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Am I wrong to feel shouted down by this?

(151 Posts)
Puddingpop Thu 18-Jul-13 11:48:14

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?

OddSockBox Thu 18-Jul-13 17:44:32

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.

Trills Thu 18-Jul-13 17:46:40

Flora now you are saying things that it is reasonable for trans people to be upset by or offended by.

OddSockBox Thu 18-Jul-13 17:46:56

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:

OddSockBox Thu 18-Jul-13 17:50:30

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.

kim147 Thu 18-Jul-13 17:51:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rosabud Thu 18-Jul-13 17:55:09

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.

Trills Thu 18-Jul-13 17:59:25

Why do you think "cis" means "mostly"?

FloraFox Thu 18-Jul-13 18:06:40

"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.

rosabud Thu 18-Jul-13 18:08:54

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?

KRITIQ Thu 18-Jul-13 18:21:00

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.

OddSockBox Thu 18-Jul-13 18:27:28

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.

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:

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.

FloraFox Thu 18-Jul-13 18:48:38

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.

Trills Thu 18-Jul-13 19:27:58

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

rosabud Thu 18-Jul-13 20:01:53

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.

Bunnylion Thu 18-Jul-13 20:02:28

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?

Trills Thu 18-Jul-13 20:08:54

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.

NiceTabard Thu 18-Jul-13 20:22:56

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.

TiggyD Thu 18-Jul-13 21:25:48

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.

KRITIQ Thu 18-Jul-13 21:32:45

Yes yes Tiggy! smile

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.

KRITIQ Thu 18-Jul-13 21:34:31

Last sentence is a bit contorted, but hopefully makes some sense. I'm blaming the heat! grin

NiceTabard Thu 18-Jul-13 21:47:32

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).

NiceTabard Thu 18-Jul-13 21:53:19

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.

FloraFox Thu 18-Jul-13 22:06:06

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.

SinisterSal Thu 18-Jul-13 22:09:27

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.

NiceTabard Thu 18-Jul-13 22:37:09

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?

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