Wednesday, 25 November 2009

No Feminism Without Trans Feminism: for The F Word

This article will shortly be appearing at The F Word, but I've published it here in response to several hatefully transphobic posts by other cis feminists. It's a direct retort to Julie Bindel's latest piece in Standpoint magazine, and focuses primarily on the experiences of trans women, as these experiences have been the main focus of controversy over the past three decades of feminist thought –the intention is not to erase the experiences of trans men and boys. This article is best enjoyed whilst listening to the music of Athens Boys Choir.


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For decades, the feminist movement has been split over the status of trans people, and of trans women in particular. Feminist heavyweights like Germaine Greer, Jan Raymond and Julie Bindel have spoken out against what Greer terms “people who think they are women, have women's names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody." Some prominent radical feminists have publicly declared that trans women are misogynist, "mutilated men"; trans people have responded to this harassment by vigorously defending themselves, demanding that anti-trans feminists are denied platforms to speak on other issues and, in some cases, by renouncing feminism altogether. The deep personal and ideological wounds suffered by women and men on both sides of the argument are reopened with new vigour every time the mainstream press gives space to an anti-trans article by a cis feminist.


Many otherwise decent and sensible cis feminists have fallen prey to lazy transphobic thinking. In the vast majority of cases, cis feminist transphobia does not stem from deep, personal hatred of trans people, but from drastic, tragic misapprehension of the issues at stake. Last week, outspoken feminist Julie Bindel declared in an article for Standpoint magazine: "Recent legislation (the Gender Recognition Act, which allows people to change sex and be issued with a new birth certificate) will have a profoundly negative effect on the human rights of women and children." Her views are founded on the assumption that “transsexualism, by its nature, promotes the idea that it is 'natural' for boys to play with guns and girls to play with Barbie dolls… the idea that gender roles are biologically determined rather than socially constructed is the antithesis of feminism.”


Bindel and others have, initially with the best of intentions, misunderstood not only the nature of transsexualism but also the radical possibilities for gender revolution that real, sisterly alliance between cis feminists and the trans movement could entail.


Femininity is a social construct, and Bindel is right to identify it as such. She is utterly wrong, however, to claim that transsexuals are any guiltier than cis men and women of re-enforcing damaging stereotypes. In fact, the misogyny and sexist stereotyping that Bindel identifies as associated with trans identities are entirely imposed on the trans community by external forces. Sally Outen, a trans rights campaigner, explains that “It is only natural for a person who strongly wishes to be identified according to her or his felt gender to attempt to provide cues to make the process easy for those who interact with her or him. That person cannot be blamed for the stereotypical nature of the cues that society uses, or if they can be blamed, then every cisgendered person who uses such cues is equally to blame.”


Even a casual assessment of the situation indicates that the problem lies not with transsexual people, but with our entire precarious construction of what is 'male' and what 'female', 'masculine' and 'feminine'. Bindel's description of trans women in “fuck-me-boots and birds-nest hair” are no different from today's bewildered 12-, 13- and 14-year-old cissexual girls struggling to make the transition from deeply felt, little-understood womanhood to socially dictated, artificial 'femininity'. Like teenage girls stuffing their bras with loo-roll and smearing on garish lipstick, the trans women for whom Bindel, Greer and their ilk reserve special disdain are simply craving what all growing girls crave: social acceptance.


Amy, a 41-year-old trans woman, says that “transition in later life is a really weird experience, in that you're suddenly and unexpectedly plunged into being teenage, plus you have teenage levels of female hormones coursing through your veins. You haven't grown up through the sidling-toward-teenagerhood that girls get, the socialisation and the immersion in society's expectations and realities. Trans women get to learn those, just a quarter of a century late, in my case. The results tend to be a bit wild.” Or, as one cis friend of mine put it: “If I’d had the income that some trans people do when I was a teenager, I’d have owned a cupboard full of fuck-me-boots.”


Indeed, the fact that socially accepted female identity is something that must be purchased is something that trans women understand better than anyone else. For socialist feminists like myself, who locate patriarchal oppression within the mechanisms of global capitalism, the experience of trans women, who can find themselves pressured to spend large amounts of money in order to 'pass' as female, is a more urgent and distressing version of the experience of cis women under patriarchal capitalism. In a society where shopping for clothes and makeup is a key coming-of-age ritual for cis women, all Western people wishing to express a female identity must grapple with the brutal dictats of the beauty, diet, advertising and fashion industries in order to 'pass' as female.


Not a single person on this planet is born a woman. Becoming a woman, for those who willingly or unwillingly undertake the process, is torturous, magical, bewildering – and intensely political. In his essay 'Mama Cash: Buying and Selling Genders', transvestite Charles Anders explains that: "Transgender people... understand more than anyone the high cost of gender, having adopted identities as adult neophytes. People often work harder than they think to maintain the boy/girl behaviours expected of them. You may have learned through painful trial-and-error not to use certain phrases, or to walk a certain way. After a while, learned gender behaviour becomes almost second nature, like trying to compensate for a weak eye. Again, transgender people are just experiencing what everyone goes through.”


Feminism under the knife


The concept and practice of sex reassignment surgery is the territory over which radical feminists and trans activists traditionally clash most painfully. Julie Bindel, along with others, believes that the fact that SRS is carried out at all means that "we've given up on the distress felt by people who identify as gender dysphoric, and turned to surgery instead of trying to find ways to make people feel good in the bodies they have." Bindel makes the case that the SRS 'industry' is part of a social discourse in which homosexual and gender-non-conforming men and women are brought back into line by "nutty bloody psychiatrists who think that carving people's bodies up can somehow make them 'normal'". Were SRS an accepted way of policing the boundaries of gender non-conformity in any half-sane nation state, Bindel's equation of the surgery with "mutilation" would be more than valid - it would be urgent. However, SRS is nothing of the sort.


In face, sex reassignment surgery is carried out only very rarely, and only on a small proportion of trans people, for whom the surgery is not a strategy for bringing their body in line with their gender performativity but a way of healing a distressing physical dissonance that Outen vividly describes as "a feeling like I was being raped by my own unwanted anatomy". Surgery is normally a late stage of the transitioning process and falls within a spectrum of lifestyle choices - for those who opt for it at all. Trans activist Christine Burns points out: "Julie Bindel is quite right that we ought to be able to build a society where people can express the nuances of their gender far more freely, without feeling any compulsion to have to change their bodies more than they really want to.


“However, that is precisely what many trans people really do. Only one in five of the people who go to gender clinics have reassignment surgery - the other four in five find accommodations with what they've got. Bindel's thinking cannot admit that, far from emphasising the binary, 80% of trans people are doing far more to disrupt gender stereotypes than she imagines. With or without surgery, trans people are living examples of the fact that gender is variable and fluid."


Of course, like any other surgery, SRS has its risks, and a minority of patients will regret the procedure. But for most of the trans people who decide to pursue gender reassignment surgery, the operation allows for potentially live-saving progression beyond the debilitating effects of gender dysphoria. Moreover, many post-operative trans people have found that the operation actually lessens their overall distress around binary gender identity: Amy explains: "'Being female is an important part of my identity, but it's not an all-consuming part any more. Until I transitioned and completed surgery, it was much more so. I woke up from surgery, and the burning dissonance, the feeling of everything being wrong, wasn't there any more. These days, I realise that I don't actually have that strong a sense of gender any more. Isn't that strange, given all I went through to get here?''


The radical gender fluidity within the trans movement is exactly what Bindel, when I spoke to her in the process of writing this article, emphasised above everything else: "Normality is horrific. Normality is what I, as a political activist, am trying to turn around. Gender bending, people living outside their prescribed gender roles, is fantastic - and I should know. I've never felt like a woman, or like a man for that matter - I don't know what that's supposed to mean. I live outside of my prescribed gender roles, I'm not skinny and presentable, I don't wear makeup, I'm bolshie, I don't behave like a ‘real woman’, and like anyone who lives outside their prescribed gender roles, I get stick for it."


What Bindel has failed to grasp is a truth that could re-unite the feminist movement - that trans people too, far from "seeking to become stereotypical", are often eager to live outside their prescribed gender roles and frustrated by the conformity that a misogynist society demands from those who wish to 'pass'. Marja Erwin told me that "gender identity and gender roles are not the same. I am trans, and I am not the hyperfeminine stereotype. I am a tweener dyke, and more butch than femme. I know other trans womyn who are solidly butch, and others who are totally femme, and, of course, the equivalents among straight and bi womyn."


Much of the stereotyping imposed upon trans women is enforced by sexist medical establishments - a phenomenon which radical feminists and trans activists are unanimous in decrying. Bindel, like many trans feminists, objects to the fact that psychiatrists are “allowed to define the issue of gender deviance”, giving medical professionals social and ideological influence beyond their professional remit. Clinics in the UK require trans people to fulfil a rigid set of box-ticking gender-performance criteria before they will offer treatment and SRS demands this conformity with special rigour. To receive gender reassignment surgery, m-t-f patients will normally be expected to have 'lived as a woman' for two years or more - but individual psychiatrists and doctors will get to decide what 'living as a woman' entails. A UK psychiatrist is known to have refused treatment because an m-t-f trans patient turned up to an appointment wearing trousers, whilst Kasper, a trans man who was treated in Norway, was pressured to stop dating men by surgery gatekeepers:

"I had to answer a lot of invasive questions about my sexuality and my sex life, and one of the doctors I had to see lectured me about how transitioning physically might make me stop being attracted to boys".


All this is a far cry from some feminists’ fear that surgery is prescribed to ‘transform’ cissexual gay men and lesbians into transsexual heterosexuals.


The demand that trans people conform to gender stereotypes in order to be considered 'healthy' or 'a good treatment prospect' is something that cis women also experience in their dealings with the psychiatric profession. It is standard practice for women in some inpatient treatment facilities to be pressured to wear makeup and dresses as a sign of 'psychological improvement'. The institutional misogyny of the global psychiatric establishment is something that radical feminists and trans activists can usefully oppose together.


Defying gender binaries


Feminists - even prominent ones with big platforms to shout from - do not get to be the gatekeepers of what is and is not female, what is and is not feminine, any more than patriarchal apologists do. Intrinsic to feminism is the notion that such gatekeeping is sexist, recalcitrant and damaging. If feminists like Greer, Bindel and Jan Raymond truly believe that having a vagina, breasts, curves, a uterus, being fertile or sporting several billion XX chromosomes is what makes a person a woman, it clearly sucks to be one of the significant proportion of women have none of these things.


Excluding the trans population for a moment, there are women all over the world who lack breasts after mastectomy or a quirk of biology; women who are born without vaginas, or who are victims of FGM; women who are androgynously skinny, naturally or because of illness; women who are infertile or post-menopausal; or, significantly, the 0.2% of women who are intersex. Is the female identity of these women under question too? If it is, feminism has a long way to go.


Greer and her followers seem singularly uninterested in the science behind their binary thinking, which establishes that prescribed gender roles still fall largely into the binary categories of 'man' and 'woman', but human bodies do no such thing. The spectrum of human physicality belies gender essentialism - as must feminism, if it is ever to be the revolutionary movement our culture so desperately needs.


Trans activism is not merely a valid part of the feminist movement: it is a vital one. The notion that one's biological sex does not have to dictate anything about one's behaviour, appearance or the eventual layout of one's genitals and secondary sex organs, now that we live in a glittering future where such things are possible, is the radical heart of feminist thought. It is essential for cis as well as trans feminists to oppose transphobia and transmisogyny.


At the very heart of sexist thought is the assumption that the bodies we are born with ought to dictate our character, our behaviour, our appearance, our choices, the nature of our relationships and the work of our lives. At the very heart of feminism is the still-radical notion that this is not the case. Feminism holds that gender identity, rather than being written in our genes, is an emotional, personal and sexual state of being that can be expressed in myriad different ways that encompass and extend beyond the binary categories of 'man' and woman'. Feminism holds that prescribed gender roles are a tyranny that no-one - whether trans, cis, male, female or intersex - should be forced to conform to in order to prove their identity, their validity or their human worth.


Feminism calls for gender revolution, and gender revolution needs the trans movement. We must put aside the hurts of the past and look towards a future of radical solidarity between all those who are troubled by gender in the modern world. Whatever our differences, until contemporary feminism fully and finally accepts trans people as ideological allies, it will never achieve what Germaine Greer, Julie Bindel, Christine Burns, Sally Outen and every feminist who has ever longed for a better world are all working towards: an end to the damaging and demeaning tyranny of gender stereotypes. Whatever our differences, only with trans people on side can feminism hope to work towards the type of equality our foremothers dared to dream of.



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Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I will be attending the demonstration in Trafalgar Square tonight. This piece is offered in recognition of the ideological and (sometimes) physical violence that has been done to trans people by cis feminists, in hope that all feminists can one day stand together to resist violence against women, and in memory of the hundreds of trans women who have been murdered at the hands of misogynists over the past decade, in particular the latest UK victims, Andrea Waddell and Destiny Lauren.

103 comments:

  1. Hear hear! *cheers!* I agree with everything here. I'd also like to make one additional point:

    It's regarding social cues and the pressure to act in gender-stereotyped ways.

    Some women (trans and cis) have identified an effective form of activism which is to challenge gender stereotyping. There's sometimes even a flavour of, "What? You want to wear pink sparkly things? You're not feminist enough." That's bad enough when levelled at cis women; but it's utterly unacceptable when levelled at trans women.

    If a trans woman can get far enough to the point where they can wear pink sparkly things and not get beaten, raped or killed, then good on them. They have had to go through hell to get to where they are. Asking them to be an activist and foresake gender-stereotypical behaviour is just not on.

