Future of Feminism: Transfeminism and Its Conundrums

How to address transgender issues has long been a sticking point in feminist circles. Trans women, especially, often find themselves with a conundrum: Not always welcomed into the women’s movement with open arms, they are nevertheless confronted with many of the same sexist and misogynist institutions all women face–sometimes more so because of the extra layer of stereotyping that goes along with identifying as trans.

The issue of transfeminism and what it might mean really sparked during the 1991 controversy over the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival’s “womyn-born-womyn”-only policy. But the debate over the inclusion of transgender women in the feminist movement goes back to the early 1970s and has been waged in both academic theory and all over the blogosphere. While there’s no hope that I can resolve this debate in a few hundred words, there’s no doubt that defining transfeminism and, more generally, articulating how trans and queer issues fit into the movement, should be central concerns of our feminist future.

Here’s a brief, somewhat reductive overview, focusing on three issues that seem central to the trans/feminism discussion:

  • Sexism is institutionalized at birth. As Asher Bauer explains in “Not Your Mom’s Trans 101,” “Let’s start at the beginning. A baby is born. The doctor says ‘It’s a boy’ or ‘It’s a girl’ based on the appearance of the child’s genitals. [...] the child is then raised as whatever arbitrary gender the doctor saw fit to assign.” On the one hand, this is often the setup for trans identification later in life, with the individual realizing that her gender doesn’t match up with her biological sex (as designated by the doctor and social conventions that elide sex and gender). On the other hand, some argue that girls face sexism from birth while boys, even if they later identify as women, do not, signifying a fundamental difference in terms of privilege and upbringing between cisgender and trans women.
  • Gender is socially constructed. Expounding on an idea most famously discussed by Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex, Laurie Penny writes, “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.” Trans women have to function in the same patriarchal culture cisgender women do, so it’s not a huge leap to say that all women can stand together against inequality. However, even the term “cisgender” is a contentious one, as it suggests ciswomen have privileges (by “being able to” conform to the sex/gender binary) that transwomen do not. According to Miska, “cisgender privilege” is a fundamental misnomer because “we do not have gender privilege to begin with.”
  • Feminism is about equality. This last one is the kicker. If feminism at its root is about equality between men and women, then looking out for the interests of transgender women and men should be well within the spectrum of foundational feminist concerns. For example, trans women are at a great risk of violence despite not being referenced in much of the research and programs designed to combat violence against women. Perhaps transfeminism and feminism cannot be so easily lumped together, or perhaps the controversy really revolves around theory and practice butting up against each other in an eternal struggle. On paper, trans women and cisgender women may not be ideologically the same; in life, though, don’t we face a lot of similar hurdles?

It’s important to acknowledge the potentially controversial nature of transfeminism, but if feminism can’t find a way to embrace difference while finding common ground, then what’s the point?

Part Twenty in a Women’s History Month series celebrating organizations and ideas that represent the future of feminism.

Photo from Flickr user Benson Kua via Creative Commons 3.0.

Comments

  1. The point is to first get equality and power for womyn! all womyn!

  2. I think the part about cisgender priviledge is wrong. I know four transwomen who have been sacked from their jobs as primary school teachers because they were trans, and one transwoman who was sacked from her job as a teaching assistant, solely because she was trans. I don’t know any women who have been sacked for being women.

    I also know a three transgirls who were bullied out of schools at the ages of 7, 12 and 13, because the school did nothing to stop the transphobic bullying. Only one of them got home tuition for her GCSEs and was unable to go back and do A-levels there.

    i would be the first to argue that women suffer from discrimination in a world which privileges men, but transwomen suffer a whole lot more on top of that.

  3. Except the author is passing off the most extreme trans-negative radical feminist talking points as somehow representative of a large contingent of feminists as a whole, which is either ignorant or disingenuous.

    What’s more, most of these “conundrums” were issues in second-wave academia, but nowadays have been relegated to the backwater of radical feminist dialogue. The real question is when mainstream feminism is going to wake up and realize that we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by leaving the antitransgender-obsessed radical feminists be. The last thing we need is to let these people claim to speak for all feminists and continue to alienate trans women from feminism.

    • Claire Cramer says:

      Amen. Keeping your head in the sand is not going to keep you safe. Stop using your cis privilege to willfully ignore the dangers of these radfems–you are actively endangering your trans sisters.

  4. Adam (a trans guy) says:

    Why wasn’t a trans woman invited to write this piece? Why are we hearing from yet another cis women’s study major theorizing about trans women instead of from trans women themselves?

    It’s not like there is a shortage of them writing on the web, yet among the links here, it looks like precisely one was written by a trans woman. The majority are cis people hating on trans people. Do I really need to tell you how absurd this is?

    If you’re not listening to actual trans women, how can you possibly learn?

  5. I would suggest checking out http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/the-cotton-ceiling-really/ for some concerns I find to be valid from radical feminists. It’s cool to embrace everything trans, but at the cost of women’s sexual autonomy? Really??

    • That article is wrong. It’s lying, and it’s twisting words and statements to try and push their view onto others who have not done research.

      The cotton ceiling was a way to talk about how within many feminist and lesbian/queer circles, trans women are only accepted to a certain degree. People say they are accepting of trans women, and agree with the idea that trans women are women, but will still keep trans women at arms length. They aren’t invited to women’s sexuality conferences, they are despised at the feminine porn awards, they are never considered women when it comes to an emotional level. That was the purpose of the theory. It was a way to talk about how there’s a ceiling on how close trans women and cis women can get, because of cultural narratives about trans people.

      IT IS NOT IN ANY WAY ABOUT TAKING AWAY SEXUAL AUTONOMY. Not from women, not from anyone. It’s a way to frame arguments about cultural and ingrained transnegativity and cis valuation.

      The argument put forward by that blog hinges on the axiom that trans women ARE NOT women. Plain and simple.

      This lie that trans women are trying to take away sexual autonomy is hateful, and horrible on so many levels. It makes me sick as a trans woman.

      • Graínne says:

        The cottom ceiling (a porn derived term that has disturbing implications about power and authority for those who “need” to break it) is about shaming LESBIAN women for having a no penis preference. It’s not my job as a woman of any preference to make another person feel “included” by having sex with them. Lesbians get put under these sexual pressures all the time. Hey, a lot of lesbians have a sexual preference that excludes implants – on other women. Is it now “bigotry” if that prference excludes transsexuals? Why is it that we can’t even talk about the disturbing implication of this term and these workshops without “Phobia!!1!” being screamed out? There are transexual women who are disturbed by this stuff too – are their voices being silenced or ignored here too? Why can’t lesbians talk about *our* right as women to sexual autonomy without it being turned into “what about teh male born?!”

        When Susan G Komen did what they did to PP, lesbians were out there with financial and political support for an organization that largely benefits heterosexual women. When PP is hosting and promoting “male born only” (WBW is still bad tho, right?) workshops about breaking lesbians’ cotton ceilings, are hetero women going to say anything?

