Buried Alive


RadfemPhobia by pisaquaririse
March 17, 2008, 6:35 pm
Filed under: anek-doting, gender pimps, Grab a shovel, Interconnected!, WhatAboutMEEEE

According to the phobia list, my mom has “Gephyrophobia,” or, fear of bridges.
This is from, what she recalls, an eerie telepathic (or something? parasensory?) experience when her twin sister’s car was nearly thrown off a bridge during an accident. My mother claims to have those *twin feelings* where experiences are shared. When her twin sister’s car threatened to brim a high coastal bridge, instilled in my mother was the fear her life would be taken by a bridge some day.

My mother drives over very few bridges, if any, no matter the added distance or time to her trip. For over 30 years now she’s had recurring nightmares wherein she cannot make it over a steep bridge and reaches the top only to be staring down a hundred foot drop to the sea–one of those right-before-you-die’ers.

I have claustrophobia. Elevators are not my friend, or closed small rooms or crowded buses or concerts. I avoid them at all costs as well. Staircases are wonderful and businesses with enough decency to not sound a fire alarm if I use the stairwell make me a repeat customer.

When I was 4 it was darkness and under-the-bed phantoms.

I still freak out about heights.

But, you know, transpersons?

And phobia? Are you serious?

Listen I’m writing a pseudo book that I am going to post on this blog called “Radical Feminist Mis-characterizations.” I anticipate it will have endless contributions and I cannot wait to find out who, in whatever respect, I offend by laying out the mis-characterizations of radical feminists.

Are you calling *me* a MIScharacterizer pisaquari??? Have you forgotten I’m a PERSON!?”

Transphobia— it didn’t even make the phobia list and I can’t imagine why not. As much as it is thrown around you’d expect the Medical Association to have a book out on it by now–Janice Raymond on the cover or something, with doodled devil horns and a strap on.

“Transphobia,” just to give you a taste of the pseudo book’s brilliance, will cover radical feminists and all their “transphobia” for about 9 chapters. There will be account after account of radical feminists recoiling at the sight and presence of transpersons, Dworkinites melting at the touch of lipstick and lash curlers, separatists throwing bombs at “transition” surgeons.

(Forgive me! You will need boots to walk through this snark)

I, for one, am a big ole transphober. Why, just last week, an exciting suggestion was made by Deb about organizing some sort of Radical Feminist Conference. The conference, as laid out in the post, would be woman only, of the female born and raised variety. All but a few seemed down with it. I’m down with it. And since I cannot speak for all radfems let me give my account for wanting to make this trans exclusive.

I am not comfortable being my radical feminist self amongst transpersons. Reading transperson accounts online and in books does not help it either–in fact, it heightens my inability to speak freely. How can I, a gender abolitionist, feel comfortable speaking out against gender and its manifestations in the company of a transperson? How can I, a gender abolitionist, feel comfortable talking about my frustrations and hardships with the idea that what our bodies are born has anything to do with how we should express ourselves, in the company of a transperson? I think gender is woefully destructive and I put it to blame for so much of what pits us against our bodies. But what I am arguing for and about smacks against what transpersons feel is their reality and experience. In recognizing their daily trauma and very real oppression they receive I don’t have the *guts* to sit in a room and speak the truths I feel about gender with a transperson.

And why would I? What have radical feminists ever gotten by speaking their minds about gender as it applies to transitioning besides a stinking diagnosis? Add “transphobia” to the list of reasons why I am not down with trans at a radical feminist conference. (Perhaps we could come to some bull shit truce yes? Wherein you agree to label the problem accurately and we let you keep your silly name call: “genderphobia.” Because I wouldn’t dare ask anyone to part with “phobia.” How would you get through your day without vilifying radical feminists as hateful panicbots?)

I should have you know there is a P word I give to instances wherein a group of dissenting women are “diagnosed”–hysteria of some sort usually does the trick–and then told their paranoia can/must be solved by forcing the very thing/person they “fear” around them (5 homemade brownies in the next life to the person who gets it). Even if I did believe such a condition as transphobia existed amongst radfems, I certainly would not be cool with the triggering persons persistent imposing of themselves on the fearing (out of kindness, my loved ones take the stairs with me–they don’t push me onto elevators).

I cannot think of any other time in my life, besides a radical feminist conference here and there (the one proposed by Debs would be my first), where I would want to be in a trans exclusive environment. It took me years to find like-minded individuals on the internet–it would mean the world to me to meet them in person and speak openly about my ideas. Even the city I live in has a pretty thriving underground trans scene, places for trans to meet up and share their experiences and I think that’s great. But I have never heard of such a place for radfems. As it is, I would have to shell out some serious dough to make it to the place where I could be with such a like-minded group.

And I’m guessing, looking into this further, me and the radfems I run around with, are super cruel–I mean, have you considered this is also radfem only? I seriously doubt Phyllis Schlafly is invited. I wouldn’t invite my mother. Is this event also Nonradfemsphobic?

I have said elsewhere on my blog, in comments, that I agree radical feminists need to take more time to address the oppression transpersons receive and I hold to it.

But I can’t lie that it becomes hard to take that position when so much of what radfems do on this front (as with others, like the sex positive ordeal) is damage control. People spend more time being offended by radical feminists than engaged. Reasonable, productive discourse is shot at the outset.

And I don’t have a solution, as much as I wish I did. I also can’t lie that I am thoroughly irritated with the micro-management of radical feminist ideas and events as if WE are the fucking enemy!

As it stands, the Conservatives don’t like us, the Liberals resent us, the “alterntiave”communities make fun of us–trust me, we’re not getting any coverage, or making a lot of friends with all our “hateful” ideas. ( patriarchy and everything will stay intact after such a conference, much to our own disappointment and, many times, depression).

So you know, if a group of radfems (and I do mean group) want to get together and make a day of it exclusively then what the hell is the problem with it? What life shattering thing could possibly result that would have us labeled transphobic and the Grand Haters of transpersons?

Should we start slinging the same shit?

I mean..are you RadfemPHOBIC or something????

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123 Comments so far
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I am not comfortable being my radical feminist self amongst transpersons.
Excellent point! (Now, bear with me whilst I recall the trans usual response)

You’re denying my reality, my experience, you’re disrespecting me (as a radfem), and [drumroll] you’re radfemphobic!

The kicker would be of course, demanding entry into transwoman spaces. After all, they consider themselves “women, just like us” — so what right do they have to exclude us?

Ah, the same … but different!
I get it, but do they?

Comment by stormy

“How can I, a gender abolitionist, feel comfortable speaking out against gender and its manifestations in the company of a transperson?”

I feel the same way.

Coincidentally, I’ve just read this post on radical feminism and the transgendered. It’s good.

Comment by Mary Tracy9

And if I may quote you also, pisaquari:

“So you know, if a group of radfems (and I do mean group) want to get together and make a day of it exclusively then what the hell is the problem with it? What life shattering thing could possibly result that would have us labeled transphobic and the Grand Haters of transpersons?”

Exactly! 😀 You have actually made my day with this post, thanks xx

Comment by Debs

Wonderful post, Pisquarise!

Janice Raymond suffers from the same level of ‘critique’ as Andrea Dworkin- ridiculously hateful screeds by those who have never read anything by either of them, and never intend to. Shame on them. Those muppets should actually read Raymond and Dworkin… and get a spine and a clue.

Comment by Laurelin

[…] March 17, 2008 at 5:22 pm (radical feminism, transmisogyny, transphobia) (radical feminism, sophistry, transphobia) I remember back in the 90s getting into arguments with homophobes about how they couldn’t be homophobic because they weren’t afraid of gay men and lesbian women. Rather than address the substance of the statement – homophobia means you’re prejudiced against gay men, lesbian women, and probably bisexual people – these prejudiced people would shift the goalposts and make it not about whether or not they hated GLB people, but how they weren’t <em>afraid</em>. Belledame compares this kind of argument to a more recent post from a radical feminist proclaiming that she’s not afraid of trans people. […]

Pingback by Transphobia and Sophistry « Questioning Transphobia

Good post and rightful pointing out of the differences in choice of tactics of radical feminists vs the queer movement.

And in regard to the pingback just above–“phobia” does NOT mean “prejudice.” The correct term for the political prejudice and discrimination, whether on an individual or systemic level, against lesbian and gay (and, ironically, trans) persons is “heterosexism.” If one chooses to use psychological terminology in your “fight against oppression” you can’t define it to mean whatever you want it to mean, and you will have to fight the battle on the ground you’ve picked.

Comment by Amy's Brain Today

But doesn’t your reasoning assume that transwomen can’t be radical feminists? I don’t see that thats true. I’m sure most are not just as most cisgendered women are not but I’m sure some are.

Comment by Out Loud

Yes well, behold!!: this post has already been responded to in some of those non-response kind of ways.

It’s no wonder Conservatives still have the power they do–they’re sneaking out the back door while people can’t quit knocking down the radfems.

Long hail Right Wingdom!
(that’s all I got right now–thanks for the replies haters!)

Comment by pisaquaririse

Welcome Out Loud!

“But doesn’t your reasoning assume that transwomen can’t be radical feminists?”

I recognize there are radical feminists that feel differently–and I have never made any such blanket statement. I spoke for myself and in defense of an event, a rather minor one at that, which I felt was perfectly reasonable for people who wanted a comfort zone to express their beliefs.
I in no way advocate for, or believe, transpersons should be ignored from feminist or radical feminist movements.

Comment by pisaquaririse

“But doesn’t your reasoning assume that transwomen can’t be radical feminists?”

Speaking for myself, Out Loud, I don’t assume that transwomen cannot be radical feminists. What I do feel strongly about is the need for women-born-women only spaces, which as far as I can see is a simple matter of respect. Male born people have different experiences to female born people and we need our own space to discuss these things. I don’t expect to be invited into a space for transpeople, or for BME women- it would be disrespectful for me to barge in.

I just do not understand the mentality that makes one demand entrance to a safe space for a group of people of which one is not a member. ‘Women-born-women’ is very clear.

Comment by Laurelin

Idiots.
You can CHOOSE to be a radical feminist. You can’t choose to be born in the wrong sex body.
Yeah, being *born in the wrong body* is really all the fault of gender…obviously gender stereotypes are bad, but if there were none, there would still be transpeople.
THIS is why so many people are turned off feminism.
What the hell is your problem?

Comment by reasonablefeminist

reasonablefeminist/anon1/anon2,

No one is blaming anyone for the way they feel. We are just recognizing the chasm and compensating for our discomfort with some ancillary gatherings.

Yes, we blame it on gender–and no I don’t feel trans’ experience of gender is always the typical binary. But gender binary, or gender cut-and-paste style is still gender.

