Monday, January 31, 2011

Questioning M2F Entitlements that Women Raised as Girls Don't Have: More on Trans Political Agendas, Practices, and the Challenges of Radical Feminism (or Radical Pro-Feminism)

image is from here
NOTE: on 9 Feb. 2011, I changed the title of this post to remove the term "cisgender women" and replace it with "women raised as girls". I did this in response to one of the comments posted below.

In the last few months, I have posted probably two dozen times about issues in trans and radical feminist politics. And, to date, almost no one has been willing to engage with these issues in responsible, respectful ways.

I understand why any of us who are queer/genderqueer/trans/intergender/GNC would want to lay claim to 'being one gender', if that gender is not the one someone was raised as but didn't experience oneself as being, when the defining feature of our outsiderhood is that we've had a mixed gender experience.

I don't understand the politics of fighting for trans-visibility while also demanding to be termed in ways that renounce or refuse to acknowledge being transgender or transsexual as anything other that conservatively assimilationist. I also want to point out that working to be termed "women" or "men", if M2F or F2M erases or invalidates the experiences of women who were girls as a distinct social-political experience, and, for that matter, the experience of men raised as boys. It also makes a very transphobic assumption that most trans people are living lives that are not what is termed "cisgender". Lest we forget, most trans people have bodies that are not surgically altered, that appear gender ambiguous; as the gender they are socially perceived to be; as the gender which has or doesn't have male privileges and entitlements embedded in it.

Someone whose name I don't have permission to use wrote to me recently pointing out a few other issues with the concept of "cisgender". I have slightly modified some of the points raised to me in that email and I thank them for writing.

"Cisgender privilege" is specifically defined in a way that excludes anyone who does not want to transition, or transition completely. If you do not hate the way your primary and secondary genitalia is formed or appears, or if you do not strongly dis-identify with your genitals--enough to get drugs or surgery to change them--then apparently you're cisgendered and carry all the privileges the term is designed to confer. (This is how the term has been described by some trans activists and trans spokespeople.)

So the idea that someone is "privileged" specifically for not wanting to get drugs or surgery on or to reshape their genitalia, when most people can't afford to do so, is oxymoronic.

If you are genderqueer but do not want to alter yourself surgically or with hormones, does that mean:

a. you're comfortable with the way you are perceived?
b. you are judgmental and dismissive of the people who are different than you?

Don't both "a" and "b" both have to be true for cisgender privilege to exist? In my experience, genderqueer people are unlikely to find those both to be true of them as individuals.

While I understand anyone not wanting to so consistently be living along the outer margins of status quo society (often in only some regards), to do so by denying one's acquired, practiced, and structurally well-protected privileges is, to my view, status quo political behaviour that reeks of white and male supremacy. When a few vocal white M2F pseudo-spokespeople for "trans experience" do it, I certainly experience it as male supremacist. As a person in trans/intergender community, does my subjectivity and perspective on this matter as much as the white class-privileged M2F person who claims to not be male supremacist? You'd think, because I am male, that it would.

"You call me what I demand to be called, or else you will be stigmatised and marked as a bigot and hater" is not a politic or a practice that is enforceable or practical for most oppressed people to employ. Why, then, do M2F transsexuals get to employ it as if it is an entitlement and a right? How many women of color, trans or not, get to be termed what they most wish to be called? How many men of color, trans or not, have that luxury?

A queer white, ethnicity-, class-, ability-, and profession-privileged person named Noah has showed up here accusing me--a gay, Jewish, disabled, non-profession-statused, transgender/intergender person, of being "transphobic", as if me advocating a responsible radically pro-feminist trans politic is anti-trans!

A very anti-radical, anti-feminist race-privileged, class-privileged transsexual person named Sara has come here and made individualistic arguments that show no regard or respect for the anti-patriarchal efforts of women to remove all man-infestations of anti-lesbian white male supremacy from the Earth. Sara basically denies there is such a thing as "patriarchy".

A non-transgender person, a Latina woman vlogger who calls herself Divinity, who works in close alliance with a well-known white misogynist/anti-feminist non-trans man/troll has expressed gross disregard and disrespect for the radical feminist of color politic and ethic of naming white male privilege where and when it rears its entitled head.

I have posted thoughtful responses to each of these people. Only Sara has been willing to engage respectfully, if not responsibly. Noah has presented gross condescension as "respectful engagement". Divinity has not engaged with me at all.

I have noted several instances where male supremacist and other oppressor privileges are present in some arguments put forth by a few trans people. What I see online, argued determinedly and systematically by a very few transsexual and transgender people, is not what I see or experience offline.