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  2. I want to comment but am truly lost for words. What a fantastic article! Thank you so much.

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  3. That is very good. Some new perspectives in it for me to chew on, thank you.

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  4. The argument about transexuals being guiltier of reinforcing damaging stereotypes comes from the logic that argues that because a male-born person prefers cross-gender behaviour and activities, that means they must actually be female. It doesn't. Unless you reinforce the gender stereotype.

    In addition, dissenting misogyny does not constitute harrassment. The fact is that there are a large number of women for whom their cis-ness is an important part of their identity, and as such object to it being air-brushed out in any discussion of what being female amounts to. I can see how that would, unfortunately, upset a non-cis female, but surely, can they not see how their insistence on claiming equivalence upsets some of the cis?

    What is wrong, exactly, with a non-dichotomous view of gender? This seems to me to be what trans and their allies are advocating, and it simply doesn't sit with the facts.

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  5. Red El, the long haired one.25 November 2009 at 20:34

    I don't think I've ever actually met a stereotypically heterosexual, girly transwoman.

    The tgirl I knew in Belfast was a geek, a gamer, skinny rather than curvy and always would be- not a stilettoes and hairspray sort.

    The transgirl I share my flat with is a tomboy, she likes her jeans and rugby shirts and big comfortable hoody, and her Xbox.

    A couple in Leeds are heavy metal, goth and folk music loving tattooed lesbians with big stompy boots and an intense attraction to bass guitars.

    These "fuck me shoes and birds nest hair" transwomen that Bindel and co refer to seem to only exist when they have to go to the clinic to prove to the doctor that they're girly-girly-girlariffic, rather than in their genuine everyday lives.

    Transwomen are, just like all the totally traditional women and intersexed women and women who've had mastectomies, actual women. That society tends to beat them up a little bit more for not conforming is only a reason to support them more, not to call them traitors and fetishists or pretend they don't exist.

    I've just spent all afternoon reading the transphobic rantings of various feminist bloggers, and I find myself confused as to how they can totally fail to understand the clear, simple, elegant and useful arguments and facts presented to them over and over by people who aren't snarling bigots.

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  6. Very well put and thought-provoking. Two things come to mind:

    There's this constant problem of the narcissism of oppressed groups where people see themselves as in competition. Gay men who don't like lesbians, intersex people who don't want to be lumped in with trans, Sikh kids who go out to fight the Muslim kids. It's so pervasive that I can't see any clear way to breaking out of it, but I think it's something any liberationist strategy has to take into account.

    The other thing was this issue of gender stereotyping that Bindel raises, and I think you've addressed that very subtly. I can see that trans women going in for exaggerated femininity - for whatever social or psychological reasons - would grate with feminists who've spent years trying to break from those stereotypes. But we're not talking about the people, we're talking about an aesthetic. Think of all the lesbians and gay men who don't buy into the stereotypes of their subcultures - or straight people who find those subcultures attractive. We have to be able to separate the two conceptually.

    Oh, and what foolsjourney said. If people are oppressed and vulnerable, it's not nice for activists to expect them to jump through hoops to prove some activist point.

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  7. Well written and well said!

    But sadly there will be those that will call you on the use of the term 'Feminism' without reading the piece properly.

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  8. Thank you very much. Right on point and reason. You come just this side of saying it's hypocrisy without using the term, and rightfully so on both counts. It's the one thing I've seen the feminists, and in some countries the far right religious and conservative women too, don't want to admit about their own view and stance against transwomen. But then it also exists in the transcommunity, the divisiveness between the gender fluid folks and the gender conformists.

    I don't have answers, but I like your words about it. I'm just curious how many (passing) transwomen, especially post-transistion women, who sit silence in and for the fear of being outed and expelled as women. How many movements have continued for the fear of the silent, witness to the discrimination by others like them, but they don't and won't raise a voice let alone stand up? If all of them stood up and we see the diversity of all of them, would the arguments fall from it's own obviousness of faults?

    Again, thanks.

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  9. I completely agree that feminists who attack transpeople are completely off the mark.

    One thing does trouble me though: If gender identity is entirely constructed by society, then is gender dysphoria entirely created by these gender roles? Is it entirely a matter of transpeople not fitting into their societally-created gender roles, in which case they are victims of society? Or would there be transsexuals even in a society with no gender roles?

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    1. No I'm sorry Pejar, gender identity is how you feel about yourself in-front of the mirror naked... it is an innate sense of ones self and is not determined by society. What you are thinking of is gender expression that is mostly imposed on us by what we learn from the society we live in and its values around imposed gender roles.

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  10. "Many otherwise decent and sensible cis feminists have fallen prey to lazy transphobic thinking."

    I could argue that your thinking on this is equally lazy. If gender is a purely social construct, you'll have to redefine "cis" - a truly lazy (and quite offensive) concept if there ever was one. How is it transphobic to question a claim of gender identity when that same gender identity is purportedly a social, and fluid, construct? Are the "cis" gendered supposed to simply accept that others can question their claims, but they can't question the claims of others?

    It is not lazy and transphobic to question the political claims of the transgendered. It is not particularly wise, as I've discovered. Much unseemly screeching usually ensues. I often suspect it's because those making the claims can't actually explain them, so the usual vitriolic condemnation is deemed adequate, even desirable, as a counter-argument.

    Since when has the need for a police escort into a building been a "vigorous" defense? The fact that the police felt a need to escort Ms Bindel into a conference is not something anyone should be proud of. Being part of an unholy mob is an act only the unthinking could conjure as justifiable.

    Is it transphobic for a woman to question the claim of womanhood from someone who was once biologically a man? Or still is? If gender is a social construct, then what is transgender? Another social construct? You can't say gender is purely social and then claim that gender reassignment is needed to align physical and personal identities.

    If no one is born a woman and, consequently, no one is born a man, how come my gender and my identity don't match? Or is my gender merely a social construct, and if I only see the light I will be, whatever it is I'm supposed to be? The argument that gender is a social construction is as lazy as the claim that gender is an absolute condition provided at birth. Gender is both social and biological.

    Your point re mastectomies borders on the facetious. No one, as far as I know, has ever claimed that a woman who's had her breasts surgically removed is anything but a woman. Nor any of your other examples. And yet you are perfectly willing to trot out a heinous straw-man that those who dispute the claims of the transgendered are suggesting exactly that! Ms Bindel, et alia, have made no such claims and their arguments have to stretched into unreasonable directions for such a fallacy to make any sense.

    "Trans activism is not merely a valid part of the feminist movement: it is a vital one." To be equally blunt: no it's not. Trans-feminism has some substantially different goals to feminism. (What you call cis-feminism, I suppose.)

    To employ the same style of reasoning as you do, what of the wife, who thought she was part of a happy couple, whom suddenly finds out her husband wants to be a woman? Is her desire to remain married to a man simple transphobia? By your logic it is. Your arguments neglect that part, an important, perhaps definitional, part, of the transgender experience.

    I'm not going to wonder about your (or Ms Bindel's) reluctance to use honorifics; such a lack of respect is expected, these days. Nor am I going to wonder what capitalism has against feminism; as far as I can tell, the two are not mutually incompatible and have very little do with one another.

    Carolyn Ann

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Well cis (Latin term meaning this side of) as a label only ever comes into play when you create the trans (Latin term meaning other side of)label in the first place. So this faux offence at the use of cis is in itself a straw-man argument to get around the way trans is used.

      When you use trans the label what do you believe we are the other side of? Do you not see the irony of the creation of trans of as a subset inevitably brings the cis label into being as well.

      Just because some rad fems imply that cis is an insult simply because it sounds a bit like cyst will not make it reality!

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  11. An excellent article! I echo foolsjourney's point that it is extremely harsh to expect people that have passed through an extreme challenge of self-affirmation to go out and fight another fight by deconstructing gender roles.

    @Pejar: I cannot see where Penny has stated that gender is a social construct. She says 'femininity' is a social construct; I would ask you to think of any list of five women to whom you are close and mentally compare them to your own strict definition of 'femininity'. Dollars to doughnuts, they won't match very well.

    Our view as a society of what is 'feminine' is so warped and far from the reality of real women that it is ridiculous. This IS a social construct; if we go back two hundred years women were expected to be ornaments for their husbands, and this is what it meant to be 'feminine'. So, if you liked, you could even define the female 'gender' as that which women share which is not a social construct.

    @Carolyn Ann: I am not aware of any 'political claims' which are specific to transfolk; could you provide any examples? I find unimpressive your talk of 'unseemly screeching' - don't we get enough misogynistic stereotyping in the pages of The Times?

    Penny's point re masectomies was not spurious. Her point, clearly made, was that a Y chromosome can be as much a straw man as an X chromosome together with a lack of breasts. Neither stops one from being a woman.

    Your question about a 'happy couple' in which someone begins to transition is completely incomprehensible to me. It is plain that if we want people to truly own their sexuality we must respect all sexualities, including those the straight. The wife in your scenario has every right to her not being attracted to the woman her ex-husband could become, and to feel pain at that. How one could phrase that in terms of transphobia, I don't know.

    Most importantly, I don't believe Penny claimed or intended to claim that gender was wholly a social construct.

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  12. Yesterday's revolutionaries are today's establishment. It was ever thus. The issue here, as with most things, is that the people who grew up fighting bitterly for things suffer from a similar effect to the fog of war on a real battlefield. Of course, we in this generation have exactly the same thing going on, meaning that in twenty years time we'll be just as prone to being told we don't get it by the whippersnappers of the day while telling them to get off our damned lawn. Also, we owe it to the former generation for fighting over the no mans lands that they did, but if they're still there it's not our fault.

    You can understand where and why they're coming from, just as you can understand where Dandelion is coming from about sex work. Obsession with the end goal has obscured compassion for people who might get trampled in the middle. Unfortunately, that's not an *excuse*. There's no point beating the patriarchy if you're just going to set something equally as rigid up in its place. "Fit into our proscribed view of the world or consider yourself rejected from society"... hmmm, now there's a familiar refrain, don't you think?

    Carolyn Ann, as Exhibit A in this thread, manages to miss the fact that "socially constructed" does not mean "non existent". The reasoning is as simple as it is flawed. There is a perfect utopian view of the world where gender is not a signifier of status. Because gender is still a signifier of status, anyone who doesn't completely reject this in a proscribed feminist manner is slowing down the ascent to this hypothetical nirvana. Therefore, they need to be jettisoned for the greater good. Sex workers, transfolk, glam-femme lesbians, you name it. If you're not part of the narrowly proscribed solution, you're apparently part of the problem. Even if you're, y'know, marginalised and discriminated against yourself.

    The idea that radical, stereotype-busting feminism is one reaction to the heteronormativity in society, rather than the only valid one, is just the result of rather limited thinking. And the limits of traditional feminist thinking are understandable, given the context.

    Understanding where someone is coming from, though, is not the same as accepting their point of view. Feminists have a right to question the goals and needs of transfolk. They have a right to decide, after they've had them explained, that they'd rather not give a shit about these people and prefer to concentrate on the narrow little "sisterhood" or whatever. And then they have a right to be categorically told to get bent.

    Oh, Penny, one thing: while I'd agree that patriarchal gender/sexual norms and capitalism are part of the same greater set of social control mechanisms, I think it's a peculiar way to look at it to say that capitalism is the basis for patriarchy. If we're going to be reductive, surely it's more accurate to say that Western Capitalism is one of the mechanisms that sits within the general patriarchal structure of the majority of human society, and which has existed for millennia before we invented capitalism. (Of course, I'd suggest that they're both aspects of a larger social superstructure, but there's hardly room for *that* discussion in this comment thread. :) )

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  13. This is a phenomenal article. Thank you for the read, I loved every minute of it.

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  14. Laurie, you are the bee's knees

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  15. I had to go and look up Cis on Wikipedia. Not all M to F transexuals wear tons of make-up, that is a stereotype. I knew one who went from looking like a rather feminine man to a slightly masculine woman. It was not obvious to everyone that she was a transsexual.

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  16. what you wrote here laurie ,is so right IMHO.

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  17. Well, I clicked on one of your links and it led me to postings by a transgender person who was extremely rude to me when I met her in person, albeit thirteen and a half years ago.

    However, that does not mean that I disagree with what she has to say. She posted a link to some transphobic comments. I thought this one was a gem:

    'Regarding males who trannify themselves? Why if they’re “women” trapped in the wrong body does most of their times wearing “womens” clothing coincide with them having erections?'

    OMG, this person cannot distinguish between transvestism and transsexuality! And I thought I was ignorant for having to look up "CIS"!!!!!!!!!

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  18. Thank you so much for setting forth that the sex stereotyping that transwomen engage in is an expectation forced onto them by the psychiatric profession (even though that profession will claim they no longer do bad things like that).

    When psychiatric involvement ceases healing will begin. All it takes is a realisation that a person's medical sex is what promotes their health, rather than what validates biological science.

    Transfeminists want to be allies of the cis-feminists, is it too much to ask - to want to help without being hated?

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  19. I just can´t thank you enough for this!

    As a transman, a FTM-transsexual, feminist and transactivist, I do often meet these cis-women feminists who are so full of hate against transwomen, and often aginst transmen as well.

    Many trans people are up there on the barricades, fighting the gender norm with our very bodies. Many of us do questioning the gender dichotomy, we do questioning the gender hierarchy. And we do fight for every ones right to get treated as their self identified gender (man or woman or neither or both or queer or third gender and so on), without doing anything with our bodies, as we do fight for every ones right to express their gender identity in any way they like.

