Am I wrong to feel shouted down by this?(151 Posts)
This is the first time I've ever ventured onto here,and I may regret doing so,but this is really annoying me and I'm curious to know the opinions of other women on the subject.
I use Tumblr,and I keep seeing messages like this on my dash,which have been reblog fed by friends,Cis women can have abortions. Men can have abortions. People who identify as both male and female can have abortions. People who don't identify as male or female can have abortions. Don't erase people.
Now I don't consider myself to be transphobic,but messages like that,and others referring to the 'privilege' of 'cis' women,are really starting to make me angry,perhaps unreasonably so. But I can't help feeling shouted down as a woman,when I see posts like that.Also being called a 'cis' woman really rankles,for some reason.
I don't deny that trans hatred exists,but when countless women are unable to get access to safe and accessible terminations when needed,and when so called developed nations are removing that right from women,doing all they can to make it harder for women to get a termination,is that really what we should be focusing on?
I honestly have no idea what that is about. Men having abortions?
I don't really understand what you are describing.
Are people making these statements in general, or in response to something that you have blogged about?
Anyone who can get pregnant is capable of having an abortion. Anyone who cannot get pregnant cannot. "People who can get pregnant" includes people who identify as female, people who identify as male, and those who are unsure or would like to choose "neither".
IMO the only person who should get to decide or judge whether someone should have an abortion is the person who is pregnant.
It's tumblr. It's niche by definition, not mainstream (tumblr is deliberately designed to avoid norming as far as I can tell). I wouldn't get too hung up on it tbh. If your twitter or facebook feed was doing the same thing, different story.
Is the statement a complaint that when we talk about "women having abortions" we are excluding transgender-males-who-have-the-capability-to-get-pregnant?
Sorry,I'm being clear as mud I know. It seems to be about pretending that abortion is not a female issue,and saying that 'men' presumably female to male transsexuals people need abortions too.
Some are general memes that are being passed around,but I've also gotten messages criticising me for so called cis female privilege,because I've tried to discuss feminist issues,but have apparently ignored the problems of male to female transsexuals while doing so. I just feel as though feminism is getting derailed at times by some getting all 'but what about the menz ' only with transsexuals.
See I'd worry less if it was Facebook because I don't really like it,or use it,and have people on there who I don't care for all that much,but with Tumblr,I keep it small,and everyone on there is an online friend or friend IRL too. But I do get what you say about it being less mainstream,Erato.
That's pretty much it,Trills. It is basically saying that abortiob has nothing to do with gender.
Here's another example that might be a little clearer.
'Please stop referring to abortions and other vaginal health issues as womens rights" or womens health/body rights". These issue affect more than just women and its about time that we recognise that.'
That is what is getting my back up. Perhaps wrongly so,but I do feel shouted down when I read that sort of thing.
Oh I see. Men can have abortions if they started life as a girl?
But that doesnt mean that abortion is not a womens issue. The vast vast majority of people it affects and affects to the greatest extent are women.
can you ask for an example of how they affect others ? particularly how they affect others in a way that is more important than women?
Same as breast cancer. Men get it. But it's a women's issue, because women are so much moer affected (I assume...happy to be told I'm wrong)
Exactly my point,Stealth. It is very definitely a women's issue. But when I try to state that I'm accused of being transphobic.
I've tried that Hecsy,but I just feel shouted down when I do,and told that I'm being bigoted if I dare to suggest that it,or any other feminist issue,predominately affects so called 'cis women'. It just feels exactly like what about the Menz,to me,only this time with transsexuals. And I don't think that's ok.
It is a person-with-uterus issue, no? Regardless of what gender that person-with-uterus identifies as?
Do you feel it detracts from the strength of the argument in favour of abortion / reproductive rights if the "women's issue" label is taken away? I'll grant you, person-with-uterus rights (PWU rights?) is less catchy and more confusing... But more accurate?
I'm not sure whether it's worth fighting about... except as an ideological objection to the way that Women's needs always get challenged? Have I put enough questions in my post yet? Or do I need more?
people who shout you down instead of explaining their pov (assuming they have been asked a legitimate q in a polite manner) invariably do so because they cannot actually justify their position.
Are they really trying to suggest that using the word "women's" to describe things that affect female genitals and reproductive organs is an inflammatory term that marginalises trans people and somehow prevents them from accessing the support they need when they need an abortion or have some kind of female health issue?
Really? Because a real and measurable impact is the only reason I can see for complaining, otherwise it's just pronoun type semantics, surely.
Yes, I know words and labels matter, but there is such a thing as taking it too far and having a victim mentality about a situation. Obviously I'd prefer our language to be gender neutral, as careless use of gendered words affects women as well, but it's not. You pick your battles...
Anyway, I would have thought that (a) they most definitely ARE women's issues, even though they are also "other people with uteruses who don't identify as women"'s issues - the former does not exclude the latter, and (b) attacking the people more likely to be on your side is a bad way to build a platform for change.
Interesting question - have you asked them what the stats are for FTM pre-op trans people who have accessed abortions? I don't even know if such stats are captured, but it would be interesting to know how significant an issue we're discussing here.
I don't know who you talk to but I think most transsexuals don't think like this nor make comments on it.
Of course abortions are a female issue - trans people are well aware they can't get pregnant and they should not stop women discussing it in case it upsets trans people.
Same for breast cancer - even though that does also affect males and of course being on hormones for MTF does increase the chances of getting such cancers.
Can I just ask what a cis woman is? Also, can a man, who started life as a woman, still get pregnant? And can a woman, who started life as a man, get pregnant once she has changed into a woman?
Sorry for massive ignorance, but need to understand the basics before I can understand this, really.
I reject the label Cis Woman entirely.
I don't need my status as a woman clarified. I don't need a new label. I am a woman.
I am not particularly exercised about the politics of transgender/feminism/radfem etc
but that particular issue pisses me right off.
Its like a white person deciding what a black person should be called.
I have never encountered the abortion debate re transgender though. It sounds very confusing.
There is someone who is a transman who got pregnant whilst on treatment.
No - a transwoman cannot get pregnant. No womb or ovaries so that's not going to happen - something that makes some transwomen feel very upset about but you have to accept that is not going to happen.
A trans man (who started life physically female) may or may not be able to get pregnant, depending on what kind of treatment or intervention he has had, because he may still produce eggs and have a working womb. He cannot get someone else pregnant because he cannot produce sperm.
A trans woman (who started life physically male) cannot get pregnant because there is currently no surgery that will produce a working womb. She may or may not be able to get someone else pregnant, depending on what kind of treatment she has had, because she may still produce sperm.
I like the phrase "pronoun semantics".
I hope I used the correct pronouns above.
When we talk about something being a "womens issue" we may mean:
A - This is an issue that primarily affects people who are perceived as women by those around them
B - This is an issue that primarily affects people who see themselves as women
C - This is an issue that primarily affects those with female reproductive organs
As far as I know we never (or rarely) mean that the issue only affects one of those groups, just that it primarily affects "women" for oneof those deifnitions of women.
Where do people find the time to see possible offence in everything?
Honestly, the idea that we should be championing the rights of pre-op female to male transsexuals who might have an unwanted pregnancy and not be able to access a termination is a bit mad. Just how many instances of this are there?
Didn't the female to male transsexual who had a baby in the USA have to stop taking his usual hormones and start taking others? So not exactly easy to get pregnant in the first place
An excerpt from the Wikipedia article about male pregnancy en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_pregnancy:
"Some female-to-male transgender people can become pregnant, while still identifying as men. This is possible for individuals who still have functioning ovaries and a uterus. For example, Matt Rice, a transgender man, bore a son xxxx in October 1999 following random sperm donations from three cisgender male friends....
Thomas Beatie, another transgender man, has borne three children. He chose to become pregnant because his wife xxxx was infertile, doing so with cryogenic donated sperm and a syringe, at home. Beatie gave birth to a girl xxxx on June 29, 2008. ... Beatie gave birth to a boy xxxx on June 9, 2009. Beatie gave birth to his third child, a boy ... on July 25, 2010. Beatie has since had a phalloplasty to create an artificial penis and is also considering a hysterectomy."
Yuval Topper, an Israeli transgender man, gave birth to a child on December 28, 2011."
I've replaced the names of the wife and babies with xxxx because it is not necessary to name them here.
puddingpop I understand your frustration. It seems like there is an ongoing effort by some activists to police language in a way that is, in my view, harmful to women and women's issues. They are redefining the word "woman" as meaning a person of either sex who wishes to be identified as a woman based on the culturally constructed roles and attributes society currently imposes on persons of the female sex. The traditional and scientific definition is obviously an adult human female but this is apparently transphobic.
Person-with-uterus? No, sorry, I find that quite revolting. I'm not critising you, buffy for using that term but i'm appalled that the meaning of womanhood is being co-opted to the extent that you don't feel you have a word to use to describe that class of persons who are biologically potentially able to conceive and produce children and who have been oppressed and continue to be oppressed as a result of that one aspect of their being. The word is woman.
OK, thank you for the explanations. So a cis woman is a real woman, or at least, a person who has been born a woman and always identified as a woman and stayed as a woman. I have to know......what does cis stand for??
Why is it harder to say 'abortion rights' than 'women's abortions rights' for you? It's even one word less!
I actually think abortion is a human issue. It affects men, women, and all the other genders. People being forced to give birth affects their families and living in a society like that affects everyone.
Focussing on women's issues means you gloss over all this. Cis men think it doesn't affect them so why should they care, trans people may feel excluded from your sympathy and support.
You talk about oppression of women, forgetting that trans people are a lot more oppressed due to patriarchy and we should all be fighting on the same side to change a society that affects everyone.
Flora now you are saying things that it is reasonable for trans people to be upset by or offended by.
Cis stands for 'cisgender' and was coined a while ago because says 'real', 'born' 'biological' etc is hurtful to trans people so it's helpful to have a neutral term.
More info here: www.basicrights.org/uncategorized/trans-101-cisgender/
I can see why you feel shouted at but why not take the opportunity to educate yourself about trans issues a little and then you might see why people feel the need to shout? It's a lot like feminism where you don't even realise how sexist the world is until you discover it.
Chemistry - you have cis and trans forms of molecules.
And you know what - most trans people don't use such words but some do and then it gets used as an argument to stir up hatred of trans people who just want their own way all the time.
Along with all the other arguments that come out that don't often happen in reality.
You could ask what a pretendbian is. Just another word used to upset trans people.
Oh thank you, that's very interesting. I can accept transgender and cisgender as 2 terms which describe gender. However, I'm not sure I like cis woman as that seems to imply that I am mostly a woman but not completely, I am mostly falling on the side of woman rather than men. Is that what it's implying? I am not remotely falling on the side of men, though, I am completely female. I'm a woman.
Why do you think "cis" means "mostly"?
"forgetting that trans people are a lot more oppressed". I don't accept that this can be meaningfully measured nor that it is true across the board. I do agree that patriarchy is harmful for men as well as for women and men have benefitted from the feminist revolution so far. Shouting people down or justifying others shouting people down is not conducive to working on the same side.
Because I read OldSocks' link and it said it was from the Latin meaning falls on the side of. It implies there is a sort of gender line and you can fall on it on a scale (a bit like leaning towards right or left wing). I don't see my gender like that, I feel I am defintiely female and don't lean any other way.
Have I got it wrong?
Tumblr, in my experience, is a popular platform for use by a younger group of people than say Facebook or Twitter. Also in my experience, younger people tend to observe more "fluid" gender identities - not necessarily conforming to a binary view (i.e. you are either male or female, man or woman and there ain't nowt in between.) As a result, I think there may be more "calling out" of comments that seem to be conforming to that idea of a gender binary because they feel that excludes and marginalises those who don't "fit" that model.
For example, I sometimes visit the Tumblr page of someone who doesn't identify as male or female and doesn't call themselves a man or woman. As far as I can recall, the person has female reproductive organs, so potentially could become pregnant and if they don't want to continue the pregnancy, could want to have an abortion.