What trans people I know off-line request is to be respected as people, to be shown basic human regard, to be treated with consideration, to not be assumed to be anti-feminist, and to be termed "transgender", understanding gender to be socially constructed. Their stance with regard to radical feminism--white and of color; lesbian and not--does not resemble or support the views expressed by people like Divinity, Sara, and Noah.

For a few very privileged M2F transsexual people (claiming status as spokespeople for all trans people) to demand use of arguments or terms that obfuscate or evade responsibility and accountability for the political privileges one carries is just plain ol' status quo oppressor behavior. (Including statements like this one: "Any critique of trans experience is regarded as transphobic." This would mean that trans people questioning our own experiences, and interrogating the meanings of our emotions and feelings, is "transphobic", which of course is horseshit. It would also mean that lesbian feminists with totally legitimate political critiques, such as Carolyn Gage's analysis of the life of Tenna Brandon, is transphobic and not useful to our experience and political agendas. I think work such as that must be engaged with. Pun intended.)

I will expect those few transsexual cyber-"activists" who pose as pseudo-spokespeople and non-trans Internet trolls who claim to speak for all trans people, or who claim to "represent", legally and otherwise, ALL trans people, to do one of two things:

1. To disrespectfully and/or unintelligently and/or anti-radically and/or anti-feministly respond to what is in this post because they have the privilege and entitlement to be disrespectful without being accountable.

2. To ignore and disregard anyone with whom they disagree because they have the status and power to not need to engage with people with fewer privileges who are charging the male-privileged pseudo-spokespeople with defending and upholding male supremacy.

For me, queer politicals as it manifests interpersonally and socially fails to even achieve being "progressive" in the ways it supports lack of insight and analysis into what "gender" means and is, politically, in Western or Western-colonised societies. Traversing a hierarchy by changing external gender cues (and I'm understanding this is done for some people to feel less internal disonnance), is to privilege the capacity to do so (a privilege not available to most people) while also acting on the entitlement to deny privileges one either believes they never had (M2F), or to deny the threat to women and girls of privileges and entitlements one moves into (F2M).

Poor people who become rich acquire privileges while also carrying a legacy of having been poor. Rich people who become poor, if raised rich, do not lose their class privileges in so many regards.

Many class-privileged people I know, when in college, claim to be "poor". This term is used so often as to de-politicise the social meaning and global experience of poverty. I've always called out people who do this: not having money readily available isn't "poverty" if one is raised with class-privilege. It is a temporary loss of some of the abilities one has with money in the bank.

While gender privilege acquisition, or loss, is not the same as wealth acquisition or loss, what remains constant-while-not static is the effect of one's upbringing on how one engages with the world.

There is a pretense and claim of "never having been a boy" that a few very vocal, very cyber-dominant F2M pseudo-spokespeople make. This must be called out in all cases: the issue is not whether one "was a boy"; the issue is whether one was raised with male privileges, whether they were consciously and willfully acquired and acted out, or not. As a child who never felt like a boy, who didn't identify with boys, who didn't like or gravitate towards "boy-behavior", and who was bullied and ostracised throughout my social childhood for playing with and befriending girls-as-political peers, for doing "girly" things, for "throwing like a girl", for refusing to play boy team sports, I nonetheless acquired plenty of male privileges and entitlements--far more than any F2M across a similar period of one's life.

The proof (for me) of the unacknowledged male privileges, entitlements, dominance, supremacy, and power is that when this charge is made by a few M2F transsexual people--of never having or not having male privileges and entitlements--it can be dismissed by those few M2F pseudo-spokespeople by consistently calling the exposer of this political truth "grossly insensitive" or "being a bigot". Where else does this happen?

Anyone hear of these terms: "femi-nazi" and "misandrist"?


I personally-politically find the appropriation of the term "feminazi" to be anti-Semitic but it too, as I know you all too well know m Andrea, is another linguistic device loaded with political meaning, used against women who resist and challenge men's domination and rule. I ought not and will not tell you what terms to use to describe yourself online. I'm only noting that I find the term anti-Semitic, particularly when used by non-Jewish people. (And, m Andrea, I don't know whether or not you are Jewish.)

But what I'm addressing also applies to the terms: "femi-fascist", "misandrist", and "misandry". They are over-used enough, deliberately and systematically, in radio and other media, and often online, in certain very privileged circles, so that hopefully a few people who are men or who are defenders of men will also believe the terms refer to something that is socially and structurally existent (even though it isn't). Misogyny is structurally/socially existent. Male supremacy is also. White supremacy and dominance and rule of the wealthy is also.

