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Can some help explain gender appropriation to me

(8 Posts)
PinotAndPlaydough Thu 25-Aug-16 11:18:46

Hi I'm new to this board, after reading a certain thread on chat I was advised to post this question here.
Basically my view of the trans community is what I've read in the media and the Jenner story, I've always been live and let live and gender appropriation isn't something I had heard of let alone really thought about. But it's intrigued me and I would love to hear other people's take on it and for it to be explained to me as I'm pretty clueless on the whole thing.
I have two little girls and feel that really it's my duty to understand these thing so I can educate them.

So do you think gender appropriation is something that applies to the whole trans community or only certain sub groups? If it applies to the whole community does that mean that all trans women are men who just enjoy what society tells us are typically for women long (long hair, make up, dresses) and prefer the female form and want to emulate that?
I'm so very confused so really hope you'll be able to educate me, I also hope that my post hasn't cause upset or offence

VestalVirgin Thu 25-Aug-16 11:32:03

If it applies to the whole community does that mean that all trans women are men

Yes, all trans women are men.

who just enjoy what society tells us are typically for women long (long hair, make up, dresses) and prefer the female form and want to emulate that?

Sadly, no. There's a lot of men who like those things because they are symbol's of women's oppression and they have a fetish for that. (Google "forced feminization" if you don't believe me). For them, it's sexual.

There's also a lot of men who suffer from the delusion that they actually are women and that they and their penises should therefore have access to women's changing rooms, showers, restrooms, et cetera.

Men who acknowledge that they are male, but just happen to like the trappings of femininity, are more of a minority in the trans community, I don't know if there are any who truly identify with it.

Also becoming a minority are men who genuinely feel unhappy in their male bodies and want to get surgery to emulate a female body, while acknowledging that such a surgical imitation is just that, an imitation, and not the real thing.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 25-Aug-16 12:30:17

My views (which have shifted about, and will surely continue to shift) are a bit different, so maybe it's worth saying there's not consensus here.

I think 'appropriation' is a slightly unhelpful term, because it suggests a deliberate, even malicious process. From what I have seen, people who transition do not set out thinking 'I know, I'll steal a female identity and make it my own!' It is more varied and more complicated. I think, broadly, that being trans is one of the many ways people have of trying to cope with the absolute absurdity of patriarchal gender roles. Where I diverge from some (not all) trans people, is that I think if we could only get rid of 'gender' as a concept, we would probably not need the concept of 'transition' either. Just as I imagine that if we got rid of homophobic stereotypes, we wouldn't need words like 'gay'.

VestalVirgin Thu 25-Aug-16 13:44:09

I think 'appropriation' is a slightly unhelpful term, because it suggests a deliberate, even malicious process.

But that's what transactivists are doing. See also, the thread about the trans who insulted actual women as "cuntscum".

Your idea of trans being a way to cope with the absurdity of patriarchal gender roles is outdated. Things used to be such that this sufficiently explained transsexuality.
It applies, nowadays, mostly to the many FTT transgenders, who just couldn't stand the oppression anymore.
And some young boys who are railroaded into transitioning because they are deemed too girly.

It does not, however, explain the misogynist woman-impersonators, who have happily lived most of their lives as openly male, reaping all the privilege, and now demand to be considered women for all intents and purposes.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 25-Aug-16 13:53:23

Sorry, but I can't agree.

Xenophile Thu 25-Aug-16 14:41:06

Hi Pinot, welcome to FWR.

There is some confusion with terms. The words sex and gender have been used interchangeably, despite them describing different things.

Sex is a biological and immutable thing. Human beings are a broadly sexually dimorphic species of mammal. That is, there are two sexes, male and female. It is impossible to change sex, it is written into the very core of our bodies. People can take hormones and have surgical alterations to their bodies, but will remain their biological sex for ever. In 200 years time, if archaeologists dig up a transwoman's skeleton, they will know, from biological markers that it was the skeleton of a male human.

Gender on the other hand is entirely societal. Women have no innate desire to care, empathise, nurture etc, they are roles that society imposes and reinforces on females from before birth. Men are no more innately scientific, dynamic, unemotional etc than women, again, these are characteristics that are imposed on males.

These gender classifications become problematic when they are rigidly enforced or expected. Boys who are emotional, caring, empathetic might get told that they're 'acting like a girl', girls who similarly behave outside of rigid gender norms might be called tomboys, or told to behave in a more ladylike fashion. And this can cause huge confusion and upset to the child, which can lead to them wondering if maybe they have been 'born wrong'. Hence transing.

Transwomen will always be biological males. They may present as a facsimile of a woman, but because they have not had the years of having 'female' acceptable behaviours reinforced and 'male' acceptable ones disincentivised, they really don't have a clear idea of what 'being a woman' is. Instead of trying to force women to accept them as women, transwomen might be better served in the long run in destigmatising the expression.

The majority of transwomen quietly get on with living their lives, however, a notable minority of them seem to spend an inordinate amount of time posting all over fora/Twitter/Facebook demanding validation from women of their womanhood, which strikes me as deeply unhealthy for them.

The word appropriation does suggest a malign intent, and I don't think the majority of transwomen have that. There is a subset of people who call themselves transwomen who are what is known as autogynephilic. They get a sexual kick out of wearing women's clothing, and are no more trans than my desk, I would say that what they do is appropriative, in that they do set out to act out a highly sexualised persona of femininity.

LRD is correct when she says: ^ I think, broadly, that being trans is one of the many ways people have of trying to cope with the absolute absurdity of patriarchal gender roles. Where I diverge from some (not all) trans people, is that I think if we could only get rid of 'gender' as a concept, we would probably not need the concept of 'transition' either.^

Without rigidly enforced gender roles, men and women would be free to be human beings in all the many different ways that's possible, without labels or stigma. And that would be an ideal world for everyone.

I hope this makes sense, I kept getting distracted! (it's also taken about an hour to write it, so the thread has no doubt moved on!)

NauticalDisaster Thu 25-Aug-16 18:17:16

Great post, Xenophile.

I think there are specific examples of appropriation, or attempting to, e.g. MtT stating that they are menstruating but examples like this obviously do not apply to all, or even most, trans people.

The other example I can think of is the old trope of 'she [specific MtT] makes a better woman that you do'. It's a stupid, meaningless phrase and just plays to stereotypes.

Felascloak Thu 25-Aug-16 20:17:47

I too think any appropriation isn't conscious.
I object almost viscerally to being told that "woman" is an identity. That all the FGM, rape, killed at birth, forced marriage, prostitution, being paid less, beaten by husbands, dying in childbirth, periods, menopause etc etc is something that people "choose" by identifying as women.
When people say woman is an identity I hear them saying my life and other women's life is a costume that can be put on. That's what I understand trans appropriation to mean and it offends me.

I'd like to clarify it's not actually the act of being trans that I feel is appropriation - it's the proclamation that "Trans women are women.....period".

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