Okay, there may not be thousands of people who identify themselves as this person does, or who have identities that transcend the gender binary in other ways. But, I think the people of Tumblr are keen to ensure that those who do aren't left out of the discussion on access to reproductive health care and reproductive rights.
And, you can also flip the argument around. What about those people who do identify themselves as women, but who will never require an abortion? (e.g. infertile, have no uterus, post menopausal, etc.) Do they also have a stake in the debate on reproductive rights? I certainly believe they do because control of access to reproductive rights and health care is a "tool" the state and other patriarchal/kyriarchal institutions uses to control women as a class - all those who identify as women (but actually, more specifically some women - e.g. forced sterilisation in some countries, past or present of disabled women, women of colour and transwomen.)
Don't get why anyone gets aerated by the term "Cis" any more than they would the term "white" or "straight." No negative intentions in it - just a descriptor of someone who isn't trans* and that's all.
Well, there is a spectrum. Like the Kinsey scale for sexuality, some people might be a Kinsey 0 and be completely heterosexual, some might be 6 and be completely gay. But lots of people also are 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 on it. http://www.iub.edu/~kinsey/research/ak-hhscale.html.
In the same way gender is a spectrum. Rosabud you might be at one end of it - totally identifying as a woman right from the start. But there's lots of inbetweens as well. Like this: http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Genderbread-2.1.jpg
It's partly how people see themselves and how they feel in their bodies but also you have to bear in mind that lots of people are intersex and might not even know it, because when babies are born intersex doctors generally pick a side and alter their bodies to match it.
OddSock intersex is very uncommon indeed. Sex is not a spectrum, we are a species of two sexes with very very few intersex people. Gender is a social construct which assists in the oppression of women both by devaluing attributes considered female and by policing women to abide by gender norms. I reject the term cis because I reject the foisting of gender norms upon me because I am a woman. To say "I prefer things / have attributes socially constructed as being preferred by or attributed to men/women therefore I am a man/woman" is both illogical and regressive for women. The response should be that society should reject gender norms being imposed upon one sex or the other, not validate them. I am not a woman because I am caring, nurturing, supportive (which I'm not particularly). Those things are not the exclusive preserve of women, men can be those things too without having to "identify" as a woman. Most men would be even less likely to express non-macho aspects of their personality if people were going to label them gender fluid or gender queer as a result, just as I don't want to be labelled that because I am aggressive, competitive or whatever. I am a woman because I was born female and have gone through girlhood and am now an adult. I am fortunate to have been raised by a feminist mother who taught me that I do not have to perform the gender role allotted to me by patriarchal society to be a woman.
rosabud if we are talking about "falling on sides" it makes more sense of you think
cis - falls on the same side
trans - falls on the other side
It's not "falls on the side of" compared to "is absolutely", it's "same side" vs "opposite side".
In chemistry, see two things on the same side vs two things on opposite sides
Errr.....right I am completely and utterly confused now (it doesn't take much!) If cis is on one side (ie the side of me who was actually born a woman) and trans is the opposite side (ie people who have become a woman later in life), then I would have thought that expression was as divisive and hurtful as saying those who are "born" women or those who are "biologically" women. If trans women are on the opposite side then it suggests they aren't real women, doesn't it?
However, I don't know enough about this subject to have a proper opinion and I don't want to offend anyone so I'll shut up and return to being an interested reader.
florafox you just articulated something that I've not been able to to myself for a while. Thank you.
I'm happy for anyone to be whoever they feel they are and to live however they want - power to the individual to express themselves. But at the same time as much as I look into and try and understand, I've always had a discomfort with the trans-world.
I am female - a ciswoman to some, as I'm currently pregnant. I don't know understand what people mean when they say they feel like they were born in the wrong sexed body or that their brain is of the opposite sex. My brain is just a brain, it's not male or female ". My vagina is certainly female but my brain is just human. Gendering a brain can only be done by attributing cultural sexual stereotypes - which are generally superficial and of no positive consequence.
Not trying to offend anyone but please can someone help me understand?
Less divisive and hurtful than using the word "real" I guess, and if you have embraced or accepted or resigned yourself to the word "trans" then cis is the opposite of trans so it makes sense.
Thing with stuff like this is that it really only works in certain parts of the world.
If you take an area where girl babies are not valued, there are specific problems associated with that which you can't talk about very easily without saying that it is because they have been identified as biologically (is that the right term) female while in the uterus or when born.
Similarly in issues of education, dress, standards of behaviour, ability to work and so on there are things which are applied to those who are identified by external parties as female at birth which do not apply to males.
With sexual health, reproductive issues, laws surrounding rape and marriage and so on, there are differences which again will apply to you or not depending on whether you are identified at birth as male or female.
I think that taking male / female and man / woman out of these conversations will only lead to a decrease in understanding of issues. There are things which apply predominantly to those identified as female at birth and those identified as male. Different ages at which you are allowed to be married off, reach the age of criminal responsibility, just so much stuff.
I just think it is problematical to dilute messages about oppression of females around the world, by removing the females part. If you say "people in saudi arabia aren't allowed to drive" or "children in parts of pakistan have their schools burnt down" then you are missing a really fundamental part of what the issue is.
Also I would say that for trans people living in areas where eg women's rights to abortion are under attack eg parts of US, then given the prevailing right wing religious attitude, not being included in conversations about abortion rights is quite frankly the least of their worries. Maybe joining together with other oppressed groups to fight the tide of backwards thinking lunacy generally would be a better bet.
Rosabud - "If trans women are on the opposite side then it suggests they aren't real women, doesn't it?"
Yup. That's why they tend to call themselves 'women', and only tend to refer to themselves as 'trans' when there's a conversation where their medical history is relevant. Same as using 'cis'.
Saying that "Trans women should have the same rights as cis women" make more sense than "Women should have the same rights as women."
I suspect the issue mentioned by the OP is a result of one or 2 radical transactivists, or people trying to be incredibly politically correct(polite) to the point of making communicating very difficult.
Yes yes Tiggy!
Trills and Rosabud, I don't think trans* though is meant to be the opposite of cis. Think of the "Transpennine Trail," which crosses over the Pennines. It's more of a spectrum of sexual identities that cross between traditional notions of male and female.
In my view, the ideas of what constitute male and female and the socially constructed indicators of gender that go with these are SO deeply entrenched within our society and traditions that we can feel very uncomfortable, even threatened by that difference. Our patriarchal/kyriarchal society WANTS us all to feel unnerved by and frightened of difference, because it relies on conformity to control and maintain the status quo.
Tabard, you mention a number of forms of oppression world wide, which you suggest can only be understood when examined through the lens of biological sex (or at least I hope I've got that right.) I would say yes, that is part of the picture, but not all of it.
There are many people who suffer oppression and abuse because they identify as or are identified as "something other than male," (e.g. gay man, Lesbian, trans* person, queer, etc.) and therefore of lower status, whether or not they are cis. You don't have to have functioning ovaries and a uterus to to be sexually harassed by men or to be raped. You don't have to posses two X chromosomes to avoid discrimination in employment, in accessing health care and other services, in exercising your human rights, based on not having the "right" sexual identity.
Last sentence is a bit contorted, but hopefully makes some sense. I'm blaming the heat!
Kritiq that was my point.
In areas where women are oppressed, from the moment of birth and possibly before, people who do not adhere to "norms" through behaviour, sexuality, gender identity and so on had really seriously better watch out because they are basically looking at instant death the moment they reveal themselves / are discovered.
Which is why I think that members of oppressed groups in these societies would be better off sticking together / joining forces than trying to undermine each others messages (although of course it is up to the people involved how they decide to do things).
And not even just there TBH. eg try being gay / of a gender other than the one that matches your birth sex in parts of the west indies / africa and bang you're dead. Simple as that. Horrifying.
I just think that these societies with these noxious attitudes coming from massively enforced extreme gender roles / religion / culture / what have you are so dangerous and so much needs to be done that losing focus and pitting groups against each other isn't going to help get anything anywhere.
Bunnylion I think these are difficult issues which are challenging to discuss productively. I think most people who have feminist leanings of any sort start from a position of being very supportive of anyone who is gender non-conforming and are sympathetic towards people who are particularly struggling to live their lives in peace in a patriarchal, gender conformist society (and are certainly not uncomfortable or threatened by non-conformity). I can understand why people wish to explore gender theories, particularly if they themselves grew up in a gender conformist environment. To that extent, we should all be on the same side.
The problem, however, is that there are fundamental disagreements about the issues and outcomes of current gender theory and whether it is heading in the right direction. QueenStromba on the other thread in _chat had a very good summary of why some feminists have a problem with gender and trans theory:
I also believe there is an internal illogicality of starting with the socially enforced gender norms and using them as a reference point for whether a person is a man or a woman which is further compounded by overlaying that reference upon biological sex. Unfortunately for women, biological sex is at the root of their oppression no matter what their internal feelings are about how they would like society to see them.
I agree with everything Tabard said.
Is the answer to do away with gender, and keep sex then?
Sex describes a person whose reproductive strategy is modelled on Template A or B. Can't do much about that.
Gender describes a person who paints their nails or plays rugby or bakes cupcakes or wires plugs or minds children or parallel parks. Let's share all those tasks out to whoever wants them.
I think that sex has certain things connected with it that generally need to be thought about. eg not much point preparing young male children for menstruation or telling little girls that if their penises start emitting fluids in the night then that's not a problem.
Clearly open-ness around everything is preferable but preparing children for biological happenings that are never going to happen is pointless.
Same with later years I don't know how far treatments go but presumably birth sex has an impact on stuff like different cancer and heart risks, osteoperosis and so on irrespective of what happens later? Would be great to learn more on that, how much gender reassignment can mitigate risks inherent with the birth sex. They should have studies going understanding this stuff more would be great.
Anyhow, yes to me gender is bizarre and I don't get it. I perform femininity to a certain extent because the society I live in / job I do expects it to a point. My interests are generally "masculine" and when I have done those "what is your brain" stuff on BBC quizzes and such I am apparently a bloke. At the same time my appearance is very "feminine" and so actually I can enjoy eg looking at an engine without people shouting "lesbian" at me. Which is good. Or not, cos the "getting taken seriously" thing is a struggle if you're young, small, female and blonde. OTOH DH is ex rugby playing honking great bloke in appearance. Yet his brain (on those same BBC things) was "neutral" and he is the one who loves baking and looking after the children.
So where does that leave us?
In a position surely where people should be able to present however they like and enjoy whatever they like without fear of censure or discrimination. We are a million miles away from that.
If we go on - whatever your gender is, is your sex, then I am a bloke and DH is neutral. What do we do with that?
PS am not young now. But when I was young, I think my physical appearance mitigated criticism when I showed an interest in or did "blokey" stuff.
The thing is there is no consensus on brain gender (though the evidence points to socialisation rather than anything innate, but it's not conclusive)
So here we have people saying I feel, inside, like a woman, regardless of outward markers, regardless of the way society treats me. That means Woman is an internal feeling. Respect that.
And of course others saying Woman = sex + socialisation. I'm a adult human female, all else is irrelevant. Respect that.
And of course it all goes to fuckity fig because as a political principle it's irreconcilable.
( Though of course following another principle every one can just be polite and respectful to each other)
Flora, I simply don't agree that women experience oppression because of their biological sex. They experience oppression because gender IS a social construct and our patriarchal/kyriarchal society has determined that people who have physical attributes that are not associated with the physical attributes held by men are inferior.
Similarly, race is a social construct. There is nothing inherently inferior about having dark skin, but our white supremacist society associates anything less than the white ideal as inferior.
Ditto for disability, class, sexual orientation, etc.
The other problem with the idea that the oppression of women is based solely on their reproductive organs and the oppression of people of colour is based solely on the amount of melanin in their skin is that it means such oppression is inherent, that it can never be changed or overcome. So long as men and women exist, women will remain oppressed. So long as white people and people of colour exist, people of colour will remain oppressed.
I just refuse to be that fatalistic because well, it rather means there's no point doing anything about injustice because it's always going to be a given.