In conclusion, for this post, I'll note that there are rather glaring political problems with the terminology constructed within some trans circles to marginalise and portray girls who grow up to be women as "oppressors" of trans people, or as having privileges trans people do not. Again, most trans people are not surgically or hormonally transitioning and are in the same perceived category as any woman or girl, or any female person who is genderqueer but not trans. There is also a glaring level of unacknowledged privilege among the few M2F and other transgender and transsexual people who are claiming that girls and women raised as girls have more privileges than they do. Among those privileges is the power to name reality and to socially name, with authority, "who one's oppressor is".

Our collective social justice and political liberation struggles are not served by refusing to own or discuss when and where white and male privileges are present but denied.

I welcome respectful discussion on these and related issues.

19 comments:

JENNIFER DREW said...

'Cisgender' is a pseudo term used to silence women who refuse to accept that 'gender' is something which can be conveniently changed as though one is either putting on or taking off a jacket. Gender is the social construction of how women and men are supposed to enact their sex roles - and gender exists in order to legitimise male domination over women.

It makes no difference if a woman declares 'I am no longer female I am a human being' because male supremacist society will continue to treat and view her as a dehumanised sexualised commodity because she is female not male.' Therein lies the difference - how male supremacist society reinforces and upholds male domination over women. Women are not living in a vacuum wherein they can enact whatever choices or demands they wish because they are always seen and treated as inferior beings since they are female not male. So 'cis privilege' does not exist. However it is used to hide which human group has the power and which group do not. Namely men continue to be awarded greater power and value than women as a group and all men are given these rights even when they do not want them they are still accorded these rights. Women do not have these automatic rights and so sadly some biological women believe that by turning themselves into men they will be awarded these rights. But it doesn't work that way. Neither for that matter can biological males simply proclaim 'I am now a female because I've discarded my masculinity/male status' because male supremacy society will continue to view them as males posing as females.

JENNIFER DREW said...

So-called 'cisgender women' are not protected from being subjected to male violence because biological women are still viewed by men as inferior dehumanised beings. So 'cisgender' does not exist but it is used to hide male domination and male power over women. Neither does a woman's class protect her from male violence because male supremacy condones and promotes male domination over all women and only 'protects' certain women if they adhere to male supremacist ideology of 'femininity.' However this can be taken away if a man decides to commit violence against a woman because he will claim 'she provoked or caused me to strike her' and if the male attacker is white his right to assault the woman will be accepted by male supremacist system.

So to put it another way - heterosexual women are still primarily viewed as 'female' as are lesbian women primarily viewed as 'female' - hence they are supposedly inferior to biological men. So 'cis gender' privilege does not exist. What does exist is many men's beliefs that they can suddenly decide to become 'female' and all biological women are expected to accept these males as 'female.' That is the meaning of male power and male domination - because as always it is men who are the ones determining who is and who is not identified as 'female/feminine.'

Remember femininity and masculinity are social constructions used to maintain male domination over women.

Radical feminists demand and end to 'gender' because if we eliminate gender then male domination over women will end too and that is not likely to happen any time soon. Instead we have pseudo claims that 'femininity' is something innate and some males are really female who just happen to have the wrong male characteristics. But if male supremacy didn't put so much effort into proclaiming women are 'feminine' whereas men are 'masculine' it wouldn't matter one jot whether or not a female or male is enacting their so-called appropriate 'gender role' because ambition, assertiveness, rationality would be human traits not as at present masculine characteristics and never, ever female ones.

But instead we have the pseudo issue that many biological males are really females and feminists are supposed to welcome these individuals into our ranks because these males are really female. Such beliefs are directly opposite to what radical feminism is about and that is the eradication of male supremacy and its brother gender.

There are also claims that radical feminists hate males who claim to be females and that we are demanding their extermination. Nothing could be further from the truth but it suits male supremacy to promote these lies. I repeat radical feminists want an end to 'femininity and masculinity' and instead the acceptance that we are all human and hence certain traits/aptitudes etc. are not 'masculine or feminine' but are human.

Therein lies the difference but that is too dangerous to even contemplate so instead we have the rise of transsexuality/transgender as though this in itself will accord women their rightful human status. It does not but it certainly reinforces the gender binary and more importantly male domination and male control over all women.

Julian Real said...

Hi Jennifer,

I have some responses to your latest comment, and I thank you for it.

'Cisgender' is a pseudo term used to silence women who refuse to accept that 'gender' is something which can be conveniently changed as though one is either putting on or taking off a jacket.

First, I don't hear anyone--anyone at all--making any kind of case that gender is something which can be conveniently changed as though one is either putting on or taking off a jacket, and I think that sort of language is simply inaccurate and insulting to those people who do, quite genuinely, struggled to deal with what they experience authentically as "gender dysphoria" or "transsexuality". Do I have a different understanding and analysis of what those "conditions" are? Yes. But I can't presume to know what all those conditions or experiences are. We don't have definitive answers on these issues. We have our own perspectives, rooted in experience and analysis. I can't presume to know what people the world over experience as "raced existence" either.