Starting another comment off with “idiots” or something equally useless won’t get your comment approved.

Comment by pisaquaririse

This muppet has read Raymond, and was duly unimpressed.

Comment by Natalia Antonova

Naturally Natalia.

Comment by pisaquaririse

“This muppet has read Raymond, and was duly unimpressed.”

Then you are no muppet, because you have done your homework.

Comment by Laurelin

Reasonable feminist – To be “trans” you have to have something to “transition”. If gender does not exist, it is impossible to “transition” between genders. It would still be possible to change one’s physical body/biological sex of course, but there is no way of knowing if some people’s desire to do this would still exist if we got rid of gender, because we haven’t got rid of gender yet.

Comment by polly styrene

Or, you know, you could actually listen to transsexuals and other trans* folks.
Plenty of us have been saying for years that it’s a physical, genital related thing (for us, not all trans*folk–the communities are far to varied for most generalizations).
Julia Serano’s written on it, I have, so fucking many of the folks I’ve read on livejournal…
Moreover, for almost all of us gender roles (masculinity/femininity) have got nothing to do with anything except maybe giving us a clue or causing us to question things.
And I have read some Raymond (and Greer), I don’t have the money to buy their books (nor do I wish to support them) and I can’t go to any libraries now, but Vancouver Rape Relief has a bit of their work on their ‘theories’ on trans*folk online for viewing.
Both failed completely and were building castles in the sky; this is especially true if you know anything about the actual history of trans*folk and the Medical industries (US and European). Or if you know anything about actual trans*folks and actual trans* communities.

Comment by drakyn

Welcome Drakyn!

Well, I’ve read some of your stuff, known trans personally, and I’ve read a couple books which gave me some insight to the history. Painting me as ignoramus before taking more time to understand my own history does not bode well for how well you are willing to “listen.”

The “physical things” comment is too broad for me to understand. Obviously it is *your choice* to elaborate further.

I am confused as well because you say: “it’s a physical, genital related thing (for us, not all trans*folk–the communities are far to varied for most generalizations).” and then say:
“for almost all of us gender roles (masculinity/femininity) have got nothing to do with anything except…”

I don’t know what to take from these statements–they seem contradictory. “Thing” and “anything” respectively–are they two different topics?

Plenty of radical feminists have read and *listened* as you say, more than myself for many years, and remain unchanged. Clearly there is no save-all.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Honestly, I didn’t get the impression from this entry that you’d read much of anything from trans*folk. I don’t read you journal regularly, I only followed the trackback from Maia’s wonderful post.
There is a difference between listening and listening; just because you know people and hear what they say doesn’t mean that you (general you) listen and believe them. There is a lot of history with the medical industries and society labeling trans*folk, as well as other oppressed groups, as liars and unable to speak reliably on their experiences. In fact, after doctors realized that a lot of trans*folk were altering their stories to fit the doctors’ strict (heterosexist and gender normative) requirements to get treatment they began to officially label us as pathological liars and whatnot–those that went public and tried to get some benefit from their trans* status were labeled as sociopathic.

Physical as in sex, genitals, bodies, secondary sex characteristics, etc.

I apologize for being unclear, sometimes my typing and my thinking don’t match up. “for almost all of us” refers to the more feminist and feminist-aware trans*folks as well as pretty much every trans*person I generally interact with (online and off). Just as many cis*folks in the general population would say things that imply or state feminine=woman and masculine=man, so do some trans*folk. Especially the drivel that often gets published (and it was a requirement for treatment, and still is in many places, to be as gender-normative as a cardboard cutout of Father Knows Best).

Comment by drakyn

“didn’t get the impression from this entry that you’d read much of anything from trans*folk.”

Why is that?

“just because you know people and hear what they say doesn’t mean that you (general you) listen and believe them.”

See, now, this statement to me implies unless someone agrees with you they are not listening. I know you said “believe”-not agree.
I don’t see believing as necessarily “listening.” I gauge that by assessing how many of my points they respond to and how accurately they could frame my position if they had to objectively.

If believing you is your measure then this might be a lost cause.

“There is a lot of history with the medical industries and society labeling trans*folk, as well as other oppressed groups, as liars and unable to speak reliably on their experiences…”

Okay–that’s terrible yes. Do you think, because of my stance, I think this is a *good* or *okay* thing to to happen to transpersons?
Because I don’t.

Yes I get what “physical” applies to I just don’t understand how you say, for transfolk, “not all” of it is genital-related–are you saying for “not all” transfolk,the desire to transition (as in “it) is related to genitals?

And also, do you mean: “For most of “us feminist and feminist-aware trans*folks” gender roles have nothing to do with transitioning? (as applied to your first post, “transitioning” replacing “anything”).

Comment by pisaquaririse

Trans* and transgender are umbrella terms; including transsexuals, transgender, genderqueer, bigender, nongender, etc folks.
It also sometimes (depending on context and who’s talking) can include intersexed folks, crossdressers, bois, butches, fairies, etc. (generally with the idea that “if you feel you belong then you do”).
Some folks’ gender isn’t binary, some folks have no gender, for some folks it is about having an internal map of your body and a body that don’t match. And there are more types of experiences, as well as overlaps.
For many trans* folk, medical transition (there are at least four types of transition) is about changing our bodies to fit what we feel they should be (not the best way of saying, but there isn’t really language to describe this feeling–body dissonance comes close); it isn’t that we think boys=penis, feminine=girls, likes boys=girl, etc. like some people argue.
If it were, then we wouldn’t have all the fem ftm-spectrum folks, butch trans*women, queer trans*folk, etc. that we do (and we do exist actually, the media just doesn’t report on us much and we often have to keep quiet about it if we want medical transition).

And yes, I meant transitioning (all aspects, though mostly medical since that’s what people generally mean by transition) as well as being trans*, etc. by “anything”.

Comment by drakyn

I have no trouble understanding why transpersons would want to be in women’s spaces. Women’s spaces are safer for people than men’s.
What I do not understand is why transpersons would want to be in radfems spaces. Radfems repudiate gender constructs. Transperson are so deeply committed to gender constructs that they are willing to alter their bodies to conform with gender constructs. Personhood, ungendered, is a goal of radical feminism.
As Drayken states in the above comment, transpersons want more gender, to separate “transsexuals, transgender, genderqueer, bigender, nongender, etc folks.
It also sometimes (depending on context and who’s talking) can include intersexed folks, crossdressers, bois, butches, fairies, etc. (generally with the idea that “if you feel you belong then you do”).” under the umbrella term transgender.

So, transgendered people seem to be saying that you deconstruct gender by having more and more gender differentiation, while radfems say you deconstruct gender by having less and less gender differentiation.
I think we probably want to get to the same place, we just don’t agree on the method. So again, I do not understand why transpersons wish to participate in an effort that they are in opposition to.

Comment by thebewilderness

Yes drakyn, I recall those definitions via one of your posts actually (fancy that!).

“For many trans* folk, medical transition is about changing our bodies to fit what we feel they should be…”

–See, I think there is a problematic message in that line of thinking. The only way to go further though would be to ask more personal info about trans or from yourself (which I understand isn’t always comfortable). I will pose the question with no expectation: how/why does a body not “fit” what it *should* be?

“If it were, then we wouldn’t have all the fem ftm-spectrum folks, butch trans*women, queer trans*folk, etc. that we do”

Right and to me, by the time one address all these categories I’m thinking: why can’t people just be people, whatever they come out, with varied characteristics?
I’m a female with a male partner–if I *transitioned* I guess I could/would be a queer transperson but why would I? What is so necessary about the transition that corrects the “problem”?
To me there is an added complication there relying on societal/patriarchal presets.

Comment by pisaquaririse

“So, transgendered people seem to be saying that you deconstruct gender by having more and more gender differentiation, while radfems say you deconstruct gender by having less and less gender differentiation.
I think we probably want to get to the same place, we just don’t agree on the method. So again, I do not understand why transpersons wish to participate in an effort that they are in opposition to.”

Could not agree more.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Did you read the one where I talk about how i experience transsexuality? I explain why there (I’d summarize or something, but I have to go to work) and it has a link to a friend of mine’s post on the same subject. Mine is still somewhat rough–afterall, my understanding of myself is constantly deepening and gettng more refined, but it’s alright do far.
Basically, some folks have a map, an image, a blueprint, etc. of what they’re supposed to be shaped like (remember the Matrix? the residual image of yourself is how some describe it) and sometimes that doesn’t match your physical body. And that’s just what a lot of transsexuals feel, I don’t have time to go into what ‘ve heard from genderqueer or bigender folks, I’ve got to go.

Comment by drakyn

What people do with their own bodies is their own business. I would not tell someone that they should not have breast implants, but as a feminist I might question why that person thinks having large breasts is so desirable they are willing to have surgery, with its attendant risks and spend a lot of money to do it. Now that person might tell me that it is purely an individual decision and nothing to do with social pressure. But in that case I would ask why the numbers of breast implant operations have climbed hugely in recent years, at exactly the same time as increasing pressure on women to fit a pornified ideal of skinny frame with unnaturally large breasts.

If a person has a penis and testes and decides to have surgery so that they have a vagina and clitoris instead, that’s their decision to make. But most (I’m not saying all) people who do this seem to do it because they want to move from what society sees as ‘male’ to what society sees as ‘female’. (or vice versa) Otherwise worry about being referred to as ‘she’ rather than ‘he’, or want to change a birth certificate so that it reads ‘female’ rather than ‘male’? These things are nothing to do with genitals, but they have a lot to do with gender. To say that for the majority of people who have surgery it’s just about body modification seems disingenuous. Because if it is, why all the fuss about the definition of the term woman? Or being allowed into certain spaces? I’ve never, ever heard of anybody having surgery to alter their genitals, but continuing to live in the gender role commonly associated with their body pre surgery.

Throughout history people have always lived outside their assigned gender roles for a variety of reasons. But it was only in the 20th century that ‘transsexual’ surgery and hormone treatment was introduced. Coincidentally (or maybe not?) the development of surgical techniques happened at almost exactly the same time as the rise of ‘medical’ theories of transsexuality from Harry Benjamin and the like.

Comment by Polly Styrene

Polly,

Harry Benjamin didn’t introduce the idea of transsexuality. He encountered cases of women who would take birth control pills and present themselves as intersexed for “corrective surgery.” No one really knew that anyone born male wanted to be women or anyone born female wanted to be men, but there were people born female who lived as men, and people born male who lived as women, and people who obtained hormones to induce the changes they wanted, and who would lie to surgeons to “correct an intersex birth defect.”