        Also I prefer a feminism that’s about dismantling patriarchy not “equality.”

        • Actually, yes, it is bigotry to leave a bias about anatomy as gender-specific unexamined and use it to claim autonomy. Especially when cissexist lesbian culture encourages and promotes treating trans women as less than human. It goes hand-in-hand with the radfem allergy to bisexual women. It is seeing the penis as the great demon, which is both limiting and limited when you consider how readily some trans men embrace male privilege on an active basis as their maleness is accepted by cisgender society. And trans women are not male-born, they are forcibly assigned male at birth.

          Dismantling the patriarchy should include eliminating ALL binarist thinking, as any defense of it only encourages the continuation of the patterns. Who are you to insist your “sexual autonomy” should include the right to oppress others by dismissing their core gender and humanity? And what makes you think a non/pre-op trans woman wants to make love using her penis? You have a LOT to learn about trans women.

          • Ashland Avenue says:

            Lysana, are you for real?! You actually put the phrase sexual autonomy in quotes, as if it’s some kind of fluffy passing whim on the part of lesbians, that needs to be discarded ASAP?! Really?! If that is your belief, you certainly have no place on a feminist board. My choice of who I sleep with does NOT, repeat NOT, dismiss anyone’s core gender or humanity. If trans people think that it does, I’m sorry that they’ve decided to give others that kind of power over them.

            And nobody is “forcibly” assigned a sex at birth. That’s a pathetic attempt to gain pity points. What happens is this: midwife/doctor/whomever sees a vagina or a penis, and pronounces the baby a girl or boy, accordingly and according to 99.9% of the population. There’s no malice there. That’s in your head. How on earth can the birth attendant, or the parents, know by looking at a baby that it may be trans? They can’t, so they go with the odds. You’re assigning malevolence where there is none.

        • It only became about “lesbians” and penises when radfems reading about the full community of queer women and their interactions with trans women decided that meant “lesbians” and “penises.”

          When you stop making it all about you, and recognize that you cannot presume the status of anybody’s genitalia, then it makes perfect sense. But that would require reading through a unselfish lens, which is obviously really, really, really difficult.

          • Ashland Avenue says:

            Uh, have you been reading and keeping up with this on the web? Apparently not, because this issue is very much about lesbians and trans women. There have been upteen blog posts BY TRANSWOMEN saying this. For you to then turn around and call lesbians “selfish” because they are fighting back is disingenuous, to say the very least.

        • When you keep applying a “male” biological term to describe the bodies of trans women by assuming that a trans woman actually DOES have any sort of organ that could be called a “penis”, you maintain the image of trans women as still somehow “part male.”

          If you want people to respect you as a person before they start defining what you can and cannot do because of your own bodily organs and assumed gender roles as inherent to those organs, then you probably ought to stop trying to define other people’s bodily organs as well. If you stop defining other people’s bodily organs, then you can stop getting squiked out by the notion that a lesbian might have genitals that are protruding rather than internal, or maybe you could stop seeing “penis” as equating to “male” and instead just be “genitals that feel good when touched consensually” that vary in appearance in the same way that faces do.

          Also I love it when anti-trans lesbians get themselves twisted around the idea that “rejecting lesbian trans women’s bodies by viewing them as male is hurtful to trans women” equates to “YOU HAVE TO HAVE SEX WITH ME NOW OR ELSE YOU’RE TRANSPHOBIC.” As if anyone, trans or not, really wanted to have sex with someone who was being repulsive and hateful. Uh, not really? Being rejected hurts, but it hurts once on an individual level– what hurts more is the everyday experience of being viewed as an inappropriate sexual partner in the same way that the sexual stratification of races hurts not because all individuals are racist but because the framing of “what is sexually appealing” is institutionally excusive.

          In short: A lesbian feminist COULD have a “no penis policy” and still have sex with a non/pre-op trans woman by seeing her partner’s genitals not as “penis” but “an external clitoris and oh isn’t that lovely.”

          • Ashland Avenue says:

            Yeah, I GUESS that could happen. ON MARS.

            You’re welcome to go play your semantics games, but I’m not interested. A penis is a penis, and a vagina is a vagina. I’m sorry you were born not liking what you were born with, but…a penis is a penis and a vagina is a vagina. Just like a cat is a cat, a door is a door, etc.

          • No no stop. This is bullshit. It is not transphobic for lesbians to not want to have sex with someone with a penis.

            There is a distinction between sex and gender, and while you may identify as a woman, that does not negate the fact that you have a male sex organ that a lesbian might not want in her bed.

            In fact, it reeks of male privilege; the assumption that women owe you sex otherwise they’re a bitch/bigot.

  6. My partner is in the process of deciding whether or not to transition, and one of the things that is holding them back from self-actualization is the fear of violence and the limitations on mobility that come with being trans*. In Canada, essentialist lawmakers feel it nessecary for trans* people to undergo a sterilizing surgery with a hugely long recovery period in order to change the gender marker on their passport, and they require a persons gender presentation to match the one on the passport (who gets to decide what that looks like anyways??) thus stopping trans people from travelling. They are also worried about their ability to conform to same cis sexist beauty standards that have us cis girls stand in front of the mirror and picking ourselves apart for from the age of 4, but magnified, since to fail to conform could mean violence.
    Trans women experience appallingly high rates of violence, and regardless of whether they have experienced that violence from childhood, it shapes their lives. That violence IS gender based violence and it is very much based in the systems of oppression that harm cis women from childhood. Femininity is abhorred in our culture, and trans* women are threatening to patriarchy in the way that they relinquish their male privilege and they way they destabilize the gender binary. Often violent street harrassment is a daily reality for some cis women. And what violence have they experienced since childhood? The violence of living in a society that constantly misgenders you, that forces you to be someone who you are not, and makes you feel like you are mentally ill or worthy of humiliation or distain for wanting to be the person you are. My partner’s only exposure to trans women in childhood was jerry springer and maury, where these women were treated like freakish jokes. When I think about how that hurt them through their formative year, when I think of that VIOLENCE, I feel hurt right down to my core.
    That comment on “cisgender privilege” really pissed me off. Do you really believe there is only one form of privilege?? So, because we are disadvantaged under a patriarchal system for being a cis woman means that we can’t ave other intersecting forms of privilege?
    I am a cis woman, and so I do not have male privilege, but I do have cis privilege, which means greater mobility, constant affirmation of my gender identity, a much lower risk of violence, and never having to lose my job because someone isn’t comfortable with my genitals. I also have white privilege, and able bodied privilege. I have NT privilege. If we, as feminists, resist talking about our privilege, we kill our movement.

    • this law was recently overturned in Ontario. Trans men and women are no longer required to undergo surgery in order to change the sex on their passports.

  7. @Miranda
    “…most of these “conundrums” were issues in second-wave academia, but nowadays have been relegated to the backwater of radical feminist dialogue…”

    Wrong-o! These issues are hotly debated within Women’s Studies classes across North America. Transgender theory, issues around sex change, plastic surgery, hormones treatments, gender, gender identity are very much a part of academia and feminist theory and are actually discussed in a challenging, critical, and open-minded way, rather than being consistently shut down with name calling, glitter bombing, and accusations of various “phobias” at every turn.