I'm unclear of all the places that term is being used, but agree that where I see it being used online, it is often and generally used by people (some trans, some not) who do not accept that gender-in-Western-patriarchy (but not gender universally), is something that is an accumululative lived process. It is lived from birth to death, of being oppressed or being an oppressor, interpersonally and/or institutionally, because one is either female or male or intersex but regarded and treated as either female or male.

What complicates things, here, is that gender isn't experienced only as a political reality. And, therefore, it isn't only that. Race is deeply political, but race isn't only political. Sexual orientation is deeply political, but not only political. Sometimes what I hear from some feminists and profeminists, appears to me to deny that gender is also other things too. If this is so, this is where we get into trouble, I think, and our theory-making gets sloppy.

Julian Real said...

For example, in many Indigenous societies, most of which are either destroyed or being actively destroyed while resisted by survivors, gender is something other than what white Westerners conceive it to be. It is something else, more complex and, perhaps, well beyond the white Western imagination and experience: I have read Indigenous writers describe their gender as spiritual while material while economic while social while cultural. So I don't support whites speaking as if "gender is only what white people say it is" and I fear your statement can come across that way. And to me, that's racist.

"Two-Spirit women" (to use the Anglo-English term) are real, after all. And many Two Spirit 'women's' experience is outside the paradigm of gender that white feminists describe, protest, and seek to eradicate. Was Lozen "a woman" as the white West defines that term? Or was Lozen Two-Spirit? Or both? How can you or I know that?

That white men rape Indigenous female-bodied people doesn't turn all of those people only into women as the white West defines the term. It does enforce how the white male supremacist West views and treats female-bodied people, however. (And some intersex people too.)

Gender is the social construction of how women and men are supposed to enact their sex roles - and gender exists in order to legitimise male domination over women.

Gender as constructed in and by the white West, and in many other places and eras too, but not universally and ahistorically, is primarily a politically enforced construction. And also it is "identity", a strong sense of selfhood--however compromised or dehumanised--and a reference for understanding the world symbolically. For some, including some feminist women, it is a source of spiritual strength, not only a source of pain and disempowerment. That's what I've heard from women across the last thirty years. Women from many traditions and cultures, classes, races, and sexual orientations. I welcome your critique of what I'm writing here.

It makes no difference if a woman declares 'I am no longer female I am a human being' because male supremacist society will continue to treat and view her as a dehumanised sexualised commodity because she is female not male.'

And it makes no difference if males who are 'feminine' say they are 'real men'; they will still be ostracised by masculine and masculinist men as "too much like women", especially when those males are also gay.

Therein lies the difference - how male supremacist society reinforces and upholds male domination over women. Women are not living in a vacuum wherein they can enact whatever choices or demands they wish because they are always seen and treated as inferior beings since they are female not male.

Unless they manage to present themselves convincingly to the world as men, which has happened, historically, although that comes with its own set of risks, as we saw in the Tenna Brandon case. I'm not saying Tenna was transsexual. I'm saying Tenna made a determination, in the context in which she lived, to try and present herself to others as if she were a male person. The plan failed, and she was killed for doing so. She was killed for being a woman who tried to enact the privileges and entitlements of a man.

Julian Real said...

So 'cis privilege' does not exist.

But dehumanising and only-negative overgeneralisations about trans people and trans experience does exist, and is coming from some non-trans people online and offline. This is a social and political reality, is it not?

However it is used to hide which human group has the power and which group do not. Namely men continue to be awarded greater power and value than women as a group and all men are given these rights even when they do not want them they are still accorded these rights.

That is true enough if we pretend the world is only comprised of gendered beings who are gendered in certain ways. But it doesn't really hold true if we add in things like race, class, and sexuality. Because white het rich women have far more power, socially, to name reality and determine it, to effect it, to support the status quo, materially and otherwise, than do poor lesbian women of color. Both groups are "the same gender", but both groups are not placed equally in society. What you write above comes across to me as if such differences in politics don't exist. It appears to ignore that women, as a group, are placed along various hierarchies, with Western Christian white heterosexual women with class privilege who are not disabled being more powerful in many ways than most other humans on Earth. But never as powerful as Western Christian white het men with class privilege who aren't marginalised or compromised politically in other ways, such as disability or ethnicity.

Julian Real said...

I'm hearing a reduction of "gender" to a world where intersectionality doesn't exist. And therefore the theory becomes partial and invisibilising of the lives of most women on Earth who endure raced as well as gendered oppression. Few to no women on Earth are not also raced as well as gendered by the White Man. Including, of course, white women.

