would have one of the trans* identities and almost nobody would be cis.

LRD I am sorry, I didn't mean to imply that. I wonder if maybe we're all talking about different things here. What are the spaces you want to be woman-only? What spaces are you happy for everyone to join? We are talking about space and conversations in the abstract and I wonder if being more specific would show that we're not really disagreeing.

To take Freya's example -- I mean, how likely is it that you're going to have a bunch of trans women rocking up to a seminar on childbirth interventions? Is this a realistic problem?

Can we not rely on people to self-sort themselves into appropriate spaces? Do we have to explicitly exclude people when maybe they're not even interested?

kim147 Tue 22-Jan-13 15:40:47

I understand the anger people feel if women are prevented from speaking or doing stuff by trans people protesting about it or trying to intimidate speakers.

I really do. I know the anger in some parts of the feminist community about people who they see as men suddenly appearing in women only spaces claiming to be women and to want to take part / be in a safe space. I know the anger about Rad Fem 2012 which was postponed due to protests by a range of people. I understand how it seems like debate can be shut down and how awful that must feel.

I don't know any solution. I can't see how 2 such diametrically opposed sides can find an amicable way to live in harmony.

To most trans people, cis is just meant as a term to mean not trans. That's all. I think all this stuff about the patriarchy would be lost on most of them. It's just a term used to identify someone who does not identify as trans. It's not meant to be offensive - but obviously to some it is.

I think to call cis-privilege is out of order - but then again, people are willing to call out male prvilege without actually knowing a person. I know people on here have said I had male privilege without knowing a thing about me.

Shutting down debate is not good. Calling people transphobic just because they may not agree with you is not good. It's easy to insult a trans person as Julie Burchill found out.

Many trans people are feminists - and some probably haven't given it much thought. No we haven't got the experiences growing up. Some trans people no doubt used all their male privilege in jobs and life to get where they are and have no idea what it can be like growing up in a male world as a female.

Some of course want to see the world change for the better. It would be a much better world if we weren't so focussed on gender, gender roles and gender expectations.

Someone questioned the ratio of female / male transsexuals - why do so many males transition relative to female? Good question - and one worthy of debate.

I said before about what I wanted. I honestly don't know if there is a way of resolving issues. There probably isn't. And this debate will rumble on.

JuliaScurr Tue 22-Jan-13 15:43:50

Assuming that 'gender' is the social significance and resulting individual identity given to biological sex, the concept of individal gender identity is meaningless. Biological sex can be seen as a fact - but has no necessary social/political significance. Which is why the debate has been between 'sex' and 'gender'.

I think it is more constructive to differentiate 'individual' identity and 'social' identity. For example, If I saw a (biological) man wearing women's clothes in a women's toilet, I would consider there was a possibility he was there for reasons likely to harm women or children. (NB - possibility). This is the crucial issue - men (male body + identity as men) in our society are known to behave in that way.

There is a power imbalance between men and women - gender is the social system creating that inequality.

I've only skimmed through this thread, so hope I'm not repeating/ignoring what's beensaid before

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 15:46:18

DB, in a feminist conference that are open to everyone, there may be workshops that are for female born only, about specific issues, and others attempt to close that down (usually trans activists who are not themselves trans) for being transphobia.

kim147 Tue 22-Jan-13 15:47:27

freya I know and I can't honestly understand why transactivists would do that.

It helps no one.

dreaming - to be specific: I wanted to go to the conference at Conway Hall. There was a meeting in Manchester where one session was to be for rape survivors. Because some of the people who wanted to attend were in such a vulnerable state, they didn't feel able to attend if there were going to be men, or people with penises, there. My feeling is, if someone is horribly vulnerable and hurt - they may be a little bit irrational. Obviously, you could talk about rape in front of someone with a penis and logically, you'd know they're not going to hurt you in a room full of people. But if you've been hurt, IMO you get to have that extra stress removed, just for a bit.