Harry Benjamin came across these people and studied them, and realized that this was a real condition, that other forms of treatment did not work, and the best thing to do for these people was to give them hormones and surgery so they could live as the sex they knew they should be.

The idea that the medical profession invented transsexuality and started applying it to people is backwards, and really insulting to those of us who have had to live with it – who grew up with it knowing what was wrong with us before we’d ever talked to a doctor about it, let alone heard the word “transsexual.”

Vaginoplasty existed before transsexualism was identified or diagnosed, and was used on intersexed children (which, I might add, is one area where modern medicine really has harmed people and reinforced the gender binary).

Comment by Lisa Harney

If certain self-declared ‘radical feminists’ don’t believe in gender, then how come they spend so much time frantically insisting, and attempting to prove, that all transpeople are either fundamentally male or fundamentally female?

Comment by Carola

Well I don’t for one Carola – what I am interested in as a feminist is which people are deemed to be ‘women’ under patriarchy – ie those who suffer discrimination. Now for me this includes intersex people who are assigned female at birth. But they are clearly NOT male or female. And the idea that there are just 2 biological sexes (male and female) is patently untrue – just as it is untrue to say everyone is white or black, or everyone is straight or gay. But the fact is that all people, even intersex people are placed in the categories of either ‘male’ or ‘female’ and treated accordingly under patriarchy. However the genders ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are assigned to ‘male’ and ‘female’ respectively under the patriarchal binary gender system.

Lisa – I am well aware that transsexual surgery has existed since the early 20th century although – to be correct I should have said ‘popularisation’ instead of development. Harry Benjamin popularised the concept of transsexuality and it his theories that are still used today in psychiatric ‘medicine’ to ‘assess’ whether or not someone is transsexual. As I said, people have transcended gender roles for centuries and in other societies than western capitalism, the idea of binary gender has been considerably less important.

Comment by polly styrene

Carola
You have mixed two different issues.

The desire for female-only space (and excluding the male-born) is one of sanctuary and a feeling of safety, especially from those who have suffered from male violence. Anyone ‘remotely’ male can trigger feelings of anxiety.

However, that is not stating that people come as ‘fundamentally male’ and ‘fundamentally female’. The correct term we would use is ‘biological male’ and ‘biological female’ which covers around or over 99% of the population.

For the purpose of female-only space (sometimes referred to as WBW space, but I dislike the term), the criteria is ‘born and raised’ (or in the case of intersexed, ‘assigned and raised’) as female. It is merely a question of setting a boundary, and that boundary is NOT on all feminist spaces, but just a few selected ones (if organisers deem it necessary).

The problem with not setting a boundary, particularly with the trans community, is that it is one-in, all-in, and because of their eagerness to include anyone (including males who live as men and just like to cross-dress, yet declare themselves “women”), means that males can enter a female-only space.

I think that most radfems, who want to declare female-only spaces, would have no problem with intersexed persons that were assigned and raised as female from birth, as their life-long experience is fairly close to females-at-birth (FAB).

From what I have seen from figures, intersexed persons outnumber trans by 2 to 1 or 4 to 1. Yet we rarely hear from the intersexed in great numbers, usually only MTF trans (and usually demanding entry into female-only spaces).

In the recent IWD march in London, a male, who was dressed as a man, thought he had every right to crash the march – right in the middle of it. He was muttering such shit as “it’s a public street and I can be here if I want to”. We got the police to remove him. It is such arrogance and entitlement such as this that makes radfems particularly, defend the right to female-only spaces (in this case, it was actually woman-only, and trans were not excluded).

Comment by stormy

I cross-posted with Polly.
My post was more about the defining of female-only spaces, and the criteria used. Which some people twist into being obsessed with ‘fundamentally male/female’ categories and similar terms.

Comment by stormy

*warning, a Laurelin rant follows*

re what Stormy said, it’s also worth mentioning that people raised as male do not lose all the privileges and the socialisation that comes with this when they transsex. Feminist women have long had problems with males in their spaces, as their behaviour of entitlement (whether intentional or not) renders the atmosphere hostile and makes it harder for a number of women to speak honestly and openly about their experiences. And as Stormy says, even the presence of male-born persons can be traumatic for women in thes circumstances.

It’s not a matter of pickiness, or sacred womanlyness, or whatever stupid charge our detractors are laying on us this week. It’s a matter of respect and of safety, and I don’t get why this is such a hard concept to grasp. It is up to the marginalised group itself to decide who does and does not get to be present at their meetings- not the decision of someone who is uninvited who reckons they meet the criteria. Female-born persons do not crash transperson events. I sincerely hope that white feminists do not crash BME women events.

A male-born person does not have the right to impose themselves on female-born person spaces. Simple as that. If you don’t like the policy, go elsewhere, the vast majority of feminist events include transwomen.

The sheer callousness of some of the respondents to this post (not the published comments here, I’m refering to the posts at other blogs in response to this) disgusts me but does not surprise me. That anyone believes that their right to occupy a space into which they are not invited is more important than an abused woman’s comfort in a safe space is anathema to me. I simply cannot describe this as being other than selfish, and yes, very masculine. On a personal level, if someone says ‘Laurelin, I don’t want to talk about this around you, fuck off’, then I fuck off. It’s respect. It’s courtesy. It’s honour and responsibility.

I’ve also noted the tone of typing on other blogs that appears to me to be nothing other than revolting taunting and condescention towards abused women who need their space. Perhaps it’s not intentional, but it sure as hell isn’t helpful or courageous. If you personally are happy telling your experiences around male-born persons, then good for you. No-one will stop you from doing so, and radical feminists will not be bothered by this. But, it’s not all about you. And your denial that some women need female-born only space to discuss the most traumatic events of their lives, is a denial of those women’s reality and their pain. Shame on you.

DISCLAIMER: whoever, if you are not guilty of any of the things I condemn in the above rant, then I’m not accusing you. So save the personal offense for when I actually intend to accuse you of something. Ta.

Comment by Laurelin

oh good god, how pompous I am when I lose my temper! *sneaks away*

Comment by Laurelin

“On a personal level, if someone says ‘Laurelin, I don’t want to talk about this around you, fuck off’, then I fuck off. It’s respect. It’s courtesy. It’s honour and responsibility”

Exactly, it is about other people’s feelings and their right to autonomy, even if your own are hurt that they don’t want to include you. If I wanted someone to be my friend/lover or whatever and they didn’t want to, yes I would be hurt. But it wouldn’t mean they had discriminated against me or treated me unfairly, they have freedom of choice.

Everyone has the right to define their own private space and who they want in it. And feminist gatherings are private spaces, even if there are a large number of people there. If a transperson is discriminated against by their work colleagues, in receiving goods and services, in receiving state benefits or simply abused in the street because of who they are, they have every right to cry foul. But nobody has a right to demand someone has a personal relationship with them, and by demanding to enter someone else’s safe, private space you are doing exactly that.

Comment by Polly Styrene

Oh and it’s worth adding of course stormy, that the reason we don’t hear from the intersexed in great numbers on issues of gender, is that most DO NOT identify as trans gender or anything of the kind but simply as ‘male’ or ‘female’. By and large intersex people identify with their assigned gender at birth, one of their main issues being the media representations of them as equivalent to trans people. See for instance the Androgen insensitivity syndrome society who are pretty pissed off with trans activists attempts to co-opt them to the cause.

http://www.aissg.org/21_OVERVIEW.HTM

Comment by Polly Styrene

(From Polly’s link)

Intersex is not the same as a transsexual (gender dysphoria) or as a transgender state. Neither term is one that we recognise as belonging in any general discussion of intersex. We are not happy with the recent tendency of some trans groups/people to promote transgender as an umbrella term to encompass, for example, transsexuality, transvestitism and intersex. We object to other organisations/individuals putting us in categories without consulting us, especially categories that imply that interexed people, of necessity, have gender identity issues.

We are constantly trying to get away from the idea that intersex is necessarily to do with gender identity, a notion that others (including the press/media) like to impose on us. Moreover, the prefix trans- infers a “moving across” and although a few people with intersex conditions may choose to change their gender role, the vast majority never “go” anywhere in terms of their sex or their gender, but are happy to stay in the status in which they grew up.

Mmmm, they seem to be saying similar things to we do about the trans activists.

One thing that bugs me is that trans insist on insulting radfems by naming us things like ‘cisgender’ and then making upthings like ‘cisgender privilege’.

If they keep this up, I shall start making up names for the trans activists, stuff like genderdefender and perhaps make a list of ‘genderdefender privileges’ to go along with it.

Comment by stormy

Can you really not see how hypocritical it is to quote that piece that says

We object to other organisations/individuals putting us in categories without consulting us

when that is exactly what you are doing to transgendered people?

Comment by Out Loud

“We object to other organisations/individuals putting us in categories without consulting us”

And how are we doing this precisely, by simply asking for some respect for our space? Enlighten me.

Comment by Laurelin

scuze the bad grammar on my last comment. Should read ‘precisely how are we doing this…’

Comment by Laurelin

Can you really not see how hypocritical it is to quote that piece that says

We object to other organisations/individuals putting us in categories without consulting us

when that is exactly what you are doing to transgendered people?

Comment by Out Loud March 20, 2008 @ 12:40 am

That is a load of BS. I don’t categorize myself as “cis”, whatever the hell that is. Transpersons categorize me as that cis thingamy. I categorize myself as a radfem woman who wants to deconstruct gender, and I am promptly instructed that doing so makes me responsible for oppressing transpersons because they claim the right to define any and all gender as whatever they say it is. Criminy!

Comment by thebewilderness

Exactly bewilderness.
Trans call themselves trans, so we call them trans.
Radfems do NOT call themselves ‘cisgender’, YET trans call us ‘cisgender’.

Why is it ok for trans to insult us?
Then in the next breath, expect to be greeted with open arms?

We are not categorising trans persons as such, more that we get to define ourselves (instead of men defining us). Because of our own self definition, that will necessarily exclude others.

I even reject the category ‘woman’ as something with artificial baggage. I am female.

From now on, every time a trans activist labels us ‘cisgender’, I will label them genderdefender. We shall see how they like being labelled with things they don’t like.

Comment by stormy

It seems odd to me. Those most vocal in their claim to be gender abolitionists are those who are the most fanatical about gender segregation. They don’t even want anyone with the merest suggestion of the other gender around them, while they discuss the essential fictionality of gender.

I would not find myself comfortable about having such people in women’s places. They can stay in their own.