I understand the context for your comments being about trans vs. non-trans women's experience and the politics of the discourse. But I find white women speak for all women's experience often--out of white privilege and entitlements, and I find that many women of color resent it and find it oppressive.

Julian Real said...

Women do not have these automatic rights and so sadly some biological women believe that by turning themselves into men they will be awarded these rights.

I'm not sure I understand what "biological woman" even means. To me, that's an exact synonym for "cisgender woman", is it not? Are you meaning to use it sarcastically?

And the term "turning themselves into men" also sounds like it carries a lot of assumptions about what people endure who go through that experience, as if it is like putting on a jacket. Do you know transsexual people who were raised to be girls who have transitioned toward some approximation of a person who might be socially perceived and treated as a man, Jennifer? I mean personally, as close friends? Because no one I know who has gone through various parts of that transitioning have done it with any assumption that they'll arrive on the other side, so to speak, "as a man". What they tell me is that they hope they come out feeling less suicidal, more like "themselves", as that is experienced subjectively. I don't know any F2M trans people who are seeking to be MEN. I know people who are seeking to survive in ways that make sense to them in the communities in which they live.

But it doesn't work that way. Neither for that matter can biological males simply proclaim 'I am now a female because I've discarded my masculinity/male status' because male supremacy society will continue to view them as males posing as females.

Well, some M2F people do live publicly as women, even if their intimate personal lives are not in sync with what many women raised as girls experience (such as going through menopause or being at the same risk for breast cancer or ovarian or cervical cancers). And I'm not sure how many people attempting to do that identify as "a woman"; I believe many people in that social bracket identify as "transgender".

I know at least one person who does appear to men to be a non-trans woman, not a transsexual. Socially-publicly, that's where she is now located. Structurally too. Because that's where men place her and, as you argue, it is where men place you that, at least in part, makes you who you are. Does she carry male privileges that people who were never male don't carry? I'd argue "probably" or "most likely" or "yes" depending on my experience of her, and non-trans radical feminist women may more readily identify male-privileged or patriarchal-entitled behavior than would I. In my experience, anyone who was male, or a boy, or a man, has learned to do two things: acquire, consciously or not, male privileges, and also, we have learned how to deny having them. I see this denial a great deal online in some trans spaces that seem to treat "Gender" in the West as if it is not a hierarchy, or a form of dominance, but is only a a binary in need of transgressing, or a kind of difference.

Julian Real said...

So-called 'cisgender women' are not protected from being subjected to male violence because biological women are still viewed by men as inferior dehumanised beings. So 'cisgender' does not exist but it is used to hide male domination and male power over women. Neither does a woman's class protect her from male violence because male supremacy condones and promotes male domination over all women and only 'protects' certain women if they adhere to male supremacist ideology of 'femininity.'

I think you'd agree that even so-called "feminine" women are not protected from men's violence and institutionalised sexism and misogyny.

However this can be taken away if a man decides to commit violence against a woman because he will claim 'she provoked or caused me to strike her' and if the male attacker is white his right to assault the woman will be accepted by male supremacist system.

And, institutional forces rank women and promote the welfare of some women over and against others. This doesn't mean patriarchal doesn't rule it all, but it does mean, in the real world, that whites may perpetrate against people of color--women and men--with impunity. Prisons aren't filled with Brown and Black people because Brown and Black people commit more crime than whites. The crimes of the whites are simply not prosecuted, and whites aren't sentenced to prison unless they lack class privilege, usually. There are exceptions, but the Prison Industrial Complex exists to put Black and Brown people--women and men, and trans folks--behind bars for no reason at all other than they are poor and of color. Well, and to make whites--women, men, and trans people, feel "safer" as if rich white men don't abuse everyone, one way or another--interpersonally or institutionally.

So to put it another way - heterosexual women are still primarily viewed as 'female' as are lesbian women primarily viewed as 'female' - hence they are supposedly inferior to biological men.

But lesbians are also viewed as "too masculine" in that they are portrayed as people who, like het men, refuse to be denigrated by penetration by men's penises. They are targeted for rape to "make them women". That's the fucked up logic of some misogynist het male rapists. Pornographers possess "lesbianism" and make it into something that only exists to please men sexually. As if.

So 'cis gender' privilege does not exist. What does exist is many men's beliefs that they can suddenly decide to become 'female' and all biological women are expected to accept these males as 'female.'