    And yes, some of us do correct our bodies, so they fit our gender identity. Because thats the only way we can survive. No one can exist only in theory, we all have bodies and all exists in the real world. When your body doesn´t match your mind, thats a challenge. I would like to see a cis-gendered female feminist living with a male body and being treated as a man for a week, and then claim it was piece of a cake to continue being comfortable as woman.

    Trans people already are soldiers in the war about gender normativity, we never had a choiche. Some of us actually do die in that war, because society would never let them in from the mine field. I will never understand why we, by some people, in this war aren´t even allowed the dignity of our own identities. Isn´t it enough we do get beaten, harrassed, discriminated, forced to sterilazation and divorces, aren´t allowed to marry or get chilren and sometimes killed in hatecrimes? Must we really have anonymous gravestones too?

    So, it from the bottom of my heart, I do thank you, Penny. Your article gave me hope and strength.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh, and:

    > Would there be transsexuals even in
    > a society with no gender roles?

    Yes, next question.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Penny, I've thought hard about this piece, and I'd like to post this conversation I had with a friend about it. I'd rather write it as a single articulate response but I'm not very good at that! :)

    ---

    Me: I'm -almost- 100% behind [Pennyred's article]. It contains all kinds of awesome and it is a fantastic article.

    But.

    When a man keeps making vicious misogynistic comments, has this explained to them repeatedly by feminists, has every opportunity to withdraw them but keeps on spewing them every chance he gets... for YEARS... we don't say:

    "Many otherwise decent and sensible men have fallen prey to lazy sexist thinking."

    We say:

    "Stop it you sexist fuckwit."

    Julie Bindel, stop it you transphobic fuckwit.

    ---

    My friend: I agree.

    But.

    We've been telling her for years she's a fuckwit and it hasn't worked. XD This might go a bit better?

    ---

    Me: No, this is like the tone argument in discussions of racism. There is no tone we can adopt which Julie Bindel will listen to - just wait for their response to this article, if they respond. They will claim Laurie's being patronising, and take any apologism out of context.

    Some transphobes can be persuaded/educated. Julie Bindel has had ample opportunity to learn from many trans people who have tried to engage with them in the past, and has demonstrated quite comprehensively that they are not interested in changing their views.

    In my opinion, all we can do is make it very clear to uninformed readers that Julie Bindel is widely considered a transphobic fuckwit whose views on transgender have no legitimacy.

    ---

    Basically I'd like to criticise some apologism here for Julie Bindel. You're making excuses for JB and I don't see why.

    ReplyDelete
  22. CJ: Ever been on the receiving end of such a tirade? "Unseemly screeching" is an accurate description. It's not derogatory to note that someone is screeching when, in fact, they are screeching.

    McDuff: I'm trying to work out what you're telling me. I didn't say gender (or femininity) didn't exist. And I'm not understanding you on the rest of your comment.

    I'm also confused about your point re capitalism. Capitalism flourishes in a liberal state. Indeed, if all are treated equally, the talent pool is expanded, and the economic power and subsequent wealth of that state grows exponentially. It's one of the reasons why America and the rest of the Western world have dynamic economies, and the Middle East and China do not. They prevent half of their populations from making meaningful contributions.

    Western liberalism is not perfect - it's slowly marching to it, but it's certainly not there, yet - but it's a damn sight better than the short sighted misogyny of other places.

    Feminism exists within the context of the western world. It doesn't exist in places like Saudi Arabia. Feminism brought about a sea-change in the world, and in the economies of those nations that embraced it. (Imperfectly, to be sure. There's still a long way to go.) But feminism and socialism are not synonymous. You can be capitalist, and feminist. Indeed, it can be argued that feminism is more about women gaining access to the capitalist system than it is about anything else. It's a superficial argument, to be sure, but it's not inaccurate.

    Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving! :-)

    Carolyn Ann

    ReplyDelete
  23. Excellent post, Laurie.

    Carolyn Ann:
    Gender is a social construct. I'd agree with that.

    But, I'm not transsexual because of social constructs, but because of an inability since young to reconcile the body I was born in. Take away social gender and frankly is doesn't make any difference. I'd still not be able to identify with my physical sex/body/genitalia.

    Sadly I must dissapoint both you (as a crossdresser) AND Bindel, since neither do I have "fuck me boots or birds-nest hair" or have any interest in such things!!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. "Thank you so much for setting forth that the sex stereotyping that transwomen engage in is an expectation forced onto them by the psychiatric profession (even though that profession will claim they no longer do bad things like that)."

    I know people who will get very angry at you for using the word "transwomen" without a space. It's "trans women". Almost as angry as you are at psychiatrists...

    ReplyDelete
  25. Carolyn Ann
    I'm trying to work out what you're telling me. I didn't say gender (or femininity) didn't exist. And I'm not understanding you on the rest of your comment.

    OK, well, I wasn't really talking to you as much as about you, but let me give it a go.

    (I may have to split this comment up...)

    Life is hard, and complex, and messy, and we are ill equipped to deal with it. "We", the generic human creature, are essentially Crazy Apes, modified over long periods of time not to be nice or clever or equal, but to be efficient vehicles for the reproduction and transfer of particular strings of proteins. The mutated thinking devices that we sit in have invented, among themselves, over long periods of time, various mechanisms for allowing non-protein-based information to be passed between themselves, this being a proximate cause of more protein strings. These mechanisms themselves become systems in which emergent behaviours and self-perpetuating patterns of information exist, and just as the buggy software of individual humans is run on the messy, sloppy hardware that is the individual human being, so the software of society runs on even shoddier hardware made of groups of mentally unstable primates. In order to make that work the messy, sloppy hardware in human skulls is modified specifically to react in ways that distress it if the information patterns contained within it don't align with the information patterns contained in the brains of apes in close proximity to it. There are other layers of complexity now that "proximity" can be synthesised with machines, but that's human society in a nutshell.

    In other words, we're all fucked.

    One of the great things to come out of feminism has been the challenge to some of the harmful patterns in the current social order are mismatched with the needs of some of the individual parts. It pointed out the errors of patriarchal thinking and of gender and sexual essentialism. Where it misses out is when that crystallises into another flawed conception of what is "correct" behaviour for groups of human primates to engage in. When it simplifies "patriarchy" into "males" into "men" and therefore gets really upset when a "man", struggling with being an emergent consciousness of a biological organism that does not give a shit for the patriarchy or the sisterhood, realises that whatever he is doesn't fit in with whatever social pattern his brain is struggling to align itself into.

    It fails when it gets prissy and judgemental because, having pointed out where one set of social values is laughably inept at describing real people, it can't handle when it turns out the same is true of the new set of social values it thought were the solution.

    If you think some transwoman is harshing your feminine mystique, or that she is somehow to blame for the immutable laws of chemistry which dictate that the world is far more complex and confusing than any of us can dream up in our primate philosophies, you're in fact going through the same cognitive process as patriarchs. You found what works for you, and you're squishing that which makes you uncomfortable. Even if it's real, and even if it hurts others.

    It's your problem to get over, not theirs, much like it's not your problem if you point out to some privileged male that womankind doesn't exist to worship his almighty cock.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm also confused about your point re capitalism. Capitalism flourishes in a liberal state.

    Well, yes, you are confused. Specifically about the difference between an idealised concept of imaginary free trade between imaginary actors which has not only never been tried but which is fatally flawed at a deep conceptual level and what I like to refer to as "reality," that being defined either as "that which one sees when one looks out of the window" or "the actual sociopolitical system of the globe, at present, as it stands," whichever you prefer.

    Your conception of "capitalism" is... well, really fucking oversimplified, for a start. It seems to lack any strict definition of what kind of capitalism we're talking about, idealising it as some kind of utopian target towards which all economies of a certain kind trend over time. It also laughably and embarrassingly omits that the drivers and tentacles of capitalism can often take place far from what we might call "liberalism". Aside from anything else, one of the reasons that America has such a "dynamic" economy as you like to call it is because of the vast amount of trade it does with China. Saudi Arabia is in a stranglehold of illiberalism in no small part because of the massive influx of oil money that would not exist without global industrial capitalism. The history of capitalism remains today closely intertwined with the history of military imperialism and genocide. The slave trade and the East India Company were capitalist enterprises. Sure, perhaps not theoretically ideal capitalist enterprises, but the thing about theoretical ideals is that if you wrap them in a dollar bill they'll buy you a cheeseburger and not a whole pile else. They were definitely part of capitalism as actually practiced by actual humans on the actual planet earth.

    Then, in addition, you not only seem to be unaware of just how "uncapitalist" the various political capitalisms of the world are, but of the relationships between such capitalist concepts as "economic growth" and laissez-faire, friedmanesque capitalism. The "most capitalist" countries in the world suffer from massive inequalities and injustices, which in turn affect the economic robustness and stability of the states in question, and even they are hodgepodges of pseudo-democratic corporatism with vaguely marketphilic aristocracies presiding over them munificently, rather than examplars of some imaginary equitable capitalism that omits anything complex or messy or human when it draws its lovely graphs in textbooks.

    In short, there seems to be a pattern emerging where it seems you prefer a simplistic and easy to understand answer that makes you feel comfortable over gaining knowledge about a complex and tumultuous world that resolutely refuses to fit into even the smartest person's conceptual boxes.

    FWIW, I'm not a "socialist" either. Political isms are mostly bunkum. But this isn't to do with what I think would be better or worse than the current reality, it's just to do with pointing out that the current reality of the global economic hegemon is that it's more capitalist than not, and that capitalism is far more complicated than the impossibly naive simplifications of privileged western propagandists for consumerism.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Well first of all Penny can I point out that the article you've linked to contains this comment:

    Margaret's "raging misogynist" opinion likely comes from the same place all of her other opinions about trans women come from: her own privilege. And by "privilege" I mean "raging trans misogyny." Her anti-trans views are so ludicrous it's barely worth acknowledging them.

    She and E. Kitty Glendower are welcome to their echo chamber. If their rhetoric appeals to the likes of dirtywhiteboy, Nick Chaleunphone, and Polly Styrene it's not as if they're in danger of actual insight.



    In the interests of accuracy, I'd like to point out that I have not commented on the Arooo article linked to (indeed some of it may even be aimed at me, I'm not sure). In the interests of women, and black women in particular, I'd like to see you, and others condemn the racist abuse and threats of rape and murder(!) that some people think acceptable to direct at the AROOO bloggers. Because whatever my differences with them may be, it's fucking appalling, and I don't really see how anyone who defines themselves as feminist or anti racist can condone them as you appear to be tacitly doing at the moment by linking to that piece.

    Secondly you state this:

    Were SRS an accepted way of policing the boundaries of gender non-conformity in any half-sane nation state, Bindel’s equation of the surgery with “mutilation” would be more than valid – it would be urgent. However, SRS is nothing of the sort.

    The problem is that UK Law very rigidly polices the boundaries of gender non conformity. The concept of ‘gender dysphoria’ is legally recognised in the form of the gender recognition act. Here’s what the NHS has to say about “gender dysphoria”



    For people with gender dysphoria, there is confusion between their sex, their gender identity and their gender role. They feel that their gender identity does not match the sex that that they were born with, and they may prefer to take on a gender role that opposes the stereotypical image of their sex. For example, a person with gender dysphoria who was born male may feel that their gender identity is female, and prefer to dress in women’s clothes."


    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Definition.aspx

    Ok so I have 'gender dysphoria' because I don't want to wear pretty frocks. Except I don't of course. This is exactly what Julie Bindel is talking about.

    It seems that when we enshrine concepts like this in the law of the land, we've got a BIG problem.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Indeed, it can be argued that feminism is more about women gaining access to the capitalist system than it is about anything else.

    Quite so. Middle class, western, white feminism has quite often not been about being responsible for the creation of more justice in the world, but rather scrabbling for the inclusion of your subgroup at the top table of those who get to take advantage of others. This is, of course, why many queers, trans folk, women of colour, sex workers, freaks and weirdos think "feminism" is a crock of turds. It's hard to be supportive of people who talk about equality when what they really mean is massaging the system just enough to let them in, then kicking everyone else in the face who tries to join them.

    Just saying, you might want to be careful what definition of feminism you lay claim to. Or not, whatever.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh and Carolyn Ann, feminism does exist in Saudi Arabia

    http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/sau.html

    Plenty more if you just put 'feminism Saudi Arabia' into google.

    ReplyDelete
  30. There's a new radfem blog solely dedicated to attacking the trans. I think that this matter is perhaps a big enough schism point to trigger a fourth wave, although this could just be the third catching wise to some of the less desirable elements of the second.

    ReplyDelete
  31. (This was originally comment 2 of 3, but it seems to have got lost somewhere. So, brief rewrite and repost, and hope it doesn't throw any ongoing conversations too out of whack.)

    I'm also confused about your point re capitalism. Capitalism flourishes in a liberal state.

    Well, yes, you are confused. Specifically, about capitalism from the looks of things.

    The terms as we're using them are different. You seem to think that when we say "capitalism" we're talking about some kind of utopian target towards which all economies of a certain kind trend over time. I'd suggest that, in reality, we're talking about the actual sociopolitical system of the globe, at present, as currently practised by real live humans who live outside textbooks. Again, as with the difference between an open, fucked-up, messy feminism and the ideal utopian sisterhood, it's possible to forget while living in the simple foggy comfort zone that people are getting fucked over, right now, often by other people trying to force the world towards an impossible perfection.