Comment by Zoe Brain

I’m a nonwhite woman. I don’t think that the categories of white or nonwhite reflect biological or any other reality, and I’m all for getting rid of us and just letting us be humans who happen to have different types of features, skin color, hair texture, etc etc.
But I’ll still insist that race is a social reality, and demand that white people acknowledge the role that white privilege has in their lives. I don’t have a lot of patience for people – especially if they are white – who say that race doesn’t exist or otherwise deny its effects. Because I acknowledge the social reality of race, though I don’t believe in its physical or other reality, does that make me a racist?

Comment by L.M.

It seems odd to me. Those most vocal in their claim to be gender abolitionists are those who are the most fanatical about gender segregation.

Pay attention Zoe. The last two words above should read “sex segregation”, because we are NOT fanatical about ‘gender segregation’ at all. And the segregation part is only for a few gatherings (a few female-only meetings/events)… not all the time. So get your damn facts straight whilst you are at it. I really get sick of the way radfem words/views are twisted for the trans/porn agenda.

Comment by stormy

Polly Styrene/Stormy:

So, although both identifying as ‘radical feminist’, you disagree with each other that there are primarily two biological sexes – female and male? ie: Polly thinks that there are more than two sexes, whilst stormy believes that most people (if not all – 99 per cent) are either biologically male or female.

If anyone who comes across as ‘remotely male’ will cause anxiety and will not be desirable within a ‘woman-only’ group, would this discomfort also extend to those ‘women-born’ individuals who present as stereotypically non-feminine but whom, at the same time, are biologically female?

Comment by Carola

Sorry above should read: (stormy believes possibly that ‘over’ 99 per cent of people are biologically male or female).

Comment by Carola

Whoa–lotsa Welcomes!: Carola, Littoral Mermaid and Zoe Brain.

To Carola and Zoe Brain (b/c I see what you’ve said as roughly the same thing):

The reason for radical feminists making these “women” distinctions is that it would be pretty unbelievably irresponsible to treat people like “woman” did not exist when people right now, right this minute are being hurt for their status as “woman.”

One can work to remove gender in most aspects of their life while still having spaces that recognize “woman” exists. It’s not like the whole world is a radical feminist.

I’ve waved my magic wand *several* times now and still *women* as a class of people are getting shit on–I can’t ignore that.

I think L.M.’s comment does a fine job of saying this.

“The last two words above should read “sex segregation”…”

This point too.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Telling transpeople wether they are men or women is putting them in categories without consulting them.

And really the whole “I’m not cisgendered” thing sounds suspiciously like “I’m not like those people I’m normal”

Stormy

whats with the conflation of being trans supportive with being pro porn? I am in no way pro porn but I definitely support transpeople

Comment by out loud

Once more, from the top:

No, Out Loud, we distinguish between female-born and male-born persons because female=born persons have different experiences, and the presence of male=born persons can be very silencing for women who have suffered male violence.

Did you miss that part of my comment? Do you not think that that is important?

Comment by Laurelin

So, although both identifying as ‘radical feminist’, you disagree with each other that there are primarily two biological sexes – female and male? ie: Polly thinks that there are more than two sexes, whilst stormy believes that most people (if not all – 99 per cent) are either biologically male or female.

I don’t see any disagreement between polly and myself. I recognise that a very small percentage of the population do not ‘neatly’ fit into the biological category of fe/male. However, it is not the masses and masses that the trans lobby make out, it is less than 1%.

So are the trans lobby now saying that most humans do not fit into the fe/male biological categories?

If I meant to say ALL HUMANS, I would have said ALL HUMANS. But I said 99%, which, drawing on my ace maths skills, does not mean ALL. 100% means ALL for those who are mathematically challenged. And 1% is a statistically small number.

Comment by stormy

whats with the conflation of being trans supportive with being pro porn? I am in no way pro porn but I definitely support transpeople

Well, it seems to be based on an observation that the trans lobby’s most vocal supporters are the (self-defined) pro-porn feminists and ‘sex positive’ crowd. That, and the fact that the arguments are similar in tone and substance.

It is an understandable and easy dot-joining assumption to make.

If you don’t want to be tarred with the pro-porn brush, then don’t hang around with pro-pornys.

Also, there is a difference between ‘supporting’ people on an individual level, and the political ramifications of ‘choices’. (note that I did put choices in ‘s to somewhat acknowledge the trans argument of “it’s not a choice!”) I have nothing personal against trans persons, but I politically disagree with the institution of trans.

Comment by stormy

In a serial posting frenzy, my calculation basis for comments made above.

Intersex births I have read are about 1 in 2,500 which sounds about right. (0.04%)

There are about 5,000 trans persons in the UK with a population of ~60 million. Most of these are MTF, so even using half of the UK population (to boost the trans figures) still only scrapes in at 0.02%. It’s 0.01% if you use the total population figures.

Adding 0.04% and 0.02% equals (drumroll please) 0.06%.

Again, for the mathematically challenged, I point out that 0.06% is less than 1%. Therefore saying that “99% or more” is an accurate statement.

Even if the intersex births are higher than that, it would have to be considerably higher to impact the figures above 1% of the population. 1% is 1 per 100 BTW. I am fairly certain that intersex births are nowhere near 1 in 100.

Don’t force me to do a pie chart.

Comment by stormy

Polly thinks that binary sex is a patriarchal construct – she also speaks for no one but herself (but is prone to referring to herself in the third person, slightly pretentiously). In actual fact (in terms of there being definitive sexes) we are all placed somewhere along a continuum. But a binary gender system demands two sexes – so most intersex people will appear to be and will be placed in one of two sexes, and will in fact appear on the surface to be either ‘male’ or ‘female’. There is no ‘intersex’ option on a birth certificate.

I’ve just written something on the trans/intersex issue, so I suggest anyone who wants to know further of my views scoots over to mine to avoid me taking up further space here and to avoid Stormy’s pie chart. Oh noes not the pie chart.

And BTW Carola – I present as stereotypically non feminine. I think you are resorting to the butch intersex herring…

Comment by polly styrene

Oh and out loud. I’m not putting you in a category without consulting you. I am in fact using a category that already exists (assigned female at birth) to decide who gets into a private space. That is in no way the same as trans organisations lumping intersex people in with trans people without consent, which is what they’re complaining about. I’m not saying you’re not a woman, a man, or indeed a giraffe. I’m saying that for my purposes you are not the type of woman who can enter a private space. That is not the same as claiming your support for a cause you don’t actually support.

Comment by polly styrene

Stormy would agree with the continuum Polly. She was really only pointing the arbitrary categories for the purposes of defining female spaces, not the mega picture, or the details of chromosome/genital combinations.

Nor would you be the only pretentious one here either! It’s fun! 😛

Comment by stormy

[…] usual–has already devoted many paragraphs to responding to this post, but I’m adding my contribution here, because I read this comment and sorta went, […]

Pingback by Feministe » Define/perpetuate

Well.

There is a lot of blanket-statementing going on here, on all sides, and I am finding a lot with which I agree and also a lot with which I disagree. I have only mildly skimmed thru the posts, so if I am repeating a point that has already been made, then I apologize.

Whatever the differences are in political views, which I know can grow problematic from the standpoint of a radfem in the trans-sphere, we have to recognize some things here- and these are, bulleted but for no particular reason, 1. every transperson experiences oppression based on their, conscious or not (or even inadvertent) oppositional positioning as regards the imposed gender binary and the patriarchy in general. 2. Every transperson, I think, could be welcome in women’s space, given an honest committment to follow the ground rules set forth for whatever particular space they are in- on the basis of lived experience. I mean, MtF transpeople have willingly stepped away from male privilege, and I think we radfems who don’t have close contact with that experience don’t really get a good understanding of how dehumanizing it is; also FtM’s, have a material history of womanhood and really don’t need to be let that far away from it, because their experience counts, too.

I think we radfems are at a point where we need to weigh more carefully risks and benefits when it comes to this question. There is much more common ground here than people realize and there is no need for name-calling on either side.

And I have to just be blunt. Yes, there are women who are traumatized, I’m sure, by any vestige of “manhood” on any kind of person. But in a group setting, I think that women can safely hold their own in a worst-case-scenario; but we have to fight back against notions of biological determinism not only lobbed against us WOMEN but also against all other people. Women are not the sum of our parts. I can just go on and on all day about how I’m more than just a fucking vagina. And that is a speech I could address towards the sex-pos crowd, the trans-crowd, and the rad-fem crowd. Infighting only serves to make it easier for us to believe the lies that The Man tells us about each other, and it only makes our internalized oppression worse.

So if radfems really do have it going on then we need to find a way to make our movement open to all women. That doesn’t seem as impossible when one does muster up the “guts,” as the original author put it, to talk about radical feminist ideas in a group of transpeople. It’s organizing 101. More people relate to our stuff than we realize, and I fear that the lack of realization does indeed come from fear to try and move people from one way of thinking to the other.

Just a humble two cents. Thanks for letting me chime in in this space.

Comment by Elaina

“I am in fact using a category that already exists (assigned female at birth) to decide who gets into a private space”

Perfect! Trans women are all born female but assigned some incorrect body genes. Glad you understand and are willing to let them into your little club.
Of course, if I thought you were going to discriminate based on the fact that they weren’t born with vaginas, well I’d probably call you no better than the old boys’ clubs.

Comment by silly

I have to say, and then I’ll step back ‘cus it’s been a while since I hung out in radfemland- but I have to say that I am disappointed in the misinformation that women I know as well-educated feminists are flinging around.

You can’t accuse transactivists of not “reading the theory” when we haven’t read theirs- and the cisgender thing only means that a person’s assigned gender is corrolary to the “biological sex” they are born with. And these are totally random estimated numbers in regards to people who genetically deviate from 100% male or 100% female. We have to remember that biological essentialism isn’t a good thing. The way folks tend to work it only supports the existing system, it doesn’t leave that much work to fight the system.

Remember, it’s Andrea Dworkin who wrote <a href=”http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/WarZoneChaptIIID.html””Biological Determinism: The World’s Most Dangerous and Deadly Idea.”

Maybe birth-assigned (cisgendered) women do need their own space. And maybe transwomen need their own space. Transmen, too, I’d say.

But I tell ya what. We ain’t gonna get anywhere pointing fingers and slurring and namecalling another group that could be potential allies in this war. You cannot treat transpeople as if they are all white male vikings ready to rape and pillage at the next consciousness raising meeting.

And while I’m at it I need to remind everybody here that transpeople are raped and murdered violently at very high rates due to the fact that the patriarchy sees them as SUBHUMANS, so I don’t think that any of us do any good to feminism when we take that same attitude.

This is infighting. We can talk, in a civil way, about how we divvy up meeting spaces. But the namecalling and the faulty logic and the invented facts are all BAD FEMINISM and it’s just about to give me a fuckin’ coronary.