Do you know anyone for whom that is the case, Jennifer. Because I can't find that statement in actual life. First, I know of no one who is transsexual and who moves into transitioning "suddenly". Second, most M2F people do not expect much out of anyone, in my experience. The way you discuss M2F existence, it seems you view M2F transsexuals as people whose sole reason for transitioning is to prove to women that some men can be women too. I don't know anyone who is M2F who transitioned in order to bolster male supremacy and to prove male entitlements can be brought into the process of transitioning into transwomen. Do you?

I know of one transman who has proven to me that some transmen seek to obtain the power of non-trans men, such as Patrick Califia. But he was a virulent misogynist before transitioning too. He was an anti-Semitic male supremacist when he was a lesbian. And there are some very predatory lesbian women, who are not trans.

Transsexual people I know hope to be referred to as human, or wish to be referred to as human.

Julian Real said...

That is the meaning of male power and male domination - because as always it is men who are the ones determining who is and who is not identified as 'female/feminine.'

"Men" across race and class don't really determine that. Privileged men do. Men who own media and corporations and pornography industries do. Rich white men also regulate masculinity, manhood, and determine which men of color will be targeted for racist assault. Everyone who is influenced by rich white men's view of reality, militarily enforced, globalised culturally and economically, becomes an accomplice. Some collaborate more willingly than others, for many reasons having to do with lack of viable options for doing otherwise, or simply because WHM supremacist values and practices are presented as "how life is".

Remember femininity and masculinity are social constructions used to maintain male domination over women.

I'd say Western white femininity and Western white masculinity are constructions used like weapons against everyone who is not a "proper" WHM.

Radical feminists demand and end to 'gender' because if we eliminate gender then male domination over women will end too and that is not likely to happen any time soon.

Some radical feminists also demand an end to race, to poverty, to prisons, and to corporations, because, as Dworkin noted, If it hurts women, feminists are against it. What I find, Jennifer, is that too many white feminists focus only on the issues of concern to white women, and ignore the conditions most responsible for destroying and killing women of color globally. Why don't more whites--feminist or not--focus on the issues that are of central concern to women of color globally? Why aren't radical feminists of color centered in white analysis and practice?

Instead we have pseudo claims that 'femininity' is something innate and some males are really female who just happen to have the wrong male characteristics.

I find that view most deeply held by non-trans white het women and non-trans white het men. I find it rarely among transsexual and transgender people. So why single out trans people as THE people promoting that idea, when that's not in fact the case?

Julian Real said...

But if male supremacy didn't put so much effort into proclaiming women are 'feminine' whereas men are 'masculine' it wouldn't matter one jot whether or not a female or male is enacting their so-called appropriate 'gender role' because ambition, assertiveness, rationality would be human traits not as at present masculine characteristics and never, ever female ones.

Genderqueer people, some of whom are transgender are far more likely to reject the male supremacist idea of a natural gender binary, and are far more likely to reject of ideas that "femininity" or "masculinity" are biological than are my white male and female family members who are not queer, genderqueer, or trans. I think there's lots of interrogation of the falsehood of the gender binary among trans people, which is why most trans people don't "transition". Generally, they choose to live lives with bodies and beings that exist neither as "man" nor "woman" (as WHM supremacists demand those terms exist as acted out identities in human beings). Is that your experience as well?

But instead we have the pseudo issue that many biological males are really females and feminists are supposed to welcome these individuals into our ranks because these males are really female.

I see men demanding that women accept men's constructions of manhood and womanhood. I see whites demanding that people of color obey white rules of conduct, or else be put in prison. The problem you cite is not very prevalent, in my experience. When I go to places that are trans-welcoming, I engage on these issues. But those are such a tiny minority of spaces, socially, that I don't consider there to be any significant "trans threat" to women compared to what non-trans men do that is threatening and enforcing of the gender binary-as-hierarchy.

I think there's some scapegoating going on, quite frankly. And it is aimed most at M2F people, not at F2M people for reasons I'd like to have explained by those who target M2F people as "an anti-feminist threat". Most M2F people I know are far more feminist than most non-trans het men (and most non-trans het women) are. Misogyny is very thick among women, I find. It's not acted out as physically/aggressively as men act it out, but it is still brutal and hurtful. I don't see trans people factoring into the equation, in most segments of society. Among queer populations, I see male supremacy among gay men, among lesbians, among bi people, and among some trans people too. So, again, I don't see the male supremacist threat as disproportionate among trans folks. Do you?

Such beliefs are directly opposite to what radical feminism is about and that is the eradication of male supremacy and its brother gender.

What is the white radical feminist position on whether whites should end racism among white women, that so deeply hurts and harms women of color in feminist circles? I don't see any anti-racist practice being demonstrated systematically, with any seriousness or significance among whites.

There are also claims that radical feminists hate males who claim to be females and that we are demanding their extermination.