That's the sort of thing I worry about. I would be perfectly ok with it if someone told me that one session at a conference was for rape survivors only and they'd rather I didn't come in. I'd be perfectly ok with it if one session was for FtoM or MtoF transsexuals and they didn't want me to come in.

I do worry when things are cancelled or no-platformed, just because a powerful group disagrees.

I hear about death threats to people like Cathy Brennan and Julia Long, and about how it's virtually impossible to hear Shiela Jeffries speak.

I don't even know if I agree with everything these women say (well, I've met Julia Long and I think she's amazing, so I would probably agree with her!). But why are they being totally silenced?

I think this goes to the heart of it all:

'I think to call cis-privilege is out of order - but then again, people are willing to call out male prvilege without actually knowing a person. I know people on here have said I had male privilege without knowing a thing about me.'

The difference, IMO, is that no-one can tell me what female 'cis' privilege would be. Many, many people can demonstrate in the most concrete terms that men have privilege, and have had throughout history.

TiggyD Tue 22-Jan-13 15:51:24

When one side have a core belief that they are women to the point of screwing them up so much one third attempt suicide, and the other side have a core belief that the others are fundamentally not women, finding a way for everybody to get on and be friendly isn't going to be possible.

As I've said before about lots of topics (usually cycling ones), every group seems to have it's share of extremists that in no way represent the views of the other 99%.

I don't know if this works as a parallel - but I grew up near Leicester, where there's a lot of tension between people of Somali extraction and people who're from Asian via South Africa. Without knowing people, I couldn't always say which people in which groups had 'racial privilege'. It's clear both groups can be and have been targets of racism by white people. But you can't immediately point to someone and say 'this person has race privilege because they're Somali'.

I think it might be the same with this idea of 'cis' privilege amongst women, and transpeople. I don't know, though, since I've still not seen examples of female 'cis' privilege that make sense to me (and yes, I know, of course I may simply be blind to it).

WidowWadman Tue 22-Jan-13 15:57:01

As long as they don't get them out, how would you know whether a trans woman with a penis was attending such a workshop? You wouldn't check the genitals of every attendee, would you?

What if a woman, who is not trans, but who has a masculine looking body and/or face, or hormonal issues leading to beard growth wanted to attend such a workshop. Would she have to undergo the humiliation of having to prove that she doesn't have and never had a penis, or would she be asked not to attend as to not make other attendees uncomfortable?

I can't see exclusion of trans women working unless every woman who wanted to attend would have to provide such proof, as it's not possible to be sure otherwise.

I'm really just asking about the practicalities of such an exclusion.

WW - as I said in my post, I don't think women in a rape-survivor workshop would be literally threatened by anyone's genitals, but I think those women, who're vulnerable, do get to set the terms a bit.

Did you not read that? Because it makes nonsense of your idea that anyone is checking genitals, doesn't it?

Btw, god forbid you assume we'd trust people to be who they said, right?

Do you actually think transpeople are naturally dishonest and liars, or did you just make up a situation in which they were because you thought it would look clever?

JuliaScurr Tue 22-Jan-13 16:05:11

TiggyD one side have a 25% lifetime risk of being sexually attacked. Usually by people with the same original biological anatomy as those now claiming the same gender identity as the victims.

This is inevitably a problem.

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 16:05:15

We have to base entry on trust. In the same way if we set up a group solely for people who have had a miscarriage, we don't ask for a doctor's note. We assume people are truthful; it isn't the plot of Fight Club where people randomly turn up to survivor groups for entertainment purposes.

WidowWadman Tue 22-Jan-13 16:05:51

You say they get to set the terms. I'm asking you how these terms would deal with women who have masculine looks. You've evaded the questions. If you accept that women can self-identify as women without being questioned,the restriction to 'FAAB' women doesn't make sense.

If you don't accept the self identification it doesn't make it difficult for only transwomen, but also every other women which may have masculine traits.

I'm not asking about the reasons, but about the execution.