I also don't agree that it follows that feminists are supportive of those who are non-gender conforming, but become less so as they gain knowledge, understanding and experience. Having identified as a feminist for nearly 35 years now, I can honestly say I've grown more supportive, more keen to show solidarity with others who experience oppression (including for non-conformity to gender constructs) and more aware of my responsibility to be an active ally to those who don't benefit from the same privileges I enjoy.
Maybe the path you follow depends on how you came to feminism? I think there must be many factors.
But the gender you are assigned is tied to your biological sex. The day you are born you get the pink or blue balloon brought to the maternity ward. If the oppression is tied to your gender and your gender is tied to your sex you can't separate it out in any meaningful way, in terms of oppression.
How can oppression not be linked to biological sex when female foetuses are aborted and female children are drowned at birth?
At those ages there is no way they can have identified their own gender identity.
Sexism & misogyny are real, and I'm not sure what the point is in saying that isn't so.
I get what you're saying about society deciding what characteristics are preferable and rewarding those who suit and harming those who don't. But I am really not sure where that gets us with all of this.
"The other problem with the idea that the oppression of women is based solely on their reproductive organs and the oppression of people of colour is based solely on the amount of melanin in their skin is that it means such oppression is inherent, that it can never be changed or overcome. So long as men and women exist, women will remain oppressed. So long as white people and people of colour exist, people of colour will remain oppressed."
Oppression can be linked both to sex and to gender. Saying that there is oppression against trans* due to gender does not take away oppression against ciswomen due to sex. They intersect. Trans*women face more violent oppression for their gender than trans*men, and Black trans*women even more so. It's not an either/or situation, taking notice of the oppression of trans* people takes nothing away from noticing oppression by sex. Sex, gender, gender expression are all different that doesn't mean they cancel each other out (and being trans* does not equate with just enjoying a different gender expression, it's not about painting nails and rugby). Taking away gender doesn't really solve anything and would erase a lot of people's experiences.
In the tumblr debate, many people are more used to it being called Reproductive rights or reproductive justice, both because of trans* issues and because it isn't just abortions on the table. Most of the clinics in America under threat also do reproductive health for all genders, some the only accessible ones for the poor. Trying to get more funding so people with penises have more reproductive control rather than condoms or sterilization would make it possible to equalize the reproductive burdens (and side effects) would impact everyone. It's a cross gender and cross sex issue. California's government is currently being brought up on issues of forced sterilization years after it was made illegal, that affects everyone.
FloraFox - The very very few intersex depends on ones definition. Some definitions have intersex people being 1-in-50. That's not very few at all. Just because it's rarely talked about doesn't make it rare. Remember science definitions are made my people, and people have biases and systems to upkeep. See the large swathes of science used to create justification for chattel slavery when war and debt slaves could not fill the quota for White elite's businesses. See the ridiculous amounts of studies to prove how different men and women's brains are when really it's rubbish and if we had to define by sex we'd all have intersex brains. Science can and has been a tool oppression just as much as any other system.
I've never gotten the issue with being called cis. It's like being called a White woman, a straight woman, a British woman, a 27 year old woman, it's just a qualifier. Trans*woman have a qualifier, for cis-women not to have one is to essentially make them "normal" rather than just typical. All genders are normal.
KRITIQ In my view gender is the tool which inflicts oppression on a person because of their biological sex. I can see that if you don't believe women as a class of persons based on their biological sex suffer oppression, your approach to feminism would be very different from someone who does believe that. If you take your approach to kyriarchy (which I don't accept as the basis of society) then I suppose you might say that you must include everyone who faces oppression of every sort in every campaign regardless of sex, sexuality, colour, class, sexual identity etc. However, I believe that oppressed people should be entitled to define their oppression and campaign accordingly based on their own criteria of their group without making it a prerequisite that they also campaign for or include members of other groups. If someone only wants to campaign for e.g. services for rape survivors, they shouldn't be criticised for not also campaigning against female genital mutilation, for example.
"I also don't agree that it follows that feminists are supportive of those who are non-gender conforming, but become less so as they gain knowledge, understanding and experience." I didn't say this and I certainly don't agree with it.
I'm also interested in your response to NT's question - I don't get that at all.
"Saying that there is oppression against trans* due to gender does not take away oppression against ciswomen due to sex."
It does take away from it if you do not permit women to name the oppression they suffer due to their sex or if you deny that women suffer oppression as a result of their sex.
I agree that science can be used as a tool of oppression however that does not mean it can be ignored altogether nor that it should be twisted to meet a political objective. The one in fifty number for intersex is based on a controversial definition. Other figures are as low as 0.018%. I feel the trans activists desire to prove a male or female brain is very dangerous for women and could put us back into Victorian concepts of what women can or should do (it is not so long ago that women were not permitted into my profession because it was considered unsuited to the female brain). Like NiceTabard, those BBC brain tests put me as more male than the average male. I conclude from that that the concept of a male brain is false since I am demonstrably a woman, not that I am in fact a man because of my "male brain".
Although this discussion gets quite complicated, there is an Occam's Razor that can be applied to the question of whether or not someone is a man or a woman which is biological. In my view, the issue of whether person A is a man or a woman is not so much the issue as how does or should society treat men and women. I'm not that interested in feminism as an exploration of self or of individual identity or expression. If other people are, that's fine by me but I'm interested in a movement for the liberation of women as a class.
Tabard, if oppression is based on social constructs (which I believe), you can change those constructs. There are plenty of examples from history where societies and their institutions have changed and structures that perpetuated oppression have been dismantled (perhaps not completely, but significantly in many cases.)
However if one believes oppression is based on biological factors, which are immutable, it means the oppression is inevitable. How then would YOU suggest that the situation could change, that oppression can cease?
What would that process actually look like, step by step? How would the oppressors relinquish their power - power that they hold because their biology is not like that of those they oppress? Are they likely to give that up willingly?
In my view, dismantling the patriarchy/kyriarchy (and I believe you must do both in tandem, else you just end up with a situation that really only benefits those women who already enjoy considerable privilege, leaving other forms of oppression to thrive,) is about dismantling the social, political and economic structures and institutions that perpetuate male, white, non-disabled, straight, etc. privilege. Those things CAN change. That's where I can put my energy and genuinely believe change is possible.
Spork, you are right on the money. Great post!
No, it doesn't. Sexism is still sexism. Against trans* people it's cissexism or trans*misogyny (the latter being the greater oppression trans*women have than trans*men). Ciswomen can still use sexism, no one wants to take that away or take away the concept of systems oppressing by sex. Seriously, I've never heard anyone wanting to deny that.
And I just linked in my previous post a video on how male-female brain is rubbish. That if we had to define it by sex everyone would have an intersex brain. Watch it, it shows how stress can literally change the shape of the brain and how our brains are mosaics. I don't know of any trans*activists who use male brain and female brain, when we said gender is in the brain we mean the identity which obviously comes from the brain not the actual brain itself is male or female or genderfluid.
And liberation of women "as a class" will still involve looking at intersections. See the long history of White feminists throwing other women under the bus by not recognizing how women's oppression differs by race, ethnicity, ability, and so on (Susan B Anthony and her horrible treatment of Ida B Wells - and all other Black feminists - springs to mind).
"Saying that there is oppression against trans* due to gender does not take away oppression against ciswomen due to sex."
It does take away from it if you do not permit women to name the oppression they suffer due to their sex or if you deny that women suffer oppression as a result of their sex.
I would also add that other conduct also takes away (i.e. denies or prevents attention to it) oppression of "ciswomen" due to sex, such as the conduct of shouting down the OP mentions (the topic of this post). Other conduct includes denying "ciswomen" the right to organise on their own to determine strategies to fight their oppression on the basis of sex and denying them the space in which to meet.
I have tracked LittleSporks's use of the term "ciswoman". I have not seen a convincing definition of the word and so do not know whether I would accept the word as a descriptor of me. However, in this context have used it to mean an adult female, or if required, an adult who was assigned as female at birth and raised to adulthood that way.
I'm not the definer of the word, it's been used for decades. Cisgender simply means someone whose gender is the same as the sex designated at birth. That is it, that is all. It started simply as a way to qualify people who agree with the sex they were designated at birth and those who do not who are described as trans* It is a way to ensure that trans*people are not othered or treated as not normal. Because all genders are normal. Because language is important and having a qualifier on one person and not another designated the person without as normal or default. Ciswomen aren't the default, they are just more typical.
I really don't get what is so hard or offensive or unacceptable about this. Maybe it's because I've had a label all my life - even as a child I was never just a girl, I was always defined by my skin and disabilities. Most people have labels, it is a blessing and an immunity to feel one can describe oneself and be defined by society without quite a few.
"However if one believes oppression is based on biological factors, which are immutable, it means the oppression is inevitable."
Why do you think this is inevitable? The methodology is the same as you have pointed out - to change the constructs and institutions that perpetuate the oppression. It is not necessary to change the biological categorisations in order to change society. Where society has changed in relation to race (slavery, apartheid etc), religion, etc. this has not been done by having everyone accept that there is no such thing as black and white people, no such thing as Jews and Christians etc. The changes in western society for women in the past 100 years or so have been truly revolutionary and have been achieved without denying that oppression of women is based on their biology.
KIRTIQ you say that you are agreeing with Spork but you say oppression is not based on biological factors and she says she has never heard anyone wanting to deny that.
Spork what do you mean that gender is in the brain? How does the identity "obviously" come from the brain if you do not believe there is a male or female brain?
I agree that there are intersections of oppression. I agree that all forms of oppression should be dismantled and I respect your decision to put your energies towards activism that addresses all forms of oppression. However, I do not agree that there is no point campaigning on one intersection unless you also campaign for all others. I believe all women have benefitted from the advances brought about by feminism even if some have benefitted more than others.
I am glad that my feminist forebears campaigned for women's entry into the professions, that my working class forebears campaigned for access to universities and student grants and that my Catholic forebears campaigned against discrimination against Catholics. I'm glad they didn't leave me uneducated and in the kitchen with no political, economic or marriage rights until oppression of every sort was eradicated.
KRITIQ, I believe that gender is a social construct which is imposed on me because of my biological sex. I am oppressed by the patriarchy, using the tool of socially constructed gender, because I was born female. The oppression and inequalities I face arise from the web of expectations, restrictions, obligations and roles forced on me because of my sex. Such oppression is neither natural, biological nor inevitable.
I agree with you that the social construction of gender must be radically altered or even dismantled in order to achieve liberation. In my own way, I work towards that every day and in principle I reject the gendered expectations, restrictions, obligations and roles forced on me.
In my view, dismantling the patriarchy/kyriarchy (and I believe you must do both in tandem, else you just end up with a situation that really only benefits those women who already enjoy considerable privilege, leaving other forms of oppression to thrive,) is about dismantling the social, political and economic structures and institutions that perpetuate male, white, non-disabled, straight, etc. privilege. Those things CAN change. That's where I can put my energy and genuinely believe change is possible.
I don't really know what that means. At first blush, it kind of reminded me of the old Trotskyist/Marxist dismissal of women's issues as being divisive and diversionary from the goal of achieving economic revolution, and of the gains on the women's equality front being either reforms or reactionary sops to prevent revolution. The message for women was that their equality could not be addressed until the revolution was won. I don't think that's what you mean though, so I am trying to find the context.
"Cisgender simply means someone whose gender is the same as the sex designated at birth."
What does gender mean here? If it means that I comply with socially constructed norms attributed to persons of the female sex, then I am not cisgender because I do not conform. If it is some feeling of identity of being female that is located in the brain, I am not cisgender because I have no such feeling.
The categorisation that distinguishes me from a trans person is that I not believe myself to be of the opposite sex nor do I want to become a person of the opposite sex.
LittleSporksBigSpork, Cisgender simply means someone whose gender is the same as the sex designated at birth. That is it, that is all. It started simply as a way to qualify people who agree with the sex they were designated at birth and those who do not who are described as trans*
I understand why the term is used and I understand the desire to have a differentiating term. I don't see the meaning and implications as being straightforward.