    Let's just examine the complexity, shall we? You say that China and Saudi Arabia are bad places because they don't have capitalism. Au Contraire. They do have capitalism. Aside from anything else, one of the reasons that America has such a "dynamic" economy as you like to call it is because of the vast amount of trade it does with China. Saudi Arabia is in a stranglehold of illiberalism in no small part because of the massive influx of oil money to the ruling elite - an influx that would not exist without global industrial capitalism. You cannot, in fact, have a capitalism of the form and shape that the USA or Europe takes now without a number of satellite supply states like Saudi Arabia and China. They are an integral part of the big messy global capitalist economy, whether the individual states are technically living up to utopian capitalist standards or not. Not that *any* states live up to those standards.

    Where do you think all the plastic goods that drive Americans to go on massive consumer rampages on "Black Friday" come from? Shit, it's not like we're really making anything in the West any more...

    Capitalism has historically been and remains today closely intertwined with the history of military imperialism and genocide. The slave trade and the East India Company were capitalist enterprises. Sure, perhaps not theoretically ideal capitalist enterprises, but the thing about theoretical ideals is that if you wrap them in a dollar bill they'll buy you a cheeseburger and not a whole pile else.

    Capitalism flourishes everywhere. Mainly because it's repackaged feudalism with liberal polish and as such is perfectly suited to the easy management of a willing populace of psychotic primates with poor impulse control, partly because it's a great way of convincing alpha male types to throw the brakes off uncontrolled growth. The growth of consumption is, of course, absolutely fine since we live in a world made of infinite resources, but still, imagine if things were finite! Then it would really be problematic.

    There seems to be a pattern emerging where you prefer a simplistic and easy to understand answer that makes you feel comfortable over gaining knowledge about a complex and tumultuous world that resolutely refuses to fit into even the smartest person's conceptual boxes.

    FWIW, I'm not a "socialist" either. Political isms are mostly bunkum. But this isn't to do with what I think would be better or worse than the current reality, it's just to do with pointing out that the current reality of the global economic hegemon is that it's pretty emphatically capitalist, and that capitalism as practised in the real world is far more complicated than the impossibly naive simplifications of privileged western propagandists for the endless consumption of shiny things.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Polly: Try this: women can't drive in Saudi Arabia.

    McDuff: You have definitely lost me. I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Sorry.

    Try simple concepts. Yours are quite complex. (They need a lot of words. They must be complicated.)

    Steph: Try this: I was heartbroken when I read your comment. ... And told my wife about it. I, a *mere* crossdresser didn't know whether to be heartbroken about the fact I couldn't quote you verbatim or that I had left my bottle of beer upstairs when I went to tell my wife about your comment.

    Oh, your slings and arrows are, well, too much to bear! Obviously you know more about the issues under discussion than I do. You're whatever you are, and I'm a mere crossdresser.

    I suppose your missiles will include the fact that I crossdress "occasionally"? Oh! The hurt! The pain! The ... whatever.

    Lukas: Transpeople are soldiers? What the heck? Which durned regiment do you suppose they belong to? As a transgendered person, I object to you including me in your army. I join no army, I submit to no authority - and if you deem yourself capable of talking for me - go take a long walk off a short bridge. Sod ya. You go fight your battles, but never enlist me in them. You might find I turn my metaphorical rifle on you, simply to be ornery. I am transgendered and I refuse to join your battle. I'll pick my own, thank you very much.

    Carolyn Ann

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  33. Steph: You are obviously incapable of understanding this. I would rather by the man my wife married than the woman she cannot love.

    If that upsets you, or relegates to me a "mere crossdresser", that is your concern. And your limitation.

    Go have a nice life

    Carolyn Ann

    ReplyDelete
  34. Ms Penny: You demand respect for yourself (I assume?) and for women. I suggest you try and rewrite your piece using "Ms Bindel", instead of "Bindel".

    At least you pay her the respect of capitalizing her surname!

    When you write "Bindel", you (to use a vernacular that is disturbingly popular) "dehumanize" Ms Bindel. She's as guilty, but two wrongs never made a right as far as I can tell.

    You do not have to agree with Ms Bindel. What you do have to do, if you wish to retain credibility, is not reduce her as a person. She has, after all, been involved in human affairs slightly longer than you. She might not have earned your respect, but Ms Bindel has certainly earned the right to a simple honorific.

    I do understand the need to dehumanize her. After all, if you didn't, you'd have to consider her arguments as a person, instead of an abstraction. I also understand the relative-ness of such reduction; it makes the emphatic easier. No longer is the person making the denunciation. The almost-proper noun is.

    I apologize if this is annoying. Your reduction of Ms Bindel to a noun is equally offensive.

    Carolyn Ann

    ReplyDelete
  35. Carolyn Ann,

    Whenever I refer to a person repeatedly in an article - male or female - I use their full name once or twice, followed by using the surname. That's simple journalistic convention; look down the list of posts and you'll find it doesn't just apply to Julie Bindel. Look at any newspaper and you'll find the same. It's not special dehumanisation reserved for her: it'd hardly be appropriate, considering that I've had several conversations with her, and found her to be a perfectly pleasant and interesting person, if woefully misguided on some issues. In fact, if newspapers really want to patronise a woman - and it nearly always is a woman - they'll write articles where men are referred to by their surnames, and women by their first names. Imagine how belittling it would have been if I'd used 'Julie' throughout.

    I appreciate that whatever I say here, some people (including you) are going to feel I'm persecuting Bindel, and others are going to feel that I'm not persecuting her enough. All I can offer is what I hope to be an insightful, journalistic response. I refuse either to deify or dehumanise Julie Bindel, if nothing else because both approaches have only limited usefulness.

    Foolsjourney makes a slightly better point, feeling as ze does that I'm letting Bindel off 'too lightly'. I understand why ze and others might feel that, but I believe that there is no particular need for a fresh attack on Bindel as a person - that's been done already, including on this blog. I think there's merit in an approach that attempts, rather than opening with a furious denouncing of our percieved enemies, to explain just why they are wrong in terms that they, too, might be able to understand, and that's what I've tried to do here.

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  36. As I've mentioned, an excellent article. With regards to not being too harsh - Bindel took to Standpoint magazine to stage her latest offensive against transexuals. Did you just assume that it went without saying that Standpoint is a neo-conservative, reactionary rag?

    That's the only place I think you didn't really follow through properly: writing for that magazine is basically sleeping with the enemy. Any leftist of any flavour should be ashamed.

    ReplyDelete
  37. You have definitely lost me. I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Sorry.

    Try simple concepts. Yours are quite complex. (They need a lot of words. They must be complicated.)


    Shorter Carolyn Ann: "Real life is too hard! I'ma sit in my happy place and moan at other people for being complicated and smart, the bastards."

    I suppose if you don't know what a primate or a protein is or what proximate means, that must have been tough on your ikkle brain. I'm sorry for expecting you to have a basic level of understanding of the English language, and sufficient mental nous to be able to understand concepts when summarised. However, I understand now that this was very rude of me. Talking about complex systems like human society and biology as if they are complex. I mean, I don't know what I was thinking, attempting to describe the world as close to what is rather than simplifying it down so that you didn't have to struggle with the concept of a social mechanism of information exchange. How fucking thoughtless of me. Next time, I'll be sure to assume you're not very clever and write appropriately.

    You demand respect for yourself (I assume?) and for women. I suggest you try and rewrite your piece using "Ms Bindel", instead of "Bindel".

    Really rather depends on the publication she's writing for, doesn't it? Is it really "dehumanising" to someone to follow the AP style guide? I mean, really?


    You are obviously incapable of understanding this. I would rather by the man my wife married than the woman she cannot love.

    Good. This is your choice. Nobody, to my knowledge, wants to stop you making that choice, and if they did, they would be wrong.

    But your choice is one of a spectrum of choices, and someone else making a different choice about their body is not the same thing as haranguing you for being different to them. I can see in your case that the opposite is true, and that in order to validate yourself that everyone must align their behaviour with your preferences.

    Do you suppose this stems from your inability to handle complex abstractions, or is it a separate personality quirk? It's so hard to tell these things over the internet! No matter, really, since either way they don't change the fact that you're interested in harrassing people rather than having a conversation.

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  38. Funny how some of these sadistic bigots screams blue murder and the collapse of human right for women and children when transsexual people get surgery. But then advocate all manner of horrors be inflicted in intersex children (Including surgery).

    Julie Bindel can claim to be a feminist of sorts when it comes to "The gender binary" but she is more rigid than the Pope when it comes to the two sex system policing people's bodies. Too many contradictions that always read "the most painful outcome" for those people like Julie Bindel aim to "Police"

    She is like the two sex system at it's most vile, using people's bodies as a stick to beat them with!

    ReplyDelete
  39. James Any leftist of any flavour should be ashamed.

    Off topic - that's not stopped Nick Cohen. As for Bindel: having declared that her attitudes were everybody else's fault [1}, where else was she going to go? She's been hawking around her 'my transphobia is proof of my indomitable contrarian feminist spirit' for years.

    Penny: a very good article. Congrats.

    [1] See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/08/lesbianism

    [redpesto]

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  40. Great post!

    Carolyn Ann - 'Since when has the need for a police escort into a building been a "vigorous" defense? The fact that the police felt a need to escort Ms Bindel into a conference is not something anyone should be proud of. Being part of an unholy mob is an act only the unthinking could conjure as justifiable.'

    The police were there because there was an entirely peaceful protest (of about 150 people) going on. There was no violence (the police commented on it being a great protest) and chants involving Bindel were banned - because the protest *was not about her* it was about Stonewall nominating a transphobic person for their journalism award. At no point was 'Bindel the bigot' shouted - it would sound very whingey and sing-songy for a chant anyway.

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  41. Carolyn Ann:

    "I would rather by the man my wife married than the woman she cannot love. If that upsets you, or relegates to me a "mere crossdresser", that is your concern."

    I don't understand why you're now irritated; I don't think anyone did call you a 'mere crossdresser'. The (sometimes linguistically problematic) fact is that 'trans' is a very broad term that refers to people that ought, rationally, be natural allies of the feminist movement and of each other. Everyone faces different challenges, with heteronormativity as an enemy we share in common.

    I also could not follow mcduff's comment.

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  42. Carolyn Ann:

    I'm not really sure what you're going on about - what it has to do with your wife or being married to her I'm not sure. I've never been married or in a relationship with anyone, male or female, because I'm asexual.

    Also, I was only making the snide comment re. 'fuck me boots and birds-nest hairdo' because you appear to share Bindel's assertion that all trans people only go through what we do because of 'gender', so I just thought I'd put that right - it's always been about my relationship with my body, not what I wear!

    And have a nice life too :)

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  43. Don't mind me, Laurie. I do find the commonplace habit of not including a person's honorific to be irritating. It just *really* irritated me, this morning. I'm not sure why, it just did.

    Using a surname as an almost proper noun "Bindel this", "Obama that", "what of Cameron or Brown?" and so on does reduce the person to a mere object. I would never suggest you call her "Julie" throughout; whether you do or not is more an issue of how well you know her. "Bindel" is an object, "Ms Bindel" is a person. That's just how I see it. You have a different perception of the matter, and that's that!

    Speaking of journalistic conventions, I see The Guardian does not always use honorifics. I prefer the NY Times approach to honorifics: use them. I don't have a Chicago Manual of Style nearby, so I don't know what that says on the matter. I suspect it's "use them".

    I used to not bother with the titles, but it occurred to me that I was turning people into objects. It certainly made it easier to be derisive. But in reducing them, I reduced myself. I am not an object*, and other individuals aren't, either. But, like I said, you have a different perception on this. I'm not sure how important it all is; it just irritated me more than usual for some reason.

    My apologies for even mentioning it. How you write is your concern; my role is to enjoy your writing, even if I disagree with your conclusions.

    *Pedants and "Steph" might disagree on that. But for different reasons. :-)

    I don't think you're persecuting Ms Bindel at all! Why on Earth would you think I thought that? You are in disagreement with her; somewhat disdainful disagreement, but nothing more than that.

    Ms Bindel, et al, don't misunderstand the fluidity of gender; they merely disagree with you and other about what that means. Their arguments tend to treat gender as an absolute, but the contradiction is not a confused and context-sensitive "yes it is and no it isn't"! What you perceive as transphobia, they perceive as men dictating what it means to be a woman. They might not be able to precisely define what a woman is, but you also failed to do that. The whole "perfect woman" argument is a sham, useful only because it's so easy to demolish. Indeed, that's its purpose. It is reliably trotted out when required, and always takes the form you used, as well.

    Germaine Greer can be quite discriminatory toward the transgendered; that can and should be condemned. Ms Bindel, on the other hand, is defending what it means, to her, to be a woman. She clearly doesn't think that someone born biologically male can ever claim womanhood. The absolute nature of her argument is off-putting, but her argument is consistent. No one can say her points jump around, addressing the private one minute and the public the next!

    Your argument, on the other hand, can be accused of such confusion! Gender is obviously very important to some people; but the standard argument (the one you employed) tries to assert that it is and it isn't. If gender is so fluid, so plastic, why is it so important to become the other gender?

    Gender is important. There's no way around that. The transgendered are dealt a harsh hand when they enter this world - I don't think there's much dispute of that. When you despise the very body you have, some of the simple things in life become enormously complicated; some become insoluble. It is not transphobic or intolerant to question, or dispute, the political and personal implications of someone's claimed gender. Especially when that claim could contain some profound implications for how others can perceive themselves.

    Is being a woman so plastic in definition it is actually meaningless? It really is not transphobic to ask that!

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  44. Google's comment limits prevented me adding this:

    Apparently it is transphobic to point out the contradiction inherent in someone saying "the definition of what a woman is, is elastic, but when I make the claim to be a woman, that definition becomes concrete. And it becomes large enough that I am included in the definition of what it means to be a woman."