    If only these issues were able to be discussed online as they were in a classroom setting, I think we would be able to get much further….

  8. I have to disagree with some of these posts. By claiming that embracing trans* people/ ideologies is taking something away from women, you imply that trans* women are NOT women, which suggests that you do not in fact embrace “all things trans*. Trans women are women.

    As to the article:

    The word cis was not meant to be an insult. It’s used because its meaning is the opposite of trans. It was made for similar reasons that “straight” was made. Cis women do have privilege, but it would be ridiculous to suggest that the subjugation one experiences for being a women is erased by the privilege that comes with being cis. That’s not how privilege works.

    I also disagree with the gender as a social construct statement. Many people, trans and cis, disagree with this. Gender roles are not being argued about. Gender roles are certainly socially constructed. Gender is more complicated than that. Many people feel identity is inborn, for example.

    I hesitate to accept the idea that sexism is from birth associated with identity. Of course one can internalize societal expectations etc, but that does not erase privilege or harm from perceived gender. Trans women have, at one point, experienced the privilege that comes with being perceived as men. Trans men have experienced first-hand misogyny. Neither of these is erased by 1. being feminine while perceived as male or 2. being masculine while perceived as female. (I’m a little confused on what the article was saying on this point, so I’m not sure what else to say). Of course, none of THAT erases identity or individual experience. If you’ve known since you were young, it’s very likely you’ve internalized sexism (assuming trans woman here).

    Overall, I think we need to be wary of over-generalizing. There is no set ideology for cis or trans women. I applaud the author’s incentive to explore this issue, but a trans woman’s narrative is deeply needed.

    • And to say trans women do not experience sexism from young age is also not universally true. Trans women don’t suddenly choose to be female at some later point in life. We have always had a strong female identity, that is precisely what makes us trans women and not something else under the transgender umbrella. We have to fake masculinity to get by because of trans- and homophobia and because of the second rate femininity has in society – a distinctly sexist problem. I was never good at faking masculinity and my femininity was always a little too obvious. Luckily lacking masculinity could be negated by accepting geek-culture, which is stereotypically less masculine, but still …

      Neither can I deny that pre-transition, being able to successfully fake masculinity gives you access to male privilege, but it comes at a high personal and emotional cost. A cost that do kill people a little too often.

      A trans women’s experience is different that a cis woman’s, a black woman’s is different than a white woman’s, and on it goes. However the challenges we all face have their origin in bigotry, and many of them are the same. Seems to me that we do have a common cause as women of all prefixes.

      • I have always found the argument that “trans women don’t experience sexism because their childhoods were male” rather bizarre. Because everyone that grows up in a sexist, misogynist, gynophobic, heterosexist, etc., culture experiences those things, by virtue of living in said culture. It strikes me as a bit like saying bisexual/pansexual people don’t experience gay bashing or homophobia because they can “pass” or something. It’s a very essentialist understanding of oppression.

      • Exactly. I mean, I’m cis, for god’s sake, and I immediately saw the flaw in that logic. As if trans* women don’t notice the oppression that cis women experience every day. And as if the experience of that oppression doesn’t factor into their decision to come out, or not come out, as trans*. Good grief.

  9. @Suzanne. I actually had a discussion about this today. There is no monolithic trans opinion, and casting the opinion of some trans women as the opinion of all trans women is extremely problematic. some queer trans women I know who are pre or non operative are offended by resistance from lesbian women to community inclusion, but many are also not offended by some lesbians not finding cocks attractive. I don’t think that being trans inclusive means ignoring cis women’s sexual autonomy. Some lesbians don’t like cocks. Some lesbians are okay with them on the right woman. Let’s not cast lesbians, cis women, or trans women as monolithic entities.

    @Anon, I am actually a women’s studies major, and while we do talk about trans* issues extensively and debate things like sexual reassignment sugery and facial feminization surgeries quite hotly, the idea that trans women are women is not really up for debate. If we are willing to accept the premise that the gender binary is socially constructed, than the idea that someone’s gender identity may be non binary or may not conform to the gender assigned to them at birth should not be contraversial. Similarly, feminists learned something from the limitations of the second wave- we need to listen to women. we need to allow people to speak about their experiences and understand their identities as legitimate and our privilege as blinding. When we discuss links like srs and ffs, we dont use them to devalue trans womanhood- rather we question what they mean in a patriarchy that understands gender as an immutable binary, that forcably assigns gender at birth, and values women solely on the basis of their appearance. We inquire why ffs is more common than it’s opposite, why trans* women’s bodies are scrutinized and violated every time a they walk down the street, while trans* men are rendered invisible in public discourse. Looking at trans* issues with respect for trans* identity can illuminate ways in which patriarchy functions that you cannot see through the experiences of cis* folk alone.
    Questioning trans* identity IS second wave-y. It is second wave-y because it ignores the voices of certain women in the name of “universal sisterhood”. Our role as feminists isn’t to push away anything that makes us uncomfortable or challenges our theories, or to try to change them to fit our theories, but rather to acknowlege the legitimacy of their experiences and take the opportunity to question out theories, test them, and alter them. This is not bad! This is forward motion!

    And “If only these issues were able to be discussed online as they were in a classroom setting, I think we would be able to get much further….” Emotional reactions are warranted when the subject matter is emotional.

    • @S – I have a B.A. and a Masters degree in Women’s Studies. It is up for debate. Within Women’s Studies, we differentiate between intersex folks who are assigned a particular gender, rather arbitrarily, and transgenderism, which includes a great deal of choice. Questioning gender and gender identity is all a part of feminist theory and nothing is a given at this point. If it were we would be failing in the critical thinking department which is, as you know, central to academia and feminism.

      • Plenty of trans people, I suspect, would disagree with characterizing transgender identity as an issue of “choice” rather than coercive assignment of gender at birth. Others may not.

        • Kate LBT says:

          “Challenging, critical and open-minded.” It sounds so much nicer than “bigoted, eliminationist and bio-essentialistic.” The idea that you can validly “challenge” someone’s identity and lived experience as inauthentic is the hallmark of someone who is entirely too comfortable living their privilege.

          • Ashland Avenue says:

            Kate, challenging my lived experience is what transwomen do all the freaking time. ALL. THE. TIME. You sound like someone who is entirely too comfortable always getting your own way. Someone who is entirely too comfortable just throwing out the word “privilege” at anyone who disagrees with you. Someone who is entirely too comfortable not listening to women at all.

