That it's not just what you say, it's also how much you talk about it.

(575 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

NicolaHare Mon 12-Nov-18 20:48:48

Surprise, another trans thread! But the dynamics of online spaces fascinates me.

Take MWR. Some stats. Feminism Chat has been active since 2010. At this moment 364 pages of threads have been generated. 144 of those pages contain threads that were created or active since January this year. At the beginning of 2018 a significant portion of threads were trans themed and these threads tended to contain the most posts, and the board has only grown more fixated with the topic since then. You have to go quite a ways back to find a page of threads that isn’t 90-95% to do with trans people.

Nowhere else on the site is so obsessed. For example: on the LGBT themed boards you only have to go back 1 or 2 pages to find threads from 2017 and earlier. There aren’t any trans threads in the 1 and a fraction page of threads from 2018 on the politics board. There are, I think, about 2 in the half dozen pages of threads from this year in the currents affairs and news forum. And in 2018, all the education forums combined have generated about 5 trans threads.

This is weird, right? Why is a general feminism board with an overwhelmingly non trans userbase so fixated on a group of people they don't belong to and the issues surrounding them? It would be weird regardless of what anyone in any thread had to say on the subject.

Not surprising, though. Trans sceptical feminism ironically almost always ends up focusing on the transgender question to the exclusion of all other topics that its proponents believe that trans inclusive feminisms are neglecting, and so neglects them to an even greater degree. Honestly, I’m sceptical that they are being neglected at all: it seems to me that conversations about pregnancy, menstruation ect are happening in public view at far greater volume than ever before, taboos surrounding bodily functions are increasingly discarded by the discourse and pop culture, and that when we talk about erasure we’re actually quibbling about terminology, the trappings of language and not the substance of the conversation. To assign a motivation to the common theme on feminism chat of “We are being silenced elsewhere!” a significant part of it might be the catharsis of imagined persecution. “We are saying the truths THEY don’t want you to hear! We are rebels!”

(This interview with a former gender critical trans woman is worth reading. It’s American and several years old, but it describes the many of the other toxic intellectual cul-de-sacs you can observe in MWR.

But to set aside the discussion of substance. Do you think that the mere volume of trans threads in feminism chat is indicative of a kind of transphobia? If it were a forum of straight people talking about nothing but same sex attracted people, even if what they had to say was positive would we not be inclined to see in it's users a troubling insecurity with regards to queerness. If it were a forum of white people talking about nothing but people of colour in the most effusive terms, would we take this at face value or would we assign sinister motives (as the resonance of Get Out suggests many would)?

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paffuto Mon 12-Nov-18 21:04:01

Women and girls rights and status are being attacked from all sides. The worst attack we've had for over a hundred years, and you think we shouldn't be obsessed with it. Okay then, I'll just get back to me knitting. biscuit

SlipperyLizard Mon 12-Nov-18 21:12:15

No, it isn’t transphobia. It is genuine concern for women’s rights.

Don’t read them if you don’t want to, I went years on mumsnet never venturing to the feminist boards. They’ve opened my eyes to what is happening and the dangers of it happening unchecked.

NicolaHare Mon 12-Nov-18 21:41:32

@slipperylizard How would you define transphobia then? Tell me what it is and what it isn't.

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NicolaHare Mon 12-Nov-18 21:42:38

Because intense scrutiny of the other is a well documented aspect of prejudice.

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peachgreen Mon 12-Nov-18 21:50:25

I find it very disheartening to repeatedly read threads on other boards that are rife with misogyny with barely a single feminist voice speaking up, presumably because they're all too busy discussing the trans issue.

GerdaLovesLiIi Mon 12-Nov-18 22:04:15

Well this won't go well.


paffuto Mon 12-Nov-18 22:06:05

I find it very disheartening to hear that people expect women not to discuss the attack on women's rights on a women's rights board.

Carpetglasssofa Mon 12-Nov-18 22:07:23

Lots of people think that non trans women and trans women are the same though, so it's not like the posters on FWR are interested in a group they're not part of, right?

abbsisspartacus Mon 12-Nov-18 22:12:30

How irritating your presenting an long winded argument which essentially reads as shut up women dont you dare talk about this how it effects you your family your safety even your wage packet every part of our lives are under attack and you almost expect gratitude? For what? There is one trans person who says we should all have free sanpro you realise she is including herself in this? Do you not see the batshit in this?

