A Gender Critical Response to: A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

This is my response to the reactionary and misguided “A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism” (The Statement) posted at FeministsFightingTransphobia.wordpress.com.

We can all agree, I think, that people’s actual lives are more important than theoretical abstractions– including those related to “identity.” This is precisely why, as feminists, we demand acknowledgement for the lived realities and material conditions of women’s lives, including the social mechanics of sex-and-gender-assignment that ultimately give rise to women’s oppression. But beyond this, there are a truly alarming number of misrepresentations, inconsistencies, and logical errors in The Statement. I will address many of them below.

First things first, I want to point out that characterizing gender critical feminists as “transphobic feminists” remains unsupported where “transphobia” is not defined. Repeated use of this term to demonize a certain kind of political speech or political actor is clearly intended to be insulting rather than instructive; it serves as a way to shame us and any of our potential supporters into silence. Personally, I have no intention of insulting other feminists and escalating hostility by using similar epithets to describe them or their political views. 

Throughout this response I will refer to myself and others who share my general view of gender as gender critical feminists (no acronym). Because that’s what we do. We are feminists who criticize gender as a harmful social construct that distributes power unequally.


I will begin at the third paragraph of The Statement:

We are committed to recognizing and respecting the complex construction of sexual/gender identity; to recognizing trans* women as women and including them in all women’s spaces; to recognizing trans* men as men and rejecting accounts of manhood that exclude them; to recognizing the existence of genderqueer, non-binary identifying people and accepting their humanity; to rigorous, thoughtful, nuanced research and analysis of gender, sex, and sexuality that accept trans* people as authorities on their own experiences and understands that the legitimacy of their lives is not up for debate; and to fighting the twin ideologies of transphobia and patriarchy in all their guises.

The first phrase in this sentence-long paragraph collapses sexual identity and gender identity into one. This in inaccurate; they are not the same thing. The only connection between sexual identity1 and gender identity is the one created by patriarchy via compulsory heteronormativity.2 Naturalizing gender as if it were programmed from within3 is the very definition of gender essentialism.

Gender critical feminists are critical(!) of gender essentialism because it is the primary basis of and ideological justification for women’s oppression, including but not limited to the deadly epidemic of violence against women.4 The paragraph further suggests that gender-critical feminists’ refusal to accept a false equivalency between the experiential and material realities of female-socialized and male-socialized people is somehow less nuanced, less thoughtful, and less supportable (not rigorous) than the lazy conflation of women’s embodied oppression with a skin-deep “woman” identity that anyone can claim. In no other context and along no other axis of oppression would we be comfortable with members of the oppressor class appropriating the social identities of those “below” them in the social hierarchy. Nowhere does The Statement address or acknowledge this inconsistency. I can only assume that the writers either believe in the pseudo-science of “brain sex,” an obvious form of gender essentialism, or they have failed to consider the dire consequences of privileging “identity authenticity” over a responsible analysis of the material realities of (women’s) oppression.


Transphobic feminism ignores the identification of many trans* and genderqueer people as feminists or womanists and many cis feminists/womanists with their trans* sisters, brothers, friends, and lovers; it is feminism that has too often rejected them, and not the reverse. It ignores the historical pressures placed by the medical profession on trans* people to conform to rigid gender stereotypes in order to be “gifted” the medical aid to which they as human beings are entitled. 

It is not a moral imperative to acknowledge subjective “identification.” Sarah Palin has also identified as a feminist. That does not make it true or accepted. Attaching the term “gender” to “identification” does not render it sacred and above social analysis. This is a fundamental disagreement, one that we probably cannot transcend, but there is a saying that I find appropriate here: “don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” You can call yourself whatever you want; being a feminist does not require me to agree with you. You cannot force others to perceive you according to your own subjective construction of reality. It is simply an unreasonable request.


Next, I want to address feminist-blaming for the medical profession’s “gate keeping.” “Medical necessity” is the technical term at issue for both entitlement to medical treatment generally and to insurance coverage of said treatment. “Medical aid” in the form of surgery and hormonal therapy (I am excluding psychotherapy here) necessarily requires a scientifically provable biological connection between sex and gender identity. Proof that gender is more than a psycho-social phenomenon, in other words. Fortunately for females, centuries of patriarchal science have been unable to prove that “brain sex”– in the form of innate behavioral and personality differences between the sexes– actually exists. Further, it is not logically possible for one to be “born in the wrong body” when the body is medically healthy and functions normally. There is therefore no “medical necessity,” no entitlement to special “medical aid,” and no human rights crisis relating to so-called “transition” procedures. This is not feminists’ fault! Blame patriarchy, don’t blame women. 

That should be dispositive of the “medical aid” issue but moreover, there is an obvious logical error here: one cannot simultaneously seek authenticity within the binary and destroy or undermine the binary at the same time.5 By identifying within the binary, trans people seeking “medical aid” to transition reinforce the legitimacy of the binary itself. It is intellectually dishonest not to deal with this logical inconsistency.


By positing “woman” as a coherent, stable identity whose boundaries they are authorized to police, transphobic feminists reject the insights of intersectional analysis, subordinating all other identities to womanhood and all other oppressions to patriarchy.  They are refusing to acknowledge their own power and privilege.

This is pure misrepresentation. Gender critical feminists do not posit “woman” as an identity. Identity politics is not our game; it is “gender identity” activists who argue that woman is nothing more than an “identity.”

In our view, identifying as a “woman” is neither necessary nor sufficient. Our criticism of “gender identity” politics is that it erases the lived realities and material constraints placed on women and girls from birth– regardless of whether they enjoy being “women” or not, and regardless of whether they “identify” with other women. To be a “woman” is to have been assigned6 the girl/woman social position from birth; subjective identification with that social position is irrelevant and varies wildly. 

What the authors of this statement misguidedly interpret as “policing the identity” is actually a neutral statement of fact regarding how individuals are classified at birth. Gender critical feminists demand that feminists acknowledge the tools of oppression (including gender essentialism and reproductive exploitation) harming female-bodied and girl/woman-socialized people under patriarchy and that critical analysis of these tools not be sacrificed in a hasty bid to “validate” the identities of non-female people. To be a woman is an experience that begins at birth. Difference exists.

PDF Page 67/478 of "Sexing the Body" by Anne Fausto-Sterling at http://libcom.org/files/Fausto-Sterling%20-%20Sexing%20the%20Body.pdf

from PDF page 67/478 of “Sexing the Body” by Anne Fausto-Sterling at http://libcom.org/files/Fausto-Sterling%20-%20Sexing%20the%20Body.pdf

It is yet more circular logic to deny that “woman” exists as a coherent and stable social category, then demand recognition for individuals who insist that they definitely, without question, belong in the social category “woman” because they know exactly what it feels like to be a “woman.” Either the class “woman” exists as a social category or it doesn’t. Either being a “woman” is something important and meaningful or it isn’t. You can’t have it both ways.


Last up in this section is an argument that sounds like it came from the men’s rights movement:They are refusing to acknowledge their own power and privilege.” The only social characteristic that all gender critical feminists share is that we are women, so the implication must be that gender critical feminists are granted power and privilege on the basis of being women. The Statement’s signatories, apparently, take a ‘reverse-racism’ approach to sexism.

Power analysis is the core of feminist thought, but there is none here. Women are actually oppressed by the social construction of gender. How would you like to count the ways? Women, as a social category, fare worse than men, as a social category, by every measure of power we can think of: wealth, property ownership, dominion over public space, professional standing, education, governmental representation, and more. This disparity in power is caused by accepting the naturalization of gender in the form of sex-based social roles. If one believes that women are privileged as women under patriarchy, they cannot sincerely expect us to consider them as feminists…then again, maybe they can. Because identity politics is king.


We recognize that transphobic feminists have used violence and threats of violence against trans* people and their partners and we condemn such behavior.

If this is true, I am so sorry! I also condemn such behavior. I do not, however, know of any violence against trans* people from any of those who might be considered “transphobic feminists.” Violence is a very serious allegation. When, where, and from whom did this violence happen? Without an offer of proof, I must ask for it. And actually, that’s exactly what FireWomon did and she was told to shut up because her question might hurt someone’s feelings. Oh yeah, that happened.


We recognize that transphobic rhetoric has deeply harmful effects on trans* people’s real lives; witness CeCe MacDonald’s imprisonment in a facility for men.  We further recognize the particular harm transphobia causes to trans* people of color when it combines with racism, and the violence it encourages.

To say that feminist criticism of gender is effectively an incitement to violence against trans people, and trans people of color in particular, is logically and legally absurd. Such political speech does not meet the test for harm. The outrageous claim that gender critical feminism is equivalent to violence is meant to shame us and any potential supporters into silent agreement with the circular identity-logic that prohibits discussion of the material basis of women’s oppression. It is false and manipulative to assert that analyzing gender as a social construct that unequally distributes power between the sexes is in any way responsible for violence against trans people. Further, there is absolutely no evidence that violent thugs have read or are influenced by feminist writings. No really, there isn’t.


When feminists exclude trans* women from women’s shelters, trans* women are left vulnerable to the worst kinds of violent, abusive misogyny, whether in men’s shelters, on the streets, or in abusive homes. 

Again, feminists are not responsible for other people’s violence! That is woman-hating, victim-blaming nonsense. Male violence is a problem. But it’s not women’s responsbility, nor is it in our power, to prevent it.

Additionally, domestic violence shelters are available for men. While this alternative does not “validate” one’s identity as a “woman,” it is still an available option to transwomen. And men. In any policy, there must always be a balancing of interests, and in this case, the law has ruled that women have the right to define woman-only space.

But if we take the analysis further, and we should, one must question why a transwoman would be in more danger at a men’s shelter than at a women’s shelter. And please note that this is a common argument used by trans advocates. Is it because “cis” men are more violent and abusive than “cis” women? Is it because gender-based violence is primarily perpetrated by men against women? And not the other way around? Statistically speaking, the disparity in violence and aggression between men and women is undeniable. The bitter irony is that cultural tolerance for male violence is a direct result of accepting gender as natural and inevitable.7


Now, if gender is innate and male masculinity is the most “authentic” presentation of the male gender (see also the narratives of transmen), then it follows from this argument that some iteration of male aggression is also innate. This is not the view of most gender critical feminists, of course, because we believe that gender is a purely social construct. But the grave and enduring harm caused to women by men is a problem that must be explained. If gender is biologically fixed, as those who believe that all humans have an innate and unchanging “gender identity” say it is, then male violence is inevitable. I call on trans advocates to address the epidemic of male violence against women in light of the gender essentialism they preach. It is, yet again, a massive hole in their reasoning. Gender hurts women; address the problem.


When feminists demand that trans* women be excluded from women’s bathrooms and that genderqueer people choose a binary-marked bathroom, they make participation in the public sphere near-impossible, collaborate with a rigidity of gender identities that feminism has historically fought against, and erect yet another barrier to employment. 

If having to choose a binary-marked bathroom is the problem, I suggest advocacy for the desegregation of bathrooms altogether. This is a serious proposal. For those who posit sex and gender as mutable and/or irrelevant social categories, there would clearly be no point in sex-segregation at all.

As an alternative, offering the reasonable accommodation of a private, unisex bathroom—even if somewhat inconvenient to the user– is the usual compromise given to people with special bathroom needs of any kind, trans or otherwise. We are not entitled to convenience, we are only entitled to reasonable accommodation. But this is usually unacceptable to trans advocates. It would make sense, then, for them to advocate for desegregation entirely. Their current strategy requires individuals to fight anew for each and every identity-related exception to standard bathroom procedure. Every trans individual must still wage his or her own time-consuming battle for “correct” bathroom use. I question the wisdom of this and wonder why trans-activists do not take a more inclusive approach to their world view that sex is utterly irrelevant to everything. Maybe because they actually support sex-segregation for all the reasons that gender critical feminists do.


We also reject the notion that trans* activists’ critiques of transphobic bigotry “silence” anybody.  Criticism is not the same as silencing. 

Yeah, well, criticism is also not the same as violence. Or even incitement to violence. See my arguments earlier. These same authors have claimed that gender criticism is equivalent to violence. Internal inconsistency undermines the supposed “rejection.” Continues below.

We recognize that the recent emphasis on the so-called violent rhetoric and threats that transphobic feminists claim are coming from trans* women online ignores the 40+ – year history of violent and eliminationist rhetoric directed by prominent feminists against trans* women, trans* men, and genderqueer people. 

Here, the well-documented violent rhetoric from transwomen is trivialized as “so-called”– as if it didn’t really happen– while dissenting political speech by feminists is framed as actually violent. What an incredible double standard! In fact, the recent emphasis by gender critical feminists on the use of violent rhetoric against women is entirely appropriate because it is real and is entirely unacceptable. This statement also belies ignorance of feminist history. Feminists and radical feminists have been continuously fighting against gender essentialism– a view apparently embraced by the writers of The Statement– for at least that many decades.