      • I am a transman and I may never feel the amount of discrimination and hatred as my transisters have felt but if there is one thing I can say for them, is that Transgenderism IS NOT A CHOICE AND WILL NEVER BE A CHOICE, why would people choose to be constantly harassed and mistreated? Why would they chose to be 3 to 6 times more likely to do cocaine? Why would someone choose to be part of a minority where suicide is common because of harassment? Why would they chose to be more likely to be homeless and jobless THAN ANY OTHER MINORITY? Why would someone chose to have to constantly lie or get hurt telling the truth because of who they really are? I didn’t chose to be a gay guy inside of a girl’s body, and my transisters never chose to be girls trapped in a guy’s body.
        Everyday I wake up, I realize that I was able to live for another day. I got to live in same world as my boyfriend. I constantly live in fear and I constantly lie because of my gender identity. I live one foot in the closet and one foot out of the closet. I am still afraid that my parents will disown me, kick me out of the house if they find out. I know I have been blessed with people who don’t care that much about my gender identity and I have been blessed with people who embrace me because of it (because they thought they were the only one at my school who was transgender). I was blessed to go to a school with a GSA and teacher who may not be trans but can understand the confusion, the alienation and the fear we have to deal with. I stand with my transisters and my transbrothers, with the ones with no gender and the ones that are both.

        • I believe that a streak of histrionic masochism is a strong component of the “trans woman” mental illness. That’s why some people choose to be flamboyantly, obviously “trans”. Because they actually feed off of the negative reactions they get from society in general. If a “trans” person were to wear a relatively gender-neutral hairstyle and relatively gender-neutral clothing (as many feminists choose to do) then they’d get a lot less attention — and certainly a lot less negative attention — than dressing in obvious, flamboyant outfits like big hair wigs, tons of make-up, body-revealing “drag”, high heels on an already 6’1″ frame, etc.

          They are SEEKING negative attention.

          The women that I know who have experienced a lot of sexual abuse from men over the years tend to dress in sweats or jeans and tee-shirts, with loose-fitting pants, flat shoes, not much make-up. Why? Because we want to “pass” as HUMAN, not draw tons of male attention to ourselves as hyper-female sex objects. Why are so many “trans women” the exact opposite? Because they WANT the negative attention. They WANT to cause a stir. They feel “invisible” without being the center of a storm of attention.

          • And women who wear revealing/flashy clothes are asking to be raped . . . you’re really taking it there

          • so many things wrong what is this i don’t even…

            OMG! You only have emotions because you FEED OFF of the negative reactions of other people to your emotions! STOP BEING ALL EMOTIONAL! Stop acting like your experiences matter! Gawd!

            Because wow.

          • Chutney says:

            I’m a trans woman with a degree in cultural anthropology, gender studies and mythology. I grew up in the south where being trans was a guarantee of slow death by an overdose of redneck. I know quite a few other trans women. Yes, there are a few that do seem to thrive on the attention they get from dressing flamboyantly when they go out. I don’t know any that dress wildly when they get ready to go out in the everyday world.

            I have to say that I’m deeply insulted by the implication that trans women want to be abused. You actually used a version of the old worn out notion that was once used to humiliate rape victims into silence. As a trans woman, I have been subjected to taunts, cat calls, threats of violence with weapons being brandished at me. As a result of my pretending to be male, I gained the skills to protect myself.

            Being trans is no choice, and implying it is only buys into the mind set that makes it inevitable that we’ll be confronted by someone that thinks we want a fight. Why else would we dress the way we do, right? Being trans is NOT a mental illness than being a lesbian is a mental illness.

            http://media01.commpartners.com/AMA/sexual_identity_jan_2011/index.html

            Seems to me that it would be better to have some fact to back up such a strong opinion as yours. You’ll find peer reviewed information from The American Medical Association in the video link I’ve included in this comment. It seems to me that you’re founding your opinions on a narrow experience of a small group of younger trans women that feel the need to let loose. Night club cross dressers are not necessarily trans women.

            Don’t judge the majority of us through your brown coloured glasses, just because you had a tainted experience.

  10. Anon, the only reason you can get away with having this “debate” in academia is because trans women are largely excluded from that space so there is no one there to call you on your privilege. Here on the internet you have to deal with the reality of trans women’s lives and the role your theorizing plays in denying them access to medically necessary health care. This is not “shutting down” it’s actually hearing the other side for the first time.

    If you don’t like the word “transphobia,” try “systemic cis supremacy” instead. That system operates to the benefit of cis people and to the detriment of trans women. You seem very invested in upholding that system.

    What perceived power are you afraid of losing? The realization that you do not know more about the experiences of trans women than they know themselves? If you don’t want men telling you what’s best for you, why do you feel the need to tell other women what’s best for their bodies?

    • No Adam. There are always trans women and trans men in Women’s Studies departments and classrooms. You have clearly never been in a Women’s Studies class. Trans folks are very much a part of this discussion in academia.

      • And language like “transphobia” and “systemic cis supremacy” only exist online and would never get a pass in an academic setting because they are meaningless terms.

        • anonymous says:

          Meaningless? Seriously? Perhaps for you this language is meaningless. I and so many of us live it daily, not merely in someones classroom or in the pages of some approved text to be picked over for a grade.

        • Really? Because I’m Gender Studies faculty, and it seems to me that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Words like “transphobia” certainly come up in my classrooms, and not just because I’ve introduced them. While there have been (legitimate) complaints that my department doesn’t offer enough material reflecting trans lives, experiences, and theory (eg, that it is cissexist, which it is), I have never heard anyone frame questioning the legitimacy of trans people’s gender identities as a legitimate discussion to have. I mean, students can say such things, but those are “teachable moment” moments, not discussions in which that opinion could ever possibly win out as valid. There are indeed certain things that are not up for debate as interesting “critical thinking” questions within the gender studies classroom. These include things like women’s reproductive freedom. Shockingly (!), things that are explicitly racist, transphobic, etc are also off the table. Which is not to say that they don’t come up in discussion. But they come up in discussion because students still have things they need to learn, not because we’re seriously considering transphobia (or racism, or the suppression of women’s reproductive freedom, etc.) as viable feminist strategies.

          • Hmm…American college? I don’t know…

            In any case, my point is that questioning gender identity, plastic surgery, hormones, etc do not equal “transphobia” – it just equals critical thinking and feminist discourse…the whole point of Women’s Studies.

          • Kate LBT says:

            And is questioning lesbian identity ALSO ‘critical thinking and feminist discourse’? Because if not, your Women’s Studies curriculum is soaking in transphobia and you’re not even bothering to recognize that fact.

            “Questioning” a lived experience that you aren’t part of is pure bias.

          • Ashland Avenue says:

            Yeah, Kate, kind of like how transwomen continually question the lived experiences of born women – things like claiming they experienced the same kind of sexism growing up that we did, etc. I guess it’s only O.K. if you’re doing it.

        • What utter bollocks. I would like to see a tenured out trans university professor. (Who isn’t immediately fired after being outed as trans.) Where are they? Where is there a wealth of trans students having access to higher education? Trans people, like any marginalized group, are restricted from the privileged spaces of society, of which established academia is most assuredly one, as anyone actually IN academia is aware. (Or else so unbelievably stuck in their privilege they don’t notice that most tenured professor are also white and male.)

          Transphobia as a meaningless term… My ass it is.