One problem I have with it is the use of the word "gender". If you mean as you say first that the "gender" is the same as the sex designated at birth, then I am not cisgendered. As I posted above, not only do I not identify with all of the gendered roles, etc., forced on me because of my sex, I reject most of them. I refuse to be pigeonholed into a box of roles and expectations which render me inferior and second-class to men. Calling me "cisgendered" suggests acceptance of those roles, or at the very least complacency.
I live in a traditional-type marriage, except the traditional gender roles are altered. I am the sole income earner, in a male dominated environment. My husband is a SAHD. I took minimal maternity leave. He does the cooking, cleaning and laundry. He walks the dog and does the school run. He volunteers with the school. He takes the kids to all their appointments and activities. Before he stopped working to be the primary caregiver, he worked with children as a daycare operator. If my husband left me, I would have no chance of getting custody of the children.
Then, however, you use a different definition: "people who agree with the sex they were designated at birth". That's different because on its face the definition only deals with sex and ignores gender roles.
That's also problematic. It begs the question "Do I agree with the sex I was designated at birth?" Frankly, it's not an issue of "agreement", my sex is a biological fact. I was born with a vagina so am female.
It's also a little reductive. I am a "ciswoman" because I was born with a vagina, and I don't dispute that fact? As a woman, I am more than my genitals. I suppose I could be called a "cisfemale", but then the "cis" is redundant.
My self-identity is that I am an adult female who rejects patriarchal gender roles.
This link gives a basic description of the differences between sex, gender identity, and gender expression. People keep mixing up gender identity and gender expression on here, they are not the same thing. Gender identity is how you think about yourself (in your head), Gender expression are actions that may line up with a certain gender - the gender roles stuff. Kanye West identifies as a man and wears a skirt on stage, that doesn't mean he identifies as less of a man. The only other phrase to ciswomen that I've seen used is women-born-women but that seems to promote otherness and biological essentialism to me.
a more accurate picture but the former has all the information. As shown in this, not all trans* want to be the "opposite" sex, it's not all about the binaries. Many cultures (and other animals) have the concept of a third gender, genderqueer, and many other variants.
Flora: Where do you think your identity comes from? It isn't your body, it's the you inside of you. Your personality, your thinking, the real you. The part of you that knows you are a woman, that identifies as a woman. It isn't the genitals, it isn't the brain as a whole.
Brains aren't male or female - I already posted a video on this - but our identities, what makes us us, is inside of it (everything that makes our personalities runs from the brain). Some may describe it as the soul or spirit. That part is where gender comes from. Simply: What do you think of yourself as when you think about you, what identity makes you comfortable in your own skin. That's it. What do you think of yourself, and since we think of ourselves with our brains, the identity is described as being in the brain.
My argument with your latter point is that you can't fight for women as a class unless you fight for all of them and you can't do that if you ignore the other intersections. Because they're women too. If you do ignore them, you're only fighting for some. I'm not saying it needs to be your main focus, just that it needs to be recognized that other women need and are treated differently based on these things. "Feminism has a bad image in many communities because of it's history and lack of recognition of this (hint: Most White feminists weren't fighting for all women's entry, they were fighting for White women of a certain standing's entry - as I said, see Susan B Anthony, the holy one of the States, and how her fight was mainly because she thought White women should get the vote before Black men, and never considered that Native women would want to vote, which they wouldn't get for years after "women's vote" came into the States and treated Black women who took most of the brunt horribly and didn't say anything about the voter suppression tests and trials many Black women went through. Voter suppression is a still a major issue, bigger now that we've just lost the federal protection to prevent it, but the outroar is...no where. It was the same day as the Texas filibuster everyone going on about what a great day it was, forgot about how horrible it was the rest of us). Most I know fight under a different banner (some much older) because they've been burnt by it too often.
For example, I'm Metis and sovereignty and representation are major issues for me. Many Metis and Native women are stuck uneducated (80% dropout rate in many areas) and in the kitchen because the lack of sovereignty over our image and area. Prices in Native areas are sky high because of outside control (imagine paying 14£ for red sauce, imagine women and small children with signs begging for milk). We try to protect our image and we're told it's a bit of fun and everyone plays
genocide victims but, forgetting that that sexy S* has led to Native women being three times more likely to be raped than a White woman and less than 20% of that is by Native men. This affects me and my sisters as women. But it gets swept aside by modern White women feminists like Lena Dunham who fights for White women's representation on TV, but "literally could not give a shit" about the representation of any other women. The image popular culture gives out literally risks our health more but it isn't deemed important. That's the bad image feminism has now. Dunham's "fight" doesn't help anyone but her own and I don't trust anyone who would do that.
LittleSporksBigSpork, Here is where I have the challenge with your links. Although the genderbread man is cute, the descriptions remain problematic.
From the first one:
Gender expression is all about how you demonstrate your gender through the ways you act, dress, behave, and interactwhether that is intentional or unintended. Gender expression is interpreted by others perceiving your gender based on traditional gender roles (e.g., men wear pants, women wear dresses). Gender expression is something that often changes from day to day, outfit to outfit, event or setting to event or setting. Its about how the way you express yourself aligns or doesnt with traditional ways of gendered expression. And like gender identity, there is a lot of room for flexibility here. It is likely that you slide around on this continuum throughout the week without even thinking about it. How about an example?
You wake up and youre wearing baggy grey sweatpants and a tshirt. As you walk into your kitchen to prepare breakfast, youre expressing an adrogynous-to-slightly-masculine gender. However, you see your partner in the kitchen and you prowl in like Halle Berry from Catwoman, then you are expressing much more femininely, so now youre back on the left half of the continuum. You pour a bowl of cereal, wrap your fist around a spoon like a viking, and start shoveling Fruit Loops into your face, and all-of-a-sudden youre sliding back onto the right side of the continuum. After breakfast, you skip back into your bedroom and playfully place varying outfits in front of you, pleading your partner help you decide what to wear. Youre feminine again.
I reject the traditional gender roles. I cannot get on board with the idea that I am acting like a man by wearing sweatpants and eating like a pig. The whole excerpt is pretty insulting actually.
From the second one:
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus is a funny expression (and scientifically dubious), but it actually nails down the strength of this model. Two planets, not two poles of one planet. Placing man/masculine/male on one end of something (continuum, 2D plot, etc.) and woman/feminine/female on the other (as I did with the old model) creates and reinforces a fallacy central to gender misunderstanding: to be more of one, you need to be less of the other. Thats incorrect. You can have both. You can have your genderbread and eat it, too.
Lets take Gender Identity for our example. I identify as a man, but I identify with a lot of what it means to be a woman. Im sensitive, kind, familial, and I really like dark chocolate (kidding stuffs disgusting). Possessing this woman-ness doesnt make me any less of a man. But its a large part of my gender identity, and those traits affect my life and influence my decisions as much and more than many of my man-ness does.
Seriously - woman-ness includes sensitivity, kindness, familialness and liking chocolate?
I don't believe in a female soul or spirit nor an internal female identity. I know I am a woman when I observe my body, remember giving birth to my children or when I am treated in a particular way in our society. To the extent I have an identity, it is just a series of labels applied by society in respect of my sex, my sexuality, my nationality, my job, my religion, my class, being a mother etc. None of these things feel innate to me, I understand them as biology and socialisation. The links you provided tend to persuade me further that a feeling of gender would be nothing more than internalising stereotypes.
Even if I were to accept that internal or innate identity exists in some people, I'm not sure how much it matters as a political issue. I don't believe people face oppression based on their internal sense of themselves but rather on how they interact with or are perceived by others, whether due to unavoidable categorisation (I would never be mistaken for a man) or because of the way one expresses aspects of intersectionality which are not immediately visible e.g. class, religion or gender non-conformity.
I am aware that some cultures (I don't think many) have a concept of a third sex. I read at one point that this tends to be cultures in which women have low status and therefore being a male with "female attributes" is considered abhorrent. I know very little about this however in modern day Iran, for example, it is illegal for a man to be gay but it is acceptable for a man to transition to live as a woman and then have sex with men. I don't think that a concept of a third sex is necessarily a good thing from a feminist perspective. As for animals, we are very clearly a binary species as far as sex is concerned, regardless of what other species may be.
As far as fighting for women as a class is concerned, I do believe that feminism has achieved great things for all women and I don't agree that it is impossible to ignore other intersections at any time. It depends on the issue. Some feminists in the past may have had significant flaws but the expression "perfection is the enemy of progress" is very apt. I know nothing about the history of feminism and the civil rights movement in the US but I would not throw away the progress for women that has been achieved even if the women who achieved it may have held some views which I would consider abhorrent.
I fully agree that there are many women whose oppression from other factors has a greater impact on them than their oppression as women (although women always seem to do worse than the men in any group) and I fully respect their decision to work in whatever way they deem fit to fight their oppression even if that means they refuse to stand under a feminist banner.
I am strongly against trying to tear down efforts made by other women to advance the position of women as they see fit, whether it is by shouting down people who are not fighting all oppression all the time or worse, by denying their right to meet, discuss and fight their oppression. I don't really care about Lena Dunham. I don't need to trust her as she is just an actor on television. She seems to be intensely navel-gazing and I find the exploration of self very boring and self-centred. There are lots of plain actors on UK television but I guess in the US she must be considered quite shocking for having the temerity to appear on television whilst being an ordinary looking woman. If all she achieves is a greater acceptance of plain women on television, it's hardly earth shattering but I'm not going to attack her for it just as I am not going to ask any other woman fighting oppression to justify to me how her fight benefits or includes me.
I don't know if I have a "female identity", or if I have a neutral identity that happens to be in a female body.
I guess it's pretty hard to notice when you only have the one.
Maybe men do feel differently to women, but how would I know, and how would they know?
When you feel that you are in the "right" body, it doesn't feel like anything. It doesn't feel nice or good or comfortable, it just feels like being.
But when people tell me that they feel that they are in the wrong body, I believe them. Even if I don't understand it. Even if they describe it poorly.
Let's face it, the only non-sexist explanation would be "I just feel it, and I can't describe it" because every other explanation will be expressed in terms of gender norms, and many people choose not to follow those norms without feeling that they inhabit the "wrong" body.
"Let's face it, the only non-sexist explanation would be "I just feel it, and I can't describe it" because every other explanation will be expressed in terms of gender norms, and many people choose not to follow those norms without feeling that they inhabit the "wrong" body."
Exactly - like I've said plenty of times on here, I felt wrong. Now I feel right.
I felt wrong. Now I feel right.
and everyone who has always "felt right" probably doesn't even know that there is anything to feel...
That is why I cannot confidently say "I don't believe in male/female identities", because of course I wouldn't notice it.
Trills if this was just about people dealing with their own lives and trying to get along in peace, I don't think it would make any difference whether anyone believed that a person might feel that they are in the wrong body. However this is not the case. I am thinking of three issues:
1. Does belief in self-expressed identity create a legal status as a woman and, in fact, trump biological reality? If a woman told me she had been raped, I would generally believe her but it does not mean that I would favour abolishing trials and having punishment meted out without a trial. If someone told me they felt they were in the wrong body, I would generally believe that the feeling is genuine although I don't agree that this feeling supercedes biological reality. I don't agree that that person should be treated as the other sex for all purposes e.g. access to women's spaces, playing women's sports, women's scholarships etc. I would also assume that some people may be lying because some people really are assholes or behave in ways that are difficult to understand. If people were not assholes, we would not need laws.
2. Why is it acceptable to force everyone to also believe that these feelings are real and genuine and should result in a person being treated as a person of the other sex? I am thinking here about shutting down radfem meetings and generally shouting down and abusing people who are sceptical, particularly those who are sceptical about the political consequences rather than individuals' lives. You have said yourself that you are proceeding just on a belief that people are telling the truth. That to me is very similar to religious believers who will not accept or permit any critical thinking of their faith.
3. The issues are increasingly moving beyond "in the wrong body" onto a plane that "I feel female even though I have a penis therefore my penis is female" - this comes out most strongly in the non-op and cotton ceiling issue. This position was strongly defended even on MN over the recent McNally decision. A number of posters here and elsewhere said it was a heterosexual act because McNally identified as a male and therefore had a male body and therefore the sex was heterosexual. In previous discussions on MN this was described as a marginal transactivist view but I have to say it was certainly vocally expressed by many people following the McNally decision.