WidowWadman Tue 22-Jan-13 16:06:57

Freya - If you accept that people don't turn up for entertainment purposes, why do you feel the need to stipulate the restriction?

vesuvia Tue 22-Jan-13 16:07:38

Patriarchy is the enemy of feminists. Patriarchy is not a genuine friend of trans people.

Patriarchy is the main problem for both groups. It is patriarchy that has changed the definition of woman. It is patriarchy that rations treatment for trans people. It is patriarchy that controls the social attitudes that oppress people.

Patriarchy presents itself as being enlightened on trans issues, but it's only a thin veneer of tolerance, throwing trans people what patriarchy regards as patriarchal "crumbs" to keep them quiet e.g. inclusion of trans people in the group called women. However, benefits to individual trans people come more by accident than patriarchal design.

How many birth certificates do you have? Almost everyone has one. The UK government discriminates against trans people because, following surgery, a new birth certificate is issued but the original birth certificate is not destroyed. The government finds it absolutely essential to know, for ever, which of its citizens is trans. The government likes labelling people. It actively "others" trans people while enshrining "othering" of trans people as transphobia in its so-called equality legislation. This is an example of patriarchy saying "do as I say, not as I do".

The government need to be challenged on its oppression of women, its new definition of woman, and its half-hearted tolerance of trans people. Patriarchy must be forced to resolve these issues so that trans people, feminists and everyone else can live together in harmony.

The right of feminists to criticise patriarchal institutions, supporters and practices must be protected and encouraged.

WidowWadman Tue 22-Jan-13 16:10:29

LRD I don't think they're liars. But I don't think a woman should be allowed to live as a woman without having to disclose whether she's trans or not. If she identifies as a woman that should be good enough.

WidowWadman Tue 22-Jan-13 16:11:11

Gaah, fail. I think she should be allowed to live as a woman without having to disclose whether she's trans or not.

widow - no, I didn't evade the question. I simply suggested that normal people would trust each other.

It's hardly rocket science, is it?

I mean, honestly ... why in god's name would anyone be checking to see someone who say they're a woman, is a woman?

widow - right, so you think that women who've been raped have fewer rights?

Why is that, exactly?

Why couldn't it be 'good enough' for them to say, yes, I've suffered something and now I want a place where I feel safe to talk about it?

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 16:15:31

WW, because it makes it clear to the group who are included that the focus is on them and their experiences. There may be valid reasons why somebody wants to learn about something. I might want to learn more about experiences of rape, but as I've never been raped, by setting up a closed group fro rape survivors (or some sub group of them), I have effectively been politely told without conflict or misunderstanding on the day that I am not invited, and the people who do attend can be sure of a safe space operating solely for survivors.

WidowWadman Tue 22-Jan-13 16:16:30

WTF - why do you think I think raped women have fewer rights? Do you believe that trans women don't experience rape?

Yes, that's what I think freya.

I know that there are real difficulties with rape, because men who've been raped can struggle hugely to access services and support.

Occasionally some bright spark will suggest having joint meetings of men and women. Some women are fine with this, but others are not. It's horrible, because there is hurt and pain on both sides. Just as I would imagine there is if you're told you can't go to a meeting because someone else's trauma means they're not comfortable with it.

But while this is painful, I don't see why it is automatically assumed that the hurt felt by someone trans is more important than that of the women who needed the meeting?

widow - no, I didn't say that, did I?

But you assume transwomen who've been raped have more rights than 'cis' women, don't you?

The first group get what they want and the second get their sessions stopped or banned.

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 16:19:21

Obviously trans women do. There are survivor of rape groups for trans women, for all women and for born women (or whatever term you prefer).

FreyaSnow Tue 22-Jan-13 16:20:28

Sorry my last post was to WW. I shall specify in future as I am causing confusion.

FloraFox Tue 22-Jan-13 16:23:27

dreaming "if you don't consider my friend a woman, there is no way we will ever find common ground. I am really trying to understand your point of view but I think ultimately you are taking an extremely closed-minded position that no amount of theorising can justify (and I am really trying to follow the theory, but it seems to me there are some critical contradictions within it)."