          Also for the record, one can talk about both surgery and hormone therapies in a women’s studies class and never once talk about trans experiences. See: eating disorders, beauty standards, implants and female genital cutting, aging and hormone replacement therapy, etc…. The notion of gender as a social construct is a huge point of both women’s studies and sociology, but neither of those is inherently trans-inclusive.

          • Er..Lesbian identity and gender identity is not the same thing. Having conversations, questioning, engaging in critical discourse does not equal transphobia. Just as engaging in critical discourse around various feminist theorie does not equal anti-feminism. And Ari – There most certainly are tenured trans university professors! And there are, most definitely, many trans students in higher education – to imply otherwise is ridiculous. Because trans folks don’t have university degrees? Give me a break. And why on earth would we talk about surgery and the medicalization of sex and of bodies without also talking about transgenderism? That would be leaving out a pretty important part of the conversation, no?

          • … This commenting feature only allows so many replys. Am replying to the Anon above.

            “Lesbian identity and gender identity is not the same thing. Having conversations, questioning, engaging in critical discourse does not equal transphobia.”

            Where did I say that it did?

            I suggested that there was not a “wealth” of trans students– there most certainly ARE transgender students, but most assuredly not at the same %’s as the general population. I don’t know of any transgender tenured professors at American universities– that doesn’t mean they don’t exist of course, and my not knowing of “any” is a symptom of not really looking extensively, for sure. (Also valid is the fact that whether a professor is trans or cis is none of my business, so there’s that.) But being out/outed as trans in a professional setting is across the board poses a lot of risks, transgender people have much higher rates of unemployment and barriers to education, etc. And, the idea that there is this large resource of trans folk in academia, enough to always adequately represent trans validating perspectives to fully balance out the debate without ever falling back to relying on tokenism or a few limited allies speaking up for voices not present is just… ridiculous to me, and completely ignores the reality of transphobia and social stigma around gender variance.

            “why on earth would we talk about surgery and the medicalization of sex and of bodies without also talking about transgenderism? That would be leaving out a pretty important part of the conversation, no?”

            It would in MY view, but that doesn’t mean that talking about surgery & medicalization MEANS talking about transgender issues. My point was that it is entirely POSSIBLE, and I have seen, these topics come up without talking about transgender as a legitimate experience.

            Feminism often talks about surgery and medicalization of women’s bodies when talking exclusively about women’s health: PMS, Pregnancy & Birth, Birth Control Aging, Sexual Response, Plastic Surgery, Implants, Eating Disorders, etc. Most of these conversations are not about transgender, but cisgender women’s bodies being manipulated and controlled. Trans women’s bodies are not really part of the conversation.

          • Tenured out trans professor: Judith/Jack Halberstam

  11. Suzanne, the article you have linked above is from a radical feminist woman who sent an open letter to the United Nations opposing legal protections for trans people and is fairly notorious for going after trans women in particular.

    Her comments about the “cotton ceiling” concept are simply ridiculous, and she is misrepresenting a quote from a trans woman on the issue. I was one of the organizers of the first workshop (“No more apologies”) in Toronto and none of it had anything to do with “coercing” someone into having sex or calling someone a bigot if they weren’t attracted to a trans woman.

    It’s simply about how trans women sometimes feel tokenized or not fully included in the queer women’s community. It’s also about how trans women bodies are often considered sexual only in a rather fetishized sense, but less often are we considered viable romantic partners…. yes, by cis women, it’s not just cis men who fetishize us like that. And above all it’s about how on some level there are those who nominally include us in “queer and trans” spaces but in so many subtle ways, don’t fully accept us as women.

    • Savannah,

      No, the article is not by Cathy Brennan. However, Cathy did co-write a letter to the U.N. concerning pre-op (trans women with penises) using women’s facilities. If you consider that “opposing legal protections for trans people,” where do protections for female-borns come in? It is simply a matter of being reasonable.

      If this workshop is targetting FAAB’s, why are FAAB’s not allowed to be included? And for that matter, why does every single FAAB workshop/event (of which there are almost none left) get bullied to death as transphobic?

      As one woman at MichFest told me, “Now that women have their rights, we have to fight for trans.” That seems to be the conclusion from trans activists; trans and especially trans women are the ones with fighting for and biological females oppress them.

      More information on the so-called “cotton ceiling” can be found at: http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/lmao/

      • Kate LBT says:

        It is not “reasonable” to restrict pre-op/non-op trans women from using women’s facilities.

        Try going through an entire work day without urinating. See how well that works for you. Then multiply that by an entire work week, an entire month, an entire YEAR. Holding it for hours on end causes urinary tract infections.

        The right to use public facilities is the right to participate in public life, and the overblown “concern” about pre/non op trans women in women’s facilities cannot be seen as anything other than a backdoor attempt to bar trans women as a whole (since you cannot tell who is pre/non op without an invasive panty search) from public life.

      • That’s like saying “if a women’s only group is talking about discrimination of women from men’s spaces, we need men there to argue their point of view!”

  12. It is a shame to see Ms. pander to such hateful ideologues. As the previous commenter pointed out, this recent upsurge in vocal transmisogyny is due largely to a cis woman who has, among other anti-trans actions, petitioned the United Nations to deny rights to trans people. Despite the accusations to the contrary, the people who are attacking with anger, vitriol, and hate are the transmisogynists, not trans women. By presenting the opinions of a few hate-driven writers (and few voices of trans women) as the state of discourse in feminism you sink to the tactics of Fox News and its talking points, and set the debate to one which questions the right of a group of women to exist.

    Further, your comment that there might not be cis privilege because cis women experience sexism is ridiculous and offensive. Can white women not experience white privilege because they’re women? Can non-disabled women not engage in ableism and the privilege that affords? If feminism can’t understand privilege beyond sexism it sets itself as a place unwelcoming to many women – women of colour, class-impacted women, women with disabilities, among many others – not just trans women.

    • Ashland Avenue says:

      “Despite the accusations to the contrary, the people who are attacking with anger, vitriol, and hate are the transmisogynists, not trans women.”

      This is a lie. An out-and-out lie. Or I guess you just haven’t seen the threats of beating, burning, and rape that trans people have thrown at women-born-women. (Yes, I I.D. as WBW. I know trans people don’t like that term, but too damn bad. If you’re allowed to I.D. yourself as you see fit, then so am I.)

      The recent upsurge in what you call “transmisogyny” has nothing whatsoever to do with any petition to the U.N. (which by the way had nothing to do with denying trans people their rights, and everything to do with protecting women, but nice try.) Instead, what’s happening is that more WBW are standing up to the ludicrous things that trans people posit, like a penis not being a male body part, or that WBW should be just fine with having someone who is obviously male in a locker room with us. Your pushy, bullying tactics are catching up with you, and you’re STILL trying to place all the blame on WBW. Because it’s easy. Because you can. God forbid you try to, you know, blame the MEN who (you say) will just go cray-cray-CRAZY should you use a men’s restroom. Blaming women is so much safer and more fun, right? Gives you that delicious self-righteous sense of fighting the good fight! Except, too bad WBW are seeing right through your smokescreen.