    I'm not saying it's wrong to claim to be a woman, to feel you are a woman. (It's impolite, at best, to dispute personal claims, simply because "you" don't like them.) I am stating that the political implications of that claim can be examined without it being transphobic. After all, we do not say it is intolerant to question what it means to be human! Unfortunately, the argument you employed, Laurie, has, as a foundation, the assertion that questioning a personal transgender claim is transphobic.

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  45. You are pretty much 100% correct. Thank you for taking to time to write this. I've run across more feminist hate-theroies regarding trans than I care for lately and this article is very refreshing.

    As a trans I have come more and more into acceptance that I am who I am, and that is a transsexual woman, some form of gender-cloud, a neither and a both. Gender Bending/defiance will surround me at all times unless I am not being true to myself. Is it because I grew up being taught to behave one way while knowing it was all wrong the whole time? Placating traditional sterotypical behavior is a non-solution.

    As time goes on I wouldn't be surprised that we all see more and more out transsexuals appear on the map rejecting SRS and traditionally defined roles that we are 'supposed' to fulfill, the numbers are already there, but the public knowledge is not.

    I dunno. Transition is interesting and educational. Awkwardness and confusion I get. I understand we stand out like a sore-thumb at times. What I don't understand is the non-acceptance and utter hate some people have, which, I guess, stems from fear. But whatever. I'm no feminist, nor am I misogynist; I'm just another tranny working hard in school, maintaining gainful employment, and taking care of my family while trying to survive in this crazy-ass world.

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  46. McDuff: Huh? I couldn't understand your comment. I understood your last one, though. :-)

    Steph, you seem to be under the impression I care what you are, or what you think of me. You do seem eager to ensure my view of gender lines up with yours, though. Perhaps you care more about what I think of you than I am of what you think of me?

    I'm glad you corrected me on what your issue is, though. I didn't know what to think! Goodness me. How silly of me to think that a serious claim about identity is only about pretty clothes and lipstick.

    I'm so glad you could set me to rights. (Thank you, I do enjoy my life.)

    Laurie, I noticed The Atlantic treats names as you do. I'd never noticed it before! Each to their own. :-)

    CJ: Yes, the adjective "trans" is only a little more precise than the offensive and unnecessary "cis". However, I do not think that flexibly defining what a woman is helps anyone. It almost certainly puts trans-feminism in conflict with feminism. If a woman is defined as many in the trans community demand, then it really does become about pretty clothes and lipstick, because nothing else is relevant.

    The contradiction between the concrete and unassailable "I am a woman" and "I will redefine what it means to be a woman, so I can be one" is, I think, self-evident. It's not to demean anyone when I point this out; indeed, I think it demeans women when it is asserted that you can be a woman, and a biological male, at the same time! Is gender a simple claim? If it is, fine. But I don't think it is - because gender is not purely a social construct. It is biological, too.

    If gender is a simple assertion, it simultaneously argues that gender is both vitally important and completely irrelevant. Steph's words prove this: gender is a social construct, but not when it's applied to someone who's transgendered. So if you're happy with both your body and your identity, your gender is a social construct. But when your body doesn't match your identity, it's ... Erm, what? Biological and social? Or is gender biological, and its expression more social than biological?

    There are areas of commonality between feminism and trans-feminism, but they don't even have the same basic goals. So there's a conflict in what should be attained. Is the goal equality for women, or is it equality for trans-women? But if it's for women, and the definition of what a woman is, is so plastic it's impossible to even guess what it might be, what does equality mean?

    Carolyn Ann

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  47. Speaking of journalistic conventions, I see The Guardian does not always use honorifics. I prefer the NY Times approach to honorifics: use them. I don't have a Chicago Manual of Style nearby, so I don't know what that says on the matter. I suspect it's "use them".

    So? I don't know what Chicago has to say about it offhand (I'd imagine "be consistent" is more important than "use them" - which, incidentally, is not the NYT style guide's sum contribution to the matter), but most periodicals adhere to AP Style. Those such as the NYT which do not are exceptions, and as a writer for the Guardian I'd expect Laurie to be more attuned to the whims of her more recent editors than to your particular aesthetic preferences.

    If it helps, part of the reason (not the only reason, but there's more than one reason the liberal rags go one way and the tory ones the other) for omitting courtesy titles is that the rules for use can be inconsistent, non-intuitive and can in some cases cause offense, particularly in the case of women.

    The Economist considers "Ms" to be ugly and thus uses "Miss" in cases except where it is known the person prefers otherwise. It is technically 'correct' in this case: "Miss" does not mean the person is unmarried, simply that she has not taken her husband's last name. However, the vernacular has evolved since the 1960s and the technically incorrect "Ms" is now regarded as the safe default by less persnickety stylists. However, while safer, many women share the Economist's aesthetic distaste of "Ms".

    Further, the courtesy titles used to refer to women - and most men for that matter - are outdated. "Mrs" is used for married women, except when it's used to denote professional capacity, except when it's not used and madam is used, or except when it's not used. "Miss" is used for unmarried women, except when it's not because people dislike the association with youth and/or the use of a title to signify marital status, or when it's used by married women in a professional capacity. "Ms" is used in all other cases, except when it's not.

    Of course, there's also the fact that the Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms thing does something few other titles do: signifies gender. I don't know where Julie Bindel sits on one side or the other here, but it's not considered necessary in, say, an academic journal to note the genders of an author. If a paper was authored by R Yates, T Bates and D Slates, what matters is the quality of the work not the gender of the people doing it. Personally, I consider it more equitable to omit signifiers of gender unless they are necessary. Clinton vs Brown 92 was the same competition as Clinton vs Obama 08, and the fact that the respective Clintons were different genders should be irrelevant to the reporting.

    Regardless, since the notion that AP style objectifies people is what I'd charitably call a somewhat singular eccentricity on your part, I'd suggest that even if you can't learn to live with it that when you criticise people for standard usage that you omit the tone that suggests they're somehow being deliberately callous for not modifying their style according to your most unusual requirements.

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  48. If gender is so fluid, so plastic, why is it so important to become the other gender?

    Ah, the old bait'n'switch. A fallacy by any other name would taste as sweet. Would you like me to draw you a diagram?

    Academically, analytically and scientifically, "sex", "gender", "sexuality" and other signifiers are well regarded as being continuous spectra rather than binary categories. They're plastic, fluid, and also impersonal and safe.

    As a person operating within the constraints of "being a person", gender and sex matters significantly, even if you think it shouldn't. This is because we're programmed to respond to social stimuli and our society is rife with gender signifiers. Gender and sex are, in this case, more rigid, and also more personal.

    The two subjects in question, academic inquiry on the one hand and transexual individuals on the other, are not coincident sets, although sometimes they may overlap.

    Therefore - even if we discount entirely the cases of body dysmorphia where there is a sex/gender mismatch which has nothing to do with whether one plays with dolls or trucks and everything to do with whether one feels biologically at ease in one's own flesh - pointing out how Set A sees something is nothing to do with how Set B sees it. Where you see a fatal contradiction in the argument, I just see someone failing to spot that not all people think exactly the same way at all times. There is no contradiction, because transgendered individuals are not all academic feminists. I am alarmed that this seems to be news to you, but there you have it.

    What we have here is a variant on the economic General Theory of Second Best. If individual people are, as you say, dealt a harsh hand, it is neither just nor fair to make them bear the brunt of the potential implications that their attempts to live better lives have on the philosophical outlooks of certain feminists.

    Is being a woman so plastic in definition it is actually meaningless? It really is not transphobic to ask that!

    It's not meaningless, but then neither is "large". Something can have meaning and not necessarily refer to a fixed set of values.

    Where it becomes transphobic, or if you don't like that term I'd use plain old mean spirited, is where you refuse to see that "woman" is an identity and a label that is and should necessarily be subsumed below "person", and start mistreating people because of your disagreements about their chosen labels. If women are more important to you than people, I'd humbly suggest you're doing it wrong.

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  49. Hi Penny, great article. I have just written a piece in my blog in response to this. You have included some excelent points but there are also other reasons why transwomen try to look overly female sometimes and this relates more to the way people attribute gender. Perhaps you would be kind enough to read what I have written, I would value your opinion;
    http://uncommon-scents.blogspot.com/2009/11/transfeminism-trans-stereotypes-and.html

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  50. Carolyn Ann:
    I`m not surprised by your answer. In all minority-groups fighting the norm theres always some who prefer fighting the others in the group instead. To get acceptans from the norm. You are no exception form that rule.

    "Transpeople are soldiers? What the heck? Which durned regiment do you suppose they belong to? As a transgendered person, I object to you including me in your army."


    It´s not me including you in OUR army. It´s the norm. I´m a pacifist. Sometimes I fight back in selfdefence, when someone like Julie Bindel hurts friends of mine. But more often I prefer working by telling people they are great when they do the right thing (as I think Penny did) instead of confront people doing wrong. It´s much more effective when cis-gendered people confront transophobia instead trans people doing it.

    "I join no army, I submit to no authority - and if you deem yourself capable of talking for me - go take a long walk off a short bridge. Sod ya. You go fight your battles, but never enlist me in them."

    I didn´t make an official statement as representative, a wrote a comment to a blogg. Your reaction doesn´t make any sense. And, as I read your comment, you are trying to talk for other trans people as much as anyone else.

    "You might find I turn my metaphorical rifle on you, simply to be ornery. I am transgendered and I refuse to join your battle. I'll pick my own, thank you very much."

    Noone can miss you picked your battle.

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  51. A view from a Geek.

    See seminar s10 at the APA’s annual meeting:
    S10. The Neurobiological Evidence for Transgenderism
    1. Brain Gender Identity Prof. Sidney W. Ecker, M.D.
    2. Transsexuality as an Intersex Condition Prof Milton Diamond, Ph.D.

    This doesn’t come from some “Gender Studies” or “Feminist” or “Progressive” group with a political agenda, but from fMRI scans and autopsies of neuro-anatomy.

    We don't know why a feminised brain in certain areas universally leads to a female gender identity. We don't know why when other parts are feminised, the body image is female, so having a masculinised body causes extreme distress, regardless of gender role. We don't even know why feminisation in yet other areas leads to a tendency for stereotypical female-pattern gender role behaviour when young.

    We do know that it does though. A transsexual woman alone on a desert island would feel exactly the same discomfort as she would in a city. It's not about the gender role, but the anatomy.

    References:

    1.DF Swaab, WC Chung, FP Kruijver, MA Hofman, TA Ishunina
    Structural and functional sex differences in the human hypothalamus
    Horm Behav. Sep, 2001; 40(2): 93-8.

    2. DF Swaab
    Sexual differentiation of the human brain: relevance for gender identity, transsexualism and sexual orientation
    Gynecol Endocrinol. Dec, 2004; 19(6): 301-12.

    3.IE Sommer, PT Cohen-Kettenis, T van Raalten, AJ Vd Veer, LE Ramsey, LJ Gooren, RS Kahn, NF Ramsey
    Effects of cross-sex hormones on cerebral activation during language and mental rotation: An fMRI study in transsexuals
    Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. Mar 2008; 18(3): 215-21.

    4.H Berglund, P Lindstrom, C Dhejne-Helmy, I Savic
    Male to female transsexuals show sex-atypical hypothalamus activation when smelling odorous steroids
    Cereb Cortex. Aug 2008; 18(8): 1900-8.

    As Prof Ecker wrote to me:
    "We showed how Transgender Brains think, smell, and hear like the opposite sex."

    Gender Role is nearly all a social construct, differing between geographically or historically separate societies. Gender Identity though, the gnosis of whether one is male or female, that's biological. Some have it strongly, others don't.

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  52. We all are who we are because of societies influences.

    If society fully accepted feminine men and masculine women, then a lot of trans people wouldn't have an issue with their physical bodies, as it simply wouldn't be an issue.

    Until we all fully accept each others differences, we'll never get to that kinf of society, but that kind of society is a Utopian dream, which even if it is achievable, none of us will live to see it.

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  53. I'm intrigued as to why oopster74 thinks that if society accepted feminine men and masculine men, why that would suddenly stop someone taking issue with their physical body? FWIW, I know plenty of men, for example, who are quite feminine and may or may not be gay. They don't have an issue with the body they are in, whether or not they face any homophobia or prejudice because of their demeanor.

    Whilst I accept that some trans people seek surgery as part of their wider transition due to the social pressures that they are exposed to them due to transphobia, I'm getting pretty sick of (mostly cis) people (I accept I don't know whether you yourself oopster74 are trans or cis in this instance) telling us that just because of society or social parameters of femininity/masculinity, that means we wouldn't still need surgery. I've always felt able to express myself in whatever I wanted, but that didn't change how I felt about my body - and most transsexuals I speak to usually feel the same.

    As far as I'm concerned, trying to imply that a trans woman might not need to be such if they could cope with being a 'feminine man' is frankly cis-sexist.

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  54. Carolyn Ann:
    "If gender is a simple assertion, it simultaneously argues that gender is both vitally important and completely irrelevant. Steph's words prove this: gender is a social construct, but not when it's applied to someone who's transgendered. So if you're happy with both your body and your identity, your gender is a social construct. But when your body doesn't match your identity, it's ... Erm, what? Biological and social? Or is gender biological, and its expression more social than biological?"

    Well not really, but then I guess I find myself a little seperatist in such opinions.

    'Gender is a social construct' IMO, yes (whether you are cis or trans), but that doesn't change of course the sheer pressures it creates in society. So, therefore, I do not discount transgender experiences of how they perceive and deal with a gendered society. Also, which is probably why I'm seperatist really on this stuff, is that I don't really buy the whole 'gender identity' and 'gender identity disorder' business - I think it's a creation of psychiatrists to self-serve themselves built upon something 'gender' which we should be breaking down 'gender' rather than creating medical conditions around it.