It ignores the deliberate strategy of certain well-known anti-trans* feminists of engaging in gleeful and persistent harassment, baiting, and provocation of trans* people, particularly trans* women, in the hope of inciting angry responses, which are then utilized to paint a false portrayal of trans* women as oppressors and cis feminist women as victims. It ignores the public outing of trans* women that certain transphobic feminists have engaged in regardless of the damage it does to women’s lives and the danger in which it puts them.  And it relies upon the pernicious rhetoric of collective guilt,using any example of such violent rhetoric, no matter the source — and, just as much, the justified anger of any one trans* woman — to condemn all trans* women, and to justify their continued exclusion and the continued denial of their civil rights.

The behavior–or if you prefer the arguably justified anger– of one gender critical woman who has been viciously targeted by multiple sources (documented!) is being used here to justify the dismissal and condemnation of ALL gender critical feminists. Wait, that’s what you just said not to do.

If one wishes her point to be taken seriously, she is well-advised not to do the very thing she complains about in the following two sentences! If certain violent transwomen are not representative of all trans people, then by the same token, the actions of one gender critical feminist must not be representative of all gender critical feminists. One begins to wonder if the authors understand or have read what they’ve written at all.

The pernicious rhetoric of collective guilt” would more accurately describe the emotional appeal to trans victimhood used to activate the liberal guilt of privileged people while usurping the resources of established LGB organizations and the language of previous civil rights movements; to fetishize overwhelmingly male violence against trans people as the most pressing political cause of our time without confronting the gendered nature of all violence; and best of all, to circumvent power analysis of gendered social categorization.


Fighting oppression requires us to understand how it operates. Oppression is not caused by and cannot be cured by identity-switching between pre-fabricated social categories that demarcate who shall be privileged and who shall not be. Musical identity-chairs is a nice thought, but it is not an informed response to the power structures that create and maintain social hierarchies of oppression. Identifying-out of the class “woman” is simply not possible for most of us.8 And that’s just another one of the many problems with identity politics: it offers the large majority of women in the world absolutely nothing in terms of understanding or finding relief from their sex-and-gender-based oppression. Because there is no power analysis.

Whether we are cis, trans*, binary-identified, or genderqueer, we will not let feminist or womanist discourse regress or stagnate; we will push forward in our understandings of gender, sex, and sexuality across disciplines.  While we respect the great achievements and hard battles fought by activists in the 1960s and 1970s, we know that those activists are not infallible and that progress cannot stop with them if we hope to remain intellectually honest, moral, and politically effective.  Most importantly, we recognize that theories are not more important than real people’s real lives; we reject any theory of gender, sex, or sexuality that calls on us to sacrifice the needs of any subjugated or marginalized group.  People are more important than theory.

My bold, not in original. That statement reads like it could have been written by, wait for it, a gender critical feminist. It’s absolutely stunning. They fail so completely to understand our arguments that this irony is lost on them. I will clarify:


Females are exploited daily, globally, and historically on the basis of biological sex. Females are materially oppressed on the basis of being born with a vagina and a (presumed or actual) “baby-maker.” All of this occurs in the context of a rape culture, I might add. That is fucking significant. Pun intended. Theories of gender identity are not more important than acknowledging real females’ real lives and the material conditions of women’s oppression; we reject any theory of gender, sex, or sexuality, or identity that calls on us to sacrifice the needs of any subjugated and marginalized group– including sacrifice of the need to acknowledge, discuss, and directly confront the material and embodied forms of women’s oppression on the basis of both sex and gender.

We are committed to making our classrooms, our writing, and our research inclusive of trans* people’s lives.

And I am committed to discussing the ways in which gender oppresses women, no matter how many times I am insulted and dismissed and misrepresented. People’s lives and material realities most certainly are more important than theory.


1 Unclear as to whether this means sexual-identity as in sexuality (homo/hetero/bi), or in reference to the fiction of sex-identity. I suspect the latter, but either usage is consistent with my related criticism.

2 I intend to include both compulsory heterosexuality and compulsory gender-normativity in my use of the term “heteronormativity.”

3 Thank you, redfeminist, for the “programmed from within” phrasing: http://theredfeminist.tumblr.com/post/61486399816/the-vicious-circularity-of-gender-essentialist

4 See culturally accepted sentiments such as “boys will be boys.”

5 “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” ~Albert Einstein

6 Assigned by patriarchy and patriarchy-compliant actors, please note.


  1. […] COMMENT POLICY: This is a women’s-only space. If you are not a woman-born-female, please leave any desired commentary at sexnotgender.com. […]

  2. Reblogged this on BigBooButch and commented:
    A wonderfully written response to the horribly written and erroneous “Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism.”

    Take a few minutes to read the whole thing, as she makes a lot of great points. -BBB

  3. Two factual points.

    – ““Medical aid” in the form of surgery and hormonal therapy (I am excluding psychotherapy here) necessarily requires a scientifically provable biological connection between sex and gender identity.” No, this is not how medicine works in the real world. Only proof of clinical improvement of people’s lives is required – not proof of an underlying theory. In this specific case my statement is fully factual because a number of medical professionals, including Blanchard, do not agree with brain sex theory or any biological basis for the transsexual condition, but do support medical necessity of transition treatment.

    – In the bathroom part you link to http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2013/08/26/aclu-backs-trans-nursing-student-told-use-bathroom-storage-closet as proof of unisex special bathrooms being “unacceptable to trans activists”. But in the linked case, the problem is not the nature of the bathroom but its location in a different building. Nor is access to female bathrooms for the trans woman a required outcome for the ACLU side in the case; in fact, the possibility of creating a “unisex family bathroom” within the building as a solution both for the trans woman any any other unusual cases is explicitly mentioned in the text.

    Note: these are factual corrections on specific issues. I am not presuming to comment on theoretical views on feminism.

  4. Thank you! Your article is clear, objective, and logical. I’m unable to follow the article it responds to. It’s as though it is written in some language that has never encountered law, psychology, or critical thinking. I’m seeing this more and more in utterly bogus attacks on radfems as “transphobic”.

  5. Reblogged this on GenderTrender and commented:
    we reject any theory of gender, sex, or sexuality, or identity that calls on us to sacrifice the needs of any subjugated and marginalized group– including sacrifice of the need to acknowledge, discuss, and directly confront the material and embodied forms of women’s oppression on the basis of both sex and gender.

  6. Brilliant . Thank you. Sick of critical analysis being dismissed as ‘phobic’ ! In any other forum or debate being critical is an acceptable academic process. But when you build a wailing wall of exceptionalism around your arguments it cannot be considered valid or value free it is reduced to declamatory rhetoric.

  7. “What we all have in common is the conviction that feminism should welcome trans* people, and that trans* people are essential to feminism’s mission to advocate for women and other people oppressed, exploited, and otherwise marginalized by patriarchal and misogynistic systems and people.”

    “A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism”

    It all sounds so lovely, but let’s see exactly what the transgender community has done for women. First and second wave feminism gave us things like voting rights, equal pay, Title IX, and reproductive health care. We know the legacy of first and second wave feminism. What will transgender be remembered for, and how will future generations judge them? All we have to do is look at FTM “top surgery” (elective mastectomies with the surgical trimming down of areolas and nipples). This is their gift to the female sex. Will future historians view “top surgery” as a peculiar form of female genital mutilation.? The mutilation of the female body in all its forms only has a thousand year old history.

    Because male areolas and nipples are usually larger than female areolas, both areolas and nipples are literally cut off the female, surgically reshaped down to size, and then sewn back on. Then, two large incisions are made to remove healthy breast tissue. I can’t think of anything that so radically alters healthy female breasts than FTM “top surgery” or “chest masculanization”. Loss of sensation is common, and every now and then a nipple graft doesn’t take resulting in a loss of a nipple or two.


    In “phalloplasty” on a biological female, it’s important to remember that we aren’t dealing with erectile tissue as in an actual penis on a biological male. Six to eight inches of donor skin has to be taken from the forearm or other part of the body and essentially sewn onto the pubic area. There will be some scarring from the skin taken from donor site. The skin on the arm or thigh is not erectile tissue.

    “It is important to note that most phalloplasty procedures require multiple surgical visits as well as some revisions. The procedures can involve pain and discomfort, require significant recovery time, and often leave large areas of visible scarring. Because of the nature of using skin grafts, there is always a risk of tissue death and loss of part or all of the penis. Other potential complications include the extrusion of testicular or penile implants, the formation of a stricture (an abnormal narrowing; blockage) or fistula (an abnormal connection; leakage) in the newly constructed urethral passage, and infection. There may also be damage to the nerves of the donor area, resulting in numbness or loss of function. Erotic sensation may be changed or diminished. And the results may not be as aesthetically pleasing as one might like them to be. Also, one must consider the usual risks of any surgery, including bleeding, infection, problems from anesthesia, blood clots, or death (rare).

    Phalloplasty procedures also tend to be very expensive (between $50,000 to $150,000) and are often not covered by insurance.”


    Risks/complications of metaidoioplasty and phalloplasty

    Possible complications specific to metaidoioplasty without urethral lengthening include:

    • dissatisfaction with the length of the penis (shorter than expected)

    • change in sensation: loss of sensation, persistent tenderness, or hypersensitivity

    • temporary or permanent narrowing of the vaginal opening, making penetration difficult

    • change in urine spray, resulting in splashing of the labia and vaginal skin

    Possible complications specific to urethral lengthening include:

    * urethral fistula: opening between the urethra and the skin, leading to leakage of urine (very common: occurs in around 45% of phalloplasties)

    * partial or total death of the tissue used to create the new urethra

    * narrowing or closure of the new urethra

    *hair growth in the urethra (from hair-bearing tissue used as urethral lining)

    Phalloplasty includes all the possible complications of urethral lengthening as well as possible:

    * partial or total death of the tissue used to create the new penis

    * numbness or hypersensitivity of the skin of the penis

    * decreased sexual sensation, possibly with decreased ability to have orgasm

    * compromised sensation and/or function of the hand and wrist of the donor arm (approximately 5% of patients need a long period of physiotherapy to recover fully)

    * dissatisfaction with the size or shape of the penis

    * excessive scarring in the donor sites (arm/thigh)


    This is a video of “bottom surgery”. Skin grafts are taken from the arm, thigh, leg, or other part of the boyd.

    http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=YinlZhfdN1o

    (1.) How specifically does elective mastectomies with the surgical trimming down of areolas and nipples have to do with feminism?

    (2.) Not only does FTM “transitioning” radically alter healthy female breasts, genitals, and reproductive systems, it actually erases female identity. After all, FTM stands for “male to female” in that the female is being lost. They legally change their sex to male, and identity as male. How is erasing female identity related to feminism?

  8. Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Criticism of “Gender”

    An open statement from 37 radical feminists from five countries.
    August 12, 2013


  9. Thank you for writing this Elizabeth.

  10. “Sick of critical analysis being dismissed as ‘phobic’ ! In any other forum or debate being critical is an acceptable academic process.”

    I presume you extend a similar courtesy to criticism of lesbian and gay identities and behaviour?

  11. Carolyn in baltimore · ·

    Beautiful! Thank you Bess for parsing the faulty reasoning of these ‘feminists’.

  12. Mikhail Ramendik, you are really wearing on me.

    1> Yeah, that IS how the medical world works. There is no precedent for surgery on healthy body parts to alleviate psychiatric distress unless you reference lobotomies and electro-shock therapy. We have previously discussed *in detail* the difficulties of establishing that “clinical improvement” is a reasonably expected outcome of such surgeries, especially when the side effects and complications are so common. My argument is reasonable regardless of whether you agree with it or not.

    2> From the link: “Instead, she would be required to use a single-stall bathroom in what an administrator termed a “storage facility” in the administration building, or the men’s faculty restroom, which requires a separate key. The ACLU notes that until recently, neither of these facilities locked from the inside. Wilson was reportedly offered use of a “family restroom” in another building as well…”

    One, Wilson can use the men’s room in general– it’s a BATHROOM.
    Two, Wilson can use the “storage facility”–it’s a BATHROOM.
    Three, Wilson can use the men’s faculty restoom which DOES lock from the outside– it’s a BATHROOM.

    Do you know why women often go to the bathroom together? It’s partly for safety because we get harassed by men so frequently; I suggest that Wilson follow our lead and bring a buddy to the bathroom if worried about it. Those 3 ALTERNATIVES, not one, not two, but THREE, are perfectly reasonable accommodations. If privacy is so important to Wilson, the school can add a lock. Bam, DONE. It’s not a human rights issue requiring the intervention of the ACLU. These disputes are about *validating* transwomen’s BINARY identities while pretending that they are being certain “rights” that remain freely available to them in forms they simply *don’t like.*

    Again, from the last sentence of the article: …the letter, signed by Daniel Tilley, an attorney with the ACLU’s Florida affiliate. “We are requesting that you grant Alex immediate access to all sex-specific programs, activities, and facilities at PTEC consistent with her gender identity, including access to the women’s restrooms.

