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Thread: The Trans Women Who Say That Trans Women Aren’t Women

  1. #1
    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
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    Default The Trans Women Who Say That Trans Women Aren’t Women

    Apparently, it's not just Germaine Greer (also, a long article - I included the first half):

    Gender critical trans women: The apostates of the trans rights movement.

    Meet the apostates of the trans rights movement.

    By Michelle Goldberg

    Last month, a 42-year-old English accountant who goes by the pseudonym Helen Highwater wrote a blog post disputing the idea that trans women are women. Helen is trans herself; in the last few years, she says, she has taken all the steps the U.K.’s National Health Service requires before it authorizes gender reassignment surgery, which she plans to have in 2016. Yet she has come to reject the idea that she is truly female or that she ever will be. Though “trans women are women” has become a trans rights rallying cry, Highwater writes, it primes trans women for failure, disappointment, and cognitive dissonance. She calls it a “vicious lie.”

    “It’s a lie that sets us up to be triggered every time we are called he, or ‘guys’ or somebody dares to suggest that we have male biology,” she writes. “Even a cursory glance from a stranger can cut to our very core. The very foundations of our self-worth are fragile.”

    From the perspective of the contemporary trans rights movement, this is close to blasphemy. Most progressives now take it for granted that gender is a matter of identity, not biology, and that refusing to recognize a person’s gender identity is an outrageous offense. Highwater herself long believed that: “I came from a point—and I think most of us do—of really, really low self-worth and deep shame about who and what we are,” she tells me. “And when people started telling me that trans women are women, you’ve always been a woman, you have a woman’s brain in a man’s body and all this kind of stuff—it’s a lifeline. It’s something you can hold on to. It really helps you to come to terms with things and move beyond that shame.”

    This year, however, Highwater joined Twitter, where she began to follow the furious battles between trans rights activists and those feminists derisively known as TERFs, or trans exclusionary radical feminists. The radical feminists—who, to be clear, don’t represent all feminists who think of themselves as radical—fundamentally disagree with trans activists on what being a woman means. To the mainstream trans rights movement, womanhood (or manhood) is a matter of self-perception; toradical feminists, it’s a material condition. Radical feminists believe women are a subordinate social class, oppressed due to their biology, and that there’s nothing innate about femininity. They think you can’t have a woman’s brain in a man’s body because there’s no such thing as a “woman’s brain.” As the British feminist writer Julie Bindel—a bete noire of many trans activists—put it, “Feminists want to rid the world of gender rules and regulations, so how is it possible to support a theory which has at its centre the notion that there is something essential and biological about the way boys and girls behave?”

    At first, Highwater felt incensed by these radical feminists. But she also wanted to understand them, and so she began to engage with them online. She discovered “people who had a pretty good grasp of gender as an artificial social construct—the expectations of what females are supposed to be, the expectations of what males are supposed to be, and how much of that is socialized,” she says. “What I started to find is that the women I was talking to actually made so much more sense than the trans people I was talking to.”

    Earlier this year, Highwater attended a talk by Bindel about radical feminists who have been banned from public speaking due to accusations of transphobia. There she met one of the organizers, the provocative trans writer Miranda Yardley, who likewise rejects the ethos of the contemporary trans movement. Transitioning, Yardley tells me, improved her life immeasurably. It eliminated the gender dysphoria—the strong desire “to be treated as the other gender or to be rid of one’s sex characteristics,” in the words of the DSM-5—that once plagued her. But it didn’t, she says, make her female. “I’m male, I own it,” she tells me. Soon, Yardley and Highwater began dating. “We identify as a gay male couple,” Yardley says. “We don’t identify as lesbians.”

  2. #2
    Elite Member darksithbunny's Avatar
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    Oct 2005


    I am so confused.

  3. #3
    Elite Member faithanne's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    On the Hellmouth


    I tend to stay out of debates about trans and gender but I know that her opinion isn't uncommon, or wasn't when I used to hang with a lot of trans women. When my BFF and I were young we were "adopted" by one of the city's best known trans women who had been a famous drag performer in the 60s and 70s and used to mentor and support other young trans kids. But her own personal opinion, which she didn't force on others but had been formed by decades living as a woman, was that trans women should be treated however they identify but that they weren't "women". In her opinion, she couldn't claim that she had always felt like a woman because she had no idea how a woman feels. She knew she was different, and wasn't like all the other boys and didn't wish to be associated as one of them, but that didn't make her a "woman".
    "You're going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well."

  4. #4
    Gold Member Lalasnake's Avatar
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    Feb 2008


    I've only been on the periphery of the activist movements, so I could be misunderstanding everything and completely unaware of a great many activities, progress, and regress, so please take this post with a small Siberian salt mine (tm Isaac Bonewits).

    I have a friend who is what I now know is called a TERF. He sees the modern trans* movement as setting us back with regard to equal rights, because of the reifying of gender binaries and the insistence of gender being an actual thing. He has identified for a long time as androgynous, and is now told by the online trans* movement that that identity is inherently transphobic. When he told me about this I didn't believe it, because it makes no goddamn sense to me. I believe that gender is an artificial construct and gender identity, as with all identity, is performative.

    TERFs are right that according to current research, there doesn't appear to be a significant difference between male and female brains, and I look forward to the day when we can find out whether any differences that may have been found in the brains of men and women are caused by psychosocial/environmental factors. Regardless, we ought to treat people how they want to be treated. I will happily call a person by the pronouns they prefer and think of them as what they identify as, but if it's important to them that I use the correct pronouns, etc., they're going to have to tell me their preferences. My friend also encountered people who became upset at him for having to ask what they identified as/what pronouns they preferred to use. I really think he must be deep in the fathoms of internet inanity, because I don't understand how a normal person with empathy and reason can expect someone to know their gender identity if they're performing it different from most other people in the society.

    Thanks to Highwater, I understand my friend's position now, and am less likely to believe that he's just having encounters with a bunch of newb trans* activists on the internet who don't quite get how gender et. al works. It appears that we're in the adolescence of trans* activism, where there is a great deal of progress made, but also a lot of bungling and burnt bridges. The same happened in with the other rights movements, if I remember their history correctly (which I might not), so I have hope that the trans* activists and the TERF/trans-TERF activists will find some common ground, and that the movement will come out more like the LGBTQ movement rather than the feminist movement, which is having a hard time lately.
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  5. #5
    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Oct 2005


    The main thing I object to is that some in the trans activist community are so hardcore that they seem to promote new biological, material and social rules and laws. I've seen comments in discussions on the internet regarding the "identifying as" theory that at some point went extremely basic because of that with questions like "So, if tomorrow I wake up and my feelings tell me to identify with a teapot, I should have the right to say I'm a little teapot, short and stout, here is my handle, here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, I just shout, tip me over and pour me out." Yes, for real. I have said it many times, there are people who are born with ambiguous reproductive organs, so much so that the new parents can't even register their child as one or the other sex. To me, THEY are the true victims of this situation because - especially decades ago - choices about what their gender should be were made before they could form their own thoughts and feelings and many, tragic, mistakes were made that way. Many of today's transgenders seem to make it easier for those conservatives who believe that homosexuality is a life choice to think that theory is right, because they, too, in their radicalism seem to promote some kind of choice i.e. the very complicated identification issues such as "Born a biological male, transformed into a woman (externally) through surgery, but still identifying as straight while dating a guy. Or female to male trans identifying as a gay man dating a non full trans female to male identifying as a feminist queer (self titled). It can come across to some as "pick of the moment" and therefore a lifestyle.
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