And so it goes round again.
I do wish that
1) People would stop using "cotton-ceiling" as something to bash the entire trans community with. You wouldn't scapegoat an entire community of any other kind like that, so why is it OK with trans people?
2) Not everyone can have gender reassignment surgery. Cost, access, previous poor health are all reasons why someone may not be able to have the surgery. It's also not a one off procedure and requires lots of follow-up and there may be complications, so again you can see why someone on a low income, who is insecurely housed (a situation many trans ppl are in) may not be able to have surgery.
The penis thing is a red herring anyway, trans-critical people sadly don't accept trans women as women, regardless of what surgery they've had.
I agree Anne but people, sadly, do use things to bash a whole community with. It's not just trans-people. RadFems get bashed by all sorts of horrid statements made by a small minority of RadFems with very strange views indeed. I'm thinking of the 'why should we nurture male babies' quote that gets brought up in discussions fairly frequently.
Thank you Trills, you've explained it far better than my insomnia/having a shite brain week could. And GoshAnne, those a very good, often over looked points.
WhenTheRed - it is meant to be a vast oversimplification. The target audience for that is end of high school/beginning of college/have no clue whatsoever about any sex/gender issues. And those objects are associated in mass media as being attributed to those genders, that will be the target audience's main reference points.
Florafox - No one is trying to take away your struggle. The trans* struggle is a separate issue that intersects with yours - trans*women (with or without penises) face more violence about their gender than trans*men (With or without vaginas) - this is part of the patriarchy. And not everyone who is trans* is a stereotype of an another gender, really need to get that through to people, it isn't just the activities, it's a person's identity. Trans*women are killed and have one of the highest suicide rates and it's no wonder if the mainstream would rather stomp experience into oblivion than offer support.
And many many cultures around the world have the concept of third gender/neutral gender/genderqueer (even Judaism has it). Most of them were destroyed through European colonization because everything needed to fit in the White religion White science idea of the binary. People who were outside of the gender binary in many cultures were murdered by White colonizers because it was against their binary, it terrified people so that now the concept is something whispered around in backrooms in concern as something dangerous. And feminists wonder why so many people and groups don't want to be feminists or trust you guys. You are fighting on the side of imperialists who kill us!
I am Metis, we have the concept of two spirit, it has nothing to do with women being seen as less than (early White feminist writings comes from observation of our cultures, during the wars between Europeans and Native nations, the majority of single White women stayed with ours because they were treated fairer). Not everything that is different from yours is less than, you might even learn something if you opened yourself a bit beyond what the systems have taught you. But we can't have people fighting the imperialism. Might actual treat all people as people and call them as they wish to be called because that's just the decent thing to do rather than having to dissect them for their proper classification. Don't need to be perfect, just need to see, try to understand by listening, and celebrating the whole person, treat them as a person with a humanity that should be respected, and work to ensure that regardless of what makes up that person that it doesn't effect their life chances.
I really should learn not to write about this stuff here, talk about bring shouted over and dismissed, this place does nothing but shout down when trans* issues come up, or even worse trying to discuss that some women actively oppress others and that it may need to be addressed to actually get equality for women. It wasn't just their abhorent views, it was that that they actively oppressed other women. Many White feminists stood on the necks of other women, even in the UK, actively sought to degrade and kill to boost their own standing, and still do so today without remorse, they try to boost themselves and only their way of thinking higher by tearing other women down. Your fight against gender ignores that it was White feminists who forced the gender roles in most other communities to suit their desires and oppress others (because our women were mostly working out of the home to care for White women's domestics, this still happens today). It's quite depressing that that is still the mainstay of feminism.
BigSpork- I really, really appreciate your posts though and am very glad you take the time to write them. The same for you KRITIQ.
Also, thanks for mentioning Reproductive justice upthread, people might think that reproductive rights = abortion rights, but there is a far bigger struggle to be had.
It is not about only accepting perfection, so as someone said upthread that perfect is the enemy of good, but accepting that we may 1)have different struggles and we need to have genuine solidarity with each other.
2)There is a reason why you hear about certain women's issues more than others. Feminism does not exist in an inequality free vacuum. The way to overcome this is to acknowledge it, not pretend it doesn't exist.
I'm kind of getting tired of having the same old discussions on here and having the same old arguments brought up ad nauseum which really have nothing to do with most of the trans community but are used as a stick to beat them with. Sometimes I wonder why I post.
But I do know that there are many people out there who read them and have at least had their eyes opened into a different world. Some have even changed their opinions.
But I'm sure we'll carry on having them for a while.
kim I hope I didn't offend you with my comments about breast cancer. TBH I don't really understand these issues.
As far as I am aware, I am at much higher risk now of developing breast cancer. A family history does not help and oestrogen treatment is a risk factor.
I understand that risk - on the bright side, I think I am at a lot less risk of prostrate cancer.
But I would never not take the oestrogen. I just have to be careful and monitor myself as my nurse said.
These threads do cover the same ground over and over again, and often repeat they don't 'get' why people feel a certain way or believe a certain thing, despite being on multiple previous threads where it was explained. That suggests people aren't listening to each other.
Most if the stuff on tumblr about gender and cis-sexism is ridiculous and is at odds with how international organisations and governments understand and refer to sex and gender, much as the discussion of race on tumblr uses racism to mean something different than its international legal definition. I doubt most of it has much use to anybody from any disadvantaged group.
I accept that there will also be political disagreement over these issues, but that should not prevent discussion and the possible search for alliances where they can be made. Not all feminists agree on every issue (prostitution being one) and it is unrealistic to believe that all feminists will agree with all aspects of transgender discourse. There are many views and they are not all capable of being reconciled.
As I have read and participated in these threads, my understanding and political views have evolved and been challenged. I do think critically and analyse the comments posted by people with whom I do not agree.
Yes, it is not the best thing in the world to have people disagree with you, but that's life. Further, it does no-one any good to shout down or attempt to silence other people. That is after all the problem the OP is reporting.
littleSporksBigSpork, I appreciate your engagement and our discussion on the meaning of "cisgender". I understand the nature of the exercise of trying to find a term. I can see why trans*people would like a positively stated term for "non-trans*".
I don't agree with your position though that the word "cisgender" or the general use of the prefix "cis" are not a big deal.
^ it is meant to be a vast oversimplification. The target audience for that is end of high school/beginning of college/have no clue whatsoever about any sex/gender issues. And those objects are associated in mass media as being attributed to those genders, that will be the target audience's main reference points.^
This actually makes it worse. This man is going into schools and colleges and telling young adults that it is womanly to "prowl like Halle Berry in Catwoman" at the sight of her sexual partner. That may indeed be a mass media stereotype of women but it is neither a fun stereotype nor a neutral stereotype. That is a harmful, negative stereotype that contributes to rape myths and culture.
I don't see how that helps me to approve of a definition of me that includes that stereotype as part of my identity.
I can accept that as a woman, I have been subjected to the expectations, roles, stereotypes, etc. that our patriarchal society has placed on me. That is the nature of my oppression. I get that. So I can kind of get that perhaps "ciswoman" can be a shorthand for women born female who have been oppressed on the basis of their sex and who haven't tried to change their sex. But then that doesn't get to where those who use the phrase want to go.
I also have a related problem with the usage. On the one hand, I am told it is an equivalent to trans*gender - just a differentiating feature or a way to stop trans*people from being "othered" by using the trans* prefix. I understand that and can accept that.
However, as I read the discussions, the terms are not used as equivalents. "Cis" is designated the privileged position. So where I end up is that the congruence between my physical embodiment and the oppression I face through being born female is not only the basis of my identity but is also the source of my "privilege". I am struggling to see how my being oppressed privileges me.
The challenge is finding a term that is acceptable to all that does not require non-trans*people to accept as their identity harmful gender stereotypes. I am actually okay with being called non-trans*. It may have to do.
I agree Whenthered - I'd rather be called non-trans than cis.
It's not about the privilege issue, it's that cis implies belief in an innate gender identity through its meaning that you have your gender identity and assigned gender on the same side.
Thus to describe myself as cis is basically dishonest because it suggests I believe in something I don't believe in, rather as if a Catholic was going 'Ah, you're not a Catholic, you must be a Protestant' and I had to accept that description of myself or be called bigoted despite actually being an atheist.
Regarding the cotton ceiling, this was raised once in 74 posts by me as part of a point about the "penis is female" and in the context of the McNally decision. Your previous assertions Gosh that this was a very uncommon view in the trans activists community look weak given the mainstream response to the McNally case. As for not doing this with any other community, people are asked all the time to comment on the more extreme views represented in their activist group.
Spork "No one is trying to take away your struggle." How can you say this given the lobbying by transactivists to shut down RadFem2012, RadFem2013, RadFemRiseUp, no-platforming Lierre Keith even when she was speaking about environmental issues etc? This is exactly what is happening.
"You are fighting on the side of imperialists who kill us!" This is a gratuitous insult. I have stated my respect for any person's right to define their own fight against oppression.
"you might even learn something if you opened yourself a bit beyond what the systems have taught you" another gratuitous insult. Just because someone does not agree with you, does not mean that they are uneducated, nor does it mean that they are not listening Freya, people's views differ but it's clear some people don't respect that.
So what do you propose to do about the gains of feminism brought about by people whose views you don't like? Repeal equality legislation, reproductive rights, marriage and property rights, political rights?
"Your fight against gender ignores that it was White feminists who forced the gender roles in most other communities to suit their desires and oppress others" There have always been and still are women who aid the patriarchial system. What is the consequence? Should I not fight against oppressive gender roles because some women somewhere worked to impose them? You may find this overly blunt but not every fight is my fight. I don't feel the need to explain how every campaign or activism I might be involved in should benefit and include every woman equally just as I do not feel entitled to demand that every campaign by others includes and benefits me.
I don't know about your community Spork but women in my community have long been told by left wing men that class matters more than sex, all the while perpetuating oppressive gender roles to their benefit. It is obvious that intersectionality of oppression results in some women being oppressed more than others however I can't think of a single aspect in which it is not the women at the bottom of the heap, whatever heap that is. If a woman wants to engage her struggle solely within her own heap, I will not object. The more struggle against oppression, the better as far as I am concerned.
And please, do tell me more about how this discussion is tired. Is there a list I can consult of permitted discussion points?
LittleSporksBigSpork, my last post was very long and I do want to raise one further issue with you.
And feminists wonder why so many people and groups don't want to be feminists or trust you guys. You are fighting on the side of imperialists who kill us!
Many White feminists stood on the necks of other women, even in the UK, actively sought to degrade and kill to boost their own standing, and still do so today without remorse, they try to boost themselves and only their way of thinking higher by tearing other women down.
I had to think carefully about continuing the discussion after these comments. I am not a pacifist so cannot say that I reject violence in all forms. However, I do reject violence against disadvantaged groups because of their disadvantaged status. In particular, I absolutely agree that the no-one should be killed because of being trans*. I firmly believe that the men (let's be frank, it's always a man) who kill trans*women should be brought to justice.
I do not agree that I am fighting on the side of imperialists trying to kill you. I do not accept that I am a person who actively seeks to degrade and kill to boost my own standing without remorse. I don't consider it helpful to the discussion to say that. Doesn't that fall into the conduct that is the subject of the OP? Couldn't the same insults and rhetoric be used in respect of the effect of the harmful stereotypes being perpetuated by the likes of the genderbread man?
Tunip, Thank you, that is much better than my clumsy attempts at trying to analyse the issue.
Okay, I'll give an example FF.
Kritique has been on these threads before. Yet she says a. she doesn't understand why people don't like the term cis (explained many times before), b. that it simply means non trans (no it doesn't, explained many times before) and c. that it is equivalent to terms like straight (no it isn't because most straight people both understand the specific meaning of the word straight and agree it defines their internal feelings).