    Like I said. NEVER ENOUGH.

  13. Here is a link to the letter from the ACLU attorney who claims that the state of Florida recognizes Wilson as a woman because of Wilson’s drivers license and Social Security Card. The big BUT is that Wilson can’t get a birth certificate change (assuming Wilson was born in Florida) because Wilson has not had genital surgery. Hey, women don’t have penises.


  14. The letter notes that Wilson was NOT offered the use of “men’s rooms in general”, only two options were given to her:

    – Storage facility room. She has to go into another building to access it.

    – Men’s faculty room. She has to obtain a key from the administrator to access it.

    Requiring a person to exit the building or to go to the administrator in order to go to the bathroom is an undue burden, end of story. Especially since there have NOT been any complaints from females during the months Wilson has used bathroom. Only social custom as represented by faculty decisions, and NOT the actual interest of any female, is “threatened” by this transsexual person (and as she is on legal treatment for a long time, the ICD-10 term transsexual is appropriate).

    I’d like to keep the debate to legal issues because it looks like your opinion on medical ones is irreconcilable with current professional thought (including Blanchard, the darling of radfem analysis). it is highly reminiscent of vaccination opponents, who also reject clear clinical data in favour of theoretical principles. There HAVE BEEN sufficient studies of post-op transsexuals showing that with proper diagnosis and therapy the treatment is clinically effective: for example http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=51480F91856A922F0135C1F2F057C0DA.journals?fromPage=online&aid=270170 . However, as I noted before, if you believe that medicine exists primarily to serve society and not the patient, the debate on clinical efficiency might be irrelevant to the validity of your statement (as clinical efficiency does not mean the treatment is also good for society). Still, conflating biological basis with clinical efficiency (and thus reasonable necessity) is counterfactual, and efficiency IS PROVEN (though is it not a panacea and some of the psychological issues, especially those caused by years of dysphoria and harassment, do remain – which is the only thing the Swedish study shows).

    If you want to say “bugger their quality of life, a clear definition of what a woman is in society is more important”, you certainly have a right to that position.

  15. MIKHAIL. Actually, a woman DID complain. That’s how the administration found out. Please, read some additional articles before you SPLAIN to me what happened. You are skating on thin ice with your comments.

    “Up until yesterday Alex was using the women’s restroom on the PTEC campus. But that all came to an end after a fellow student complained, and went to administration.”


    “After an unidentified student complained to the administration, though, school officials pulled Wilson out of class and told him he could no longer use the women’s restroom.”


    Re: LAW. Balancing of interests, such as in the use of bathroom space, IS a legal issue. Look up “undue hardship.” And here is some more information from an EMPLOYMENT context at http://www.ada.gov/qandaeng.htm:

    The decision as to the appropriate accommodation must be based on the particular facts of each case. In selecting the particular type of reasonable accommodation to provide, the principal test is that o[sic] effectiveness, i.e., whether the accommodation will provide an opportunity for a person with a disability to achieve the same level of performance and to enjoy benefits equal to those of an average, similarly situated person without a disability. However, the accommodation does not have to ensure equal results or provide exactly the same benefits.”
    “Q. What are the limitations on the obligation to make a reasonable accommodation?

    A. The individual with a disability requiring the accommodation must be otherwise qualified, and the disability must be known to the employer. In addition, an employer is not required to make an accommodation if it would impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. “Undue hardship” is defined as an “action requiring significant difficulty or expense” when considered in light of a number of factors. These factors include the nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s operation. Undue hardship is determined on a case-by-case basis. Where the facility making the accommodation is part of a larger entity, the structure and overall resources of the larger organization would be considered, as well as the financial and administrative relationship of the facility to the larger organization. In general, a larger employer with greater resources would be expected to make accommodations requiring greater effort or expense than would be required of a smaller employer with fewer resources.

    If a particular accommodation would be an undue hardship, the employer must try to identify another accommodation that will not pose such a hardship. Also, if the cost of an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer, the individual with a disability should be given the option of paying that portion of the cost which would constitute an undue hardship or providing the accommodation.

    Going to another building is REALLY NOT that hard. It’s Florida. The weather is nice.

    Insurance coverage is ALSO a legal issue. You can have your leg amputated by crazy doctors if you have enough money, honey. Anyone can. Or can go to Thailand for vaginoplasty. The PRACTICAL issue is whether insurance will cover it. Elective procedures shuold not be covered. And again, I don’t care if my views are unpopular. I think for myself and you can stop telling me whom else I “sound like.” I sound like ME.

  16. ramendik: “I presume you extend a similar courtesy to criticism of lesbian and gay identities and behaviour?”

    You think this is a clever zinger, which only shows your male entitlement.

    “Lesbian” for a female is not an identity, it is material reality. A female being a lesbian in and of itself makes no demands on any other person who isn’t directly involved with her. Nor does an entire class of lesbians affect in any way other people being able to be hetero/bi/a-sexual. This is completely opposite to your obnoxious attempt at a parallelism. A transwoman with a penis demanding entrance to a women-only festival to use that as proof and confirmation of IDENTITY is affecting every woman who is at that festival because it is woman-only (or who thinks of it as a bulwark even without attending). Likewise the penis-bearing transwoman who needs proof and confirmation of IDENTITY by being in a girls/women’s locker room. Because a person with a penis is not a woman except as an IDENTITY that everyone is supposed to adopt because the transwoman said so, not because of material reality.

    That BEHAVIOR has no parallel among lesbians who seek to spend time with other lesbians seeking the same. Quite the opposite. It is lesbians who are the direct targets, and some of the most aggrieved, by the transgender movement.

    It is lesbians who are predominantly affected by the trans narrative that heterosexual male transwomen ARE women, because that narrative follows that those transwomen “are” lesbians and therefore female lesbians are bigots for refusing to date/fuck them. And we get to trip over them in our spaces whether WE want them there or not. Male entitlement, simple as that. It is both young and older lesbians who are buying into the lie that transitioning to men will end their body hatred and correct for their internalized homophobia and misogyny. It is gender non-conforming young girls who would likely grow up to be lesbians who are being forced into puberty blocking to satisfy adult bullshit. It is transmen who never quite fit into male culture who become lost. These are the lesbians who are at the center of lesbian and gender critical feminist concerns about the trend toward lesbians transitioning. Lesbians and other gender non-conforming women as a group are the most harmed when, instead of fighting the dominant gender narratives that harm women, those gender narratives are embraced and glorified.

    Stop mansplaining to us, ramendik. We know far more about this subject merely by getting up in the morning than you will ever be able to comprehend.

  17. Rose Water · ·

    Does anyone know of any studies that show an increase in health or well-being after transitioning? I only know of these two, which don’t paint an encouraging picture.



  18. Rose Water, here is a link to the complete article that Mikhail Ramendik referred us to.


    It does support his position, but as you have linked to, there are other studies with conflicting results. Which, in turn, contradicts his assertion that my position is in “irreconcilable with current professional thought.” But I’m just a dum radfem, I mean, a girl.

  19. ramendik: Requiring a person to exit the building or to go to the administrator in order to go to the bathroom is an undue burden, end of story.

    Wow, this could only have been written by a man, and I have to presume a white, middle-class man. Only in a man’s world is getting a key to use a bathroom an “undue burden” (violins playing in background). I cannot begin to enumerate the burdens I have undertaken in this life, and I never considered getting a key for a bathroom one of them.

  20. Rose Water · ·

    I beg your pardon. I should have seen that before I posted. Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. I have no problem with treating trans people with respect and compassion (as all people should be treated), but the eerie undertone of the statement was that that entails unquestioning agreement with their notions of gender, which–as far as I can tell–are quite retrograde.

  21. Rose Water · ·

    I came across this the other day. http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/island-family-recounts-journey-of-a-transgender-child-growing-up-in-small-town-comox-1.625125.

    This child who was born a boy is now transgender and be treated as a girl because he:

    –Had “feminine qualities;” (What, exactly, is left vague)
    –Preferred long hair;
    –Liked to wear dresses;
    –Loves to bake and cook.

    Wow. If this is what constitutes being a girl, we haven’t come such a long way, baby.

  22. Can I just ask, in your opinion, what exactly a woman? As in, how you would define a woman?

  23. Thank you for this excellent refutation, Elizabeth. I can only add that if men of one male gender caste (for lack of a better term) would like women to help protect them from being attacked by men of another male gender caste, we’ll be happy to help once we are put in charge of running the world. Otherwise, this is rather like people of the “white” racial caste blaming POC for intrawhite violence because of the failure of POC to protect whites by accepting them as POC.

  24. Elizabeth Hungerford: your sex has nothing to do with my opinion on your medical views; I am simply opposed to all medical revisionism, call me, in DGR (?) terms, a supporter of the medical-industrial complex. (Before you raise the historical case of lobotomy: its wide usage was limited to a few rogue doctors and never supported by professional associations, while its presribed usage – management of long-term institutionalized patients who were a danger to themselves or those around them – actually WAS the best available solution before the advent of anti-psychotic drugs, popular movies notwithstanding; in fact, apparently a modern version known as psychosurgery is still performed on hard and drug-resistant cases).

    On the legal issue of insurance, I take the view that medical professionals (of whatever sex… I actually had generally better experiences with female doctors, but that’s just me) should determine medical necessity, not politicians or lawyers. Legislation can merely forbid exclusion of certain conditions granted that the medical consensus, as expressed by recognized professional organizations (in the US primarily the AMA) considers certain diagnostic and treatment procedures beneficial and medically necessary, and granted that the particular doctor follows said consenus. Leave medicine to the doctors.

    Thus the key reference in the issue is the AMA statement: http://www.gires.org.uk/assets/Medpro-Assets/AMA122.pdf‎ . Note that its list of references includes a very long list of research confirming the clinical efficiency of transition – much more than us non-doctors can freely find online. Note also that one of the references is authored by Blanchard, which means that acceptance of the brain sex theory is not a requirement for this conclusion. as Blanchard does not accept that theory.

    And “separate but equal” accommodation that is actually unequal and harder than that for others, but “hey it must not really be that hard”… Seen before. Lots of times.

  25. cerulean blue · ·


    You should be more careful with your smears: “I’d like to keep the debate to legal issues because it looks like your opinion on medical ones is irreconcilable with current professional thought (including Blanchard, the darling of radfem analysis). it is highly reminiscent of vaccination opponents, who also reject clear clinical data in favour of theoretical principles. ”

    Your bring up the idea of theories in a scientific context, but clearly you don’t understand just what a scientific theory is. As it’s clear you are averse to finding such information yourself, I’ll give you the tl/dr version: Scientific theories are hypotheses that over time have accumulated a mountain of evidence to support them. They must have data supporting them, and no data refuting them. The antivax movement has NO data to support it, and has been refuted repeatedly. Hence it’s not a scientific theory, no more than creationism/intelligent design is. The one study anti-vaxers talk about again and again has been discredited publicly. Not only was it junk science, but its author did not disclose was receiving financial support from the attorneys representing the kids he tested in a lawsuit. Conflicting interests are a huge no-no in the (real) sciences.

    Have the studies Hungerford and others have brought up– the ones that give evidence that there is no brain sex, that there are two types of transsexuals, etc– been discredited in any way by scientists (and no, rabid, hate filled tumblr bloggers don’t count!) The answer is no. Yet the studies of the opposition have been discredited. By scientists. And the conflicting interests of those involved in these studies has been documented.

    So really, it’s the trans movement that is analogous to the anti-vaxers.

    It’s not surprising you would try the time-tested technique of accusing your opponent of the behavior your side shows. We see it again and again from the trans movement.

  26. The DARE study finds satisfactory with outcome overwhelmingly for homosexual transtioners. We know that. It’s the autogynephile mtTs we ‘hear’ from. This concurs with Blanchard.

    A non-
    homosexual orientation, with more psycho-
    pathology and dissatisfaction with secondary
    sex characteristics predicted unfavourable post-
    operative functioning.

  27. The PLoS study followed for less than one year post surgery and makes note of the inconclusiveness of that.

    McHugh et al recorded outcomes worsened after the intitial euphoria.

  28. I’m posting as someone XX who was born as, raised as, and lives as a woman, although I do identify as transgender.

    There’s so much to challenge here, not least the reiteration of false assumptions that transgender people are the outcome of some theoretical debate rather than their own lived experience, which has occurred across history and also manifests in the animal kingdom; the assumption that “gender theory” is a real thing; the assumption that being transgender is based on bogus and discredited “brain sex” studies; the idea that transgender people are the same as gender non-conforming people; the assumption that transgender people necessarily conform to stereotypes of their identified gender; that being transgender necessitates medical transitioning. This is human experience, it is most emphatically not a “theory” to play with in an academic way, disregarding people’s rights to make meaning of their own lives.

    A couple of specific points:
    1) a lack of intersectional awareness – you seem to think as a woman you are not capable of having any privilege, whereas you can have the privilege of being able bodied, gender conforming, non trans, heterosexual, white and neurotypical, among others.