So, that being your view, do you agree that women who do not share it should be permitted to discuss this issue it in public without being silenced? Do you believe that women who do not share that view should be forced to accept your friend in all women's spaces?

Xenia Tue 22-Jan-13 16:26:08

So where is all this censorship? It is not that hard to set up groups for those who want to be in them only or open groups.

I like talking to all klinds of people as I can convert them to my views whereas talking to people with the same views is duller. However I can see that people often do find it helpful only to talk to those who share certain things with them.

What is the issue? Anyone can set up websites and decide who has access surely?

Yes, actually, it is hard, xenia.

Events have been banned and speakers non-platformed.

Narked Tue 22-Jan-13 16:33:02

Is it so hard to understand not wanting penises in women only spaces?

FairPhyllis Tue 22-Jan-13 16:33:49

Xenia I think the point is that transactivists nearly did get RadFem2012 shut down - they threatened a suit against the venue based on anti-discrimination legislation and the venue pulled out. It had to be held somewhere else right at the last minute, and was all very cloak and dagger.

I am slooow at thinking AND typing so please forgive me for being at a tangent here.

I'm unclear what some people who subscribe to gender identity theory think is so great about 'womanhood'.

So dreamingbohemian said up thread that her womanhood is something she wants to celebrate and that it doesn't reside in her genitalia. So presumably by 'womanhood' she means her lifelong experience of feminine socialization and feeling (I personally don't know what it feels like to have a feminine feeling though). (please correct me if I'm wrong)

But if woman = feminine socialization (which ime includes being expected to submit to misogyny, rape, abuse, being marginalised) and feeling, then I don't want to be a woman. I want to be a human being.

Is it the case that when people celebrate 'womanhood' in this sense they are talking about the less-yucky, fetishised (in a non-sexual sense) bits of feminine behaviours and socialization? Because I actually think they are inseparable from the yucky bits. Feminine bonding and finding pleasure in feminine behaviours (which I sometimes do, yes) are a poor price to pay for a world where it's pretty normal to die in childbirth. I don't particularly want to celebrate my womanhood in that sense.

If I did want to celebrate my womanhood in any sense I think it would have to be in the sense of my body's potential power to bring forth and sustain life. But I expect that is frowned upon.

(Aside: I would have gone to RadFem2012 if I had been in the UK then - I wanted to hear Gail Dines speak.)

Beachcomber Tue 22-Jan-13 17:06:40

vesuvia Tue 22-Jan-13 16:07:38

"Patriarchy is the enemy of feminists. Patriarchy is not a genuine friend of trans people.

Patriarchy is the main problem for both groups. It is patriarchy that has changed the definition of woman. It is patriarchy that rations treatment for trans people. It is patriarchy that controls the social attitudes that oppress people.

Patriarchy presents itself as being enlightened on trans issues, but it's only a thin veneer of tolerance, throwing trans people what patriarchy regards as patriarchal "crumbs" to keep them quiet e.g. inclusion of trans people in the group called women. However, benefits to individual trans people come more by accident than patriarchal design.

How many birth certificates do you have? Almost everyone has one. The UK government discriminates against trans people because, following surgery, a new birth certificate is issued but the original birth certificate is not destroyed. The government finds it absolutely essential to know, for ever, which of its citizens is trans. The government likes labelling people. It actively "others" trans people while enshrining "othering" of trans people as transphobia in its so-called equality legislation. This is an example of patriarchy saying "do as I say, not as I do".

The government need to be challenged on its oppression of women, its new definition of woman, and its half-hearted tolerance of trans people. Patriarchy must be forced to resolve these issues so that trans people, feminists and everyone else can live together in harmony.

The right of feminists to criticise patriarchal institutions, supporters and practices must be protected and encouraged."

Yes! This. Thank you Vesuvia for putting it into words. (And hi)