So either Kritique isn't listening or is attempting to deliberately make factually incorrect statements. I am sure if I went through these threads and assuming nobody has name changed (unlikely) I could find lots of examples of people doing this.
There is a purpose in people clearly stating opinions about what they believe, but I don't see the purpose in pretending never to have heard explanations of other people's feelings or beliefs so we go through the same thing over and over again.
Freya sorry I was talking more to Kim saying the discussion was tired and going on ad nauseum. I agree there are a lot of arguments made over and over again. I don't mind these where there is the possibility to take the discussion to a more detailed level or sometimes just for the benefit of new readers. I do find it frustrating, as you say, when people pretend that they have never heard things before or that trans activists don't say X then say well X is not a mainstream trans activist view when they clearly knew that view X is being put around by some people. There are clearly divergent views in every political movement. You can see, for example, divergent views from transactivists on oppression being based on biology in this thread where kritiq says she doesn't believe oppression is based on biology but then Spork says she's never heard of anyone denying this. I'm also tired of people denying that women's voices are being shouted down and they are not being stopped from fighting their oppression. Again, when examples are pointed out, they switch to justifying why they think it's okay to do this. However if people cannot distinguish between discussion and disagreement and shouting down / shutting down, it is perhaps not surprising. I don't encounter this style of argument or engagement from any area. I find gender theory to be profoundly weak from an intellectual perspective. It more resembles an article of faith or belief that cannot be objectively measured or referenced. I am starting to think that's why the arguments in favour of it move so quickly to insults, obfuscation and shouting down.
I am tired. I'm tired of explaining myself on here and on trying to explain my point of view. I'm not a transactivist and don't really do gender theory. I'm just trying to live my life and I'm tired of having to justify myself. I'm tired of the regularity that these discussions come up and going through the same old discussions with the same old people.
I'm tired of having to justify myself. I'm tired of all the discrimination that takes place.
'I find gender theory to be profoundly weak from an intellectual perspective. It more resembles an article of faith or belief that cannot be objectively measured or referenced. I am starting to think that's why the arguments in favour of it move so quickly to insults, obfuscation and shouting down.'
I would agree with that.
I find that many of the genderists refuse to believe that for many of us there is a fundamental intellectual disagreement about the nature of gender at the heart of it. There's a readiness to believe it's because we're uncomfortable with people who don't fit neatly into the gender binary, that it's because we dislike transpeople, that it's because we're social conservatives.
Believe me, I'd love to be on the side of the people who don't get called bigots on this one, and I'd love to be able to totally accept the premise that gender identity is everything (it is not fun holding beliefs that you know your trans friends would be hurt by). But ultimately I don't believe that womanhood,the thing that we are oppressed for is a 'womanhood' dictated by a bit of your brain independently of either physical body or social context. And I do not believe that we can pretend those things and still fight the oppression effectively.
I'm not going to repeat all the points Kim has made before, but she has made it clear what her personal feelings about herself are, and they do not relate to the kind of gender theory put forward on tumblr and by various trans activists.
Kim, I have sympathy that you constantly have to make the same statements over and over again about your personal circumstances.
Kim I believe the only time I directed a question towards you about your own situation you told me you didn't want to make the thread about you. You have no obligation to justify yourself, I don't believe I have asked you to do so. You may not be a transactivist however we are entitled to discuss both gender theory and the impact of some transactivism on feminist issues and the fight against women's oppression. I'm tired of being called a bigot or now that I am on the side of people who want to kill Spork!
I am tired of being told that I am the cause of violence towards and the deaths of people because I question gender theory and, on another topic, I support the Swedish model of tackling prostitution. I am tired of knowing while I am being painted as the anti-Christ, men are getting a free pass to carry out the actual violence and murders.
We should be able to discuss these issues without being called bigots and murderers. I choose to comment on MN because I view the discourse as at least respectful and where people have a genuine interest in the exchange of ideas. I find people here are genuinely interested in gaining a greater understanding, even if agreements are not reached.
I moved here from the Guardian because I could not stand the insults any longer. The silencing worked in that respect. Perhaps like the OP and tumblr.
kim147, I don't hold you responsible for the views of the entire trans* community and don't require you to justify yourself to me. You are one person with your own political views which you may choose either to share or not share.
There is no getting away from the fact that these discussions will continue in the future. There are many flashpoints and opportunities for dialogue. Each instance may require differing considerations depending on the situation and the trigger. Having a forum for thoughtful discussion is a useful refuge from the more hostile environments. Whether, and how, people continue to participate will be up to them.
"men are getting a free pass to carry out the actual violence and murders."
I am tired of being told that I am the cause of violence towards and the deaths of people...
Oh look, a tiresome repetitive point that has been discussed ad nauseum.
I assume Tiggy is objecting to you referring to men collectively as the people carrying out the murders of women and masculine spectrum trans people.
I think the point Red is making is that feminists who don't believe in gender theory aren't the collectively group going out and murdering women and masculine spectrum trans people.
1. The common feature of the murderers of trans*women and women in prostitution is that they are men. Are you denying that? The issue feminists tackle is the issue of male violence against women. But then, you know that.
2. I know of no woman who shares my political beliefs who has killed or beat up a trans*woman or person in prostitution.
Red: Who said he's going to schools? His website's main traffic are those groups, young people who know nothing googling for answers. The only talks he's done is TED talks to adults well after his website gained mass following. He's not talking to kids directly, he didn't set it up originally for young people, but his website gets a lot of traffic from them so he designed it so even they could access the information. It's quite common for website creators to notice demographics who come through search engines and change accordingly.
About being oppressed and immune at the same time: People have lots of different identities, some are in power groups and some aren't. A White man who is poor still has more social power in many areas than a Black men with wealth, that doesn't mean the White man's lack of funds in a capitalists society doesn't oppress him. In the judicial system, White women are more likely to believed than a Black or Asian man and White women earn a lot more than Black men. I have a lot of negatives to my list, but I'm light skinned and will be taken more seriously than another Metis with dark skin. A ciswoman will have violence against her because of her sex and gender, but you will have a lower risk of bladder issues than any trans* people from not having held it for hours in a public setting due to fears about using any restroom, people won't ask you your "real" name or about your anatomy upon meeting you, your inclusion in the media will not involve those either, you do not have to reveal your medical history for your marriage or civil partnership to be valid. There is not academia or popular articles about whether your identity exists or just another type of oppression. Here's a list other things you benefit from that trans* people are not immune from.
Many deaths of trans* women that have been actively at the hands of ciswomen. Also support of a system that dehumanizes people is supporting those people being killed - the steps of genocide. And while your feminism may be focused on a fight against men, most other groups aren't, it's about trying to rebuild community equally. Because when we hurt, we turn to our communities, people of all genders - men included - because I'm far more likely to be hurt White ciswoman, and our men have their own issues but they're more likely to understand (as shown in the recent internationally shown row on the current American big brother with a White woman tearing apart the WOC, and the Black woman gets comfort from the Black man, not the other women, that's pretty much how we react in real life). I fear White ciswomen way more than I fear cisMOC, they've done me far more harm.
Flora - Most in my social that I discuss this are other women and genderqueer and class doesn't really come into it much. Even in my academic days, it's more the problems and oppression in the current economic systems across intersections than class. For us, it's intersectionality or it's bust. I've only heard it's all about class from fedora MRAs types.
And I never said anything about taking away what they did, just that they didn't do the grand things that their followers claim, that much of that effort for equality wasn't them at all but other whom they took the credit for, and it needs to be recognized that they hurt their own cause by their hatred of others. They harmed women's rights by tearing down others to boost themselves, by refusing to join with other oppressed groups against the systems. And those weren't women aiding the patriarchal system as they saw themselves, they were White women fighting for White feminism while having other women that they deemed not worthy do work. And it's still happening.
You may think I have no reason for those lines, but imperialism still kills people, still destroys lives (most of the anti-LGBT laws spreading across Africa right now are funded by American and British groups, people outside of the binary still killed for the ideal of the binary through these laws, people outside the binary in Native areas have a high rate of having their children taken away and more likely to be killed). Rigidly holding to the binary is part that, it's part of imperialism, it's part of patriarchy.
Your quotes are a bit purposefully selective - the one on your learning is about where I challenged you on your assertion that third gender/gender neutrality/genderqueerness was rare and down to hatred of women, and you still don't seem to see how saying that is foul ethnocentric imperialist bullshit. Many areas had more women's rights before European colonization, many cultures could teach radfems a thing or two about equality, but no, you dismissed other cultures as being less equal that you for having more than two recognised genders when you know nothing about them.
I've already identified as Metis repeatedly, and identified as coming from a culture with more than two genders. That's my culture, my people you've just dismissed as being less civilized than you, who've spent the last 500 years being told they're uncivilized and having that beaten, starved and killed out of them, people who are still going through genocides, still having their children taken away at rates you can't imagine (more taken now than in boarding school days), still having their land and incomes denied to them even when the UN is shouting about it, having access to food denied them, having their image made by White people who excuse it as child's play (see the string of recent UK ads with them), "honour" (Lone Ranger) and use it excuse rape (3 times more likely than White women) while our people are still denied the right to wear our their cultural items in public unless it is to perform, people who just had their right to determine their own citizenship destroyed by the academics in government who destroyed it with the imperialistic rhetoric that they, not us, can decide who is and isn't one of us so a Native child can grow up with a nice binary perfect White couple rather than her own father, and we're the ones who are less equal, less civilized. Don't tell me there is it's uncalled for to challenge imperialistic mantra. Challenging imperialism is the least I can do - I got out, 80% in Native areas will drop out before finishing high school because of imperialism in schools. We challenge it by existing.
And women aren't always on bottom. As I've said, in the judicial system, White women are more believed than Black men. White women get more representation and have more control over their image than pretty much anyone other than White guys. In terms of pay, oh the cries for "equal pay with men", when *White women earn more than almost everyone but White men* (the usual stats are always White Women to White men). The ethnic wage gap is widening. You're making great gains on bridging the gap with White men, congrats, you're also making great gains on furthering how much more White women make than other men and women. That's been the core of Western feminism since it's inception though - White ciswomen getting equal with the one group always above them, White cismen, the elites of whom made the modern systems and violently imposed it through the White poor. Rather than joining with your fellow oppressed people, you dissect us and bluntly tell us it's not your fight while patting each other on the back about how "radical" you are, feeding and spewing out their divisiveness that the elite White cismen put into their system to keep them on top. You're spouting the same disapproval of us that they have for centuries, the same denials of doing any wrong or having any power, that you're being uncomfortable about being seen as an oppressor is our fault. What exactly makes you different from the system again? Because I can't see any, you just seem like another part.
I should have already given up on this, but I can't help but wonder everyone going on about the "intellectual" discussion of this - you do realize we are talking about real people's lives? That the ivory towers and governments you're clinging to as the ultimate definers bring just as much oppression to every day people as every other system? That this isn't just intellectual wankery for many but how to cope with the real world where the cisgender get to decide what the rest of us have to accept as good enough? Where we aren't allowed to define out own oppression for ourselves, cisgender people get to do it. That we don't define our lives by gender theory and most of us don't give a fuck about it we just want to feel right about ourselves and have that recognised as normal and wonderful? Many people get tired when their identity and experiences are denied over and over. I'm genderqueer, being told that I just like to have many hobbies and I've been socialized into it (having been raised in the Bible Belt) is a bit of a slap for the wrestling and questioning and pain I've gone, and continue to go though that many have already admitted you've never considered. But like I said, I've been in academics, I have plenty of stamina for BS, but then I also left it because many things more important than intellectual debates.