    2) You say people cannot self-identify unless we have scientific proof. Gay people self-identify, end of discussion.

    3) the idea gender is purely socially constructed, and sex is essential: A better way of looking at this is that they’re both socially constructed and also both based somewhat in biology. Sex is chromosomal, but chromosomes are much less differentiated and more fragile than other genetic traits, hence we get intersex people and a huge variation in characteristics in all people based on the influence of “male” and “female” hormones (we all have both of these so it’s a misnomer). Look up Daphna Joel’s TED talk in which she explains why all humans are intersex! So you could see gender as a combination of the influence of hormones pre-and post-birth and social construction. Sex, on the other hand is part chromosomes, part arbitrary assignment, and part the desperate need of the human race, including some feminists, to categorise human beings according to their capacity to reproduce. Trans* people didn’t build such a ludicrous system and if they can’t live with its implications and strive to create their own more meaningful existence, that should be their right. There are no absolute truths in all this, but the insistence that people continue to be rigidly defined based on reproductive capacity is not only ageist, heterosexist and ableist as well as transphobic, it is also comparable to defining human sexuality based solely on reproduction, and therefore saying gay people cannot exist. If someone’s theoretical definitions do not fit someone else’s lived experience, it is arrogant and infantilising to assume that their experience, rather than the theory, is in error.

  29. Yes, G, you may ask what my definition of woman is. From the post:

    “To be a “woman” is to have been assigned6 the girl/woman social position from birth…”

    To be a woman is an externally imposed reality, not an internally imposed one.

    The reason for taking such a view is because my interest is in the *power dynamics and social structures of oppression* (most would call this “politics”). In order to understand the *power dynamics and social structures of oppression* our focus must be on understanding how EXTERNAL forces– again, NOT internal ones–operate to ultimately give rise to social CLASSES that are positioned in opposition to each other. It’s not a feeling, these are MATERIAL REALITIES.

  30. Interesting but all the stuff about how the people being studied were “really” male because they liked bobsledding etc. is a total fail. Cringe city.

  31. Sandy, I hesitate to approve your comment because you have presumed to school me on elementary matters such as intersex. You clearly do not appreciate the extent of my study in sex/gender. Please look around the site, and especially view the pages called “Brain Sex Does Not Exist” and “What is Sex?” <I should admittedly update/re-organize the information on that page, but it's all there. SO, YEAH I KNOW, THANKS FOR SPLAINING. I get that all the time. If you want to refer me to something, no TED talks, just journal-published peer-reviewed studies.

    Also, all the adjectives: ageist, heterosexist, ableist, transphobic, arrogant, infantalising. This is more classic discrediting without real explanation. You dont like my insistence on clarity. You want sex/gender/sexuality to be all everything-is-everything. Well, it's not.

    As you surely are aware, there is NO DEFINITION OF TRANS. It can be anything and everything. I am whatever I say I am. I know you are but what am I? Which is a GREAT defense mechanisms against any and all criticism. So I say trans is X, you say no trans is Y. Ok, trans is X and Y. Someone else says, no trans is Z! Moving the goal posts over here, no over here, wait back this way! I generally default to the legal definition because I'm a lawyer. You can see all of the absurd American definitions cataloged in a sweet chart I made that is also on this site. If you want the definition to be something else, tell someone else. I’m just working with what other people want the LAW to recognize.

    Now, let’s be clear. The ONLY generalization I made about a specific subset of trans-identified people is this one:
    By identifying within the binary, trans people seeking “medical aid” to transition reinforce the legitimacy of the binary itself. It is intellectually dishonest not to deal with this logical inconsistency.

    I refer there to trans-identified people seeking medical aid. And I stand by what I said. Everything else I argued is about the multiplicitous POSSIBLE justifications for “authenticating” claims of “gender identity.” At a certain point you need to settle on what “authenticity” requires. And frankly, what I’m saying is: no matter which way you wanna slice it, it DOESN’T WORK. At the most basic level: “gender” is innate or it isn’t. MAKE UP YOUR MIND. And just to reiterate and ensure that we don’t go off track: “Naturalizing gender as if it were programmed from within3 is the very definition of gender essentialism.”

    I care about the social status of women as a class. Women who are EXTERNALLY DEFINED AS GIRLS/WOMEN FROM BIRTH. ****When you say “experience” you mean an internal feeling. When I say “experience” (and lived, material realities which I repeated many times in this response), I mean the systematized EXTERNAL constraints placed on girl-assigned people from birth. Here I suggest Marilyn Frye’s classic essay about the meaning of “oppression.”

    DEMANDING VALIDATION for an subjective identity is utterly ridiculous as a social matter, and utterly shallow as a political one. I’m going to repeat myself:

    Fighting oppression requires us to understand how it operates. Oppression is not caused by and cannot be cured by identity-switching between pre-fabricated social categories that demarcate who shall be privileged and who shall not be. Musical identity-chairs is a nice thought, but it is not an informed response to the power structures that create and maintain social hierarchies of oppression. Identifying-out of the class “woman” is simply not possible for most of us.8 And that’s just another one of the many problems with identity politics: it offers the large majority of women in the world absolutely nothing in terms of understanding or finding relief from their sex-and-gender-based oppression. Because there is no power analysis.

    You say: “Trans* people didn’t build such a ludicrous system and if they can’t live with its implications and strive to create their own more meaningful existence, that should be their right.” This is a really weakly stated position. What is a “right”? What is a “meaningful existence” and why does it require my acceptance of their self-description? And why can’t we all BE CLEAR about the difference between “I need to SURVIVE in a hostile system that needs to be destroyed” and “gender is innate and precious and the system just accidentally miscategorized me but otherwise offers an authentic representation of our natural states”? THESE ARE CRITICAL QUESTIONS.

    Look, as long as someone’s “meaningful existence” does not require me to accept FALSE SAMENESS between our life histories and bodily realities, then they can call themselves by any name that isn’t already taken to describe SOMETHING or SOMEONE ELSE. It’s the FALSE EQUIVALENCY “transwomen are women” that is absurd and that I wholeheartedly reject. DIFFERENCE EXISTS. Try the link I offered in the post– it goes to Suzan Cooke’s blog and references an article I wrote with Brennan in 2011.

    PS. Intersectionality is an infuriating derail, which is why I don’t want to talk about it: there are different axes of oppression. WE GET IT. Of course women can be privileged on the basis of race, class, education, etc. But NOT on the basis of sex or gender under patriarchy. We are talking about the sex and gender axes, and we are talking about OPPRESSION as it affects women AS A CLASS. Stay focused. How these other axes “intersect” with sex/gender VARIES by individual. I will not be parsing the individual social positions of trans people, nor assuming that they are all white, wealthy, IT professionals in their 40s. Well, neither are gender critical feminists such a homogenous group. Nice try.

  32. PPS. I’m a lesbian. I couldn’t care LESS if you validate my identity or not. It’s not necessary for my self-respect or general life satisfaction. Please check out this chart: http://liberationcollective.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/whatseparatestfromlg-chart.pdf

  33. MIKHAIL RAMENDIK: you are on a one-week commenting suspension. I told you that I was irritated and that you were “skating on thin ice,” you don’t care, that’s fine, but FFS I need a break from your haranguing and bad analogies and accusations that I/we sound like some male doctor or a Roman Catholic or a conservative tyrant or god knows what else, when I am IN FACT developing my OWN woman-centered views and theories on gender and sex as manifested in the historically unique PRESENT times. Your support of the medical-industrial complex and libertarian ethics are in DIRECT CONFLICT with my positions. We are not going to reach agreement, end of. Have a nice week.

  34. Elizabeth: I take issue with ramendicks information on lobotomy and anti-pschotic/neuroleptic drugs: First, lobotomy was used much more widely than he claims and yes, a type of lobotomy or psychosurgery is still used. Interestingly one of the primary uses in the 1950s was for menopausal women who became upset and for whom hysterectomy did not work. (sic). Thousands of women were lobotomized then with the surgical techniquesand yes, since anti-psychotic drugs are now used for those indications (again, sic). However, they may induce violence and suicide ideation, and even when they don’t their efficacy is limited and borders on addiction.


    Violence and suicide ideation caused by antipsychotics (and some antidepressants) is well-documented and warned against by health regulatory agencies such as FDA. See FDA antipsychotic “warnings”, and:

    Some antipsychotics also affect lactation in females and *can cause it in

    **For Elizabeth

  35. **OT info for Elizabeth**: Also interestng is that the Dr. Warneke mentioned in THIS magazine article as a proponent of psychosurgery (new whitewash name for lobotomy) is principal in an SRS clinic, which is located clinic in a Catholic-funded hospital. I believe transgendering is accepted by some
    religious faiths when homosexuality is not.

    Thank you for your excellent and very media acceptable work.

  36. For Elizabeth: put in any of the drugs that trans are taking. This is the “violence” ideation drug list. Check on the drugs trans are being prescribed as part of SRS: See Violence report for Paxil for ex.

    (That’s all. Done now).

  37. Jessi James · ·

    As a gender queer person, I find this article to be quite transphobic. “You cannot force others to perceive you according to your own subjective construction of reality. It is simply an unreasonable request.” This, in particular, disturbs me in respect to others’ choice of identification. That is similar to a white person saying to a black person that their perception of racial abuse from a group of white people is simply not true because the white people don’t see it that way. It is possible to be critical of issues surrounding gender norms and identities without making a space disrespectful of the identity expression of others, and yet, you seem intent on not doing that here. If you don’t recognize your own privilege as someone who identifies as female while being born with female genitalia, then you don’t get to decide for other people how difficult or valid their life and expression is or isn’t. And by stating that unless someone is born with female genitalia and still identifies themselves in such a way is not allowed to speak, you are very clearly outlining the idea of woman– you seem to imagine that only you and people who think like you can decide who and what a woman is– undermining your own argument.

  38. ramendik: And “separate but equal” accommodation that is actually unequal and harder than that for others, but “hey it must not really be that hard”… Seen before. Lots of times.

    As someone who grew up in a household deeply committed to racial civil rights, I find this comment extraordinarily offensive. Comparing the rights of M2T to use women’s restrooms to the old Jim Crow laws is the work of a privileged and demented brain.

  39. Wow. I cannot “like” this essay enough. I started copying out some choice bits for reference later but I realized I just need to bookmark the entire thing and keep it handy, because it basically says exactly my thoughts but in a well-written and coherent manner that is beyond my personal abilities.

    Thank you for writing it.

    I now know that I should (and will!) refer to myself as a “gender critical feminist.”

    Again, thank you.

  40. Gosh, you’re a lawyer, well that explains everything, you are superb at constructing arguments and making them sound very plausible.

  41. Here is another link to the Double Incision Mastectomy With Nipple and Areolar Grafting.

    Loss of sensation in common, and every now and then a nipple graft doesn’t take resulting in loss of a nipple or two.

    I’m including this link not to gross people out. People need to know exactly what is happening to healthy female anatomy. Watch the entire video. To me, it looks like a form of violence being carried out on the female sex. This is my initial gut reaction. All this is hidden behind careully scripted words such as “top surgery” or “chest masculanization”. It is gruesome and very difficult to watch, but female genital mutilation and Chinese foot binding were also grotesque to observe.

    The mutilation of healthy female bodies never seems to completely go out of style. It just morphs into something new. If we are wrong about FTM “transitioning”, it does resemble female gential mutilation. How will future historians view these procedures?

  42. First of all, I want to make one point clear. For whatever reason, some intrepid people have always stepped outside the boundaries of tradtional sex roles. They weren’t always called transgender, and they didn’t always undergo “transition” (surgery, cross gender hormones, MTF “facial feminization, etc.). On the extremely long time line of human history, sex reassignment surgery represents a tiny speck on this time line. GnRH agonists (puberty suppression) for “gender dysphoric” children were unheard of twenty years ago, and few people used the words “T” and “top surgery” .

    Transgender, “top surgery” “T”, etc. seemed to explode during the decline of second wave feminism.

    Whether they admit it or not, transgender is slowly evolving into an Orwellian nightmare for girls and women on multiple levels. On the MTF side, fully intact biological males are demanding access to women’s restrooms and locker rooms. We have already seen “gender identity” laws abused. The specticle in Washington State with Colleen Francis is just one example. Even when the transwomen are registered sex offenders (Paula Witherspoon), they demand, and are granted access to women’s restrooms. It’s absolutely insane. On the FTM side, there are 14 year old girls who are already talking about “T”. This is a prescription drug that is usually injected, and it just goes by “T”. It’s “T” this, and “T” that. I’ve been on “T” for one month, “T” six months, etc. Diabetics don’t call their insuline “I”, and make youtube video after youtube video of their first shot of insulin. Google ‘FTM and “14 years old”‘, and there are thousands of hits. The transgender community won’t admit it, but there is a great deal of promotion of “T”, breast binders, “top surgery”, etc.

    It’s insane, and it’s getting crazier all the time.