I honestly haven't heard that claim, but I wouldn't doubt it. Almost anything negative that can be leveled at a political group is leveled against radical feminists. My experience is that radical feminism is facing extermination by liberal and conservative white people in power, by corporate capitalism, by Western imperialism and militarism, and by men who hold to a naturalised idea-in-practice of patriarchal manhood.

Nothing could be further from the truth but it suits male supremacy to promote these lies.

I agree. As do all lies about radical feminists and radical feminism.

Julian Real said...

I repeat radical feminists want an end to 'femininity and masculinity' and instead the acceptance that we are all human and hence certain traits/aptitudes etc. are not 'masculine or feminine' but are human.

I understand Dworkin and MacKinnon's work differently than that, Jennifer. While not identical, I see their respective bodies of work as largely consistent in perspective on this particular matter. (Dworkin's work, imo, deals with far more issues than does MacKinnon's but that's partly because MacKinnon's focus is the function of law in enforcing white male supremacy.) As I read them, I hear them each stating that what is masculine and what is feminine are themselves political realities, not naturally human, not ways of being that should be spread evenly among all humans; not good things that are made bad by forcing femininity on women enforcing masculinity among men. I hear both Dworkin and MacKinnon saying that "femininity" is what you get when male supremacy forces submission on some human beings: the person who is sexually subordinated and made to submit to men, produces behaviors that are called "naturally feminine". And masculinity is what you get when you privilege sexualised aggression and callousness among some humans, practiced against those determined to exist to be feminised.

Therein lies the difference but that is too dangerous to even contemplate so instead we have the rise of transsexuality/transgender as though this in itself will accord women their rightful human status.

I agree that nothing about any expression of gender will do a whole helluva lot to eradicate male supremacy unless it is challenged systematically, collectively, in all its forms: gender, sex, race, class, and some forms of nationhood. I think ignoring some of those areas of struggle--from a radical feminist perspective, not a white leftboy perspective--is putting the most disenfranchised women at great risk for many forms of violence privileged whites--women and men and trans people--don't face or have to worry about, or, even, to know about.

It does not but it certainly reinforces the gender binary and more importantly male domination and male control over all women.

Women are not held primarily responsible for how the binary/hierarchy is acted out and expressed. We understand that how women behave is to be understood in a context in which terrorism by men against women is endemic and "like air". I don't hold trans people more responsible for maintaining the gender binary/hierarchy than I do het people of any gender, or males of any race or sexual orientation.

I hold the most powerful men, globally, the most responsible for what our world currently looks like. And the most powerful men are not trans. Anywhere.

Hexydezimal said...

Dearest Julian, I would be happy to interact with you in a civil manner. Though I far prefer a good chat, rather than exchanging walls of words back and forth. Do get in contact and set something up, you seem like a very interesting person to interact with.

The only inherent flaw in your argument that I can see from a once-over is that you believe transsexuality is gender-related. It is no such thing; that is a psych establishment system for denying the truth of our births, much like intersex people have disorders of sex development on their end. A transsexual may be transgender (i.e. tomboys, etc.), but the vast majority are not.

It is not that there is no such thing as patriarchy either, by far, but rather that the present neo-radical feminist viewpoint of things is exceedingly sexist in nature, and their favored discrimination of transsexual females is no different.

I have often described cisgender as an othering, separatist term. While transsexual discrimination may be very real, that does not mean that non-transsexuals are specially privileged. I do not believe there is any such privilege there.

Julian Real said...

Hi Hexidezimal,

Thank you so much for your reply.

I'm glad for your interest in engaged discussion.

I quite appreciated your response, and am wondering how best to organise the exchange of ideas and experiences, etc.

I would be happy to interact with you in a civil manner. Though I far prefer a good chat, rather than exchanging walls of words back and forth. Do get in contact and set something up, you seem like a very interesting person to interact with.

Do you have any suggestions? Shall we do a chat in email, for example, that we might both post to our respective blogs?

Would that work for you? Another option would be that I could cross-post a recent post from your blog, on radical feminism, which might serve as a launching point for some engaged, respectful dialogue. Let me know which of those might work well for you or feel free to propose something else entirely. My wish is that readers could have access to the content from either place--your blog and mine. But let me know what your wishes and wants are. I'll respond a bit to passages below.

The only inherent flaw in your argument that I can see from a once-over is that you believe transsexuality is gender-related.

I'm wondering if you are experiencing something similar to what I am: that depending on who you talk with, there are differing opinions among what is very loosely termed "the trans community". I'm not convinced any such community actually exists, but also am not sure what else to call it! Similarly, I know of many radical feminists, but most would agree it doesn't quite comprise "a community", or even "a movement" as perhaps it once did in the 1970s and 1980s.