To put it as bluntly, I don't care if it makes you uncomfortable to know that other people see you in league with the systems as an oppressor - that's kinda been out there for decades with Alice Walker's Womanism and everyone else. We've been fighting for ourselves a long time and we don't need people who can't see and fight for us as equals. And Western Feminism has made it very clear that you don't want us. We're told we'll be gotten to later, but that has never happened. Never has western feminism won something for White ciswomen and they turned around and made sure all the other women got it too even when other women did most of the work. Doesn't happen, we only get there when we fight for it ourselves. It'd be nice if western feminism didn't step on our necks to get where their going while we're trying to fight our fight, but we've fought this far with it there, we'll take if off ourselves in time together with those in solidarity with us. Which is why we aren't taking your fight, Western feminism has already made it clear that your fight isn't for us, it might want to "save" and educate us poor uncivilized souls, but it's never seen us as equals. I can't trust or fight along someone who can't see all of me as worthy of the fight for equality. So, I really need to stop being bothered by it I guess, but it kinda hurts to know that the main group to represent the fight has never given us any recognition or wanted us around unless it's to watch their kids while they go out. That womanism and all the other branches are needed so that everyone can get there and get support because western feminism won't recognise the difference in our fight, that academia seems to trump personal lived experience in Western Feminism's eyes. In the end, it just looks like another system getting the results it was built to get for all the other systems the elite have put in.
But where does this discussion go?
The trans-critical people remain so and likewise those who are not trans critical. There are few new points, few new posters tbh.
It just seems like those who are trans-critical enjoy having space to vent about trans people but I have no idea what you want to actually achieve in the wider world.
Do you want the Gender Recognition Act overturned?
Trans women to be forever barred from using any women only facilities?
Is it the right to misgender trans people to their faces and say "No, what's your real name" when they give you a female one!
There's lots of hiding behind "discussion" and "sharing theories" but little about what you hope to happen.
Is it because you are embarrassed to say in front of a trans person exactly how you want to remove their rights and condemn them to a life of misery for the supposed betterment of womankind?
I am all ears.
Spork, I have just looked at your link and it clearly shows that three of the six minority ethnic groups for men and for women, including both Black Caribbean men and women earn more than white women.
Spork, this isn't an intellectual discussion for most people. It is about all our real lives. I do not want other people to identify me based on a gender identity I have never experienced. There is no research demonstrating that all people or even a majority of people have an internal gender identity. If other people want to be identified by their gender, they should be allowed to do so and not face discrimination.
I should not have to make a statement about my gender or the lack of it when it is nobody else's business and I still face discrimination on the basis of my biological sex which almost everyone who knows me already knows.
Who the fuck says that to trans* people what's your real name! I hope you are not implying that radfems are routinely going around saying that to people, GoshAnne
You are the one who is not getting it. There are idealogical differences in theories of sex and gender but radfems DO NOT wish any trans person any harm or bother. Nor do we wish it for anyone else. It's not about condemning anyone to a life time of harm. Do you really think that? But NOTHING gets solved or understood without discussion and exploration.
I said ages back on this thread there is no consensus on whether gender is innate or not. There is only subjective experience. So why should one group get their subjective experience 'privileged' (for want of a less loaded term) over another group whose subjective experience says the opposite? that's the nub afaics
This particular Radfem seems to want to cause bother. Even has an axe on her front page of the website.
She names transwomen who are "pretendbians" on there. I've seen a couple of people I know on there.
I don't know about that particular person. Looks like shit (meant seriously not flippantly)
But the radfem side could counter with that DIAF nonsense, or Cotton Ceiling Stuff. Is either of that representative?
I think there are people of all groups who wish to bother other people, particularly through Internet harassment. I'm not going to read further into your link Kim because as soon as I clicked on it I can see two groups of people being rude and nasty to each other, and I've seen enough of that to last a lifetime.
Not aimed at you, but what I find depressing about these threads is the constant need to trivialise or deny the existence of the discrimination other people face. Women who are not trans and women who are face different kinds of discrimination and some discrimination that is the same. Things like the cis privilege list are a classic example of that (again, covered many times before), because many of the items on it apply to all women.
What is the point to this theorising if you don't have any idea what it is you want to achieve?
Saying that some trans activists are meanies is not the same as stating what the aims of your discourse are.
So, I'm still waiting.
Freya - I am stunned at your response to LittleSpork's post.
Why? I cannot address every point. I have gone to look at the link she provided to see the figures showing that white women get paid more than every other group apart from white men, only to find it is completely untrue. That's pretty shocking.
spork I'm not going to answer each of your accusations individually because they all boil down to "women have it worse than you in other countries" which I hear all the time from men. I've repeatedly said I respect your right to organise to fight your oppression however you see fit and not necessarily to do so under a feminist banner. You are ratcheting up the insults and it is clear that you don't respect the rights of white women to fight their oppression. Given that most of the posters on this website live in the UK and know fuck all about Metis or US/Canada race issues, what are we supposed to do about the points you raise? How do you think I should make it my fight? Or is it just a case of STFU about your problems?
Gosh you ask about what would I like to do about the Gender Recognition Act. We rarely discuss the details of this therefore I would be open to considering other views but I think the general concept should be framed around persons of one sex who wish to live as persons of the other sex and not around gender identity. If someone demonstrates sufficient commitment to living as a member of the other sex full time (I think the current two years seems reasonable), I would like there to be a two tier process whereby they would be recognised as a member of the chosen sex. Post-op, the current provisions on sports teams should stay but there should also be limits on taking women's scholarships, quota positions (hah) or being counted in diversity statistics - the kind of things that reflect the advantage that would be obtained in achieving things with the benefit of boyhood / male privilege rather than girlhood. Pre-op, those things plus restrictions on accessing women's spaces - bathrooms, changing rooms etc. and rules on criminal cases (rape) to remain.
I would like all voluntary and political women's groups and shelters to be free to define their membership.
Would I make it illegal to be a rude asshole? No.
So when I need the toilet, what should I do?
But don't worry, I've self excluded myself from other activities because I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable around me like in changing rooms.
I still need to wee though.
I do know what I want achieve. I want to protect the currently used meaning of sex and gender used by the UN, UNICEF, FAO etc where sex refers to biology and gender to social role. That allows the world to tackle both discrimation based on biological sex and that based on gender, protecting both all women and people on the masculine trans spectrum. I do not wish for society to adopt queer theory of trans activists because it removes any understanding of oppression based on sex and makes it harder to reduce suffering and discrimination. I have no issue with current gender recognition law in the UK.
Right. So bearing in mind that living as a woman for two years, means going around dressed as a woman, you want to make pre-op trans women use male facilities.
Can you not see the problems and huge, huge dangers you would making trans women face?
Verbally abusing someone for being trans is currently treated as hate speech. Does your "not making it illegal to be a rude asshole" mean this would no longer be the case?
You have also completely missed the point of LittleSpork's post, but that is the norm round here when anyone tries to mention colonial feminism.
Kim - I don't think much thinking of trans people as actual living, breathing human beings is going on here. Theories don't have to go to the toilet and all that.
If spork wants to start a thread on colonial feminism and what white feminists should do about it, I will read with interest. This is not that thread.
Men as a class are dangerous to women as a class. Actually, they are also dangerous to other men as a class. When my DS goes into a men's toilet, I stand outside and call out "are you okay?" every five minutes or so until he comes out. It is not possible to know who is a genuine transwoman and who is a pervert/rapist so no, I do not think pre-op transwomen should use women's toilets or changing facilities.
We should have more individual / unisex toilets with no communal sink area.
Misgendering someone and asking their real name is hate speech? If it is illegal, it shouldn't be. I don't agree with hate speech laws in general, but particularly since they don't apply to hate speech against women which is routinely vile and disgusting.
I haven't missed the point of Spork's post. It is simply that I don't have adequate knowledge of Canada to comment. If I wanted to find out more about feminism and colonialism in Canada I would want to learn about it by reading statements made by a. a woman and b. somebody who I could be confident was making factually correct statements.
GAG, and theories don't give birth either, which is why I'm opposed to your support of queer theory as if implemented it would remove human rights from those who do.
How is accepting that trans women are women taking rights away from anyone? Examples please.
P.S we are all just people on the internet, but 2 minutes of Google would tell you that everything LittleSpork has said about indigenous people in Canada is accurate.
Are you listening to yourselves? Can you imagine if a man came on here and said he didn't believe us about sexism, would you really just meekly go "oh, OK then"
GAG, Spork has said they are not a woman; I would rather hear about the situation from a woman. It is impossible to know in 2 mins the situation discussed because it takes longer than that to read the post, much less give the topic the attention it deserves by reading up on it.
There is much in there that sounds very similar to the situation in the US that I am familiar with from talking to US women of color, but I would not know enough to comment myself or think it right to transfer that to talk about Canada.
While a man isn't on here, somebody who is gender queer (who therefore, according to the theory you support, has masculine privilege over us) is telling us about sexism and you are pretty much going oh, okay then, you tell women what their own oppression is and is not, and they should listen to you.
I don't know who is saying that trans women are taking rights away from women, so I can't comment on that either.
Gosh are you listening to yourself? Two minutes on google to cover the whole of the intersection of feminism and colonialism in Canada? No wonder you feel so confident in spouting your nonsense.
Crikey, if I didn't know better, I would think the discussion that's followed Spork's amazing post was "set up" to illustrate exactly the points in that post. But no, even more sadly, I think it's genuine not-getting-it-and-not-caring-because-it-doesn't-effect-me-so-I-can-ignore-it-I'm-alright-Jacqueline.
But then jaw goes clunk on the desk at these missives:
"organise to fight your oppression . . . not necessarily to do so under a feminist banner," (meaning - white feminism is THE only genuine feminism and WE say you can't be in the feminism club.)
"you don't respect the rights of white women to fight their oppression," (and we don't care if we perpetuate YOUR oppression in doing so.)
"most of the posters on this website live in the UK," (so not only do we not know or care much about those who don't, we refuse to consider that there could be parallels with the intersectional oppression faced by women of colour right here in the UK.)
"start a thread on colonial feminism and what white feminists should do about it . . . This is not that thread. (Go talk about your ishoos somewhere else. We're in charge here.)
And, I have no words for the statements about trans* people, just no words.
Why in the name of Audre Lorde to I even look at this board? Gah!
(Okay, it's because just sometimes, you see an insightful, thought-provoking, lucid and generally amazing post like Spork's, that must be why.)
Since when does anyone who is non-gender conforming have privilege over those who do.
I think it is extremely telling that you are doing everything possible to discount what Littlespork has said.
This isn't the place to talk about that
I don't trust you
You are a man
You have masculine privilege
You are just saying that women in other countries have it worse.
All this because she dared to question someone's dismissal of third gender people in other cultures and talked about her personal experiences of how race and gender oppression intersect.
Flora - you miss my point. It is that the treatment of indigenous people in Canada is so horrific and (now) widely documented that a very short time on the internet would be needed to verify LittleSpork's words.
But don't let that get in the way of you being rude and dismissive.
First, apologies to LittleSporksBigSpork for assuming that the genderbread man was actually going into schools and colleges to impart his theories on his "target audience". That merely shows my age. I am happier that he does not get into schools to peddle his harmful stereotypes.
Second, my particular goals in this discussion were to:
- see if there was another term that I could accept which could also be acceptable to the trans*community rather than "cisgender" or "ciswoman" (or to see if there was an alternate explanation for "cis" that I could buy into).
- see if I could accomplish this without being shouted down or insulted.
I don't think either succeeded. Not only that but despite setting out at length the challenges I have with being called "cisgendered" and "ciswoman" and my own view that I am not cigendered on the definition provided to me, I am still called "cis". I call people by the names, descriptions and pronouns they tell me. I am asking nicely, please do not call me "cisgendered" or "ciswoman".
Third,*GoshAnneGorilla*, I don't describe myself as transcritical but I will take a crack at your questions:
Do you want the Gender Recognition Act overturned? No. I don't agree with the concept of a gender identity but I would not campaign to get rid of it.
Trans women to be forever barred from using any women only facilities? That's too broad a question. "Trans*women" covers a wide range of self-identifications and "any women's facilities" covers a broad range of facilities and activities. My answer will depend on the circumstances and likely needs to be done on a case by case basis. In general terms, I would say that where sex and privacy matter, then male-bodied persons should not have access.
Is it the right to misgender trans people to their faces and say "No, what's your real name" when they give you a female one! No. I will call people whatever they want to be called. I am misnamed on a daily basis and it's a pain in the neck.
