Feminism and the Transgendered

Printer-friendly version

I posted quite a long comment on the 'Out of Canada' blog today, but it was about something that deserves a wider discussion. I came across rather a good link which sympathetically addresses the issues involved, and gives quite a lot of detail and history.

Extravagance's picture


I was literally the very first person to read this blog post, but my brain isn't really ready for something like this at present. Reserved for later!

Catfolk Pride.PNG

A very comprehensive discourse

which I found rather too academic to be read in one hit.

It's fine to live in one's head, especially if it's firmly stuck up one's arse; the analysis of the analysis of post-modernist deconstructivism while fine for those dwelling in ivory towers or trying to justify their professorial salaries - what effect does it have on real people.

Quite honestly, I object to be considered a rapist because I'm transsexual as Janice Raymond would have it, but then I consider to be completely bonkers and simply trying to justify her own position as an oppressed lesbian. Don't we all when under fire ourselves point to someone more vulnerable in order to distract the attack?

While all of this is interesting in seeing one or two people's attempt to justify themselves, because ultimately this is what it is and many of the papers it features, what does it have to do with the price of bread?

I don't honestly care when I'm trying to live my life as I want it to be, whether I fit into to the theories of any of the learned men or women or whatevers, many of whom have no experience of any of the problems I experienced or the solutions I used to deal with them.

As a woman, and now legally female, I see myself as a feminist because I've experienced oppression or prejudice as both a female and a transsexual, and my own view of feminism is an inclusive one, unlike the lesbian separatists of the 1970s which was exclusive.

In my purview, feminism ultimately is about including everyone as equal and insisting on that right to be equal regardless of any concepts of sex, gender, race, colour or any for of categorisation except one - we are all human beings.

I accept it's simplistic, because I'm a simple soul who would like to get on with everyone, to help everyone and for that to be reciprocated. I believe in cooperation as being the ultimate in human behaviour as opposed to conflict which is the nadir of it.

As an idealist, I'm well aware that it won't happen in my life time if ever because until we stop acting on vested interests, we can never achieve or transcend our animalistic instincts. A recent book by the much respected scientist Edward Wilson suggests that societies are made up of small groups which create loyalties, and that these exist even when contained within larger groups, possibly explaining the phenomenon of how gang members are prepared to do silly things for other gang members. So according to his observations, I'm a hopeless dreamer. So be it, but that's me and as I said I don't give a tuppenny damn as to what some ivory tower dwelling anorak thinks - call me a Luddite, just don't forget to call me for dinner.


kimmie's picture

A head ache inducing article

Honestly, I gave up reading in depth after a while.

The problem is this is an ivory tower article with no real contact with actual T-folks. The author has only dealt with what is essentially about the issue, filtered through roughly a dozen people or so who ground their positions more or less around the nucleus of their own prejudices.

A lot of Raymond's crap cannot explain the existence of 3 year old trans girls/boys as an example. It all boils down to whether how/can feminism be applied to women of 'questionable' pedigree and consequently if FTMs to can even be excluded despite their changes.

Feminism of course is a social action (as you have to use it to happen) that would not exist if women, whatever the origin, are treated equally and fairly. In doing so, we all benefit.

My current company just added GRS to their covered conditions which is nice though 11 years too late for me :P, and a person in my group complained about 'adding this shit', meaning GRS is a pointless thing just to raise the premiums. To which I retorted to him that it is not as if people are rushing to get it done *rolls eyes* (and yes I am stealth within my work group.) Then I pointedly raised my voice to mention his wonderful smoking habit, which he defends as merely playing the odds as people have been known to not get health issues *rolls eyes*.

Thing is, until being a female is not considered a demotion, it will continue to plague T-women. Unfortunately, until those men who consider it to be their masculinist right that since they have been cast as the physical protector of their family (and of course their mate) and thus should be given some kind of physical control also, can be dissuaded of that stupidity, there will always be disrespect for women. Essentially the poor dears need to feel they are doing something worthwhile to make them feel 'manly'.

Do I have to mention I really hate social theorists of all stripes.


Less in common

I think that transwomen (Mtf) and transmen (Ftm)have even less in common than we have with gays and lesbians. They aren't very nice to us in my experience.


poetheather's picture

The thing that always kills

The thing that always kills me when reading these sorts of things is that it all depends on which wave of Feminism you are in. The people who most hate us and think that we are just men wanting to change our bodies just to invades womyns spaces. Those are second wave feminists. Third wave feminists tend to be more mellow and laid back.

I am intrigued by this and will give it a read when I am awake and caffeinated. As well as not in as much pain. It might prove to be interesting.