Comment by Elaina

polly

I’m not putting you in a category without consulting you…’m not saying you’re not a woman, a man, or indeed a giraffe. I’m saying that for my purposes you are not the type of woman who can enter a private space.

Dont make assumptions about people I’m a woman and I was born a woman, I’m not a transwoman. I’m also a radical feminist.

so yeah actualy you are putting me in a catogory I don’t belong to without consuluting me

Comment by out loud

I am not comfortable being my radical feminist self amongst transpersons.

So, you’re scared to be a radical feminist when you’re talking to a radical feminist whom you know probably has XY chromosomes.

And you don’t like calling this irrational fear you have out “transphobia”, because…?

Well, at a guess, for the same reason Orson Scott Card doesn’t like to be called “homophobic” – because if you admit it’s bigotry, you have to admit it’s a problem you have that you are forcing the group you are bigoted about to make their problem.

If you have spent much time with any large groups of radical feminists, you have spent time with transwomen and were perfectly comfortable being “your radical feminist self” around them. Now get over it.

Comment by Jesurgislac

Welcome Jesurgslac.

“So, you’re scared to be a radical feminist when you’re talking to a radical feminist whom you know probably has XY chromosomes.”

Makes absolutely zero sense.

Try again.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Makes absolutely zero sense.

I agree. But I don’t quite understand why you invite me to “try again”.

You are the one who asserted you felt this fear of being a radical feminist around women whom you knew to be transgender. If you agree this “makes zero sense”, what are you doing to overcome your irrational fear?

Comment by Jesurgislac

Geeezus Jesur–your comment-which I quoted-was what made “zero sense”. Clearly I understand my position (wrote a whole post on it).

And PS–I nowhere said I *feared* transpersons (quite the opposite, -2 for reading comprehension).
The point of the post was to question the apparent fear (and other manifestations of it) being lodged at radfems.

The whole “not being radical feminist self” point was more along the lines of “don’t kick them while they are down.” As in, recognizing the huge and painful chasm between radfems and trans (who already get enough shit from Right Wingers) and, thusly, not wanting to indulge it further.

Here’s hoping 3rd time’s a charm…

Comment by pisaquaririse

Welcome Elaina!

I appreciate your comments and agree that there is more opportunity for positive exchanges between radfems and transpersons than has been represented on the blogosphere.

“Yes, there are women who are traumatized, I’m sure, by any vestige of “manhood” on any kind of person. But in a group setting, I think that women can safely hold their own in a worst-case-scenario”

Do you advocate for no female born spaces?
Would you not advocate for transwomen only spaces?
–I get that you want radfems to recognize the unique oppressions of transpersons and I agree–but does that extend to female born as well? (this is the point which I hold strong)

Comment by pisaquaririse

The whole “not being radical feminist self” point was more along the lines of “don’t kick them while they are down.” As in, recognizing the huge and painful chasm between radfems and trans (who already get enough shit from Right Wingers) and, thusly, not wanting to indulge it further.

Ah: so you want to ban transwomen from radical feminist space for their own good. Riiight In your post you say “you don’t have the guts” to speak your mind about gender to a transwoman: in your comment your claim is that not having the guts to speak your mind in front of transwomen is not the same thing as being afraid.

I gather from your rather confused but still clarifying comments that what you mean is:

1. You think things about gender that you think would be hurtful to say in front of transgendered women.

2. You want to say these things at radical feminist gatherings, so you want women known to be transgendered banned from those gatherings.

Your mocking of the word “transphobia” because what you feel about transgendered people is not something you want to describe as “fear” is exactly the same kind of mocking one finds in homophobic circles about the word “homophobia”.

Any move to ban transwomen from women only space ensures only that the only transwomen to be admitted are those who successfully “pass” and who remain in the closet about being trans while in the women-only space.

Your argument that it’s better to exclude transwomen from radical feminist space so that they won’t hear the hurtful remarks you intend to make about them within radical feminist space is so idiotic it’s worthy of Dick Cheney. Excluding a group of people from a space in order to make hurtful remarks about them behind their backs is bad enough: telling them that this is why you want to exclude them…? (“You can’t come into this whites-only club because we like to make racist comments about black people, and your feelings would be hurt if you heard them.” Yeah, right.)

So you’re transphobic. Trying to argue that you’re not, you expound your bigotry about trans people further.

Comment by jesurgislac

OK, jesurgislac, you can leave black people out of this, and you can especially leave black women out of it. Men looking to occupy a status that is beneath them in patriarchy – womanhood – are not in any way in the same position as black people, especially black women. I know because I am one.

Women telling men who’d like to occupy a status beneath them that they’re not welcome in women-only spaces is like black people telling white people, “We like to speak the truth about white people here, including the white people who don’t match up with the heternormative, heterosexist ideals of the patriarchy. Unfortunately, white people who don’t fit the heteronormative, heterosexist bill tend to be pretty down about all the social opprobrium they garner and don’t like it when we tell them that this social opprobrium doesn’t shield them from our critiques of white people. So, in order to continue on with our critiques of white people, including the ones not particularly favored by the patriarchy, we just won’t invite *any* white people, even, and perhaps especially, the ones who go around saying at every turn, “Hey, I experience oppression TOO.”

Now, please stop talking about black people, especially black women, as if you know anything at all about our struggles, which are not like those of the male-born transsexual. We are not pawns to be bandied about in support of any and every claim to oppression. Our tribulations are not yours to play with.

Comment by justicewalks

justicewalks, I think we’re trying to have a conversation about transphobia and transwomen and radical feminism here, and you are confusing the issue by trying to talk about “Men looking to occupy a status that is beneath them in patriarchy” which suggests that you know nothing about trans issues.

You also seem to be working from the presumption that all trans people are white. This is not true.

Finally, I did not intend to start playing the “Who’s experienced worst bigotry!” game: I consider this to be futile as a game, and pointless when you consider that there are black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people, whose experience of racism, homophobia, and transphobia ought not to be disregarded or ignored.

But: my point remains. To argue that it’s less shitty to ban people from a space because you intend to make hurtful remarks about them in that space, and letting people know that’s why you’re banning them, than it is to make hurtful remarks about people to their face: this is an absurdity. As my use of the whites-only space illustrated. I could equally say that it’s absurd for straight people to claim they’re entitled to a straights-only space to make homophobic remarks without worrying about whether LGB people will hear.

Comment by edinburghlook

No, transwomen are like white people in women’s spaces. I’m not confused. You deliberately obfuscate the point by saying I don’t know anything about trans issues, when all I was saying is that trans don’t get to use black people as support for their theories.

Why don’t you address the fact that transwomen are coming from a privileged position to a disadvantaged one, and that this puts them in a position more similar to white people in black folks’ spaces than the other way around.

That white folks/transwomen might be hurt by some of the things said about them in black/women’s spaces has nothing to do with bigotry on the part of the black/women and everything to do with entitlement on the part of the transwomen/white folks to not have people say anything that hurts their precious feelings. Not every hurt feeling is the result of oppression. Sometimes it’s just ego.

And I never said all transfolks are white. Please brush up on your reading comprehension.

White folks : black folks :: transwomen : women.

Comment by justicewalks

“so you want to ban transwomen from radical feminist space for their own good.”

Because, like I said, I’m not going to go out of my way for a conference to get into a fight for godssake. I also wouldn’t go if people attending were pro-porn or bdsm or, even, *you* were on the guest list. It’s called: don’t feel like getting into it today.

Something I seem to be able to do just fine on my blog with no special arrangements.

“You think things about gender that you think would be hurtful to say in front of transgendered women.”

Where have you been?
Prior discussions have already been had, people are already upset, have a long history of fighting.
(Do you realize this is a one time gathering I have advocated for–very small and very private. As well, I have advocated for female born spaces of sensitive situations–what is your position with those?)

“Any move to ban transwomen from women only space…”

Exactly how many spaces do you think I am talking about here?

Justicewalks is absolutely correct to call you out on that conflation. Female born only spaces are not *for* excluding anyone as much as they are *for* helping those in need/abused/raped–which can be inclusive or exclusive for both female born and transwomen depending on the abuses they’ve endured.
As well, the *one* radfem gathering I have advocated for excludes male born, ftm, transwomen, female born nonradfems–it excludes a whole bunch of people for involuntary and voluntary statuses they hold. If you want to try and squeeze analogy between these instances and poc’s history of oppression then you may be on the wrong blog.

Comment by pisaquaririse

pisaquaririse: Because, like I said, I’m not going to go out of my way for a conference to get into a fight for godssake.

So rather than just, well, plan on not getting into a fight at the conference, your only solution is to just not go? Because obviously, while you can try to ensure that out transwomen are banned, you cannot possibly ensure that everyone at a radical feminist conference is going to be transphobic, or at least not transphobic in the same way you are.

You could plan on having discussions and conversations and even passionate arguments with radical feminists who nonetheless hold different opinions from you. I find that the most exciting part of conferences: I don’t tend to get into fights, though.

Do you realize this is a one time gathering I have advocated for–very small and very private.

If you’re advocating that you should be entitled to organize a private party of just your radical feminist friends, and warn your friends they can’t bring their trans friends to your private party even when their trans friends are radical feminists, well of course you can do that. Good way to lose some of your friends, but they’ll probably figure you were never really their friend anyway.

Exactly how many spaces do you think I am talking about here?

Does it matter? Like I said: if what you are really talking about is a private party for just yourself and likeminded individuals, by which you seem to mean no one who is not radical feminist and transphobic, well, yes – private parties are, well, private. You’re certainly entitled to get together and all be transphobic in unity.

If you want to run a radical feminist conference, you have to be prepared to admit radical feminists without demanding to know what their chromosomes look like or what their medical history is. If you plan to ban some transwomen because of what they look like, but admit others because they can pass and won’t out themselves and make transphobic radical feminists uncomfortable, you are straightforwardly going by a bigotry of appearance as definite as the “brown paper bag” test.

justicewalks, if you’re still trying to argue that women who are transgendered are “really” men, you really don’t know a thing about trans issues, and there is no point continuing this discussion with you.

Comment by Jesurgislac

Jesu, I don’t care whether or not transwomen are really men or not. I just know that they aren’t female.

Sexism is about male supremacy, not man supremacy.

Comment by justicewalks

Jesurgislac–you do not understand. This is not a “conference” of any typical scale. We are talking a *small group* of individuals who know each other very well, have laid out our feelings very specifically, and are organizing everything privately.

As well, the following points of yours make no sense:
“your only solution is to just not go?”
-What?

“Good way to lose some of your friends, but they’ll probably figure you were never really their friend anyway.”
-Ad Hom in the most confusing of ways.

“Does it matter?”