    I still don't think any of this really negates the fact that for a lot of transsexuals including myself, it's not about 'gender' if we regard that as a social construct/convention (i.e. 'woman', dress, roles), but about extreme inability to cope with your physical body/genitalia. That's not to say that gender even as a social construct doesn't still heap a load of extra problems on top of a trans persons experiences and lives.

    The old joke I've heard many a time inside the trans community goes something like... "How do you tell whether someone is transgendered or transsexual? The transsexual is the one wearing the jeans and flats!"

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  55. "Ms Penny: You demand respect for yourself (I assume?) and for women. I suggest you try and rewrite your piece using "Ms Bindel", instead of "Bindel"."

    I can't believe you're THIS stupid.

    Have you ever written any kind of article before?
    Have you ever even PICKED UP a newspaper?
    I mean - are you actually serious when you say stuff like this?

    Looks like you're just coming up with more bullshit 'points' to try to tear Penny down here, and it looks like you're just another one of those 'screechers' you so easily dismiss and dehumanize.

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  56. As someone with no religious leanings but happy to paraphrase from doctrine surely everyone is entitled to an opinion but tempered with "treating others as you would wish to be treated"? As we live in isolation within ourselves because we cannot read each others mind, no one really can know but can consciously understand if their views cause offence. Life is complicated, so are thoughts and feelings but I try to live my life without causing offence, sometimes unsuccessfully. It is when others try to advise that they have the answers that others should follow such as religious proselytising that I start to get uncomfortable and if those people have access to media platforms it becomes an unbalanced discussion. I have deliberately kept this a general observation but to pick up one point raised. Yes I have had surgery to achieve congruity with my perceived notion of being female in mind and body and yes I cannot have children but does this make me less of a woman deserving of feminimity? I don't think so but if correspondents in this discussion have this concept in their mind, it does not bother me. It's their construct - not mine. Thank you

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  57. oopster74, I'm a lot more hopeful that the acceptance of others as they are, or wish to be, will happen within a few decades. Today's youth seem to be less concerned with things the older generations have apoplexies over.

    However, a feminine man or masculine woman is not the same as living in the wrong body. As Zoe said: stick me on a desert island and my body and identity remain in conflict.

    That's why I said, MacDuff, that the transgendered are dealt a harsh card. It's a metaphor.

    By the way, I didn't elevate "woman" over "person".

    lukasromson, You don't know me, but feel perfectly able to dissect my motivations. Your words enlisted me in some metaphorical transgender army. I vociferously object! But if you feel that those who don't agree with lazy, erratic and dubious "logic" are fitting in with the enemy - I feel sorry for you with your self-imposed limits.

    Women and transwomen have a different experiences of life; that's not derogatory or demeaning, it's a simple fact. Acknowledging the differences is useful; papering over them with logic that contradicts itself, isn't helpful. That's what Laurie's argument tries to do.

    Laurie's argument is a standard one; its problems never change. It asserts that gender is meaningless, but it's also important. It can't cope with a woman asking "if you're a woman, what am I?" "You're a woman, too!" isn't very helpful. It confuses gender presentation and gender identity, and it relies on a point that is deliberately flimsy. If a biological man can say he's a woman (because (s)he feels (s)he is), what does it mean to be a woman?

    It's not a claim I make. I am biologically male, but I'm also in the wrong body. (Yes, I do have the medical diagnosis.) That does not entitle me to claim I'm a woman. It simply means my body and gender identity don't match. I'd love to be a woman, but the political implications of making the claim prevent me from asserting it. It would be, at best, impertinent of me to claim the same gender identity as my wife. I will not reduce, distort or dismiss her identity so that I can feel equal to her. My gender identity is what it is; it is not the same as hers. The fact is, I can never be a woman. However, I can be me.

    Carolyn Ann

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  58. Anonymous: I have already moderated my opinion on that. I still think that a Bindel is an object, and a Ms Bindel a person.

    And as it happens, yes - I have been published. More than once, as it happens.

    Carolyn Ann

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  59. Excellent article, Penny Red.

    My two cents on gender (more for Carolyn Ann than you, I know), without the scientific backing that Zoe cites: I think gender expression is a social construct, but not gender identity. Gender identity seems to come from brain sex, and that's a physiological phenomenon.

    On honorifics: the New York Times and the Globe and Mail both use honorifics whenever they write a person's surname in a story, but they seem to be exceptional.

    I am a woman born transsexual and a feminist, whether feminists want me or not. As you wrote, no one is born a woman. Girls learn to be women starting at puberty. Some of us must learn it later in life, and with certain disadvantages. But learning disabilities can be overcome. I have learned in spite of my disabilities, and I continue to learn. I think some transsexuals don't really learn how to be women, but then neither do some girls.

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  60. Definition: cis-something, ie cismale, is a man who is a man, 'wishes' within 'god's' framework to be a man, does not act like a woman. Ie opposite to trans-something.

    Pennyred wrote:
    the idea that gender roles are biologically determined rather than socially constructed is the antithesis of feminism.

    Um, do we have a choice? Women have vaginas and give birth, men don't. This is pretty much 100% biological and not social at all. Indeed, one could argue that social constructs revolve around this pretty rigid idea.

    Pennyred wrote:
    Feminists - even prominent ones with big platforms to shout from - do not get to be the gatekeepers of what is and is not female, what is and is not feminine, any more than patriarchal apologists do.

    Really? Perhaps you ought to tell them more often. They've certainly been trying to be the gatekeepers of what is and is not male and masculine since the '60s. So why not femininity too? Femininity is a social construct, emphasised, nay, defined by the population who are adult and own vaginas.

    Pennyred wrote:
    Intrinsic to feminism is the notion that such gatekeeping is sexist, recalcitrant and damaging.

    Ha ha, aha ha ha, ha ha. Yes, we men had noticed. Unfortunately this is the way society is organised. If you don't like it, please leave a terse note with god.

    Pennyred wrote:
    Is the female identity of these women [who are not socially normal] under question too? If it is, feminism has a long way to go.

    Yes, men with an intellect have noticed this failing of feminism. It's inability to cope with anything outside it's norms is a massive critisism and why it fails to grab the attention of many intellectual men. Outside of the basics, feminism is crap, like the old patriachy before it. If you have a fanny and are normal, you can be defined as needing to be freed from the patriachy. If otherwise, um, let's not think about that - not the most mature approach to trans/herm/abnormal women (or men either).

    Indeed, you fall foul of your own sexism by overly concentrating on transexuals (which are fairly rare, at least, outside of the SE) and abnormal people (which are fairly common).

    Pennyred wrote:
    At the very heart of sexist thought is the assumption that the bodies we are born with ought to dictate our character, our behaviour, our appearance, our choices, the nature of our relationships and the work of our lives.

    But at this stage of humanity, it does. How many women do you know doing manual labour? How many women wake up every morning absolutely gagging for sex with any man in any way? How many men give birth?

    Pennyred wrote:
    Feminism holds that gender identity, rather than being written in our genes, is an emotional, personal and sexual state of being ...

    Grr, add 'also' so that it reads 'is also an emotional ...' Our genes are astonishingly important and hold massive influence, imo, on many of our activities today. You cannot decry genes because some small quantity of the population (who presumably all live within the M25) don't quite fit in.

    Feminism fails as you correctly pointed out. But it still caters to the masses of women and men in many ways you've ignored. I know this because I'm intellectual, not a rapist, hate football and would love to lose my testicles - in short, I am abnormal too. However, according to society's roles, I'm a weirdo, a pervert and should I ever decide to go into teaching, well, obviously it's because I'm a pedo (/sarcasm)

    Feminism has an awfully *awfully* long way to go and abnormal men have known this for a long time now. For at least 10 years (possibly 20), it's been banging on about a fading patriarchy which is alien to most men, while abnormals like myself simply see it attempting to replace said bad patriachy with its ideals on normality. Thank god someone with a vagina can see this.

    Bob
    lawtears6"hotmail.co.uk

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  61. Btw, why do you cater to the fword so much? They are jumpy, scared of discussion and would rather kick you than prove you wrong or even simply acknowledge a difference of opinion. In other words, a bunch of childish bullies defending their little chunk of webspace. Ironically, they too would come down on male abnormals in a bad way.

    Bob/lawtears

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  62. "I still think that a Bindel is an object, and a Ms Bindel a person."

    Ah I see, using someone's personal name reduces them to a mere object, but prefacing their name with two letters which refer to their gender, makes it ok.

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  63. Bob/Lawtears - I'd like to respond to some of your points:

    *Women have vaginas and give birth, men don't
    Not all women have birth, and some women don't have vaginas.

    * How many women do you know doing manual labour? - lots and lots. It might not be the type of 'manly' manual labour you're thinking of, but as well as women working in factories I know cleaners, care workers, nurses and domestic workers. A very large proportion of the manual labour done in this country is done by women, although because of economic perceptions of gender role, they often don't get paid as much as men working similarly strenuous jobs.

    How many women wake up every morning absolutely gagging for sex with any man in any way?
    -I know several women for whom this is the case, and I've gone through long phases like this myself. How many men do you know who are desperate for sex with a woman every morning? Don't say 'all', it's not all. Contrary to popular belief, some men have lower sex drives, and some men - *gasp* - don't enjoy sex with women at all.

    You ask for understanding on behalf of 'abnormal' men, of whom you count yourself one, and yet you immediately go on to list a number of cliches of precisely the type both trans feminists AND radfems like Bindel, Greer et al oppose - the hypothesis that gender roles are not separate from gender identity and are written in the genes, the idea that our biology makes us absolutely and totally different from men, the idea that women's labour is less 'manual' than men's, the hypothesis that men are hypersexual and women are hyposexual.

    It is social assumptions like these that mean that people who are 'abnormal' - people who deviate from gender norms, as you say you do - get such a shitty deal. You feel persecuted, but feminism is actually working to liberate women AND men from the tyranny of gender roles - it's sexist social assumptions that mean that you're finding it hard to go into teaching (although I'm not sure you're trying that hard - it's really very easy for men to go into teaching).

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  64. "why do you cater to the fword so much? They are jumpy, scared of discussion and would rather kick you than prove you wrong or even simply acknowledge a difference of opinion. In other words, a bunch of childish bullies defending their little chunk of webspace. "

    I write for and support the F Word because it is an incredibly useful resource for feminists of all genders across the world. The 'jumpiness' you identify is a rigorous comments policy that does not allow people like you - people who are happy to come onto a feminist blog and declare that 'feminism is crap'- to have their comments published under articles. This is because the site's editorial policy declares it as a safe space for feminists to discuss their ideas with each other without being subject to ideological abuse and pointless trolling.

    I'm a big fan of that policy, although I don't have the same policy on this site - you can tell, because your comments are appearing here.

    I'd really like you to explain more what you mean by 'abnormal' men - and why you feel that patriarchy doesn't apply to them.

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  65. Lsurie, I'm assuming by the fword Bob means feminism, not the F Word blog.

    Bob, there really is no such thing as Feminism, a politically homogeneous standard set of ideas on gender and oppression. There are feminisms (note, plural) - hence all the feminists here attacking other feminists (Bindel) for their transphobia. McDuff says it better than I could:

    "Quite so. Middle class, western, white feminism has quite often not been about being responsible for the creation of more justice in the world, but rather scrabbling for the inclusion of your subgroup at the top table of those who get to take advantage of others. This is, of course, why many queers, trans folk, women of colour, sex workers, freaks and weirdos think "feminism" is a crock of turds. It's hard to be supportive of people who talk about equality when what they really mean is massaging the system just enough to let them in, then kicking everyone else in the face who tries to join them.

    Just saying, you might want to be careful what definition of feminism you lay claim to. Or not, whatever."

    Of course it's easy, if you're anti-feminist full stop, to lay a claim that the kind of feminism you don't like, the one that displays the bad behaviour you're currently criticising, is The Feminism That is Feminism and All Feminists Adhere To. Kind of a lazy argument though, wouldn't you agree? I'd suggest re-reading the thread, and maybe some, y'know, books on the subject and getting back to us.

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  66. Hmm, scratch that, maybe on the 'fword' bit Bob does mean the site - but stick my comments on his view of feminism with the rest of his posts!

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  67. >lots and lots. It might not be the type of 'manly' manual labour you're thinking of

    Yeah, ok, there are a fair number of women doing labouring jobs.

    And ironically, some labouring is manly, is it? Are you not encouraging a sexism in itself with that comment? I've known men to do care work, cleaning and nurse work. Where the hell are the women rolling in shit outside, as I have done? Annoyingly, I've met some of them, but there are far far too few of them to really say 'lots and lots'. I've spread tarmac, concrete, put pipes ends together, all hard physical exercise which could leave you thoroughly exhausted and possibly in pain. The number of women I've met doing those jobs? Currently 0. And I'm roughly your size ffs, possibly smaller.

    >>How many women wake up every morning absolutely gagging for sex with any man in any way?
    >I know several women for whom this is the case

    Yes, we all know several people who don't fit into the general population. Put it this way, the last few temp jobs I've done, each time I've met a strange guy who'd literally shag anyone. Sorry, but I've yet to meet that category of women by randomly taking up a temp job ... and then taking another temp job and finding a different woman who felt the same ... and again and again. I'm pretty certain I can do this for men.

    >How many men do you know who are desperate for sex with a woman every morning?

    At least 80%+ of all the men I've met. How many women do you think this would apply to? Less than 5%?