We are the change that will save the world.

joannebarbarella's picture

When Somebody Starts Quoting John Money

Then I am afraid that I turn right off as I cannot consider him as any kind of authority on either transgenderism or feminism.


Much too lofty for me.

I'm going to be snippy on this. It amazes me that sometimes it seems the more education someone gets, the more incoherent their writing is to the general public.

I was mildly feminist before I transitioned, and I made sure that the women in my life were given a lot of support, from writing papers and giving emotional boosts to my then wife as she worked on a college degree, to showing my young daughter how to change the oil and take care of her first car.

Being a woman now, and living in complete stealth, it was unavoidable that I would experience sexist men. I'd consider a lot of what we women run into not to be maliciously mysoginistic, but merely those with a meat and two veg to be acting according to their genetic natures.

After I was living as a woman, I never seriously tried to work as an Electrician again because I'd have been killed at a work site, of that I am sure. It would have been because I was Trans, not because I was woman. Still, most do not rumble me, and it is pleasing that much of the time, a man will open a door for me, check my oil, carry a heavy box to my car and other helpful things.

Frustratingly, it is extremely difficult to gain credibility with males in regards to Electrical/Mechanical tasks I have done over the years, and even well meaning males can be incurably sexist. I console myself in the knowlege that in my field when I was working, what I have not done, ain't worth doing. :)

I think it is a shock to lots of transitioning women that they just put themselves in a lower social strata, and some get indignant and yes, even bitchy, which just makes us look more sillier.



I think the article correctly identifies the issue...

...as fraught, which is very predictable when one considers that each of the supposed ‘genders’ under discussion are equally fraught, being bound up in social constructs of long standing, religions (many of them — all with different viewpoints), and few real points of consensus on either, or all three. What is it to be a ‘real man,’ or a ‘real woman,’ or any sort of ‘real’ anything. The Boy Scouts of America have a notion (religiously-inspired — albeit moderately covertly so) that to be a ‘man’ is — first of all — not to be a homosexual, or a bisexual, or indeed almost anything other than budding ‘Promise Keeper,’ living out one's Biblically-ordained role as ‘Head of the Family,’ ‘Head of the Woman,’ and (hopefully) a ‘Good Christian, although ‘hardship waivers’ are grudgingly permitted for those without the foresight to be born in the right sort of family.’

This sort of ‘hothouse’ monoculture makes for a very skewed discourse, so there are many nominal ‘boys’ who don't fit the mould. It also makes for a monoculture society vulnerable to specialist predation. witness the perennial scandals which pop up from time to time involving paedophiles, who naturally congregate where large numbers of predictable prey are readily available at conveniently located watering holes.

Where else are you going to find a paedophile, after all, an old people's home?

Just as in the real world, diversity is good for life as a whole, because burgeoning life has plenty of room for ‘adaptations’ that fail, allowing more room for other life to thrive.

There's a lovely novel called Exit to Reality by Edith Forbes, in which mankind has invented a perfect and immortal monoculture society, a grown-up sort of Matrix before The Matrix was made. The two main characters in the story are two people (it's difficult to say what gender they are, since they spend their time swapping back and forth in many combinations, so everything about them is fluid, dependent upon circumstance— Are they gay? lesbian? bisexual? male? female? radical? conservative? all of the above? Who knows? What they are, is a harbinger of change, of evolution, and that's a good thing to be) and I thought of them when I discovered an article which revealed to me that there are living things miles beneath the surface of the ground, even below the ocean floors, and that these organisms fed off the heat of the Earth itself, and were quite likely to survive even the Red Giant phase of our Sun by millions, perhaps billions, of years or more. In difference lies possibility, and in the very long run every conservative strategy fails.



P.S. http://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2012/04/women-in-sff-month-n-k-jemisin/




A tender heart is an asset to an editor: it helps us be ruthless in a tactful way.
--- The Chicago Manual of Style

cyclist's picture

Not quite the article it looks like...

I spent years studying bullshit to be able to read this sort of thing. It is indeed an ivory tower academic work, but for a reason. It is written for academics. It is, however, not just a dense piece of verbiage, or a list of people's ideas, but a deconstruction of said ideas in the usual sense rather than in the technical sense ascribed to that term. In fact, it drips with sarcasm in some places, and if you can see past the language it is rather scathing of people like Raymond.

"In this way, she traps MTF transsexuals with a double-bind: Either MTFs take up traditional sex roles and are thereby sexist or else they eschew these traditional sex roles and are thereby sexist"

There is a strong sense of sympathy and empathy in the piece. It specifically criticises the attitude that ignores real and personal experiences in favour of dogma: "tendency to forgo consideration of the real life experiences of trans people in favor of monolithic, stereotypical representations of them (or through outright erasure)". The 'erasure' refers to Raymond's view that FtM people don't exist, and are merely butch lesbians, even if they are actually gay transmen.