-yes–the comment was referring to women only (female born) spaces for the abused–but you do not want to address those. You want to exaggerate a radical feminist gathering which you know very little about and really aren’t aware of enough to comment further.
Ignoring the issue of the female born spaces for very horrific situations is the largest point here and it makes perfect sense to me you skirt around it every time.

“If you plan to ban some transwomen because of what they look like…”

-Meanwhile back on Earth…

Your points are bloated in obnoxiousness Jesur.
Get it together or I ban you.

Comment by pisaquaririse

justicewalks: Jesu, I don’t care whether or not transwomen are really men or not. I just know that they aren’t female.

Depends whether you see gender as a patriarchal construct – as I do – or as something inherent amd unchangeable in the flesh, as apparently you do.

pisaquaririse: We are talking a *small group* of individuals who know each other very well, have laid out our feelings very specifically, and are organizing everything privately.

So why the need to tell everyone that you’re excluding transwomen?

You want to exaggerate a radical feminist gathering which you know very little about and really aren’t aware of enough to comment further.

If you didn’t want people to know about it and know that trans women are excluded from it, why mention this on a public blog?

Ad Hom in the most confusing of ways.

Let’s see: I have several friends who belong to group A and group B. You are organising an event to which you are inviting members of group B. I say “hey, cool event, can I bring *list mutual friends*” and you say “No, you can’t bring X, Y, and Z, they’re all in group A, and I’m excluding everyone in group A from my event.”

Let’s suppose I happen to know that though you have only told me I can’t invite Pam, Sarah, and Jane, because you know they’re transwomen, you have not told me I can’t invite Julie, another mutual friend of both of ours, whom I know is trans. I ask Julie, and she says “Yes, I’ve never told Pisaquaririse I’m trans because she’s so phobic about transwomen, I just didn’t want to have that discussion. I guess she really doesn’t know!”

Do I invite Julie? Do you think Julie wants to come? Do I want to have to explain to Pam, Sarah, and Jane that although they’d love your event, they’re not allowed to come because Pam’s very open about being trans and Sarah and Jane just don’t pass very well? Do I explain your reasoning that you want to be shitty about transwomen and you’re being kind not inviting them so you can be shitty about about them behind their backs? Either way, it’s not going to be pretty. Like I said: good way to lose your friends, assuming Sarah and Jane thought they were your friends.

None of this applies, because we’re actually talking about a tiny transphobic private party for transphobic friends, but one which you made a point of blogging about and a special point that you weren’t going to invite a specific group of women because you “feel uncomfortable” around them.

If you can’t stand getting negative comments about being transphobic, don’t blog about your transphobia! Simple, really.

Comment by Jesurgislac

“So why the need to tell everyone that you’re excluding transwomen?” & “If you didn’t want people to know about it and know that trans women are excluded from it, why mention this on a public blog?”

The original announcement (one I linked to which you have clearly not reviewed) was public so far as it began as a suggestion to gauge response/interest within a portion of the radfem community. The responses/criticisms ensued from there and I felt the “transphobic” assessment was unnecessary–unnecessary *because* of the minor-ness of the whole gathering, for one.
No one was trying to make this a big deal–no radfem was trying to engage a whole bunch of other people (it was addressed to a pretty small group who correspond regularly). The reactions coupled with the name-calling was what I brought to my blog to discuss (not much I can do if another blog links to it–just because the blog is public does not mean I am writing for everyone that ends up here.)

“Let’s see: I have several friends…”

Oh this part is just a laugh Jesur–I GOT the point, the *analogy*, the first time.
The confusing part was how far you took the analogy–the mentioning of my “friends” or what would make me lose them–pretty presumptuous, unnecessary, and oddly detailed. It only continues with this multi-paragraph analogy that is littered with insults.

There is a naivety in these responses from you that’s almost endearing-almost. Were you not so insulting your denseness might be bearable. Since it is not, and since you’ve remained insulting to me in a way I am not to you (or trans for that matter) I feel you are wasting your time belaboring your points here.
You think I am transphobic. I get it.
Move on.

P.S. I will be kind and let you know your comments are stuck in the moderation que indefinitely. Though the thought of you typing away with your bullshit-of-the-mouth “gonna show that pisaquari what’s up!” and clickclickclicking my blog waiting *forever* to see your masterpieces appear in anticipation of a response did delight me…I must say my tiny transphobic heart won and I’m letting you know so you are at least saved the time and effort.

Good day!

Comment by pisaquaririse

Criminy! Was that one of those “if you don’t want to get mugged you should stay inside your room with the doors locked and nevernevernever be seen or speak a word in public” routines?

Comment by thebewilderness

Out loud – where I come from ‘you’ is used to mean ‘people in general’ – not just ‘the person I am addressing directly”. Don’t make assumptions about my linguistic patterns!

Comment by Polly Styrene

Thanks to Lost Clown for this link:
http://www.rapereliefshelter.bc.ca/issues/transsexuals_UK.html

Comment by stormy

(not sure, but my last comment may have ended up in the spammie bin)

I’m not a spammer!! 😛

Comment by stormy

Fixed–sorry stormy.

Comment by pisaquaririse

No worries pisaquari, I thought it may have been the dreaded radfem-phobia kicking in! 😉

Comment by stormy

It was actually a minor case of RadfemLinkPhobia.
It comes and goes.

Comment by pisaquaririse

I’m sorry but I am so fucking sick of this. Hi, yes it’s me, brave suggester of radical feminist conference. I did not mention trans-people, nor did I intend to, but when asked directly (by Maia) whether ‘women-only’ meant excluding transwomen, I responded that it means exactly that and explained why. Maia has since blogged about this issue, and, having started this stupid blogwar of which we are all experiencing the fallout, has now gone very quiet.

I have also, as a result of all this going on, come to the conclusion that transwomen sometimes speak just like men, with the same obvious privilege as men, and allowing them to speak on your blog is just like allowing men to speak on your blog. All of which seems to me like a great reason to exclude them from a ‘women-only’ gathering.

To me the size of the gathering is irrelevant. I want the conference to be as big as it can be, and no matter how big it gets transwomen will still be excluded. They will be excluded not because of ‘transphobia’ or bigotry, or because I am oppressing them, but out of respect for the women who do attend, expecting a ‘women-only’ conference. They will be excluded for the same reasons that men are excluded. Which, also does not make me a ‘man-hater’, by the way.

Sorry, Pisaquari, maybe I should have said this on my own blog, but it was the “So why the need to tell everyone that you’re excluding transwomen?” from Jesu that got to me.

I will shut up now.

Comment by Debs

“Sorry, Pisaquari, maybe I should have said this on my own blog, but it was the “So why the need to tell everyone that you’re excluding transwomen?” from Jesu that got to me.”

No need for apologies Debs–speak your truth. I hope I did not come off as trivializing the event because indeed I think it will be rather cool. But in terms of an entire movement, of the fab radfems spaces available, I thought it rather absurd to attack something that was only getting tossed around b/w a subset of feminist bloggers with likely a scaled down attendance (it’s not easy for everyone to travel)–not to mention it not being organized yet.

Jesur out stayed his welcome. I don’t see his comments making it through again in this lifetime.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Yep, just a few women getting together, because that is all it will be, is apparently very threatening. Proof if ever it were needed that we live in a woman-hating world. x

Comment by Debs

Um…stormy. I did actually reiterate in my comment on your post that you were saying most (if not all) people. For the ‘linguistically challenged’: the phrase ‘if not all’ doesn’t linguistically equal ‘all’.

Comment by Carola

Polly: what’s a ‘butch intersex herring’?

Comment by Carola

you tell me

Comment by polly styrene

I’m guessing red.

Comment by thebewilderness

Noes – not the red straw herring?

Comment by sparklematrix

Is it the herring that needs radical feminism like a fish needs a bicycle:)?

Comment by Carola

I think it’s really a prairie dog…

Comment by Polly Styrene

It IS a prairie dawg… gawd damn.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=xWWNG0JBMCg

Comment by sparklematrix

But if the prairie dawg identifies as a chipmunk…

Anyway, you can just tell from that clip that the dude is chipmunkphobic.

Comment by stormy

Chipmunkphobics have *striking* similarities to Conservative Loonies.

For instance: they both use words.

Comment by pisaquaririse

Radfemphobia does not only exist, it is widespread. It is also an extension of misogyny due to the fact that radical feminism is *real feminism*. So, anti-feminism is simply the logical continuation of misogyny in patriarchy.

Comment by Maggie Hays

I take great exception to the following monolithic characterization:

“Transperson[sic] are so deeply committed to gender constructs that they are willing to alter their bodies to conform with

gender constructs.”

There’s a lot of assumptions there. This
(A) excludes any non-op people of transgendered experience, for starters. The above also
(2) looks only at those whose presentation are perceived to match societies dominant gender-sex linked stereotypes (insert

here non-herring example trans women who are usually classified by society as butch lesbians or tomboys… but for their

biological birth and later transition), and
(iii) furthermore that the presentation/biology are inexorably linked when just maybe they simply coincide.

All of which could lead to the ironic conclusion that by including only those whose biology is seen to match (“match” according to societal expectations, etc) their gender ID, it is then possible to criticize for gender essentialism, and enforcement of the binary or existence of the spectrum. It is a definition that by its nature allows for the conclusion, but by doing so misses and dismisses all those transpeople who are deeply committed to feminist ideals, and most strikingly imposes upon another human being the VERY same gender model that was meant to be fought against.

“What I do not understand is why transpersons would want to be in radfems spaces. Radfems repudiate gender constructs.”

To offer myself for an example (which is just as well, since I try not to speak for others more than they wish), I’m a transperson who repudiates gender constructs. I’m considered a transperson because I was born biologically (by almost any measure) male, who lives in a way that is seen as female/feminine by most. A RadFem perspective is the only one that to me makes any sense out of things; to be in a place where others share similar outlooks is in fact physically shocking compared to numbing daily interactions.

That said, I don’t insert myself into these spaces because I know that my existence elicits negative reactions, before doing or saying anything; for any number of reasons. Some of which I view as completely valid, some few I dismiss as bigoted, and mostly those which I refuse to judge subjectively. It’s because I know EXACTLY what it’s like to exist without that space that I refuse to deprive anyone else of that, regardless of what I might (do) think of some of the few and most objectionable of objections.

As a *highly* political activist, I find myself wanting to listen or discuss feminist ideas on occasion. The assumption that any one of my presentations infers any specific thing about gender is ironic. To demand that a particular presentation is necessarily linked to an acceptance of a social construct is… unfortunate… and just makes me sad, really. That’s all I actually wanted to say. The monolithic characterizations on all sides of this fight, whatever the hell it’s about, makes me hurt.