    >the hypothesis that gender roles are not separate from gender identity and are written in the genes, the idea that our biology makes us absolutely and totally different from men

    But for the vast majority of people, they aren't and it does. The average woman out there is different from men, wishing to follow her gender ideals, preferring that her daughters were dressed in pink, not blue, with a doll, not a truck. For the few, such as transgendered or myself, well, feminism never has given a toss, as you rightly point out. For average stupid man out there, this is irrelevant. For intellectual broken men like myself, it's something I have to live with and accept, because feminism is incapable of understanding the effects of oppression unless you have a vagina and fit in the norm.

    >the hypothesis that men are hypersexual and women are hyposexual

    Look, some women have entered the room as I write and I feel my hormones want them. This is going to happen every single time until I'm dead. This is my gene's wish, no exception. I just don't see women in general having this situation as a norm, every minute of every day until they are dead, or at least over 45.

    >the tyranny of gender roles

    This is your problem. The 'tyranny' of gender roles is not just society's choice. It's also 'god's' choice (I hate that word). The tyranny - yes, society has been crap, but that crapness has been based on something that has worked to bring humanity FWIW to where we are today, both at the intellectual/social level and at the lower biological level, where nature doesn't give a shit. So if you were to eradicate the tyranny tomorrow amongst people, there would still be the biological tyranny which you have completely ignored. This is why I say you should add 'also' as I stated earlier.

    Your basic point is that we are all different and for some that difference is too wide for mainstream feminism/society to accept, and it's unfair. This I agree with wholeheartedly. However, society doesn't give a shit about me and it's up to me to deal with my issues as I can. Not society. Yes, it's unfair, but tough shit. Society is (and should be) based on the norms. Freedom, including sexual and gender freedom, is still too abstract a concept for society to deal with and will be for at least the next two generations. Feminism only wishes to liberate *normals* from the tyranny of gender roles. The rest can go to shit.

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  68. Véronique, is it possible that the roots of gender expression are biological? Zoe hedged her bets when she said that gender expression is mostly learned behavior. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that point has been agreed to. The degree to which its learned versus innate is, if I have it right, unknown.

    I am beginning to wonder what is meant by "gender expression". I have a suspicion the definition is as elastic as the definition of "woman".

    If gender expression is entirely constructed, it would seem that evolution got something wrong. After all, men are constructed differently to women. Also, men have testosterone and women estrogen; it's widely known those two chemicals can change behaviors. (Yes, I know there's a little bit of the other one present, too.) A look at criminal statistics seem to indicate that the differences in expression are not all learned - some are innate.

    We do know that men and women have slightly different "arrangements" in some areas of the brain. That would indicate that while we learn how to be boys and girls (and men and women), there is a biological root that provides a solid foundation for saying it's not all learned behavior!

    We don't learn to be boys or girls at puberty. That's when we learn to be men and women.

    Re the whole honorific thing. I am of the opinion that attaching someone's title to their surname is a respectful thing to do. The NY Times is of the same opinion (they own the Boston Globe); other journals and newspapers consider honorifics unimportant. I use a person's honorific; on the one or two moments when I've been able to determine the appropriate one, I'll spend a moment figuring out what to do. I do not resort to using their surname on its own. (The one exception is President Bush; his name has become a noun.)

    I don't think I've ever said it's about gender, Neuroskeptic. I wouldn't say that, because it's not: it's about civility and respect.

    As I've said, my attitude toward this has evolved. If Laurie doesn't mind being referred to as "Penny" by others, who am I to object? I won't do that; she is Laurie or Ms Penny to me. In the original post, Laurie started to treat Julie Bindel as an object, and I strenuously objected. For some reason, tiredness and my irritation at the argument being put forth, perhaps, I took it all out of context?

    I can't remember if I've apologized to Laurie, so: Laurie, I apologize. I do regret not keeping my opinion on the matter to myself.

    It's interesting how the transgender community insists on the importance of the "correct" pronoun. If titles were not important, it would seem that referring to someone as "Mr So-and-So" wouldn't matter. But they are, and the correct term of address for a transgendered person - be they a crossdresser all dressed up, or a transsexual - is [?] "Ms". It all indicates that (at least) some transgendered individuals attach quite a lot of importance to honorifics. I'm not sure, but a pattern of convenience arises.

    I see convenience in many of the definitions provided by the transgender community. For instance, "tranny" has been "ruled" offensive by some, so it can't be used. But "cis", while it has been determined to be offensive to some, is deemed too convenient to discard. The argument Laurie put forth is more convenient than accurate (or consistent). And so on. I am suspicious of arguments and definitions that are convenient; they always contain inconsistency, inaccuracy or both.

    Carolyn Ann

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  69. Bob/Lawtears- are you 'God Squad', an MRA, or even both?

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  70. One poster, Pejar, stated:
    "One thing does trouble me though: If gender identity is entirely constructed by society, then is gender dysphoria entirely created by these gender roles? Is it entirely a matter of transpeople not fitting into their societally-created gender roles, in which case they are victims of society? Or would there be transsexuals even in a society with no gender roles?"

    One of the problems that transsexuals face in the political and societal arenas is the term "transgender" - which runs the gamut from transvestite to transsexual. While the term transgender is applicable to them as much as it is any gender variant individual, it is only the tip of their iceberg.

    Notice the term "transsexual and think about it for a bit. The term "sexual" is an indication of exactly where their root problem occurs. In short, their sexual development, with regard to their genitalia, is the diametrical opposite of the development of the Central Nervous System. What people forget is that the one organ absolutely essential to any form of sexuality is the brain, as it not only controls sexual function, but sexual identity as well. The problem here is that a transsexual is a person of one sex residing within a body that is developed to the other sex. The changes in gender that one undergoes with transition is merely a part of the whole process of becoming cisgendered with both mind and body being on the same side of the spectrum.

    One thing that I have to respectfully disagree with is this: "Surgery is normally a late stage of the transitioning process and falls within a spectrum of lifestyle choices - for those who opt for it at all."

    I believe that there is some confusion here about what SRS is used for and how it is applied. For the transsexual, it is absolutely essential and is not a mere matter of choice any more than a lumpectomy for a malignant tumor is. While only 1 in 5 "transsexuals" opts for the surgery, for those who do, it is absolutely essential. For the other 4 out of 5? I really can not speak to them and I doubt sincerely that they can speak to my situation - as I am that 1 in 5. I have heard a lot of arguments as to why this difference in needs occurs, but from talking to several individuals who are in the 4 of 5, I know that their basic needs are indeed different than mine.

    As far as the position of feminists that say that people such as myself "rape the feminine form" I would simply like to state that they should attempt to live when the rape between body and mind is an unceasing, unendurable constantly increasing torment and the revulsion between the mind and the genitalia puts one in constant revulsion of their own body. All I can say is those who have not experienced it can never understand this other than intellectually any more than one who has never been burned significantly can never appreciate the pain a burn victim suffers. One can understand the basic etiology, but hearing about a punch in the nose and actually experiencing one are two entirely different experiences. One is entirely intellectual and does not possess physical discomfort. However a punch in the nose is extremely painful.

    From the viewpoint of many transsexual individuals that I have known, their one common head scratching question becomes this: How can anyone who claims any degree of humanity turn a blind eye toward such suffering?

    To those feminists who would dismiss us and denigrate us, all I can say is this: It would appear that in your own essential behavior, you are no better than the worse in what you opposed - that brought you to where you are. Bigotry does not set well on anyone.

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  71. To anonymous: no, I'm not in a god squad, presumably you didn't read the bit in brackets. I'm not really an MRA either, but I do feel that feminism tends to centre on the default option, as pennyred has pointed out in the main article. I'm not at all like the default male, so therefore I honestly feel I have got a lot of flack from feminism which is misplaced, but generally aimed correctly at the average gorilla male who is a retard. Presumably anyone who aims at feminism who owns a penis is an MRA and judging from your tone, wrong. It's a good thing pennyred isn't male, eh? Otherwise, she'd be wrong too, right?

    Bob
    lawtears6"hotmail.co.uk

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  72. Just stopped by to say I love your post.

    Labels can be so damaging. They constrict, define, and ultimately seem to discriminate.

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  73. "I see convenience in many of the definitions provided by the transgender community. For instance, "tranny" has been "ruled" offensive by some, so it can't be used. But "cis", while it has been determined to be offensive to some, is deemed to convenient to discard."

    Who determined what where?
    IMO:
    'tranny' is not a technical term. It's a colloquialism and draws a high reference to transvestites (implied meaning) and to the porn industry.

    Secondly, 'cis' is a technical term, coming from Latin to mean the same thereof, whereas 'trans' means across.

    So I'm not getting your point, these are apples and nuclear bombs

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  74. Penny wrote:
    > [I'm trying]... to explain just why they are
    > wrong in terms that they, too, might be able
    > to understand

    My objection here: We've done this. Boy, have we done this. You've spoken to Bindel, others of us have spoken to Bindel. They do not want to understand. They have made up their mind. That's why they are No Platform'd. You won't persuade Nick Griffin, "in terms that they'd understand", that they're a racist. You won't persuade Bindel, "in terms that they'd understand" that they're being transphobic and to change their views. I just don't see it.

    If I'm a person of colour I don't want to hear you calling Nick Griffin's political views "lazy". I want to hear you condemning them. Enough people agree with NG that we don't need another person making excuses for the BNP.

    Your post - I wanna reiterate this - is awesome, and thank you for writing it. I'm not calling you a bad ally here. I'm saying you could be an even better ally without the apologism.

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  75. That's why I said, MacDuff, that the transgendered are dealt a harsh card. It's a metaphor.

    Yes. I know what a metaphor is. I... don't know what you think you're arguing here, frankly. I said "individual people" which, I had assumed, would potentially include transgendered individuals. You seem to be under the impression that there is some monolithic bloc of "THE TRANSGENDERED" and that they can be treated as such. That's... flawed, I suspect would be the best way of putting it.

    But, then, it appears that this is the thread for working out one's own issues in public, doesn't it?

    If a biological man can say he's a woman (because (s)he feels (s)he is), what does it mean to be a woman?

    Not a whole deal, really. I guess it means what you want it to mean. Why the holy fuck does it matter? It's not like if a transgender woman says she's a woman it robs your wife of her divine feminine essence, does it? She's still the same person. If you or her get pissed off, well, tough beans, y'know?

    I guess if you wanted you could sit there and obstinately refuse to accept that "woman" as a term can include someone born with male genitalia. However, where you're failing here is to appreciate that this isn't about you, or your bizarre love affair with the honorific, or in fact about coddling your own gender and sexuality peccadilloes at all. It's about making the world a better place for the marginalised. Part of that process, slow though it may be, is exactly the same that women and blacks and gays and Catholics have had to go through in various times in the places they were marginalised: getting people to accept that they are full human beings, not freaks of nature, not "wrong", not scary, not people who should have to skulk and kowtow and be afraid. Part of building a liberal society is establishing this basic concept of letting other people get the fuck on with their own lives.

    If Catholics and Protestants can stop burning each others' monarchs and get to a place of mutual tolerance, even if one side believes the other side is a bunch of damned heretics leading lost souls into hell (also you should have heard what they said about our Denise at cousin Shirley's wedding! The nerve!) I don't think it's too much to ask that people let go of whatever quasi-religious view of the word "woman" they're grasping onto and acknowledge that it's never been that simple, and that even if they don't like it they might as well accept it.



    Finally, a note to "Bob".

    As a white, male person, I understand that you believe you are mounting a passionate defense to defend me and mine from the tyrannies of feminism. I very much doubt I can dissuade you from hollering your utterly boring twattishness from your pillow-fort of bitter masculinity, but I would offer this brief word of advice, one man to another.

    Next time, if you feel the urge to log onto a blog like this and use it as a sounding board for your own petty, dull, entitled insecurities about your threatened masculinity, would you mind going and boiling your head for a few hours instead? Thanks awfully!

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  76. bob/lawtears:
    Your victimization at the hands of evil feminism is such an effective ad hominem tool, that, actually, nobody here cares.

    If you want to talk about women who want to have sex with a man as soon as they wake up, I could name a rather large portion. 5%? How about you back up your fucking claims with real proof instead of touting off random bullshit numbers? That would require ACTUAL evidence, though, and not your hurt little heart.

    Women who do labour jobs? Funny you should ask, I have a friend who went into masonry, as well I also know many people who have gone overseas for charity work in third world countries, to build homes.

    Doesn't fit with your distorted and deulded world view? Don't worry - you can just brush away my experiences and knowledge with your own generalization brush, you seem to have done it quite well enough so far.

    The fact of the matter is - you've really no idea what you're talking about, and it shows.

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  77. To anonymous:

    Anon wrote:

    >actually, nobody here cares

    So why are you replying?

    >That would require ACTUAL evidence, though, and not your hurt little heart.

    I see you provided your own evidence in spades. Ok, here's a little experiment. Go get a woman, get her to hang out somewhere just around waking up time (say, a newsagent at 7.30am in the middle of the city (not London!)) and get her to come on to all the men. Then do the same with the gender's flipped. Are you seriously saying that the bloke in this experiment is going to be inundated with horny women? Bullshit. More likely be dragged away by the cops.

    >I have a friend who went into masonry

    Ffs, I know lots of people who've gone into masonry. They all have penises. That's precisely my point. Where are those legions of women you seem to know and I haven't met, even though I've traveled extensively around the UK looking for them (well, I was doing jobs too)

    >as well I also know many people who have gone overseas

    "People"? Not women? We're discussing women here. Why would you wish to include non-women in this discussion? Were there more than, say, 2?