  43. Thanks, Sandy, I am great at making arguments. But it’s not *because* I’m a lawyer–which is common and easily accessible knowledge about me, btw, as is that I’m a lesbian. It’s because I care enough to struggle through the many layers of reversals and ambiguities contained within the logic and rhetoric of “gender identity” politics. It isn’t easy, as you can see. Not for any of us. Many lawyers get lost in the circles, too. I cited legal definitions because, as vague and overbroad as they are, they are a stable referent from which we can continue discussion about the politics of sex-and-gender. You can read them all very quickly in the chart I linked to.

    I do not like, on my own site, to be told that I should learn about the complexities of biological sex. I don’t like being “educated” by people who know less than I do about the topic of the article *I* have written. It’s really patronizing and I get it all. the. time. If you want to engage in the conversation, that’s fine, but please don’t assume that I need to be schooled on rather basic issues.

  44. Jessi James · ·

    Gee, it’s patronizing for you to get comments about your decisions about your own life and property? It doesn’t feel good to be told that you’re not educated in something you believe you’re intimately familiar with? Can’t imagine what that’s like…. How can you not see that your comments as a cisgender person are inherently limiting, undermining your own argument, and harmful to the trans* community?

  45. JessiJames,
    1> I am not cis. Read my article, “A feminist critique of “cisgender”” here.

    2> Identity politics is not my game. I could be anyone saying these things, it doesn’t matter. My personal characteristics are irrelevant to the arguments I make because I am not arguing that identity is my authority. I have many writings on this site that demonstrate my thoughtful, deep, and complex understanding of these issues. That is my authority. Since you have come here, to my house, please be aware of your surroundings.

    Now, about your first comment: The only part you got right was that it’s not my moral responsibility to perceive others’ according their “choice of identification.” This is clearly a fundamental disagreement. Call yourself whatever you like; I do not have any feminist obligation to agree. Further, being considered a WOMAN is not a human right. I don’t know why anyone would think that it is.

    This is utterly absurd and extremely ignorant of the depth, breadth, and consequences of women’s oppression:
    If you don’t recognize your own privilege as someone who identifies as female while being born with female genitalia, then you don’t get to decide for other people how difficult or valid their life and expression is or isn’t.

    Privilege is not granted by external forces on the basis of one’s IDENTITY. No one knows how I FEEL about being considered a woman. I don’t “identify” with the female social role as something that is inherent to my very being. For women, gender compliance is a catch-22 that I explain here and here. In short,

    Further, women cannot insulate ourselves from sex discrimination and gendered oppression by being “good girls” and conforming to our gender role. Feminine behavioral virtues (deference, openness) and appearance mandates (hairless, skinny, [white]) are used as tools of oppression against women to keep us docile, distracted, and under control. Femininity is demanded of women (see Jespersen), and yet we must be aggressive and competitive (see Hopkins) in order to thrive in the marketplace of labor. Even a professionally feminine appearance can elicit unwanted sexual attention up to and including sexual aggression from men. And still, internalized feminine submission makes it difficult for women to set boundaries because saying no is socially ungracious. Gender hurts women regardless of whether we comply or resist. It is a catch-22. It is a double standard, ladies. We can’t win. Because the gender game is rigged against us.

    Links removed. There is no female-identifying-as-female privilege. That is, unless you have a men’s-rights mentality about women’s social position.

    You got this racial analogy backwards because your power analysis is upside down.

    That is similar to a white person saying to a black person that their perception of racial abuse from a group of white people is simply not true because the white people don’t see it that way.”

    As black people are oppressed on the basis of race, women are oppressed on the basis of both sex and gender. Bluntly, black people are oppressed by white people; women are oppressed by men. Again, this should be a non-controversial introductory premise unless you have a white-supremacy or men’s-rights mentality about the social positions of black people and women, respectively.

    So a trans-race and trans-sex analogy would go like this for a transwoman: a white person [privileged position, akin to men in the sex/gender analogy] telling a black person [oppressed position, akin to woman in sex/gender analogy] that the white person[man] feels like a black person[woman] inside, and that because their racial identity as a black person[woman] isn’t validated by everyone external to them, the white person’s[man’s] experience of racial abuse is worse than the black person’s[woman’s]. Essentially, transblack are black people, but even MORE oppressed! I only hope that you can see the faulty positions you provided in the set-up.

    As I said in the post: “In no other context and along no other axis of oppression would we be comfortable with members of the oppressor class appropriating the social identities of those “below” them in the social hierarchy. Nowhere does The Statement address or acknowledge this inconsistency. I can only assume that the writers either believe in the pseudo-science of “brain sex,” an obvious form of gender essentialism, or they have failed to consider the dire consequences of privileging “identity authenticity” over a responsible analysis of the material realities of (women’s) oppression.”

    And finally, I never said this:
    And by stating that unless someone is born with female genitalia and still identifies themselves in such a way is not allowed to speak, you are very clearly outlining the idea of woman– you seem to imagine that only you and people who think like you can decide who and what a woman is– ….

    I don’t decide who is a woman, patriarchy does. Social custom does. In cultures and eras near and far; people I’ve never met and never will put social shackles on their female children. I can’t control that. I can only report on it. And try to understand how powerful it is. When I talk about the material realities of women’s lives and how girls and women can not just IDENTIFY out of our oppression, I’m thinking of ALL of us. As a class. There is no identity-OUT for child brides.

    What kind of EXPRESSION someone takes is individualism, not politics. It doesn’t ask or answer WHY an unspeakably horrific crisis of violence against women is pervasive across time and space. I mean, that’s the real question of feminism: why are men killing, raping, and beating women to such an extent that most women do not or can not walk the streets at night alone? And why is this is normal, accepted?? Why do men and women behave so differently? Is it learned? Or are females, with the comparatively submissive gender, just destined to be the victims and chattle of males *because* this innate and elusive “gender identity” is just part of how males naturally ARE? You tell me. These are serious questions about GENDER. These are women’s *lives.* Their realities. Every day. And there is no identity-OUT for most of us. It’s not the solution. It doesn’t explain our oppression.

  46. This is an excellent post and really making me think. I’ve always considered myself to be a social constructionist. Especially when it comes to gender, so these arguments about being gender critical really ring true to me. But, I also consider myself trans* inclusive. I see transistion as another way of coping with patriarchal gender roles. My question I suppose, is am I kidding myself? Can I be both gender critical AND trans* inclusive?

  47. Jessi James · ·

    I’m sorry, but you, as someone who is not part of the trans* or genderqueer of the community, don’t get to decide about the expression or identity of others. It’s not for you to be the gate keeper of womanhood. By continually saying that only the patriarchy determines womanhood, but then turning around and attempting to define exactly what you think womanhood is, you’re fulfilling the role of an oppressive patriarch yourself. If you can’t see that, and if you continue to spread harmful falsehoods, including voting against protections and rights for the trans* community, then all you’re doing is being phobic. If you don’t think the patriarchy should define womanhood, then you should recognize that you don’t have that right either.

  48. Jessi James, the problem is that these new definitions and meanings, as used in the trans* and genderqueer community, have serious implications OUTSIDE of that community in the broader social context. So yes, we all have a say in what is happening.

    Beyond that, you haven’t responded to anything I’ve taken the time to explain. At all. I won’t approve any more comments like that. From anyone.

  49. Hi Claire, thank you for reading and **thinking**!! It’s fun, right? Haha.

    You ask an excellent question. “Can I be both gender critical AND trans* inclusive?” I think that depends on what trans-INCLUSION requires?

    Which brings more questions. Is trans-inclusion about inclusion in physical space or is it social inclusion? Or maybe both.
    1> as to social inclusion, must we accept unconditionally any statement another person makes about themselves as long as they also use the words “trans” or “gender identity” to describe it? I say no. JessiJames says yes. And there’s a difference too between using someone’s preferred name or pronoun (which I *will* do as a matter of respect as long as that trans-identified person also respects me) and actually *accepting* the person AS the opposite sex or AS whatever they say they are. I can to do the former without doing the latter.

    2> physical SPACE inclusion: public versus private space.

    -PUBLIC space trans-inclusion and physical contexts: BATHROOMS, locker rooms, womens-only shelters, and womens dressing rooms in stores. Possibly sports teams would fit here as well. Other public spaces are mixed sex and do not generally present issues of inclusion to trans-identified people.

    -PRIVATE space trans-inclusion and contexts: my house, your house, members-only clubs, events like MichFest, and various forms of women-only political organizing.
    So, trans-INCLUSION is not as SIMPLE as a lot of people wish it to be.

    We all have to decide how we feel about trans-inclusion in different contexts. And I don’t think that setting boundaries is inherently “transphobic.” I mean, I recently wrote about Dana Beyer and Monica Roberts calling for LIMITATIONS on who can claim the protections of “Gender identity” laws! It’s really NOT that outrageous to put SOME limitations on inclusion. Here’s where I stand:

    PRIVATE SPACES: We must agree to leave each other’s self-defined spaces alone. Transwomen-only space, female-only space, POC-only space, Christians-only space, gamers-only space, whatever private space it is, we ALL have a right to any kind of exclusion in private spaces that we so desire. In particular, and to make a finer political point, members of social groups that have been institutionally marginalized and historically oppressed may have a particular NEED for sanctuary spaces that exclude individuals who do not share the targeted characteristic of the group. That should be ok! We should allow people to gather as they wish.

    PUBLIC SPACES of a SEX-SEGREGATED nature: trans-inclusion can be negotiated, but not unconditionally. There have been multiple instances of men abusing the protections of “gender identity” to gain access to womens-only spaces with criminal intent. This must be acknowledged. I’ve written about the legal necessity of “improper purpose” prohibitions here and here. It’s one example of a reasonable limitation on unconditional trans-inclusionism. I’ll add that I also think people should show a commitment to trans-ition if they wish to use these sex-segregated public spaces. See the link above, where I explain how Dana Beyer and Monica Roberts are both on record saying similar things! This is precisely what was proposed in the infamous UN letter.

    I know what I’m fighting for, I’ve thought about all these things. Anyone who has a strong opinion on this issue has a responsibility to think through all of these differences and practical complications. It’s just ignorant not to. Particularly if you have either a personal interest at stake or you simply wish to have an intelligent conversation about sex, gender identity, and trans inclusion.

  50. Below is an excellent article that appeared in http://www.counterpunch.org

    The Same Sexual Threats, the Same Silence for Women


    “…And in the time since, queer/trans activists have threatened DGR members with arson, rape, murder. They have created photoshopped pictures of us simulating bestiality. They have called for mass beheading of DGR members. We have done none of those things to anyone. Any member of DGR who did would be banned immediately. Yet queer/trans activists are accusing us of intolerance and hate.


    Deep Green Resistance is an environmental organization, based on the eponymous book that we co-authored. DGR is also a feminist organization. Between us, we have spent six decades fighting sexual violence and writing about the patriarchal culture that creates rape and, through it, the class of “people called women.” Our analysis is informed by a century and a half of feminist theory and activism. Our views are in no way unique. We believe that a social system of male domination starts with human beings who are biologically male or female and creates two social classes of people: men and women. Socialization to either group can be a brutal process.

    “But the basic truths of women’s lives are once more becoming unspeakable. Why? Because genderists are literally shouting feminists down to shut us up. They’ve declared “female” passé, probably because even they can see past the postmodern smoke and mirrors: they know they can never be biologically female. Instead, they’ve laid claim to “woman.” Their definition of woman lines up rather precisely with everything that the Princess Industrial Complex constrains girls into accepting and that sexual violations break women into being. The genderists claim that this is all natural, eternal, basic to the structure of the universe. A typical comment: “There is a distinct, substantive, immutable feminine gender, and it can not be transcended.” This is what systems of power always have to imprint on our psyches: not only is this state of affairs natural, resistance is futile. We beg to disagree. Some of us are living proof that feminine gender can be transcended—and the feminist movement is even larger proof that it can be fought.”

    Right now the gender fundamentalists are doing their best to shut down dialogue. They’ve damaged books—books that don’t even mention their concern—pressured bookstores, and silenced speakers scheduled at universities. It should come as no surprise that they are using the final tactics of all fundamentalists: bullying, threats, assault. And they’ve done this with increasing frequency and intensity. How long does it take to see the pattern?

    What’s most disturbing is the public response. Men who have assaulted women are held up as heroes; the angry mob is celebrated. There is a war against women on the left as well as on the right. If you don’t believe us, speak up and see for yourself.”


  51. “Comparing the rights of M2T to use women’s restrooms to the old Jim Crow laws is the work of a privileged and demented brain.”

    Yes, it is, but this won’t stop them from squawking “segregation” to high heaven.. Apparently, a biological male exposing his male genitalia to high school girls is on par with what brave black people had to endure under Jim Crow South. Never mind the fact that the ones who yell and complain the loudest are usually bored, white, middle class males who “transitioning” in their mid thirties after benefitting from white male privilege for most of their lives.