Comment by karenm

Since it is my remark you take exception to I shall respond by saying that my statement was not based on assumptions. It was based on the statements made by transpersons in this and other threads.
I was speaking to, and about, the transpersons on this thread, who persist in claiming that radfems are transphobic because they do not permit persons of diametrically opposed political views to participate in their political activities.

“The assumption that any one of my presentations infers any specific thing about gender is ironic.”
Right, because unlike every other human being on the planet, you are living outside the patriarchy. What’s ironic is that you claim that you repudiate gender and then go on at length about it.

Comment by thebewilderness

Oh Elaina, you got the bingo card covered!

“So if radfems really do have it going on then we need to find a way to make our movement open to all women.”

From reading your comments, what you really mean is “tone it down, don’t make people uncomfortable”.

Also, Pisaquaririse, if you’re having a party, I wanna come! 🙂

Comment by m Andrea

As an intersex, I am not happy when you have trans activist and the transgender community co-opting the intersex and claiming to speak on behalf of the intersex.

Comment by Nicky

As someone who’s Intersexed – not “an Intersex”, just a woman with a truly weird endocrine system, I see Transsexuality as just another form of Intersex condition. Here, I’ll quote from the Deakin Law Review:

At paragraph [253]: ‘In other words (as I understand it) the brain of an individual may in some sense be male, for example, though the rest of the person’s body is female’

At paragraph [270]: ‘But I am satisfied that the evidence now is inconsistent with the distinction formerly drawn between biological factors, meaning genitals, chromosomes and gonads, and merely “psychological factors”, and on this basis distinguishing between cases of inter-sex (incongruities among biological factors) and transsexualism (incongruities between biology and psychology)’.

At paragraph [272]: ‘In my view the evidence demonstrates (at least on the balance of probabilities) that the characteristics of transsexuals are as much “biological” as those of people thought of as inter-sex’.

I’ll leave aside the standard IS concerns, that of genital mutilation as infants, the right of IS people whose Gender Identity is neither M nor F to self-identify as such, and the rest of the “IS Activism”. Though I’m an IS activist myself, and those two concerns are dear to me.

I certainly won’t go into the silly splits about how “those with Kallmanns syndrome aren’t really Intersexed” and the rest of that nonsense. That’s as bad as restricting the definition so as to exclude AIS, CAH, and pretty much everything other than “hermaphrodites” and “pseudo-hermaphrodites”, to use the bad old terms still popular with antedeluvian medics. It’s ironic that the transphobes at the AISSG actually use this antedeluvian definition from the Australian Medical Association to bolster their case that they’re “not like those transsexuals”, when almost none of their membership qualify under it either. But they’re moderating their position. Too many of those who are TS are IS too, and many were surgically made TS as infants.

Personally, I don’t like the way that IS and TS people have been lumped together with people with no medical concerns whatsoever, the “gender outlaws” and “radical gender deconstructionalists” in the Transgender movement. Oh, and we’re all supposed to be GLBT too, as if sexual orientation had anything to do with anosmia, hypogonadism, arachnodactylly, and the other stuff we have to contend with.

As for “women born women”, I have difficulty taking the concept seriously. Those men with 5ARD or 17BHDD who were brought up as girls (well, the genitalia was female-looking at birth) and who sprouted beards and even became fathers didn’t partake of “male privilege” when growing up. And those IS and TS women who “smelt funny” and ended up being bashed with crowbars or stoned with bricks before age 10 certainly didn’t either, no matter whether they wore boy clothes or not.

People who are cisgendered (though I hate that term) are privileged in a way they can’t comprehend, in the way that fish aren’t aware of water, or men aren’t aware of the patriarchy. That includes men with Kallmann’s syndrome.

Comment by Zoe Brain

Personally for me as an intersex person and someone with Kallmann’s syndrome, I am against the transgender community and their trans activist. I am totally against their ideology, agenda, their co-opting and the fact that they are using the Harry Benjamin Syndrome card to gain entrance and acceptance as intersex when they are not intersex in the first place and intersex born intersex. That what they are doing by pulling the Harry Benjamin Syndrome card amounts to pulling the race, sex and gender. card that the the likes of Al Sharpton and the Feminist pull all the time.

Comment by Nicky

“But I can’t lie that it becomes hard to take that position when so much of what radfems do on this front (as with others, like the sex positive ordeal) is damage control. People spend more time being offended by radical feminists than engaged. Reasonable, productive discourse is shot at the outset.”

You are assuming the reason they can’t comprehend the radfem position is because — what? I am assuming it’s either because they’re too stupid to think their way out of paper bag, or they simply don’t want to understand… because it would upset their worldview on other related matters.

From another thread, I bet most people are wimpy enough that they really do think I’m evil by comparison. ‘Mwuahh-haa-haa…..

Seriously, the best way I’ve found to actually have a genuine conversation with some of these folks is to talk in simple sentences, and give them questions with yes-or-no as the answer. Yes, I think they’re idiots.

I spent an hour with one of them yesterday, going over the same topic from different angles, and you should have seen the look on her face when she finally realised her original opinion made no logical sense whatsoever.

Comment by m Andrea

“You are assuming the reason they can’t comprehend the radfem position is because — what?”

I don’t know if it’s that they cannot or will not or that radical feminism is just too [insult] for them to agree with *even if they do* get the point.
That statement was made, if I remember correctly, to explain the difficulties in having any sort of conversation about these matters given the unpopular, misrepresented movement that is radical feminism and the highly personal and sensitive situation that is being trans.

Comment by pisaquaririse

I suppose it’s only to be expected that someone who would have suffered the discrimination of some IS activists would attempt to bolster their IS credentials by victimising others.

Nicky, what you have is hypogonadism. Many IS people would say you’re not IS, merely a guy who didn’t have a complete puberty.

Compare that to TS people:

Zhou J.-N, Hofman M.A, Gooren L.J, Swaab D.F (1997)
A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality.

Kruijver F.P.M, Zhou J.-N, Pool C.W., Swaab D.F. (2000)
Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus

TS people have cross-gendered brains, not just in the hypothalamus, but in the Limbic Nucleus.

Yours is merely defective, so you didn’t get a complete puberty, nor did the bulbs in the brain that control the sense of smell develop fully.

Now I consider you IS, on pragmatic grounds. Many don’t though, as you’re no doubt aware. You don’t get more “street cred” as being IS by treading others down.

I’ve had a look at your blog. It’s one great Transphobic screed. They one thing you have in common with some RadFems is your Transphobia. Nothing else.

Comment by Zoe Brain

I can’t believe that Intersexed people could actually have elitism against Transpeople. We of all people should know that gender and sex aren’t necessarily linked! I kind of consider myself “cisgender”, as I have an intersexed body with an intergendered mind. But lots of other people just think I’m an androgynous freak that should embrace my femininity.

Comment by Natalie (eFeminate)

I fail to see how an intersexed person pointing out the differences between her condition and that of transpeople is ‘having elitism against transpeople’.

Comment by Laurelin

Laurelin, it is when the person concerned has a condition that arguably isn’t an Intersex one (though in my opinion it is), and Transsexuality has a better claim to being an IS condition than theirs does.

The game of “more intersexed than thou” says more about the follies of human nature than medical conditions.

As for me – in 1985 I was diagnosed as an Intersexed male, based on the best tests they had at the time. Hypogonadic, anyway. Psych tests would have shown me to be classically TS too, but they weren’t performed. I knew I was female, I’d had my name picked out at age 10 (in 1968) when I thought I’d have a normal puberty, but when you look like a quarterback rather than a cheerleader, well, you try to salvage as good a life as you can. Male privilege was far more important in the 1960s than now, it wasn’t all bad. Not quite.

In 2005, after some very interesting natural somatic changes, and as the result of some 21st century tests, ultrasounds, MRI scans, gene tests and so on that weren’t available 20 years earlier, the diagnosis was changed to “severely androgenised non-pregnant woman”. I transitioned shortly therafter. Doing the “boy act” contrary to one’s every instinct was hard enough when my body looked mostly masculinised. With a body that looked mostly feminised, continuing the act wasn’t just hideously uncomfortable, it was pointless. The day after being threatened with rape by a bunch of drunken homophobes offended by a “butch dyke” walking down the street, I abandoned the male clothing I’d worn since birth. In fact, the first time I wore any feminine apparel was just 3 weeks previously, when I saw the writing on the wall.

Given my personal narrative (as described in COSMOS Science Magazine), and given the scientific and medical evidence, I find it impossible to view TS as anything other than a form of IS. Biologically, I’m a woman who used to look like a man. Then that changed from natural causes. But my whole life story, my psychologioal profile, is identical to that of a Transsexual woman. Many of whom were intersexed girls at birth, and had genitals surgically “corrected” to look mostly male as babies.

I’ve been privileged to get to know people like Natalie (eFeminate) who are discovering themselves. They have to, as no-one else can do it for them. Nat could take the easy road, accept a standard female role, but it appears that’s not what she is. No matter what she chooses, and it may take a while to find her comfort zone, it’s her decision, not mine, not society’s. She is “lucky” inasmuch as she could pass for a standard 46xx woman, even to the extent of bearing a child from donated eggs, or she could do a transition to a standard male appearance based on an FtoM transition model, which might be made easier than for most by her 46xy chromosomes. But she doesn’t have to do either.
I’d advise her to experiment, carve out a place where she’s comfortable, where her non-standard neurology is most at home. And not to worry about whether that is conventional or unconventional, or who says what about it. Their opinions are immaterial. If standard model woman is right for her, she should embrace it, even if it is conventional. If nonstandard neutrious androgyne is right or her, she should embrace that. Heck, even standard model male might be best, only she can determine that! As long as she is herself, the standard model Natalie, that’s the important thing. Acting a role doesn’t work. I know, I did that, and it hurt like hell.

Comment by Zoe Brain

Then explain why it’s a matter of convinence for the transgender community and their trans activist to co-opt not only the gay, lesbian and bisexual community, but the intersex community as well.

The problem that the transgender community and the trans activist have is that they are too keen to wanting to co-opt the intersex and invade womens only space as well.

See, all they use is excuses, excuses to explain their way into intersex space and women’s space. When they confront them about their so called intersex status and women’s status, they get defensive, evasive and very hostile.

The fact is that the transgender community and their trans activist are not happy being by themselves. They are too keen to co-opt the intersex, LGB groups and women’s only groups.

That’s why now you are seeing, intersex groups, womens groups and LGB groups who are questioning why are the transgender community co-opting their space.

Comment by Nicky

The thing here is that you have transgender people and trans activist who are pulling the HBS card as an excuse for them to say they are intersex, when they are clearly not.