    >you've really no idea what you're talking about, and it shows

    Ok, put your money where your mouth is - show me a pic of a building site where, say, 50% of the workforce isn't male. Oh, too high? Ok, how about 20%. Still too high? 10%? Fyi, the last 3 sites I worked on had 0, probably 0 (it was a large site, I can't be entirely sure, but I didn't meet any women) and 0. The one manufacturing job I've done was, er, all men. Ironically, I did a stint of cleaning jobs and yes, they were all men too, except one, who was the supervisor.

    The only area where you might well have a point is in farming. Unlike you, and unlike your assertion that I don't know what I'm talking about, I can say that there are more women in farming than you are aware of (some of them are right rough arse too).

    So go on, provide some evidence outside of your pretty little head. Oh, silent, are we?

    Experiences and knowledge? Clearly, you don't have much in this subject.

    Bob
    lawtears6"hotmail.co.uk

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  78. This was worth waiting for. Fantastic article. Given you are, at least in part, writing for people who don't agree with you, I'd be interested to know what sort of response you've got - like you, I hope that these things can be communicated to the people who most need to hear them, but like many of your readers I'm not sure that's possible. Did you get any feedback from Julie Bindel?

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  79. To Anon above: for me, "tranny" is a word like "nigger" or "faggot". Don't use it unless you are one. :)

    More seriously: the reason I had surgery above all else is that you cannot actually live a full life in this society as a woman unless your visible body conforms. There would have been no way, for example, I could have used public swimming pools, or changed after sports, without it. Also, have you ever tried having sex when your genitals completely contradict the way you feel about yourself? Perhaps some people could handle it - I couldn't, and thank all the heavens were

    But the Julie Bindels of this world are possibly the main reason. If I'm going to be outcast and stigmatised by other radicals and feminists because of my identity, then I by Goddess am going to go deep into the closet until absolutely necessary.

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  80. Yeah - Bob, considering it is seen as 'abnormal' for a woman to feel randy a great deal of the time, whereas it is seen as 'abnormal' for a man not to be, is it surprising that men are vocal about this to other men (in a masculine camaraderie kind of way), and that women *don't* talk about their sex drive with their male co-workers? Books such as 'Girl with a one-track mind' and Belle de Jour's blog are very popular among women, and they're definitely about sexually active women! I consider myself far in the minority of women who happen to have a low-ish sex drive.

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  81. Dear Bob

    Other people have addressed some of your arguments on their merits, as if you are someone worth debating with. I have met you, or your many clones, before, and therefore have neither the time nor the inclination to bother being so pointless.

    Please. The kettle beckons, and you really are incredibly, hugely, massively dull. Heteronormativity isn't just passe because of feminism, you giant sack of balls. It's over and done with because people are just more interesting than your incredibly limited philosophy can cope with.

    I don't care what your sad little anecdotal evidence is. I have no interest in picking up your individual points: not because they are too hard, but because they are far, far too tedious for me to even begin to wish to get round to. I mean, come on, "men like sex more than women hurr hurr". Did you crawl out from under some neolithic mound shortly after attending the entitled fucktard's school of idiotic psychoanalysis and utterly simplistic data mining? Anecdote is not data, supposition is not data, bitterness is not data, your own personal sense of injustice is not data. D-, must do better, just, please, do it nowhere around me.

    You are not interesting. You are not original. You are not new. You are not a special little snowflake. You are boring. You are mediocre. Your bitter sniping has not only been said before but been argued against before, over and over again, and I am just fucking sick and tired of having to be the guy who tells the rest of you guys to get the fuck over yourselves, you whiny little babies!

    Your head is being put to no use, so I suggest, once again, that rather than continuing to post your asinine nonsense, that you instead go and boil it.

    I hope that at least other people are smart enough to realise that social groups are not monolithic and that, while your dull point of view is embarrassingly overrepresented among males with a particular lack of imagination, it is not the inevitable intellectual outcome of being male. Indeed, if it was, I would fucking shoot myself in the face because, dude, seriously, fuck.

    Boil your head. The protein inside it would be far better put to use as soup for the homeless.

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  82. Wow, as I am only discovering more about what I am and searching ways to explore what I could be, I know from my past I have so fearfully suppressed all things 'girly' about me by putting as much 'man' on as I could throughout my life, maybe even nowadays being aware of the very transphobic cis feminists, I might have considered their very masculine and patriarchical rhetoric to allow me to 'pass' as a 'genuine' female, stripped of all things 'girly'. It distresses me to think that there are those with vaginas who would be so chauvinistic so as to set boundaries, as their cis male counterparts do, on those of us who happen to discover our transgendered or transsexual predicament, and express extreme disdain on us as though there can be no legitimacy if we happen to be born with a penis (and other genetic or hormonally 'male' parts), but happen to have a heart and mind of the 'female'. Are some extreme cis feminists really vaginally endowed men, that happen to be pleased and content with their 'natural' bodies, but are angry they don't have 'male privilege'? And that they would scorn anyone who happens to have a penis as 'never a woman; always a man'? Transsexuality and Intersexuality throws the proverbial wrench into their twisted binary world even though they claim to disavow other aspects of an 'artificial' binaryisms we have in our society.
    Saintsuelle

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  83. //>actually, nobody here cares

    So why are you replying?//

    Because it's hilarious for me to see your responses.
    Secondly, your METHOD of emotional delivery is what nobody here really gives a shit about. You're barking up the wrong tree.

    As for the rest of your post - if you're triyng to portray being absolutely facetious and just generally stupid, you've done yourself well ;)
    Obviously, to any other human who posessed two brain cells of conscious thought, they could probably make that kind of synapse between cells. It seems that the connection between people -> women is too much for you, and it seems, alas that there's absolutely no point in debating topics you've absolutely failed to grasp.

    See, this is because you've started talking about sociology and not actual *women*. If you can't be bothered to stay on topic, please, please stop spouting your useless drivel - I at least personally don't care what you have to say, it's just funny to think you are somehow changing the opinions of anyone else.

    Protip: In future situations, don't judge YOUR experience of the UK with how the rest of the world works. I'm sure you've not been many places in the world ;)
    However, you'd probably start shit at the airport and then play the victim card, so I highly doubt you'd be going anywhere any time soon.

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  84. I am getting lost, but someone wrote, 'Many women share the Economist's aesthetic distaste of "Ms".'

    Yeah, and others, like me, have a distaste for being labelled as "married" or "unmarried".

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  85. To Carolyn Ann, Re the "police escort" thing. Julie Bindel did not have a police escort into the V&A. She walked in as everyone else did, past our protest. We were not shouting "Bindel the bigot", we were in fact shouting, "Stonewall, hypocrites!" and "L, G, B, where's the T?". I know, I was there.

    I think it is important to be accurate about this sort of thing.

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  86. Anonymous said:

    >It seems that the connection between people -> women is too much for you

    Look, I hate this de-segmentation of the human race when it comes to sex and sexuality. There are men and there are women. There are no 'people' (or rather, they are very rare). Indeed, isn't feminism based on men subjugating women throughout history? It wasn't people subjugating people, was it? Ditto for gender roles, ditto for sex, ditto for p3.

    >you've started talking about sociology and not actual *women*

    Ffs, presumably how transexualism is treated by society is not a sociological issue? One minute I don't understand how people -> women and now I'm not talking about women enough? !!!

    >it's just funny to think you are somehow changing the opinions of anyone else

    I don't. Pennyred does a better job than I. She has both eloquence and status, whilst I have neither.

    >don't judge YOUR experience of the UK with how the rest of the world works

    Um, I couldn't give a shit about the rest of the world. This is a blog by a UK resident about UK issues. Maybe I'm wrong and pennyred and Germaine Greer actually live in America or whereever. And I'm not planning on visiting an airport soon.

    I've got to say, you're not making much sense. But since you don't give a shit about what I say anyway, I doubt you're going to start.

    Bob

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  87. Re: the discussion about social versus natural construction of gender roles, you should look up the book "Pink Brain, Blue Brain". That argues from scientific studies that children's gender differences in early infancy are negligibly small. However, the brain isn't immutable as delivered, it's a self-altering organ, where growth follows use. If you always see yourself in a gender role and become "practised" in it, your brain will have altered structurally.

    So when a trans person says "my brain is [insert gender here]", they could be both correct and mistaken. Correct, describing the present day. Mistaken, that it was medically inevitable from birth.

    The brain defines the person. So if a body mismatch causes suffering, definitely rebuild the body rather than trying to rewire the mind! Just be careful playing the "inevitable from birth" card as justification for rights - it might be flatly disproved, and then where would you be? The dysphoria is justification enough by itself.

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  88. The conflation of gender non-conformity and gender dysphoria by both Bindel and polly is old news, having been done by radical feminists since the 1970s at least. Bindel does it in a deliberatively deceptive way (ie, she lies) as I detail in my own blog post on her Standpoint article, while polly continues to make the usual association of stereotypical forms of gender expression through clothing ("pretty frocks") out as though they're the *only* forms of gender expression undertaken by anyone. Which is, of course, utter nonsense. Trans people are just as diverse as the rest of the population in their gender expressions, including clothing choices. I'm certain there are trans women who dress like polly dresses.

    More to the point, if a diagnosis doesn't apply to you, don't be surprised when it's description doesn't describe you. Unless polly is claiming she is gender dysphoric and was assigned as a male at birth, the example description isn't even intended to fit her. Polly also is arguing from effect (being a woman who doesn't wear pretty frocks) to cause (she must be gender dysphoric), which is not how diagnosis works. This is even without getting into the fact that a number of trans people, especially those who are feminists, take issue with the medical framing of transsexuality with its gender-normative standards (and until recently, universal heteronormativity).

    However, polly does have one thing right, the GRA of 2004 does not recognise gender outside of man and woman (which are conflated with male and female because society always conflates sex and gender). Thus, the Act continues to police gender non-conformity as has always been done for those who identify as neither man nor woman. But given that polly then talks about clothing, I suspect this is not what she was actually referring to. To put it another way, the GRA of 2004 polices gender non-conformity no more than it has always been policed without it. If there's been a rounding up of butch women and effeminate men who are then taken before a tribunal and forced to have their gender markers changed, I've not heard about it.

    (The real problem here is the sloppy way in which radical feminists monolithically refer to gender when they mean, variously, gender identity, gender assignment, gender expression, and gender roles.)

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  89. Penny -thanks for the defence of trans people-Just a thought- the assertion in the Bindel article that the gender recognition act 2004 does harm the rights of women and girls. Has anyone - least of all Ms Bindel- noticed the year 2004. That is close on 6 years . Where I am inNSW Aust the Births deaths and marriages act was ammended in 1996 to allow recognition of change of sex . In South Australia ( the first in Ausralia to do so) -the legislation dates from 1988. So the where is the evidence for the diminution of the rights of women from such legislation.....this stuff has been around since last century.....the challenge to those who would deny trans people the basic human rights of recognition to a particular gender is to provide some evidence of harm or deficit to the individual or the polity.

    In my view it just basic human rights principles ......a deeper philisophical discussion about gender may be had - but the issue remains - in a society which legally defines irself in gender polarities- are you to deny the gender diverse access to a gender to which such a person identifies? ANd if so to what benefit ?

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  90. Minor note to an otherwise excellent article... I don't think Charlie Jane Anders has identified as a transvestite for years. She is totally awesome, and you can find her site at charliejane.com.

    Still great article, and it is always heartening to see non-trans feminists standing up for our place at the table.

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  91. Awesome post Laurie. I won't begin to wade into the pile of cisfail that's beginning to appear from transmisogynists on the hard left and right, and I'll just state that it always boggles my mind why feminists, trans feminists, and Farrellites aren't in accord on breaking down the penalties and lines of acceptable gender performance. And it is about policing the lines of cachet to a great degree, that only one group gets to say what is fighting oppression and what isn't because we are the *one true oppressed group.* (TM)

    I want to break the patriarchy, and the misandry industry, and yes, most of the lines of gender boundary, as I go happily on my binary female-identified trans lesbian non-operative way. More room for everybody to be themselves, really.

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  92. Goodness, I could probably say something about the domination of discussion by male-bodied posters (one in particular) but that would be disingenuous wouldn't it? It's heartening that this person attempts to silence both cis and trans women equally I suppose.

    (The posts I refer to remind me of the patronising distain directed at a transsexual woman by the transvestite potter Grayson Perry in a documentary about his life. He was unable to understand why she needed to change her body when he was quite happy being a heterosexual man who dressed up now and then). Cisnormativity or what?

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  93. Just a quick comment to say fascinating article, hit the spot for me, although I tend towards foolsjouney's p.o.v. perhaps.

    The comments are also extremely interesting - I especially enjoyed mcduff's summary of the Crazy Apes.

    And it's been taken apart but come on, academics use surnames all the time. Can you imagine "Ms. Butler takes Mr. Hegel's position to show... "? Lol, what nonsense.

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  94. Thanks sister for saying it so well. Re the cis debate, it's funny how some majority culture folks can't stand being "othered", I think it hits them right in the privilege.
    I also tend towards foolsjouney's p.o.v., I don't bother debating with folks who won't/can't cogitate.

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  96. One quick correction to an otherwise excellent article: Charlie Jane Anders currently identifies as a trans woman, and uses female pronouns!

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  97. When will the rad feminists ever work out the differences between gender identity (ones innate sense of self) and gender expression (a social construct).

    Time and again a broken old model of gender is presented as truth that requires radical feminists to eradicate trans people to make it work. Its better to be brave and and amend past gender theory and make to mental leap towards a model of gender with both identity and expression as two very different aspects of the nature of gender.

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