    Below is a quote from white, middle-aged, retired military male Colleen Francis after the mother of a 17 year old high school girl complained that her daughter felt extremely embarrassed
    having to see his male genitalia in the women’s locker room.. This actually happened.

    “This is not 1959 Alabama. We don’t call police for drinking from the wrong water fountain,” said Francis.”


    This is a direct quote from Colleen Francis (Clay Scott Francis), white, middle aged, retired military male. To compare what happened on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and in Birmingham, Alabama to the right of a middle aged man to expose his male genitalia to high school girls is such an insult to these brave black souls in the Civil Rights Movement. They were beaten, jailed, doused with high power water hoses, and bitten by police dogs. I’m sure these courageous black souls are rolling over in their graves right now.

  52. cerulean blue · ·

    “I know what I’m fighting for, I’ve thought about all these things. Anyone who has a strong opinion on this issue has a responsibility to think through all of these differences and practical complications. It’s just ignorant not to. Particularly if you have either a personal interest at stake or you simply wish to have an intelligent conversation about sex, gender identity, and trans inclusion.”

    To me, this is what your website is about– critical thinking and intelligent conversation, led by someone with a razor sharp intellect. In other words, it’s an oasis in a desert of knee-jerk capitulation to those who scream “Oppression!” the loudest. Please keep doing what you are doing and don’t head off to Disneyland just yet. The fact that there is a cadre of people posting here who can’t be bothered to read your work says nothing about you and your work and everything about them. These people post everywhere and don’t have the first clue about critical thinking. With them every issue is reduced to slogans, and it’s clear that some can’t get past this. Or maybe it does say something about you– that your words are so effective that they need to shout their idiotic slogans that much louder.

    At any rate, as you are moderating comments, maybe you could just remove those of people who refuse to do the necessary reading? Deplatforming seems to be a thing they like to do. Gander, meet goose…

  53. The week being past, I apologize for being repetitive. I will not respond to other posters on issues already well discussed with you, instead I made a post in my blog covering the ground already covered. (My response re McHugh was because del quoted him).

    You do have a good formula in “libertarian ethic” (as opposed to politics). And we will never have agreement on philosophical issues. Nor on medicine, because apparently it is not a matter of medical opinion (Blanchard’s is the same as the mainstream in the question of medical necessity) but a matter of what publicly funded (or insurance-mandated) medicine exists for, the benefit of individuals (and society only by means of having healthier individuals) or society as such. I hated the Soviet version of the doctor’s oath, which states the doctor is to serve society, before I even heard about trans people. If you believe that individually beneficial but socially problematic treatment should NOT be funded, I have no argument to offer.

    However there are also practical social issues. And actually, I could very well sign your description on “trans-inclusion” as written. (I am most heartily in support of your text on private spaces, which is basically libertarian despite your general view). But I think there are omissions there, so I have some questions that I hope could make it more comprehensive.

    – The big omission is the question of social inclusion in public spaces that are NOT sex segregated. You have previously noted that you support acceptance of all the same behaviours (including dress, makeup etc) for both sexes. But you also wrote that you view intentional presentation as the other sex (verbal, and in dress etc when the intention is to “pass”) as immoral. My question is how far this moral view, to which you do have a right, can go socially. For example, some people believe that sexual affection outside of marriage is immoral, and they are free to state this view, but not free to, say, refuse a double hotel room to an unmarried couple; public shaming is also not accepted even when not illegal. Would you agree to the same limitations on the social expression of your moral view, and if not, how far should it go?

    – About public but sex segregated spaces, you write “I also think people should show a commitment to trans-ition if they wish to use these sex-segregated public spaces”. I agree. But how would you propose that people of low income show and record such a commitment?

    – Finally, as Alex Wilson does show such a commitment and no improper purpose was claimed, what problem do you have with her claims? Actually, unlike the ACLU position (which goes for max claims – you surely know how that works), her own position only asks for a solution that does not place an additional burden on her compared to other students, not necessarily access to the shared female bathroom. Why do you disagree with *that*? “Not that hard” is not a tenable claim in discrimination cases – besides, when one has to go in the middle of class, the difference in extra 10 lost minutes can be critical.

    (In the practical sense, in her case I would call the school to outfit a gender neutral disabled bathroom in the building, in advance of any claims that a physically disabled person might make in the future. These bathrooms have to be gender neutral anyway because some disabled persons need help, and some helpers are the other sex. This is why here in Ireland many places already have them – resolving the issue immediately. Also, it is a good place to locate a baby changing facility).

  54. An 800 word NON-response to “transphobic feminists”! Roz couldn’t even return the courtesy of acknowledging that insults are counter-productive. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    “We really couldn’t possibly care less what transphobic feminists have to say about this statement.”

    Well, that’s interesting because they DID respond to it.

    And what’s even more interesting is that The Statement itself was a RESPONSE to “Forbidden Discourse,” which is actually NOT a petition (and has been completely removed from the internet: http://www.pandagon.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/GENDER-Statement.pdf?f9e4e1 –OH THE IRONY!), but a call for recognition that gender is not cause for celebration but, quite the opposite, gender is a TOOL OF OPPRESSION.

    The author seems to think that having more mindless signatories means they have won something. Unfortunately, the madness of crowds is not an accurate measure of truth or justice.

    And even more unfortunately, mature intellectual discussion about the harms of naturalizing gender seems to be beneath– or out of reach of–the authors of “The Statement.”

    I fear that future generations of gender-defiant girls and boys will be encouraged to confuse their genitals with their gendered expression; I fear that they will be called “trans” and adults will suggest to them that they were “born in the wrong body” despite the fact that all their limbs and organs function healthily. I fear that any deviation from the hetero-norm will be pathologized and medicalized in order to appease “trans” activists. What all of this means really SHOULD be discussed.


  55. Smearing people as “mindless” is not exactly conducive to discussion. You may have a point that certain things need to be discussed. Also there is a factual error in their statement refusing such discussion (they failed to notice that you DID “disavow that sort of rhetoric” recently). I was going to point it out to them now, but see no point as the formula of “mindless signatories” closes the door for any discussion altogether.

    You have also included under “mindless” some women who are not trans and are known as profound thinkers. For example Jan Clausen. Guess you don’t have much time for her, because she rejected what one might call a class approach to sexual orientation. But “mindless” is still inappropriate.

  56. Ramendik, SERIOUSLY?? Not a single ONE of these 800 people has addressed a single ONE of my concerns and I am still being smeared as a transphobe and a TERF. STEP OFF. They are full of shit that they will engage with me, or anyone else, who disavows the rhetoric they dislike. It’s all lazy, mindless platitudes about “inclusion” intended to guilt-trip non-trans people into accepting that “woman” is nothing more than a FEELING, a theory, an acontextual and ahistorical “identity” that has no relationship to women’s oppression and the epidemic of violence against women by men. Gender hurts women. If you wish to continue blaming me for the lack of discussion between trans supporters and myself, you can leave.

  57. They are responding to a real problem – which is not what YOU do but what pretty much every other “gender critical” blog does, I won’t name any, you know who I am talking about. There are hate fests, there is homophobia, there is a recent case of outright cyber bullying of a minor. Some of what is done there would cross into prosecutable if done in Europe – and might be actionable libel in the States if certain people cared.

    On you specifically, they did not do the research. Unfortunately they think in groups too (I noted that already). I will, in fact, point this out to them anyway.

  58. Replying to Mikhail Ramendik’s comment here.

    I think our medical disagreement is best described as being focused around “cosmetic” surgeries. It’s true, I don’t think they should qualify as standard coverage for health insurance purposes. You phrase this as being opposed to “individually beneficial but socially problematic treatment,” but this is too liberal a category to couch my views in. The adjectives ‘beneficial’ and ‘problematic’ have so many various interpretations! My position is closely aligned with a prohibition on coverage of treatments that qualify under the definition of “cosmetic” surgery as used most US insurance companies. Obviously there is subjective area here– as exemplified by debate around transsexualism– and exceptions– such as the cosmetic reconstruction of lost body parts due to accident or illness– but without reviewing every possible medical treatment available to humans, opposition to coverage for “cosmetic” surgery is a reasonably accurate description of my view.

    Almost total autonomy over legally “private” space is a libertarian view? haha. Ok, fine. Although there is plenty of contraband and BEHAVIOR that should be prohibited even in private spaces, like rape and murder and the massive accumulation of weapons. It’s not TOTAL autonomy. We can discuss all that over the fence sometime. But in terms of “ownership” and giving individuals the “right of entry” or “right of participation,” yes, I think that should be unregulated in the private realm. My house, my rules. My club, my rules. Generally speaking, of course.

    -“The big omission is the question of social inclusion in public spaces that are NOT sex segregated.”

    I think it’s funny that you ask about this. Because it seems so straight forward to me. I believe: any behavior that is socially acceptable for a male should be socially acceptable for a female, and vice versa (pregnancy excluded, that’s a female involuntary reproductive thing). Throw an example at me, I’m really into FORMAL BEHAVIORAL EQUALITY.

    When I said it was “immoral” to lie about your sex (I don’t think I used those exact words, but let me clarify if I did), I did not mean unconditionally. I meant that it can be problematic in the way that lying about your age can be. In sexual situations, for example. So in certain situations, yes, I think it can be “wrong” to lie about your sex. Illegal? In some very limited circumstances, yes. I discuss that in a comment responding to you here.

    -““I also think people should show a commitment to trans-ition if they wish to use these sex-segregated public spaces”. I agree. But how would you propose that people of low income show and record such a commitment?”

    This is the ultimate health insurance question. It demands that gender critical feminists resolve, or at least address, a double-bind that is not created by our view of the world (a gender-free society that neutrally acknowledges and accounts for the physical realities of sexually dimorphic human reproduction), but a double-bind that is created by the conflation of sex with gender/social roles that trans activists push to normalize. I think it’s absurd to create normalcy around recognizing as males as females, and vice versa. It’s fiction. And it’s even more absurd to ask women who resist this theoretical foolishness to resolve a health insurance dilemma that is created by it.

    Practically, I think that BIID manifesting as transsexualism should be treated with psychological care, which is and MUST BE readily available via all government funded health insurance companies, AND which should be legally mandated coverage by all private health insurance companies. Psychological and psychiatric health care is a human right. Universally. Changing sex is a medical and legal fiction. If we fight for behavioral equality, we will not be faced with this dilemma. If men stop enforcing gender, things will change. I think that putting the onus on males to deconstruct gender roles is critical.

    If you insist, and it hurts me to make these concessions!, I’d support a 2 year “real life” commitment/affirmation to lifelong sex change as legally required by the UK Gender Recognition Act. There’s also a TRIBUNAL that reviews applications. You know, this, I’m sure. I consider it reasonably useful precedent.

    -“her own position only asks for a solution that does not place an additional burden on her compared to other students, not necessarily access to the shared female bathroom. Why do you disagree with *that*?”

    I don’t. That’s cool. I previously referenced an “undue hardship” analysis that is used in employment contexts; I think “undue hardship” can or should apply universally in terms of placing a hardship on ANY party: the individual with special need(s), the institution or business making the accommodation, OR the other patrons/employees/guests/customers–especially when they constitute a majority. It’s about balancing these different interests. Cost versus benefit, as applied to each interested party or parties.

    The basis of a pro-female argument is that the “hardship” (penis, in this situation) should not be the burden of female patrons/guests/employees of sex-segregated “private” spaces in otherwise public arenas. For reasons. Including but not limited to: serving the majority of individuals, the social custom/legal right of sex-based “privacy,” and the prevalence of male sexual predation of females (statistically documented and experiential). That’s 3 different reasons.

    Unisex single stall bathrooms are the best for everyone, always. I don’t think that has ever been in contest. But in their absence…BOUNDARIES are necessary. Those who cannot afford or do not wish to have sex-change surgery should always request a private bath. Hardship should not fall on females, as a group. The “hardship,” never UNDUE of course, must fall on the individual. And you know, THIS is why we always disagree– you favor the individual and I favor the group. It’s fundamental.

  59. Well, this is something. Even on the medical front. Psychological or psychiatric care is always the start anyway (and I know it from communication with real life transsexuals), so you would grant at least that, and they would then be able to recommend transition even if not covered by a government insurance mandate. They would also be able to document a commitment to transition which could be used in working out access where required (I actually agree that where at all possible the issue should rather be routed around – as long as the individual does not face danger or hardship much in excess of other individuals – and yes it’s fundamental, I am blind to groups, I only see it as a balance of individual rights).

    It does seem to be a bit of a halfway house to mandate access to specialists but not to the treatment that said specialists would prescribe in certain cases. Requiring more time with a therapist before commencing hormones is another matter; in fact the only way to sneak this requirement in at a regulatory level is probably to make it a part of a coverage mandate.