They pull that HBS card as a way for them to say that they are intersex to intersex people, women and society. To the transgender community and their trans activist, pulling that HBS card is a way of giving an alibi or an excuse to why they are trans.

HBS is an excuse that the transgender community use and pull when they want acceptance within the intersex community. When they get confronted about their intersex status and their so called HBS card, they tend to get evasive and hostile. Their by creating a hostile environment for the intersex

Comment by Nicky

That is the very first time I have ever heard anyone say that TS people are “co-opting” GLBs. Usually, it’s the other way round, with many TS people highly offended that their medical condition has been conflated with matters of sexual orientation. The same happens with IS people of course, they’ve been co-opted into the GLBITQ conglomerate too, though no-one asked them what they thought about it.

Nicky, you’re talking past me. Please address the evidence I gave, and tell me why it’s wrong. Mere repetition of your thesis doesn’t help.

In another place, you unilaterally decided that your definition of “Intersex” included genetic but not teratogenetic conditions. That is, someone with 46xy chromosomes and (say) hypogonadism due to a chromosomal abnormality was IS, whereas someone else with exactly the same condition due to environmental exposure to cross-gendered hormones in the womb was not. Apart from the practical difficulties of diagnosis, I fail to see the essential difference.

And the reason we’re discussing this is because of the transphobia shown by some RadFems. It all comes down to “what is the definition of female”? To me, it all depends on how the brain, and so the mind, is structured. And that mainly depends on pre-natal influences, though post-natal ones can’t be ignored. Whether one has had a hysterectomy, or a mastectomy, whether one’s sexual orientation is andro or gynaphillic, those are immaterial. A woman who has 46xy (male) chromosomes, with a defective SrY complex, someone who has been brought up and socialised as a girl, someone whose brain is female, someone who has even given birth, is a woman, regardless of her genes. A woman brought up in a refugee camp in a third-world country, someone whose upbringing did not remotely conform to a “normal female upbringing” is still a woman.

Now I’m old enough (alas) to remember when segments of the Feminist movement banned Lesbians, on the grounds that they were “insufficiently feminine”. Such a thing would be unthinkable now, thank goodness. But we still see women whose bodies were masculinised, yet whose brains remained feminine despite the enormous pressures to conform to a Patriarchal ideal, excluded from the “cool girls club” that the Womyn Born Womyn movement has devolved into.

I wonder how many of the WBW fanatics have had a karyotype, a genetic test, recently? And would they change their ideas if they found they were “genetically male”? What if they found that they had been surgically altered shortly after birth because “it’s easier to create a hole than a pole” as one surgeon so infamously put it? Such cases are on record. It’s statistically certain that some must be.

Comment by Zoe Brain

Loath though I am to keep this one going I’d like to respond to KarenM’s

“I’m a transperson who repudiates gender constructs. I’m considered a transperson because I was born biologically (by almost any measure) male, who lives in a way that is seen as female/feminine by most.”

By whom are you considered a transperson though KarenM? I mean I used to work with a guy who liked to ‘cross’ dress and I didn’t consider him to be a transperson, just someone who liked wearing skirts and heels occasionally. ‘Cross’ dressing is only cross dressing if we start from the assumption of gendered clothes. As Eddie Izzard (uk comedian who work frocks on stage) used to say “I’m not wearing women’s clothes, they’re my clothes, I bought them.”

Gender is a social construct, as is binary sex. You can’t believe that you can transition gender unless you believe it exists in the first place. However the class in which human beings is placed as result of these concepts by society has very real effects. The reason that I personally (and many radical feminists) believe that you cannot transition these categories, is that you do not choose to be placed in a sex/gender category, but are placed in it. You do not ‘self define’ as a woman, you are DEFINED as a woman. The difference is crucial.

Comment by Polly Styrene

Zoe Brain – there is currently no proof that stands up to scrutiny that brains are sexually dimorphic, or that gender identity is located in brain structure. The research you quote was based on the study post mortem of the brains of six transwomen, and there is no conclusive proof that the differences noted were not caused by hormone treatment and or/removal of the testes. The brain is plastic (ie it can change and develop throughout life). Outside events, both physical and emotional – including emotional trauma of any sort – can actually alter brain structure.

Comment by Polly Styrene

Zoe-brain – Currently, their is no scientific proof that the transsexuality is a valid genetic DNA condition. Also their is no current scientific proof that the brains are sexually dimorphic and in order to prove a theory, one has to have research duplicated by another scientist to prove that the original theory is valid and is scientific proof.

That’s why you see alot of transsexuals, transgender community and their trans activist who are buying into that theory that their brains are intersex and that their brains are sexual. Which is only why it’s only a theory and it hasn’t been duplicated or tested by fellow scientist or researchers.

It’s also why you see alot of transsexuals who pull the Harry Benjamin syndrome card as saying that they are intersex when their’s no concrete scientific proof that it is considered intersex.

That’s why intersex people like myself constantly question the validity of the Harry Benjamin Syndrome as an intersex condition.

Comment by Nicky

Hi Polly! Good to have someone who knows something about the situation.

First, there is a mountain of evidence about sexual dimorphism in the brain, and no neurologist questions it. See for example http://www.thehumanbrain.org/pressmat3.htm for a summary of a conference on neuroanatomy.

A typical paper on the subject is at http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/11/6/490

Second, you are correct that the sample was too small for comfort. The criticism that it could have been due to hormones was answered by looking at some men undergoing HRT for cancer. They had male brains. The follow up work in 2001 extended the sample size, and it was a survey, not relying on statistical methods: every dead TS person in the catchment area during the period was autopsied. fMRI scans since then have increased the sample size, as they don’t require that the TS person be dead before testing. I agree that more testing should be done to nail this one down though.

Third, you are correct that the brain is plastic, within limits. The David Reimer case and others show that in the area of gender identity, the plasticity is limited. Even the critics state that gender identity is probably stable past the age of 18 months, and have no evidence for change before that age other than hypothesis based on neural connectivity. Against that, there are the narratives of those with 5ARD and 17BHDD, who have natural apparent sex changes at puberty.

I know of one case in New Zealand where Gender Identity may have changed in later life due to neurological trauma. This is unproven, but I consider it likely. In any case, it would be very much an exception to a general rule. See the work on pre-natal exposure to DES, where 1 in 5 xy foetusses end up with a female gender identity, at least 500 times the usual rate.

The one area I agree with you, and it’s an important one, is that there is no absolutely conclusive proof that gender identity is located in brain structure. The evidence that it is is inferential, or where direct, the sample is insufficient. 90% proven, yes, but 100%, no. The figure goes up every year though, and there’s been zero evidence found in the last 10 years against it.

Comment by Zoe Brain

Yet Zoe-brain, your buying into that theory prescribed that the transgender community panders and tells people. It’s no wonder that the transgender community and their trans activist will pull every card and everything to claim their existence when their is zero proof to their claim.

See, the transgender community hinges is existence on a theory that has never been proven scientifically and that no proof ever exist.

Comment by Nicky

90% is not zero, and to say it is is obvious misunderstanding. And a thorough peer-reviewed examination of the scientific evidence judged it was true on the balance of probabilities.

I have, as you say “bought into it”, but only because the evidence points that way. I don’t go around ignoring evidence just because it supports or does not support a pet viewpoint. Neither do I refuse to admit the existence of the areas where the evidence is convincing, but not absolutely proven.

Comment by Zoe Brain

And yet Zoe Brain, you believe that theory that the transgender community and their trans activist tell you. All their claims about their community being part of a medical condition is just a theory and it hasn’t been proven or peer reviewed by other scientist and it hasn’t even stand up to the test of other researchers.

That’s why, what ever theory that the transgender community claims to have, they have zero evidence to back it up and they have zero claim.

Their hasn’t been any research to back up their theory or duplicated by other scientist to back up their research.

Comment by Nicky

“The evidence that it is is inferential, or where direct, the sample is insufficient. 90% proven, yes, but 100%, no. The figure goes up every year though, and there’s been zero evidence found in the last 10 years against it.”

Hey! I do math.
Inferential evidence and insufficient sample results do not add up to 90% of anything.
I do logic too.

Comment by thebewilderness

Umm…this post is why I hate feminists sometimes. First of all, to talk about trying to abolish gender and being offended/embarrassed by transpeople and yet want a space for women born women is ridiculous, counterproductive and displays the same hegemonic impulse that every oppresssive group has ever shown.

‘I’m saying that for my purposes you are not the type of woman who can enter a private space.’

Brillant! First of all the whole search for ‘safe space’ is admirable however women born women, even radical feminists will never ever have the exact same beliefs. So instead what you are doing is reducing people to biology. Not cool. Also your comments about not feeling ‘safe’ to speak about gender around transwomen sounds a lot more like not feeling like listening to what transwomen have to say about gender. A safe space should never be a singlar space but instead one with multiple voices otherwise its slightly useless, politically questionable and redundant (put out a newsletter instead).

Comment by JB

Also your comments about not feeling ’safe’ to speak about gender around transwomen sounds a lot more like not feeling like listening to what transwomen have to say about gender.

Criminy, I love this stuff. “Love” as in I am sick to death of hearing this over and over.
If you don’t feel safe to speak it is because you should STFU and listen.
It can’t possibly be because you have been shouted down and told to STFU every day of your life. Nah, that can’t be it.

Comment by thebewilderness

JB- I’ve got a clue for you! Go do your homework before swanning in here with your ridiculous assertions. Then you’ll know what radfems actually think!

No need to thank me, you’re welcome.

Comment by Laurelin

I still freak out about heights.

But, you know, lesbians?

And phobia? Are you serious?

Listen I’m writing a pseudo book that I am going to post on this blog called “Straight Feminist Mis-characterizations.” I anticipate it will have endless contributions and I cannot wait to find out who, in whatever respect, I offend by laying out the mis-characterizations of Straight feminists.

Are you calling *me* a MIScharacterizer pisaquari??? Have you forgotten I’m a PERSON!?”

Homophobia— it didn’t even make the phobia list and I can’t imagine why not. As much as it is thrown around you’d expect the Medical Association to have a book out on it by now–Janice Raymond on the cover or something, with doodled devil horns and a strap on.

“Homophobia,” just to give you a taste of the pseudo book’s brilliance, will cover straight women and all their “homophobia” for about 9 chapters. There will be account after account of straight women recoiling at the sight and presence of homopersons, separatists throwing bombs at “lesbian” surgeons.

(Forgive me! You will need boots to walk through this snark)

… (edited for LENGTH–we get it Daria, you mad-libbed the whole post. I congratulate you on your attention to detail as it must have taken a very loooooong time to complete such a feat. I also envy your free time.)

Comment by Daria




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