I don't have the patience to deal with you today

Firstbornunicorn Mon 12-Nov-18 22:14:57

As an outside observer, it does seem like a type of transphobia to me.

paffuto Mon 12-Nov-18 22:15:31

Me too abbsisspartacus, I'm out. Ignorance knows no bounds.

Firstbornunicorn Mon 12-Nov-18 22:24:44

The fact that people are actively choosing to avoid having this discussion is also disappointing to me. I do think MN is a hostile place for trans people.

SlipperyLizard Mon 12-Nov-18 22:25:57

Ok, from a google dictionary search:

“dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people.”

I can’t speak for others, but I do not dislike, nor am I prejudiced against, transsexual or transgender people.

I dislike what some TRAs do and say, and I disagree that a person can change their biological sex/women can have penises.

But disliking someone’s words and actions and not subscribing to their beliefs does not equal prejudice against them. Otherwise I’d have to believe in god and all the other stuff that some people believe in that I don’t.

So how would you define it, and what evidence do you have of it?

JudasPrudy Mon 12-Nov-18 22:30:07

So basically 'shut up transphobic hive mind, NicolaHare has spoken.'

NicolaHare Mon 12-Nov-18 22:34:03

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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DianaPrincessOfThemyscira Mon 12-Nov-18 22:34:39

Oh ok, so something that stands to impact me, my female friends and their daughters - in fact, any female person I know - shouldn’t be talked about so not to appear ‘transphobic’?

Have you done a stats test on say, how many posts on the relationship board are about cheating husbands, or how many on AIBU are about toilet brushes?

DianaPrincessOfThemyscira Mon 12-Nov-18 22:37:14

Sources for you ‘robust discussion’ please? Because I don’t actually think you believe trans women are women, do you, as you acknowledge that women have different experiences to trans women. Therefore, not women. Also, you’re transphobic to think that so have a word with yourself, educate yourself, die in a fire etc. All phrases decided upon through your ‘robust discourse’ I assume as so many trans women use them hmm

Prawnofthepatriarchy Mon 12-Nov-18 23:21:52

NicolaHare you present various figures as if they were meaningful but you haven't looked at site traffic.

There's been a huge uptick in people entering the MN site via Feminist Chat:

June 2016: 15,000
June 2018: 177,000

That's a TWELVE-FOLD increase.
And that's just people entering Mumsnet directly into Feminism Chat. Lots of people enter Mumsnet via other routes like active talk, and then navigate to the feminism boards next.

Overall site visits in June 2018 compared to June 2016 showed an increase from 17M to 26M, which is a very healthy increase of 53%. But the impressive twelvefold increase in visitors going directly to Feminism Chat shows a significant change in behaviour.

Trans ideology poses the biggest threat to women's rights in a century. The issue of transgender children is likely to be the biggest medical scandal ever. Of course women want to talk about these things. They are hugely significant.

And because Mumsnet is one of the only places in the Anglophone world where discussion and action around these issues can take place, people are flocking here.

If women succeed in blocking Self ID it will be, to a large extent, the result of the consciousness raising and grass roots activism of ordinary women first inspired here on MN. Sisterhood is powerful.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Mon 12-Nov-18 23:29:54

NicolaHare, let me direct you to Mumsnet statement on moderation in particular with regard to trans rights.

Cis or cisgender are among the terms considered offensive on MN. If you continue to use them your posts will probably be deleted.