  13. I don’t get why you only linked to one transfeminist site and linked to transphobic radical feminist sites as if they had legitimate arguments.

    Also, I think you should have talked about intersectionality. For example, I’m a cis woman. I don’t have male privilege, but I do have cis privilege. You can be privileged in one areas and still be disadvantaged in others.

    • Actually, I link to a number of transfeminist sites: Julia Serano, Asher Bauer and Helen G., all of whom I link to, are trans; the blog http://transfeminism.tumblr.com/ is a transgender-focused blog; and Tiger Beatdown and Laurie Penny are trans allies.

      But you’re right that I should have mentioned intersectionality in relation to this issue; it’s certainly relevant.

  14. I have to agree that this article feels to me like a false equivalency of legitimacy of narratives — like those articles that try to show “both sides” of the global warming “debate.” You have found some really hateful and nasty folks to represent feminists’ concerns about trans politics. I think it is possible to have a sophisticated, thoughtful conversation about the way that the emergence of trans voices has affected feminism — in ways good and maybe in some ways not so good — but you will not get that from these folks.

  15. I willingly admit that I am not an expert on transfeminism or the issues that trans men and women face; however, I feel like some of the commenters on this thread are misreading the fundamental thrust of my post and felt I should address some of these points.

    First of all, I was trying to provide some the central points of contention around transgender issues within feminism (I freely admit in the original post that this discussion is reductive, as it must be in only a few hundred words). I wanted to provide “both sides” of an issue that surely has more sides than two; in doing so, I articulate what I see as some of the primary points people have made for and against the inclusion of trans issues under the wider feminist umbrella.

    I think my discussion of cis-privilege and how it functions may have been unclear–perhaps because of how I worded it. When I say that cisgender is a problematic term, I’m actually discussing other people’s arguments, not my own. Considering the fact that I use the terms “cisgender” and “ciswomen” throughout my post, I’m obviously not personally adverse to those terms or to acknowledging the privileges they imply.

    I thought that it was fairly clear where I stood personally by my closing point (that transwomen and cis-women share common ground and we should focus on that common ground in our fight for equality). I don’t quite understand how someone can come away from this post thinking I’m anti-trans unless they didn’t finish reading the post.

    Secondly, if you think I need to provide more links to websites/blogs written by actual trans women and men, I would love it if you actually provided links to those sites in your comments. As part of the Future of Feminism series, I’ve been writing about so many different issues that I can’t possibly be an expert on all of them. I rely on commenters to provide good resources for readers, as well as constructive critique.

    Thirdly, I am not trans myself, but decided I wanted to include this issue in my month-long series because I very strongly believe in LGBTQ rights across the board. This series is a labor of love, but not my day job: I did not have the time or resources to seek out a trans writer to write this post in my stead, so it was either write about it myself or not write about it all.

    • “Secondly, if you think I need to provide more links to websites/blogs written by actual trans women and men, I would love it if you actually provided links to those sites in your comments.”

      Yet you were able to find links to anti-trans bloggers and articles. Really, this is ridiculous… you couldn’t find ANY trans women writers yourself and you want your audience to educate you? Notice how this sounds a lot like the rationalizations men make when women are excluded from things?

      “I willingly admit that I am not an expert on transfeminism or the issues that trans men and women face… I did not have the time or resources to seek out a trans writer to write this post in my stead, so it was either write about it myself or not write about it all.”

      Maybe you should have gone with not writing about it at all, because misinformed, lazy writing like this perpetuates bigotry and continued marginalization of trans women.

      “I thought that it was fairly clear where I stood personally by my closing point (that transwomen and cis-women share common ground and we should focus on that common ground in our fight for equality). I don’t quite understand how someone can come away from this post thinking I’m anti-trans unless they didn’t finish reading the post.”

      You might want to roll back the condescension if you’re trying to prove ally points.

      • Perhaps the author needed to research radical feminist views on trans while she was already familiar with the trans talking points.

        • Yes, Suzanne–thank you. That’s definitely where I was coming from. I know quite a bit about the trans talking points already from my extensive work within the LGBT community. I honestly didn’t even realize there was a feminist position that wasn’t pro-trans until I started research for this post.

          Also, in terms of not linking posts by people who are transgender…as far as I’m aware, Julia Serano, Asher Bauer and Helen G., all of whom I link to, are trans; the blog http://transfeminism.tumblr.com/ is a transgender-focused blog; and Tiger Beatdown and Laurie Penny are trans allies.

          It’s clear to me, though, that representing different opinions about such a contentious subject–even if they aren’t my own–is always going to get people upset. Even if I clearly come down on the side of “all women and men deserve equality” in the end.

          • Kate LBT says:

            Anti-equality viewpoints are not worth giving equal time to – would you give equal time to a Christian anti-abortion activist?

          • There are radfems who are not transphobic (Anji Capes for one). This isn’t a radical feminist position that you gave a platform to, you SPECIFICALLY went looking for transphobic feminists. You didn’t go “let’s see what radical feminists had to say”, you went “let’s see what radical feminists who specifically hate trans people have to say.”

          • Your post is of course short and incomplete. This is a pretty big issue, most people need a book. I can appreciate your need to keep these posts short, and I’m very glad you decided to include trans issues in your series. I enjoyed the series as a whole.

          • iammakingart says:

            “all women and men deserve equality”
            Not all people are women or men – I, for one, am a trans person who is neither male nor female, and fighting the invisibility of non-binary people like me is a major part of current trans radicalism. The level of entitlement required to think you’re qualified to write about trans politics when you apparently don’t know this (or don’t care, or are hostile) is sickening. Just because you’ve got a freshly baked doctorate doesn’t mean you’re clued in to trans people’s lived experiences. Fighting a gender binary that precludes my gender’s existence is a daily struggle for me and for so many other trans people, and radical trans-queer politics have grown out of the active struggles of people like me to have sufficient physical, psychic, emotional and cultural space and safety to survive. Before pronouncing on our politics, you need to take the time to really listen to us as people.

          • Ashland Avenue says:

            Ahhh, Aviva, welcome to our world! Wherein if you don’t say something trans-related EXACTLY RIGHT, wherein if you disagree with them on any point whatsoever, or wherein you simply present an opposing viewpoint (even if it’s not your own), you’re immediately labeled…let’s see what’s above…”lazy”, “perpetuating bigotry”, “condescending”, “hateful”, and “nasty”, just to list a few.

            THIS is why women-born-women are angry, and getting angrier. The trans people’s idea of a “sophisticated, thoughtful” discussion around these issues is one that simply agrees with everything they say or want. That is it. Anything else just gets slapped with the “hate!” label, no matter how legitimate.