Is it because you are embarrassed to say in front of a trans person exactly how you want to remove their rights and condemn them to a life of misery for the supposed betterment of womankind? Eh? What's that supposed to mean?
Fourth, Kim147, what's the point of posting the link to the pretendbians website? In answer to your statement about needing to go to the loo when not at home, I would say go wherever you feel comfortable and if you feel uncomfortable, take a friend. I wouldn't use a loo in a park unless there were loads of women/girls in there already.
I'll repeat my point then Kritiq. How is it a valid intersectional parallel to link to a UK source that clearly states that there isn't statistical evidence that white women make more than ethnic minorities, and claim in a post that white women make more than everyone except white men. It is simply factually incorrect according to Spork's own post.
And Spork is not a woman, so to refer to the situation of women of color as Spork's issue to misgender them. Spork, I do not know your preferred pronouns so am using they and them.
GAG, Spork is not a woman. Did you read the post?
Shovel. Hole. Deeper.
(must go to bed before head explodes.)
kritiq spork said in an earlier thread she didn't want to fight under a feminist banner, but don't let the facts get in the way of your prejudices, eh?
As for the rest of your mischaracterisations of what I've said, whatever. It's quite clear why you, gosh and spork have to resort to insults rather than engage in discussion. Like all believers in faith-based theories, you can only conduct a discussion for so long before you have to start stamping your foot.
Gosh if that was your point, I am at a loss as to why you thought it was worth making. Indigenous people were/are treated horrifically therefore we must say nothing about our own or any other oppression and accept without question the characterisation of feminism set out by a self-professed indigenous person on the internet?
Flora - no one, no one has said you cannot talk about your own oppressions.
As for the rest, just Google Womanism. It will answer a lot of your questions. For those already familiar with the concepts of Womanism and colonial feminism, what LittleSpork said was very familiar territory, not just one person's words on Mumsnet.
WhentheRed - how will having a female friend with them make it safer for a pre-op trans women to use a male public toilet?
I find it incredible that both GAG and Kritiq are claiming to defend trans rights but the former assumes not a woman means man and the other mis genders a trans person.
Freya - are the straws in your hands itchy?
gosh but if I do, I am accused of being a white colonialist in league with people who want to kill people like spork?
I refuse the be told I must read up (on fucking google?) on the history of everything everywhere before I can engage in a discussion that had nothing to do with colonialism or womanism. This thread is about shouting down women and gender identity.
I don't really know why you are resorting to insults. Spork is genderqueer. They are not a woman. I said that. Despite having supposedly read Spork's posts, you responded that Spork was called a man. That did not happen.
This thread was, in terms of the question the OP asked, about the issue of gender theory on women's reproductive rights. You are defending that theory, which claims that rather than biological females being a disadvantaged group, people who identify as women are disadvantaged by femmephobia and that should be the focus if feminism.
If you are not in fact defending queer theory and in fact don't believe that women are disadvantaged by either gender or sex, then it seems your purpose on this thread is solely to attack women, and it seems hard to understand why you want us to read up on feminism or why you have come on a thread about that theory and it's potentially damaging impact on people's lives and human rights.
My "theory" is that trans women are women so feminism is for them too. But women are not all the same (race,class,disability,etc) this means there are many different struggles under the banner if feminism.
I have said all this upthread already.
I believe Flora called LittleSpork a man.
Disagreeing with you is not attacking women. I think I have every right to be on this thread and am baffled at the desire to kick off dissenting voices.
There is always, always disagreement on trans threads on here. I am unsure as to why that shouldn't be the case.
I did not call spork a man. I use female pronouns for everyone on MN unless it is obvious they are male or want male pronouns.
Reading this with interest, and a certain amount of foot-stamping. Thanks, everyone, for the continuing debate(s). Flora didn't call Spork a man. I noticed this because I hadn't picked up that Spork is ... er, notaciswoman, and deduced from Flora's words that s/he must be.
Wrt Puddingpop's original complaint, I'd propose that anyone who deems pregnancy an issue of vaginal health is disqualified from commenting on either!
... I know it's not core topic, but how amazing is it that Chinese and Black Caribbean women earn more than white women?!
I was also surprised to learn that pay gaps between men and women of the same ethnic group were not observed for most groups. Women in same sex couples did not experience a pay gap relative to married men. Married women experienced a pay gap of 18% and single women a 36% pay gap relative to married men.
That study blows huge craters in my current understanding of economic & social inequalities, and intersectionality, in the UK. I had thought I was fairly well informed. I'll have to go back to it and check the data & methodology - but it comes from an excellent source and, if accurate, is potential dynamite.
"The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Research Report Series publishes research carried out for the EHRC by commissioned researchers. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commission. The Commission is publishing the report as a contribution to discussion and debate."
- Oh, OK, not an 'excellent' source perhaps. It's dated 2008 so, if the team's conclusions were strong enough, that dynamite would have blown by now, wouldn't it?
Why have I been up all night reading about genderqueer & transgender issues??! (& why is genderqueer such an ugly word? Can't we say othersex or something less freaky-sounding?)
I go to the female toilet by myself. Like most people do. I'll admit to sometimes holding off for a bit if I there's a bit of a queue as sometimes I feel self conscious even though I generally pass ok.
OTOH, I can see people feeling uncomfortable if a very male looking "bloke in a dress" transwoman (and yes, I've see them) joins a queue in what is supposed to be a female safe space.
But unfortunately no law is going to stop someone entering a toilet / female space if they are intent on committing sexual assault.
But going back to the OP, there should be no problem with women discussing reproductive rights without being accused of transphobia. I can't believe that women have been shouted down at conferences for wanting to discuss such issues.
I think issues such as abortion should be discussed by everyone.
My "theory" is that trans women are women so feminism is for them too.
I think feminism is for everyone because men (cis men and trans men, if you're wondering, all men) are also harmed by the patriarchy.
(slightly off topic)
GAG, I have never suggested that you leave this thread.
I have not said that trans women are not women, so you are not dissenting from what I'm saying.
I do not consider your disagreement with me to be an attack on me as an individual. I do think your desire to not talk about situations in Canada yourself but to insist everyone else goes away and starts researching it online, so that we effectively stop talking about women and start talking about people further on to the trans masculine spectrum is you attacking feminism.
Trans women activists have repeatedly pointed out the misogyny involved in gender queer people, trans men and those like you who make the conversation about these groups going on to discussions about people who identify as women (including trans women) and making the conversation no longer about women.
I have no issue with people discussing colonial feminism and have been on various threads recently with posters contributing on this thread (particularly Garlic) to discuss women's rights in various parts of Africa and Asia. On that thread various MRA and similar posters were constantly trying to make the topic about Western men, and yet I do not see you coming on to such threads and defending the right to talk about women's rights in other parts of the world. I can only assume your purpose on here is to stop women talking about women.
While I am prepared to discuss the situations of women in Asia and Africa including trans women, I do not feel it would be ethical for me to talk about indigenous women in North America because they have repeatedly asked for non-indigenous women to reblog indigenous women's perspectives rather than try to speak for them as they have been silenced so many times before. So while If you or anyone else would like to discuss the situation of women in Canada, that would be your choice and I don't have an objection to it. If you are however determined not to speak about it and instead make out other people are racist oppressors for not discussing and researching the rights of people on the trans masculine spectrum when they are discussing women (including trans women) on a thread about women's rights, I do see that as an attack on women.
Suggesting you read about Womanism and Colonial Feminism is not attacking woman. It is bizarre for you to suggest this.
I do comment elsewhere on this board elsewhere on feminist issues, so again, the implication that I have come on here specifically to silence you is unwarranted.
Also, there is a difference between reading/learning about particular people and issues and then presuming to speak for those people.
So saying "I don't have to learn\listen to x, because they speak for themselves" - can you see the problem with that?
Finally, I think it's very telling that you are comparing someone talking about the issues of women elsewhere in the world to an MRA.
And you accuse me of attacking women?
You completely misinterpreted LittleSporks
I am not saying that.
I have clearly said multiple times that my issue is with talking about masculine spectrum trans people rather than women including trans women. You have clearly said 'since when does somebody who is non- gender nonconforming have privilege over those who do?' That clearly means you don't believe people on the trans masculine spectrum have masculine privilege over people who are women.
Spork has claimed, despite their own link showing it to be untrue, that white women in the UK are paid more than men from other ethnic groups. That is a classic MRA argument that we recently discussed at length on another thread - the idea that it is actually various male groups who are the most poorly paid. You refuse to discuss that instead making out that Spork making these comments about women in the UK is somehow admirable and we should all listen to someone who is neither British nor a woman about the lives of British women despite them being ill informed on a subject that does not have an impact on their life. The further insinuation being that talking about such issues and wanting women in the UK is somehow racist.
I have never suggested that I was not interested in learning about colonial feminism. As my main online space is my tumblr blog and my RP partner is an indigenous American as is my primary work colleague and my work specifically deals with colonial issues, I am actively engaged in listening to people talking about them and have given joint talks with my colleague on the impact of colonialism. I do resent that you are essentially pushing me into giving the equivalent of a 'some of my best friends are gay' justification by your constant assumption that I do not listen or have no interest in women's rights more widely than white women (despite me discussing experiences of other women at length on recent threads) purely because I do not know a lot about Candian WOC and have expressed a preference to learn about it from the experiences of a Canadian WOC, something entirely absent from this thread.
While I appreciate people making dissenting responses that actually address the points other than making, you are not actually addressing what people are saying. You have said nothing whatsoever about Canadian women other than to tell everyone else they should be learning and/or talk about it. You are consistently making out that people have said things they never said or even alluded to.
What is happening here is the equivalent of me going on to any thread being discussed by a disadvantaged group anywhere in the world, making some remark about the experiences of UK male prison rape, despite not being male, a victim of rape or ever having been in prison and then telling everyone else they are oppressive for not stopping their discussion and going away to read up on male UK victims of rape in prison.
Where on earth has LittleSpork said they were a masculine spectrum trans person? That's not what two-spirited means.
Also, your eagerness to dismiss what LittleSpork has said based on who you think they are, rather then what they've actually said is unsettling.
I don't know how you can say I haven't engaged with the points of the thread, is this just another way of telling me to go away because I don't agree with you? Oh well, at least it's better then being told that dissent is like being an MRA and is somehow "attacking women".
I am using the terminology that I have been led to believe is the most appropriate by trans people. Two spirit includes elements of masculinity, hence the inclusive term for all those who have elements of masculinity is masculine spectrum, rather than it being used only to refer to men.
I am aware that some trans people consider themselves to have no elements of male or female, which I respect if somebody states it. There is not as far as I know an inclusive term for all those whose identity is not woman, which is why I haven't used it.
I haven't said that dissent is like being an MRA. I have said that making factually incorrect statements about women's work is like an MRA argument (in fact it is a well known one). I have referred specifically to what you have said to show how you are not addressing points, and I am not going to type it all out again. If you have a post that you have made where you discuss Canadian experiences (Spork's point), objections to the concept of women's reproductive rights on tumblr (the OP's point), the experiences of women generally (Flora's point) or the distressing conflation of personal experience with being blamed for an ideology (often Kim's point), I apologise.
I am going to bow out of this, because I am finding this personal, unpleasant and unproductive (for which I am not blaming you more than myself), and that it is generating more heat than light. I hope we are on another thread where we have a more positive discussion, even if one based on disagreement, in the future.
"Cis" goes back to the Latin, where "Cisalpine Gaul" was the part of Gaul that was on the Italian side of the Alps, and "Transalpine Gaul" was the French side. It means basically, to get to the cis-side you don't have to cross over, you're already on the side you want to be. To get to the trans side, you have to make a crossing.
But whether we ought to use neutral terminology to refer to transexuals, coming up with a name for people who are not transexual, I'm not so sure. People get emotional about this and the idea of being "shouted down" for being on what someone thinks of as the wrong side isn't too far-fetched. Look at that recent conference in London where the owners of the venue cancelled the booking because they were afraid there'd be trouble between factions disagreeing about transexuals!
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