    Your view that if men stop enforcing gender there will be no need for surgical transition and thus no insurance dilemma is, to say the least, unproven. I do agree there would be LESS need for it. As with many other things, there are trauma-driven transgender people (who might even think they are transsexual) who would probably get over it if allowed to cross-dress and cross-present freely for a few years, without surgery, hormones or opposite-sex bathrooms, while working out their issues. Actually, I knew some (of the FtM variety, and yes they did take flak for presenting as male, and some were not lesbian either). Just as there are trauma-driven homosexuals – from what I have seen of “ex-gay” and “ex-lesbian” cases, these appear to be the ones that get over it then think that everyone else is like them. (Miller, of Miller vs. Jenkins fame, seems to fit the description from the publications I have seen).

    Such a stoppage, society-wide, is unlikely. Which is why I am much more interested in inclusive spaces allowing free expression and policing aggression than in any WBW ones. The only ones I could work out in the English speaking world, though, are Rainbow Gatherings, not sure even about them.

    By the way, not only men enforce gender. There are women, too. In fact, a celebrated star of your side, Christine Benvenuto, wrote of her hatred of the very idea of being together with a man who ever wore “women’s” clothes. I have some suspicion (not a certainty) that without this sort of strict enforcement her husband might have remained an occasional crossdresser indefinitely.

    And last, as for the test in the Gender Recognition Act, it is taken almost verbatim from WPATH guidelines and *of course* I support that. Given universal access to treatment, I would go even further and say legal gender should be normally changed after an operation, except if one is contraindicated for health reasons in the opinion of a medical professional. The tribunal is a fine idea too as long as it is a professional not a political body (apparently it is professional in the UK).

    The problem is, the less you give access too, the less you can reasonably require without making it an income test. Now, if you have access to psychological care guaranteed, you do have someone to document commitment, but you can’t require physical change.

    P.S. I wrote a long reply on the Feminists Fighting Transphobia site, a reply with which, putting it mildly, I do not expect you to agree (except where it points to your rejection of hate speech). But still, it calls them to actually respond to the points.

  60. Tobysgirl · ·

    This is probably inappropriate, but minors who post long videos of themselves and expect no response need some decent parenting. Let us also remember that this was a minor saying he was 19 years old on another site. Cyber bullying happens when the target has done nothing; we all need to learn that if we go public, we are going to expose ourselves to all sorts of criticism. My husband used to quote people’s statements at public meetings in the newspaper and they would be angry with him for his accurate quotes. Why? Because they sounded like idiots.

  61. I would be VERY careful with that other site thing. Frankly, it looked fake. And if it’s a fake, spreading it might be libelous.

    I know how it happens, someone actually posted a fake profile of me on a gay dating site a few years ago. (I’m heterosexual.) I only learned about it when I got some contact requests. Then I wrote to the side admins and the thing got deleted.

  62. What site is a fake site, Mikhail?

  63. Not an entire site. The discussion is about a transsexual (medically treated) minor who has posted a video after winning some school pageant title and facing bullying; the video was met with more bullying at a certain notorious “gender critical” site which is not yours (known as “GT” and the post is quite recent). Some commenters came up with links and screenshots of a profile of, allegedly, the same person on a dating site; the person there presents as a gay man and claims to be 19 (while really being a minor – the part about school is verifiable).

    My suspicion is that the entry on the dating site is a fake, created to embarass the person. The person does complain of bullying in their immediate surroundings, so there could be people who could acquire earlier photos, or photoshop them, and create an entry.

    I was the target of a similar prank once, but in this case, the person is also presented as posting a false age (with their true age widely known online, it would be a very foolish thing to do). This, to my non-lawyer paranoid head, seems so close to libel that I don’t want to post links. I hope I gave enough hints for the post to be found easily.

  64. Oh, ok thanks. Yeah, I agree, it could easily be fake. If you have even one picture of yourself online, anyone can download it and make a sock puppet of you saying and doing awful things. Someone impersonated me on youtube (in comments, not a video) about 6 months ago saying that all trans people should be incarcerated!!! It was so absurd it was laughable, but still upsetting that anyone would think it really WAS ME.

  65. Confirmed – FB mine – cleaned up a bit, thanks for reminding (there was a link to someone I no longer agree with). You can also find me on Deviant Art. Also LiveJournal but in Russian. I’ll get position/history summaries up on WP within a few days to make things easier; I’m not ashamed of anything I posted but my views evolve.

  66. I know what you mean about the evolution of views, Mikhail. I’ve also experienced that (anyone who hasn’t is either dead or lying) and it’s hard to manage when 1, there’s a written record of your old views on the internet, and 2, you’re not always in control of your past content when it has been posted on other people’s sites. I realize that some people limit their postings to places they can control, but that’s quite restrictive if you intend to engage in very specific kinds of political discussions with other people! You just have to live with evolution, even if it’s documented. And I guess EXPLAIN yourself, if you feel so compelled. Can’t say I do, but maybe I should.

    I also didn’t mean to call attention to your personal FB profile– I didn’t think that was your FB nor did I expect you to confirm it. But regardless, I think FB is kind of personal and that our personal lives deserve shelter from political argumentation because confusing/comparing them side-by-side seems to encourage ad hominems and/or to falsely impact the credibility granted to one’s words. I’m sure that sounds silly coming from someone who creates so much public documentation, but it’s true. I don’t like people examining my personal life, it makes me uncomfortable. Maybe especially as a woman. And maybe especially because I write about controversial political matters: gender essentialism and women’s oppression on the basis thereof. Oh, the drama of IDENTITY POLITICS and the “right to speak” about anything. It’s a rabbit hole.

  67. Oh yeah, see what you mean – especially when someone managed to describe you here as heterosexual and gender conforming despite loads of documentation to the contrary on both. Doing an ad hominem, and on top of that doing it wrong…

    As for iidentity politics is far from limited to the trans topic. The aforementioned Jan Clausen took a lot of flak because she was known as a lesbian author then fell in love with a man. It was seen as betrayal of her lesbian identity and community, or something like that. (And that’s at least withing the general sex and gender discussion – identity politics has an impact far beyond that, like the “national question” in Ireland).

    My question, however, is where identity politics (which you hate) ends and class politics (which you support) starts and what is the big difference. Both are about assigning people to groups then using such groups as the basis for analysis. Both led to conflation of interests within a group (whether the “trans” umbrella, the “lesbian” designation, or the “proletariat” in Marxism). Both are used by leaders to claim they represent the interests of far more people than their actual supporters.

  68. Lumping all lesbians into identity politics is lazy at best and an intentional reversal at worst. “Lesbian” is a material reality. A woman who exclusively has romantic feelings for and sex with women, regardless of what she calls herself (and there are plenty the world over who don’t claim the identity “lesbian”) is factually referred to as a lesbian. It’s a dictionary definition. Very simple. No one has to “assign” those women to that group; they are there by definition. Trans* — as Elizabeth has pointed out many, many times — could be ANYTHING the person claiming it claims it is. That is the very essence of “identity politics” where identity can come down to one single individual’s definition TODAY of how they FEEL and no amount of objective reality can budge that.

    This is not to say that individual lesbians don’t engage in identity politics, of course they do. But it’s not a function of being lesbian, it’s a function of believing as wholeheartedly in the utter importance of individual experiences versus class experiences. Any person who is so enamored of their individual narrative can lump other people in with herself (claiming some kind of “truth” for all lesbians), but that doesn’t make it so. Where class politics begins and ends with women is that across time and cultures, girls and women are an oppressed group as an aggregate. By any measure, a human who is female will be overwhelmingly more likely to be on the lower rung of the social hierarchy than a human who is male.

    The only time this level of statistical significance and obvious class membership is ignored is when it comes to this female class oppression picture. No one has to “assign” females to the female class. They are there by definition and they can’t self-identify out of the realities of what that means. That’s the difference, ramendik. Not that you haven’t had this pointed out to you dozens of times already.

  69. Was not lumping all lesbians together. The reference to identity politics was specifically about the attacks on Jan Clausen; to be honest, I wanted to add “it does not seem like you [Elizabeth] are that kind of lesbian” but decided it could be read as an unwelcome ad hominem.

    You have defined a lesbian by feelings and actions. This is a fine definition but the approach works for trans as well – in fact it is the way they construct their umbrella and include some people under it who do not identify as “trans” (for example, the hijra of India; also see * below). In that umbrella definition, and I frame it specially without using the word gender, a “trans*” person is a person who feels they belong with the other sex more than, or at least equally to, their biological sex, and takes certain actions to be perceived as that other sex some or all of the time.

    The promised * : I also many females in a Russian fandom subculture who prefer to communicate as men, use “male” aliases and the male grammatical gender of the Russian language, yet do not identify as trans because in their culture “trans” means a transsexual seeking medical treatment. The closest Western equivalent would be the slash fandom but I am not sure Western female slash fans are so into presenting as male.

    So – one can construct equally objective, or equally subjective, descriptions of “lesbian” and “trans”. One can also theorize on the biological determination, or otherwise, of both. And I know one can deconstruct the “feelings” part – but that works for both too (many authors, including some radfems, deconstruct sexual desire).

    There might be a difference in how the groups behave politically, in the Western context, when seeking social acceptance of their feelings and actions – but that difference is quantitative, not qualitative. Most representatives of both groups seek a certain minimal standard of non-discrimination, but there is a difference in how many seek full, “active” acceptance.

    For lesbians (and gay men), such full acceptance means ensuring their relationships are seen as equally valid to different-sex ones. So,those who want it strive for same-sex marriage and joint parental rights as a means of social engineering. But far from all lesbians and gay men see marriage as a key goal; many are OK with being left alone, their personal rights secured by civil unions.

    For trans, full acceptance means change of legal sex and it is a much more universally accepted aim in that group, thought there are differences on when it should happen and what kind of access and where should exist.

    But, really, the difference is not that big, both groups are about feelings and actions at the end of the day. Chosen tactics of certain subgroups might vary.

    You end by saying, as far as I can understand, that the only class that matters is sex anyway. I will not dispute your claims even though I think it’s all more nuanced. What I don’t understand is why policing the borders of that class is in any way essential to resolving injustices against it. And more importantly, who empowers any particular leader to do this kind of policing. That is the principal problem I see with all class politics, starting with my familiar adversary, Marxism: a small group claims to represent the interests of “workers” or “women” or any other huge class of people.

  70. Mikhail, sorry, I’m responding to your comment directed at No Anodyne. You say:

    “There might be a difference in how the groups behave politically, in the Western context, when seeking social acceptance of their feelings and actions – but that difference is quantitative, not qualitative. Most representatives of both groups seek a certain minimal standard of non-discrimination, but there is a difference in how many seek full, “active” acceptance.”

    I disagree that it is only a quantitative difference. You go on to talk about same-sex marriage as formalized equality, yet the majority of homosexuals are not married. It’s not an insignificant issue, but it’s also not the holy grail of full humanity. And in most places, yes, you can be fired for being gay.

    While both trans people and homosexuals seek legal protection from discrimination in all traditional contexts, the full “acceptance” of an individual’s “sex change” is quite different than social acceptance of homosexual behavior. We can even count some of the ways: name changes and confusing pronouns are the bare minimum. That part actually doesn’t much bother me. But, depending on what person you’re dealing with, they might even demand that you recognize a penis as female in order to be fully “accepting” of them/trans people in general. It is that damned FALSE EQUIVALENCY of demanding “authenticity” and “legitimacy” as “real” that is so inappropriate and burdensome.

    It’s ultimately a fiction that one can change sex. It is not a fiction to behave in homosexual behavior. Some people might consider it sinful or disgusting, but the underlying claim is not one that defies belief. “Accepting” transsexualism is quite different than “accepting” that two people of the same sex engage in private romantic relations. Or “accepting” that 2 men are kissing in public. The “acceptance” that many trans people seek is actually *agreement with a fiction about sex.* That’s a qualitative difference. Legislating fiction is ridiculous. Prohibitions against discrimination are not the same thing.

    And then you say:
    ” What I don’t understand is why policing the borders of that class is in any way essential to resolving injustices against it. And more importantly, who empowers any particular leader to do this kind of policing. ”

    Policing the borders of a class is absurd phrasing. One cannot examine, deconstruct, OR resolve the mechanics of class oppression if one does not acknowledge HOW and WHY people are targeted for membership in the oppressed class. It’s that simple. We are tracing the target back to its origin. In this case, the class “women” is created according to sex! More specifically, by apparent genital structure at birth. It’s a rather simple thing done by powerful social custom. No “leader” does the policing. Come on, you know this.

    And the relevance: Feminists want to understand women’s oppression for the purpose of destroying it. If we don’t understand how this whole thing operates, we can’t effectively attack it. If our examination of “Woman” begins from the assumption that it is nothing more than a feeling and that the social construction of “womanhood” is actually created out of individual females’ aggregate consensual identification with each other, well, that says a lot about what HOW and WHY females are oppressed: because we identify as submissive and emotionally hysterical airheads. Or something like that. I’m not going to repeat myself about male violence and behavioral determinism and identity glorification. It’s a problem with using an identity-focused frame to address social dynamics and oppression.