  16. Maureen Hennessey says:

    @Savannah and gudbuytjane: You have completely misrepresented the feminist letter to the UN commission on women that you reference in your comments. Was that intentional, or are you uniformed? The attorneys that drafted that letter advocated for increased protections for trans people, but under laws that do not contain implicit sex based stereotyping.
    For a clear understanding see here: http://sexnotgender.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/the-stereotyping-definition-of-gender-identity/
    Hope that clears up your confusion.

    • Kate LBT says:

      The so-called “stereotyping definition” of gender identity denigrated by transmisogynists such as Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford empowers the medical community, NOT transsexuals. It makes access to legal and civil equality fully dependent upon class-based access to WPATH-defined transition care, which itself is heavily biased toward white patients over women of color, abled patients over women with disabilities and middle-class and rich patients over working-class and poor. This is NOT an acceptable precondition for civil rights, Ms. Hennessey, and I’m profoundly disappointed in you for even thinking it is.

      There is NO other minority existing which is dependent upon class-based access to medical care for legal equality. It should be no different for trans women.

  17. This: http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/the-cotton-ceiling-really/ is not my blog. My blog is here: bugbrennan.com

    The trans women above misstate the letter to the United Nations. You can read about that here: http://radicalhub.com/2011/08/01/gender-identity-legislation-and-the-erosion-of-sex-based-legal-protections-for-females/ and http://radicalhub.com/2011/08/15/frequently-asked-questions-about-brennan-hungerfords-un-submission-re-gender-identity-legislation/

    Cotton ceiling is CREEPY.

    “Going after” is laughable.

  18. Utter nonsense. This article only makes sense by proceeding from the cissexist assumption that trans women are not women, and that their interests are necessarily therefore antagonistic to those of “real” women. Well, people have been thinking intersectionally on transgender and feminism for quite some time now, just as they manage to get their head around race and feminism, disability and feminism etc etc.

    There’s been trans bloggers at Feministing, Feministe, Tiger Beatdown, The F Word UK, Bitch, as well as numerous real-world incorporations of trans people into feminist politics. While things are not perfect by any means, clearly the vast majority of the feminist movement *has* accepted that trans women are women and incorporated those issues into the movement.

    Only a small minority of hateful radical feminist bigots want to re-open a battle that, frankly, they lost, and for good reason. I have no idea what on earth you and your editors were thinking, but this is a poorly thought-out, ill-informed article in every possible way.

    • “While things are not perfect by any means, clearly the vast majority of the feminist movement *has* accepted that trans women are women and incorporated those issues into the movement.”

      I agree, and I hardly want to “re-open a battle,” but I do think that it’s important to discuss the controversy. After all, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, hardly a small minority, still has a “womyn-born-womyn” only policy (as far as I know). As there are feminists who still divide women based on biological sex, it seems worth mentioning. I also think it’s worth discussing transfeminism in its own post, as trans women may have different concerns than ciswomen — not because they aren’t “real women” but because their experience as women may be different.

      • Should queer people be discriminated against or not? It’s such a complicated question. So we’re going to give you a link from GLAAD and some statements and essays from Focus on the Family.

        Gee, why are people accusing me of homophobia? I’m just trying to be fair!

      • “I also think it’s worth discussing transfeminism in its own post, as trans women may have different concerns than ciswomen — not because they aren’t “real women” but because their experience as women may be different.”

        Do trans women get a post about trans issues, or about cis issues? Do I get to tell cis people that they aren’t really cis and should transition?

        This piece was about cis women commenting on trans women.

        There are also feminists who are classist, ablist, racist, etc… let’s give them a platform too! After all, we need to be fair!

        “As there are feminists who still divide women based on biological sex,” that should be “As there are feminists who are still transphobic”. The fact that you referred to them by that definition says a lot about your biases already. This is why people are reacting the way to your post. You might think you’re being “fair”, but it’s like being “fair” by treating racism as being just as valid as anti-racism.

  19. Cyberspice says:

    I find this US hang-up about gendered toilets somewhat quaint. Unisex toilets are common here in Europe. I’m not aware that there’s a higher probability of being molested because it.

    • There are plenty of women who have been sexually assaulted and/or raped by men in unisex bathrooms.

      Is that really any surprise to you? We are still living in a patriarchal rape culture where men feel entitled to women’s bodies.

      • What are the statistics relating to cis women who have been sexually assaulted and/or raped by trans women in any washroom?

        • Just because no one has carried out research on the matter, does not mean it has not happened. After all, it wasn’t until quite recently-just a few decades ago–that women started speaking out about incest, battery, and even more recently, street harassment.

          Unfortunately,we do live in a rape culture, so it makes sense that born-females would be hesitant to accept male-bodied persons into our private space.

          • iammakingart says:

            Well, cis women needn’t be concerned about “male-bodied” people sexually assaulting them, because “male-bodied” people do not exist. Bodies do not have genders. They have genders coercively pressed upon them, certainly, but there is nothing inherently “male” about a certain type of body morphology any more than there’s something inherently “male” about a rock, or a house, or any other physical item or substance.

            As for violence in restrooms, sexual and otherwise, the amount of restroom violence experienced by trans people – trans women and coercively-assigned-male-at-birth non-binary people in particular, especially those of color – is astronomically higher than that experienced by cis people. Many trans people in many places cannot safely enter public restrooms at all. Go watch the video of Chrissy Lee Polis getting brutally beaten for entering a restroom if you really need this to sink in.

        • Ashland Avenue says:

          Here’s the thing, Ami: it’s not transwomen we’re worried about. Rather, it’s plain old men (male-born, male-identified). To whit: over the years I have read many – MAAAANY – stories about 1) cameras surreptitiously placed in women’s bathrooms and lockerrooms, in order for men to spy on women during what should be times of privacy; 2) small holes made in the dividers between stalls, for the same purpose; 3) small, regular mirrors used, for the same purpose; 4)two-way mirrors used, for the same purpose; and of course 5) women being molested and raped in bathrooms. It never ends, really.

          How do transwomen factor into that? The sad fact is, many transwomen do not pass as female. Many do, but many don’t. We’re not supposed to talk about this, or acknowledge this, but it’s THERE. It’s an issue. But when an obviously male person walks into a women’s restroom or locker room, WBW are expected to just disregard our learned safety precautions and our intuition and suck it up. Tell me, how exactly are we to tell the difference between a transwoman just there to pee, and a dressed-up male there for more nefarious purposes? A male who is taking advantage of rules allowing transwomen to use women’s rest/locker rooms in order to get easier access to women’s private moments – and privates, I should add? If you think that won’t happen, then you haven’t been paying attention. I WISH this was just paranoia on my part. But men with weird fetishes (peeing stuff, peeping toms, etc.) will do bizarre-o things that you or I would never even think of.

          Men are often dangerous. Transwomen admit this, by not wishing to use a male restroom when male-bodied, for fear of being beaten up. However, they don’t see fit to extend any (ANY) understanding to WBW on this front. They don’t see fit to try and expand men’s thinking along these lines instead. Instead, WBW’s concerns are merely dismissed as “hate speech,” which shouldn’t surprise me. It’s always easier to just attack and blame the women.