This is very good as a history of academic thoughts on 'our' issues, and that sort of work HAS to quote Money because he was very, very influential despite being allegedly* a preadtory nonce and liar. I am happy to see that person quoted when the tone of the quote is negative.

*Alleged by David Reimer and his brother.

Renee M's picture

To Me,

This is all somewhat interesting, but, at the same time, it seems very unreal. These people can theorize anything they want, but better understanding of the brain, which is advancing all the time, will answer most of these questions.

Questions not answered by how the brain fixes on which gender a baby knows to imitate and learn from, could be answered by psychology, where they can test/study groups of people and even sociology. I guess all these philosophical (?) theories just don't appeal to me or even seem relevant compared to science.

Hugs and Bright Blessings,

Tuddrussell's picture

I don't know about that...

Theorizing is absoloutly necessary in all aspects of academia and research. Take the scientific method for example:

The method

No answers can be had if no one is asking questions.

Thinking about things on many levels, including ethical and societal, is not just a good idea it's absolutely vital.

Science may answer these questions, but who's to say that will happen in our lifetimes or that those answers will be correct?

Thinking is always important, even... no especially if you're doing it wrong.

Life operates on two or more levels

I accept that we need the academic theorizing providing that this balanced by real life experience, which doesn't always happen. There is much bad science around because of the way funding happens or perhaps because scientists aren't always as objective as they ought to be, but then we're are supposed to be human and humans are by nature subjective.

Ultimately, some of us as humans will be in positions to exert more influence than others. Providing those in those positions are in touch with the grass roots level and include a personal perspective, then I'm happy for them to be the ones to whom the law makers speak, because ultimately, it is the law makers and the subsequent interpreters of those laws who have most impact upon our lives.

Sadly, all of these things can be influenced by political and populist pressures. Despite the best intentions of legislators to ban discrimination, I'm aware that being in a minority means I shall never be acceptable to a large number of people and that goes for other minorities as well. Hence I hide my minority status as best I can and live in stealth. I am also aware that what the law gives it can also take away and at present it chooses to give me the same legal status of cis gendered females, with one exception, a minister of religion can refuse to perform a marriage for me.

With regard to the paper linked in this blog, it is an academic review of the history as seen by the writer for an academic purpose.

On a personal level, I grow less and less interested in all this or indeed research to discover why I or anyone else whould wish to eschew our birth sex, I don't have a problem with their curiosity except as to how they might wish to use any results they find. I've found my solution, to become as much as I can who I want to be, so ideas of cures are irrelevant. I have no desire to live in a society which has half a dozen genders from which to choose, two is fine for me, I know which one I am. Yeah, I'm selfish, I admit it, but I've fought hard to get where I am and as I approach the last period of my life, I simply want to be left in peace to plough my own furrow, because just coping with the financial aspects of life is trying enough, especially with the thought of retirement approaching in the next few years and dealing with a job which becomes increasingly demanding by the day. Life ain't getting any easier.


Kristina L S's picture

I struggled with this one

Looking at it last night I really had to work at getting through it and I didn't fully read it, it was just too dry and.. off beam I think. Twenty four hours later I still have trouble with it. Yes there are pieces where it seems the author is taking a stand against the established 'wisdom'. Over the years I have read much of this and usually rolled the eyes, tossed it aside and kept on walking.

I have no trouble at all with 'science' trying to understand stuff and they should, as that is part of the purpose of said 'science' to question and try to understand. Trouble is that much as it might pain an x, y or z type questioner people are not simple things with a set group off responses. Almost any question you ask me I could give a yes or no, but answer. Everything depends always. There may be simple explanations or reasons as to why I believe I am not quite him and better as her, but quite frankly I no longer give a stuff. I am, therefore I be or something. Play on with the theories and if you come up with a definitive I'll nod and say, oh good, taa. But it won't change a damn thing in my world. That takes growth and change on an evolutionary level and that tends to take a loooong time. Of course facebook could fix it over night right... cough. Meanwhile I'll just do my best to survive in a sometimes hostile world. It is what it is as am I.


Beverly Taff's picture

Now I know ...

Now I know why I steer clear of feminists. Seems to me they can be every bit as intransigent and bigoted as all the other intransigent bigots. I'll just get on with the business of growing old disgracefully. How in the hell do I rape somebody by imitating their bodies? Or even 'stealing' their bodies. They just don't seem to realise that to my way of thinking, gender is all about between the ears.

cyclist's picture

Even more bigotry

Syndicate content