  71. On marriage – what I meant was not how many gays and lesbians want to get married themselves, but how many gay and lesbian activists fight to have marriage available. It is not just a matter of getting married, it is a matter of social engineering, of pushing society to accept same-sex relationships as socially equal to opposite-sex ones. Marriage is a tool for that end. (Note: this is not a judgement on the aim, simply an explanation of my understanding of the politics; my own current position on the issue is on the fence).

    On contra-biological fiction of a “female penis” – yes, some trans-activists do demand that. But the GL movement has a contra-biological fiction too and that one is actually invoked MORE often than “female penis” (which appears to be limited to a few outspoken individuals). I mean the demand of recognition that a child can have two mothers or two fathers. This can not happen, exactly for the same reason that a penis can not be female – biology. But it is a *common* demand.

    I did not say universal, just common in the movement; I do realize you might not be demanding that at all. But I do wonder if you will apply your quip of “Legislating fiction is ridiculous” to this case, too.

    In fact, while same-sex parenthood legislation is called for and often granted (see Miller vs Jenkins for a case when it is granted with no link to marriage), no one really calls for legislation of the fiction of “female penises”. Nor for thought police (well, some might call for the latter, but no luck in Western society). The legislation is focused on legal gender; on recognition of a person as “man” or “woman” for the purpose of the law, not inside anyone’s head. I do not see a requirement that one calls someone a man or woman in public documentation and other legally regulated interaction (for example, on the workplace) as any more invasive than accepting that two men, or a man and a woman who are not married, openly kiss in public space. And this leaves just the very limited area of legitimately segregated spaces, mostly involving nudity – where, in fact, a process of legal recognition (at least UK style, involving a tribunal) can work as a limit. So much for legislating fiction in this case.

    Last, you describe your method of class analysis. Fine, you do have a right to it and I admit you have a point in it (this is not equal to full agreement). My problem is with limiting what a person can do in the real world to facilitate analysis. If all you want is freedom to publish articles where you talk about females or born women as a class, or “women” providing your definition as biological/socialization from birth, I’m with you all the way – I support the European system which does not have an absolute First Amendment, but this is FAR below the threshold of hate speech. I would even accept the need for biological sex based statistics, though I think that apart from the Army it won’t make any difference (because born women outnumber trans women by orders of magnitude in other fields).

    But saying “our analysis requires the word woman to only apply to females and this is why no law should recognize a male as a woman for any purposes” subordinates human beings to the process of analysis. And for me, it’s all “been there done that” as I grew up in a Marxist state. It subordinated people and their real economic interactions to Marxist theory (also based on class analysis). This did not end well.

    (And I mentioned the US Army, let me just say I support Chelsea Manning for reasons unrelated to her transgender status. I don’t care if she gets treatment in prison, she should be out of prison, drinking vodka with Snowden – there are some fine gender doctors in St Petersburg too. The rush from certain generally liberal commentators to condemn or doubt her coming out just to demonstrate loyalty was frightening. All this gender discussion will be irrelevant if American gung-ho bombing gets World War III started).

  72. Shorter Mikhail/ramendik: Everything can be anything and anything can be everything because arguing points you never have to prove, support, or substantiate is such a fun mansplaining kind of game.

    Seriously, Mikhail, your points amount to telling people who know far more than you do about these subjects that there are these little (but oh so very important) fantasy exceptions that are just as valid as coherent, cohesive arguments. You’re arguing from emotion and the sense of personal entitlement anyone who has ever sat through a freshman seminar with an 18 year old dude would recognize.

    I continue to engage because you are an excellent foil — you perfectly represent some of the most facile arguments out there for the trans* narrative. And the perfect example of mansplaining — as if the two lesbians here need *you*, a heterosexual dude, to explain what “lesbian” is and means.

    How about instead of mansplaining to us about our lives and our politics, you deconstruct what “heterosexual” means since you claim that “one can construct equally objective, or equally subjective, descriptions” of such things. I’m sure you can make something up. And then the heterosexual majority out there lurking can see just how specious your arguments are (since they will be applied to the majority, with lived experience, instead of to those exotic creatures who only make up 5% of the human population).

    You think of other people and their lives as your thought experiment playground. You have no skin in that game; it’s just entertainment for you. Let us watch while you put yourself, your sexuality, your sex, your gender, your privilege, your entitlement, your community, your classes, your assumptions, and your brain under your own microscope. This is the process that feminists with an advanced understanding of how the world works have gone through. It’s clear that you never have.

  73. Tobysgirl · ·

    Elizabeth: I don’t like people examining my personal life, it makes me uncomfortable. Maybe especially as a woman.

    And this is what parents are for when their children don’t have the sense not to post videos of themselves bawling for nine minutes. If you don’t post photos of yourself online, no one can make fake posts from them. And no one cyber bullied this young man — whose family is apparently willing to exploit him but not protect him — he posted stuff about himself and didn’t like people’s reactions. I get very upset when I think of all the young people out there today who do not have parents helping them understand that you don’t want to expose yourself, in any way, online.

  74. Mikhail, sigh. I don’t think No Anodyne is being unfair with you. You’ve been known to suggest that I sound like a Roman Catholic conservative. Bad analgoies are bad analogies.

    First, gay PARENTS are an even smaller subset of gay people. May gay people are not parents, even if they are married, myself included. If you want to use homosexuality as an analogy, use homosexual behavior itself, not some subset of “rights” or recognition that only appl

    Next, there is legal precedent called ADOPTION for non-genetic-donors to be accepted as primary caretakers. Sometimes bio parents get killed in accidents or by illness. And then what? The legal tradition of having one male and one female parent is based in ACTUAL sexual dimorphism, the institution of marriage (ugh!), and the state’s interest in people taking RESPONSBILITY for those in society who cannot care for themselves. Here, read about de facto parenthood http://www3.nd.edu/~ndlaw/jleg/issue_articles/volume36/Duncan_Final.pdf, “parenthood” has social utility that extends BEYOND social validation of an identity-for-the-sake-of-identity. In my view, it is the “primary caretaker” who should be the parent of record for legal purposes, NOT the biological/gene donor. I think that putting social importance on genetic “relationships” between individuals is stupid and only continue to exist for the purpose of serving patriarchy. Yes, another rabbit hole of philosophical difference that we can discuss on the queer plane of existance.

    Btw, I don’t know why you keep referencing Miller v Jenkins. It was a custody mess between 2 unmarried women, which part of the case or result are you pointing to?

    And you say:

    “The legislation is focused on legal gender; on recognition of a person as “man” or “woman” for the purpose of the law, not inside anyone’s head.”

    Well, guess what? The law doesn’t recognize “gender.” It recognizes legal sex. Have you read my blog lately? GENDER is not the same as sex, it’s kind of WHY I’M HERE. We have discussed the possiblity of the government tracking both birth sex and chosen gender, which would be totally ok with me despite the fact that I think it’s unecessary. But the current conflation of sex with gender is both sloppy and creates absurdities.

    “And this leaves just the very limited area of legitimately segregated spaces, mostly involving nudity – where, in fact, a process of legal recognition (at least UK style, involving a tribunal) can work as a limit. So much for legislating fiction in this case.”

    Yup, this is the nexus of the SPACES argument. It’s where all the excitement happens! I said that I found the UK’s Tribunal to be useful precedent, it still legislates fiction by pretending that gender is sex and that sex can “change.”

    “My problem is with limiting what a person can do in the real world to facilitate analysis.”

    The purpose of these discussions is not purely because I enjoy being slandered on the internet. They are POLITICAL in purpose. The analysis that we make about women’s oppression informs the action plan we devise to confront and destroy oppression. If you invisibilze the mechanics of oppression, you can’t attack them. It’s like punching with your eyes closed. Further, one wonders why trans-identified people are complaining about “oppression” so much if they weren’t trying to actually ADDRESS it with their words and behavior. Oppression is CLASS-based by definition. If anyone is using analysis to override reality, it’s those who favor subjective identities over the MATERIAL CONDITIONS of oppression.

    PS. This is my favorite law review article EVER: Adverse Possession of Identity: Radical Theory,
    Conventional Practice. And I don’t even agree with the analysis. I think you will enjoy it. http://law.uoregon.edu/org/olrold/archives/84/842clarke.pdf

  75. […] · October 3, 2013 – 5:00 pm […]

  76. […] all people, men who want to be women should strive for a good understanding of feminism and the harmful impact of patriarchal frameworks like “gender identity” on real women’s lives. “Terfs” understand this well. If your analysis of “gender” is based entirely on your […]

  77. […] when I examine my implementation of the “gender identity” fraud with its intensely misogynistic harms to women and to children, I regret it very […]

  78. Flux and Virtue · ·

    Thank you Elizabeth, you are a new role model for me. I’m still learning and trying to understand the complexities of all these issues and topics that intertwine and have varying perspectives, judgments and interpretations (even of facts) as well as that of my won. Thank you also for remaining robust, educated and rational in not only your dissertations but dealings with commentors. It’s a minefield out there but I get the feeling you ain’t backing down. In support and sisterhood…….

  79. Flux and Virtue, did you know that you left me that comment on my birthday? THANK YOU. It was like a birthday present! 🙂

  80. Flux and Virtue · ·

    hope you had an amazing birthday!

  81. I really appreciate the clarity and sobriety of this critique. I, personally, have strong sympathies with gender-critical feminism. What they call “gender” is, indeed, I think, an insidiously naturalized way of keeping women in their place (and keeping men in theirs, even if it is, generally, on top). That said, I’m also a transsexual woman, and so it bothers me to see *this* notion of gender conflated with what, I think, most “transgender” people mean when *they* say “gender”. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, dysphoria, transition, and so on, is primar ailybout sex. It’s about my relationship with my own body. I don’t really have any great investment in the cultural trappings of femininity, especially not since my body has become, for the most part, physically female (at least what’s empirically observable about it, in public, anyway). There was a time when I think I tried to make up for my out-of-jointness with my own body with, say, the clothes I wore, or other markings of “gender”, but I think they served a vicarious role for a more fundamental problem. So, anyway, that’s one point of clarification I wanted to get out of the way.

    So, if transition is mostly about our bodies, our “sex”, and not so much about what you call “gender”, then why should we fight to be recognized as “women” (or, for trans guys, “men”)? Well, I think there are good political reasons. The simplest is probably just that we’re still targets of misogyny. When I get catcalled, or talked down to, or threatened with rape, it’s because I’m a woman, or at least because I’m perceived as one. This isn’t just because I mostly “pass”. The kind of discrimination that more visibly trans women receive fits classic misogynistic patterns too, with all its familiar double-binds. One example, that you see pretty often on forums and comment threads, is an oscillation between (a) mocking a trans woman for her femininity, and (b) punishing any breach of that same laughable femininity. (How many times have you seen a trans woman, who gets irate and assertive on some thread, get torn apart for acting “like a man”? But what does this come down to besides the injunction to “act like a lady”?)

    It’s true that we haven’t experienced the lived realities of womanhood since birth. We just haven’t. In terms of our “sex role”, we’ve gone from riches to rags, even if it was viscerally uncomfortable — often to the point of making life unliveable — to lug those “riches” around. Unlearning male chauvinism is an important part of transition. I would never deny that. (And I agree, for example, that trans women need to shut the fuck up about the “cotton ceiling”. For a long time, I never even believed it was a real issue. I thought it was the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for transphobes. But, alas, some people talk about it like it’s a thing. These people need to be reminded that the sun dress, too, can be a fedora, that they have no godgiven right to what’s under the panties, and that it might be time to epilate the neckbeard of their heart.) But misogynists don’t give a fuck what we were since birth. They abuse on on the assumption that we’re cis women, and when they find out that we’re trans, they abuse us even more, because the very *idea* of a “man” sacrificing his virility to become the “weaker sex” disgusts them. Transphobia is coextensive with misogyny. It can’t be combatted in isolation. You can’t be a trans activist and not be a feminist. And I don’t think there are many motives for transphobia that don’t have their roots in misogyny. We’re in the same boat.

    Anyway, this comment is getting almost as long as the blog post. If you’ve read this far, thanks. I appreciate it.

  82. […] ‘How is one’s physical sex relevant in trans-exclusive circles if how a person identifies after being assigned a sex is irrelevant according to gender critical femini…?’ […]

  83. […] comments of one gender critical feminist: “You can call yourself whatever you want; being a feminist does not require me to agree with […]

  84. Thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been very frustrated with the idea that embracing a harmful social construct will make the problem go away. You’ve outlined everything I’ve been feeling since age 9.
    I would also like to add to your bathroom argument that gender-based bathrooms are in fact against Due Process. As gender is arbitrary, difficult to police, and excludes those who find themselves gender-fluid, non-binary, etc., keeping with sex-based bathrooms (or like you said, no segregation at all) is the best use. Obviously, no one is saying that bathrooms are gender based, so therefore, no one is “excluding” anyone from utilizing the facilities. Splitting where everyone pees up into identities is about as useful as segregating based on hand-dominance. Whether the policy is inherent or not, it is completely unrelated to the matter of relieving oneself.

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