NicolaHare Mon 12-Nov-18 23:38:34

Sources for you ‘robust discussion’ please? Because I don’t actually think you believe trans women are women, do you, as you acknowledge that women have different experiences to trans women. Therefore, not women. Also, you’re transphobic

This is a caricature of my position, and also not the position of:

- Julia Serano (put forward, in Whipping Girl, which is dated in some respects, but still very much represents the contemporary trans feminist view)

- Work from trans academics like Talia Mae Bettcher (

- Popular (within the trans community) novelists like Imogen Binnie (Nevada - particularly this one) and Casey Plett (Safe Girl to Love )

- Writers like Andrea Long Chu who are willing to entertain heterodox positions while still affirming trans women and manhood (this is also a really good essay from the same person on an unreleased topic: , as is this one

- Popular commentators like Natalie Wyn - creator the 4th most watch video deconstructing the Incel phenomenon on youtube: (also recommend are the following videos and

- years and years and years of trans people living their lives visibly online

However I've noticed that MWR doesn't really engage with transgender viewpoints beyond curated mean tweets from twitter dot com (a very fox news/breitbart move), content that the 4chan/MRA hivemind have chosen to hate on (ie Riley Dennis videos) and puff piece newspaper articles (so stunning, so brave, so cis-gazey!).

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NicolaHare Mon 12-Nov-18 23:54:57

Cis or cisgender are among the terms considered offensive on MN. If you continue to use them your posts will probably be deleted.

This is poor choice by the MNHQ and seriously limits the introduction of trans perspectives (which often include these words in their articulation) into discussion.

Also, this thread - - which is CLEARLY in breach of the following guideline...

it’s clear that most trans people find the use of pronouns or names that they or others have consciously rejected, to be hurtful and would therefore struggle to engage in a discussion with those who insist on using them.

is still up after several days which indicates that Mumsnet's moderation of discussions on this topic is a bit pants.

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NicolaHare Tue 13-Nov-18 00:00:16

And because Mumsnet is one of the only places in the Anglophone world where discussion and action around these issues can take place, people are flocking here.

I'm not convinced that retreating to a limited perspective, single issue echo chamber is the best solution. There is a saying that two wrongs don't make a right. And MWR is clearly not the healthiest conversation space, whatever you think of the alternatives and their hostility to your viewpoint.

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IsSheWeird Tue 13-Nov-18 00:24:05

Mn is one of the only places you won't get hammered into the ground like a tent peg for expressing GC views. That's valuable.

There is always debate to be had, tbf I think most are exquisitely bored of the mainstream debate of toilets etc. You can only read the same old rhetoric again and again.

Some posters do veer towards the eew, look at the manky pervert type of post (obviously not helpful). I also disagree with the automatic assumption that anyone with a paraphilia is a predator. Autogynephillia isn't an inherently terrible thing, which means you will transgress boundaries at every given chance.

NicolaHare Tue 13-Nov-18 01:39:51

Mn is one of the only places you won't get hammered into the ground like a tent peg for expressing GC views.

I'm not sure it is. As obnoxious and vitriolic as the call out cultures of contemporary feminism can be, there is value in interrogation of the movement that this encourages. The regulars of MNWR seem to have developed a culture where no one pulls anyone up for going to far. Take this thread about a letter to the times by a gender critical trans woman that quickly devolves into a 10 page pile on with no significant pushback because there some users have gotten it into their heads that there is no such thing as a good tran: .

The standard you walk by is the standard your accept. And it's how end up with a gender critical feminism, which despite the broad focus suggested by the title, is entirely focused on trans people. In Woman Hating Andrea Dworkin suggests that if we deconstruct gender roles enough trans people will cease to exist (which ignores that it is in gender non-conformity that trans people discover that they are trans), but this is also a 500 word passage in a 100,000 word book. It isn't the cornerstone of her feminism, in the way that the belief that "trans people should only exist as gender non-conforming men and women" is the seeming cornerstone of the MNWR.

I note that gender critical through leaders like Stock, Ditum and Glosswitch haven't put forward any substantial writing differentiating their viewpoint from the trans antagonism of the alt and mainstream right wings, only tweets. One suspects they know that putting out work which effectively argues that "things aren't that bad and can't get worse" with regards to the Trump administration and the global ascendancy of the radical right is a potentially career killing take in their circles, with a high chance of being proved very wrong, very soon.

I'm interested in reading writing from a gender critical perspective that is critical of the gender critical movement, so if anyone can recommend anything please do. I'd also like to read some GC pieces about gender non-conformity that don't mention trans people, or only do so briefly.

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