      • Women also get raped in gendered bathrooms as well. What makes you think a rapist would care about the stick figure on the door?

        • I totally agree that men find ways to go wherever women are to sexually assault us. However, laws against rape haven’t stopped rape–does that mean there should be no laws against rape? Saying bathrooms should be a free-for-all is not something females feel comfortable with, and for good reason.

  20. Wow, good job throwing trans women under the bus, Ms. This article is transphobic and disgusting.

  21. I’m really grateful to everyone who’s called out the transphobic perspectives given an equal platform in this piece. I find it appalling that feminist spaces still think this kind of bigotry is credible as an “opinion.” I’d like to add that the tendency to ask marginalized women to ignore/ shut up about other forms of oppression in favor of “common ground” is another longstanding issue in feminism. (And one we see yet again in this article.) Questions like “don’t we face a lot of the same hurdles?” erase the hurdles that trans women — specifically — face. It’s not enough for us — as allies, as feminists — to suggest that trans women face sexism (which they do), “sometimes more so because of the extra layer of stereotyping that goes along with identifying as trans.” It’s nowhere near enough. Trans women are dealing with a hell of a lot more than the occasional stereotype. They are faced with constant systemic oppression and violence that is about their lack of cis privilege. And when we say “surely we have common ground” we are implicitly refusing to recognize the privilege we have that they don’t, the violence they face that we don’t, the battles that should be our battles that we are refusing to take on.

    I refuse to be a part of this kind of feminism, and I wish Ms. would take the same stand.

  22. Women have the right to organize as women, and women have the right to organize round born women experience. We have the right to rape free zones, and as private land owners, we have the right to private invitation only events. Male to trans do rape women, they do attack women in women’s restrooms. Male to trans make death threats all the time on the Internet against born women. Male to trans have been arrested at the University of Penn. Born women have the right to safety, and to have space not invaded by people with penis’.

    Cis- is a male created word, another way that born men take the power of naming away from women. It is an insult to born women. Making women less safe in a shower room or public restroom is NOT a male right. Women have been harmed by trans death threats, and I personally know a few born women who were raped by trans. There are loads of arrests all over the world for men attacking women in restrooms. It is NOT uncommon.

    I don’t believe male to trans is about women’s liberation at all; I think it is all about more male entitlement at women’s expense, safety. Male to trans have sued rape crisis centers for not being allowed to council women who have been raped. Imagine having to talk to a trans with a penis as a rape councilor, or having your women’s health care centers compromised.

    Imagine having a policy of women born only, and then having male to trans sneaking in and violating a private property rule? Invade men’s lands and you get shot, invade women’s lands and it’s ok because male to trans have rights to go anywhere at any time. They think they have the right to parade their penis’ in women’s restrooms, that they have the right to stage workshops on the “cotton ceiling” that they have the right to subject lesbians to sexual harassment for not wanting to have sex with male bodied people, thus invading the culture of women loving women. Hey it’s ok to attack lesbians, to presure them into having sex with male bodied people just because they say so. It’s ok to create workshops to “teach” male to trans and to make fun of feminist economic justice movements to end workplace discrimination. The glass ceiling is about access to wealth and resources. The cotton ceiling is simply a coded male rape term— lesbians don’t want to have sex with men, they are in love with women, and have a right to want lesbian only space.

    • “Male to Trans” is … what exactly?

      “Cis is a Male Term” — you have got to be shitting me. Because there are totally not trans men anywhere. At all. Ever. Transgender is only about men invading women’s spaces. Cis is only used to describe women, and has no applicability as a term about sex/gender conformity in general. How is this an insulting word but “Woman Born” isn’t?

  23. It surprises me when I read articles like this and see the comments, that many women seem to think that it is only a small minority of women who resist the invasion of our spaces and our minds by trans and trans ideology. This is simply not the case. The women’s liberation movement with its basis in radical feminism is a very active, alive and continually growing movement. We have a much deeper, richer and longer history than the trans/queer movement and our work is wider-reaching. We are women of all colours, most of us working class or welfare-class, we are an intergenerational movement, the women I work with are as young as 14 and and old as 85-90. We aren’t dying out, our work is international and we will continue to resist.

    This is why:

    “Female only space frees women to collectively understand ourSelves and centre ourSelves as women without relation, and outside of relation to men. Men understand that this is a serious threat to their dominance. Women will never have liberation until we can understand ourSelves by centreing our collective female selfhood and conceive of ways of understanding femaleness outside of male supremacy. Men know this.

    And this is the real fight. It is of fundamental importance to our movement that we understand that the social, political, emotional and spiritual reality of being female is women’s birthright. It is ours. It is vital that we claim and reclaim it. It is not our identity, it is who we are, it is who we have been and it is our future potential.

    Men know this too. And they know that if they want to maintain their supremacy it is absolute that they must have control over our political and social reality. They MUST have control over what women understand and believe about ourSelves. Their whole existence, which has been built on our backs, would crumble without it.

    Enter the trans delusion. Men do not really believe that men can become women and women can become men. But they are thoroughly invested in deluding women to this effect. Because if a man can become a woman then there is no such thing as collective female experience and reality. If a man can become a woman it makes women’s collective resistance to male supremacy completely meaningless and nonsensical. Essentially, if male-born people are women too then it defines all women out of existence. And females will have no ability to conceive of ourselves outside of males and male supremacy. Allowing men to define themselves into femaleness destroys our capacity to recreate and re-member what it means to be female.” http://radicalhub.com/2011/10/10/sister-space-under-threat/

    Ps. I am going to Mich Fest next year and I have just bought myself a red dress. Wearing red symbolises our support and commitment to the female only policy of the the festival. So excited about going!

  24. iammakingart says:

    Instead of debating whether, and how, trans politics can be cleanly assimilated into cis-dominated feminism, cis feminists should be working on decentering their own assumptions about gendered bodies, and looking to make themselves useful to trans struggles. While Ms “debates” our politics, trans people are being tortured and abused in jails and prisons, killing themselves at incredibly high levels, and being vastly disproportionately raped, abused, murdered, subjected to violence, fired, ostracized, made homeless. It’s time the conversation was centered on us; cis people who care about social justice need to catch up to trans politics and display solidarity with trans struggles, not the other way around.

  25. For years lesbians have fought against men telling them they should be available for them. For years lesbians have patiently explained that they are HOMOSEXual, that is desiring of their own sex (not gender! but physical SEX characteristics) and for years butch lesbians have fought against heterosexuals (esp. men) telling them that really, what it is, is that they want to BE men.

    And now the Trans* are saying the same thing!

    The cotton ceiling is pure unadulterated Homophobia. It belittles and denies that homosexuality exists. Trans need to stop being homophobic.

    Trans* telling butch women they are ‘probably’ Trans* is pure unadulterated Homophobia too. Trans need to stop being homophobic.

    That this is always against lesbians, not gay men means that Trans need to stop being Misogynistic.

    When Trans accomplish this, they may find that ‘lesbians’ and redfems don’t mind them hanging around with them.

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