It is no such thing; that is a psych establishment system for denying the truth of our births, much like intersex people have disorders of sex development on their end. A transsexual may be transgender (i.e. tomboys, etc.), but the vast majority are not.

I want to be sure I'm understanding how you are presenting these distinctions. My general understanding has been this--please let me know where you disagree.

The term "transgender", often enough, is used as an umbrella term, much the way LGBT and/or LBGTIA is used. So while there are, in fact, multiple experiences under the umbrella, there is some at least tentative agreement that "we" share something in common. The way I see that "something" discussed on many trans blogs is an issue you well raise: this matter of "trans" people not being "cis", and vice versa. I'll speak more to that later in this reply.

Julian Real said...

For now, I'll say that the distinguishing feature of "being trans" that I can see is that we:

1. Either do not feel at all or generally comfortable identifying as the gender we are viewed as, or treated as, socially and publicly, or

2. We have a sexual identity that is at odds with how we were assigned at birth or that we are labeled by society.

So, the first group might include many transgender people and the second group might include many transsexual people--and also perhaps some intersex people as well.

I hear you saying that intersex and transsexual experiences are far more similar than are transgender and transsexual experiences, in that both -sex experiences are conditions of birth, not socialisation. Is that your understanding and view? Whereas, by comparison, being intergender and transgender are social experiences primarily or only, but not "conditions of birth".

Do you agree with that?

It is not that there is no such thing as patriarchy either, by far, but rather that the present neo-radical feminist viewpoint of things is exceedingly sexist in nature, and their favored discrimination of transsexual females is no different.

Whenever things like "radical feminism" are discussed--well, depending on context, actually--I prefer to locate which activists and writers and campaigns and theories are being referred to, rather than assuming the reader knows what we're talking about. This is why, for example, I have gone to some lengths to define my terms here on this blog, such as these two posts:

http://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-does-radical-mean.html

and

http://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2009/12/radical-profeminism-definition-for-now.html

As I can't possibly speak for any radical feminist, or speak about "All radical feminisms", I'd like to agree to work with my definitions of what radical means, as well as what profeminism means. And similarly, I'll work with your definitions of "transgender" and "transsexual", etc. Does that work for you?

Otherwise we're each likely to be arguing against views neither of us hold. For example, I quite like how you phrased and expressed this:

I have often described cisgender as an othering, separatist term. While transsexual discrimination may be very real, that does not mean that non-transsexuals are specially privileged. I do not believe there is any such privilege there.

I agree with you completely. What do you think the political function is, then, of promoting a kind of privilege that doesn't, in fact, in reality, exist? What reception do you get on other trans-focused blogs when you challenge the idea that cisgender privilege exists?

FAB Libber said...

You call for polite debate, yet you insult us in the title? I was too mad to do more than skim the post.

"I'm not sure I understand what "biological woman" even means. To me, that's an exact synonym for "cisgender woman", is it not?"

I am NOT cis-anything.

Calling born and raised females "ciswomen" or "cisgender women" is WORSE than calling us feminazis.

The correct term is FAB woman/female or FAAB woman/female. FAAB is Female Assigned At Birth, which includes intersex persons raised as female (ie treated like females from birth).

Until the gender queer and tranz community stop the name calling, there can be no polite conversation. End of.

We are female, FAB female. We are NOT defined in our relationship to males, tranz, or gender queers. Do you even get why this is so offensive? Would you call a Jewish person "non-Muslim", or can they exist in their own right, not in relation to others?

Julian Real said...

Hi FAB Libber,

I'm sorry you didn't bother to read the post before commenting.

The title isn't designed to insult anyone. But I understand and can appreciate why you don't like the term. I refused to use it on this blog for most of this blog's existence. You'll certainly find that virtually all posts here refer to "women" and that term means FAAB women, with no modifiers. I use the term FAAB women here too, to mean exactly what you use the term to mean. And, yes, I might refer to some Jews as non-Muslim, as someone who is non-Muslim and Jewish myself. If someone was incapable of referring to Jews as anything other than, say, "non-Christians", I might take issue with that. But as that isn't the practice here--re: gender--I don't find the comparison accurate.

Julian Real said...

Also to FAB Libber,

I have changed the title of this post accordingly.

FAB Libber said...

Thank you for the amendment, much more acceptable. For me, using the term cis- directed at us FAABs/RFs would be the equivalent of using the N-word towards POCs. Beyond not-cool, and you can perhaps understand my rather hostile reaction, even if you meant well by this post.

For additional reading, which expresses the 'why' much better than I did here, read this post from 2007:
http://uppitybiscuit.wordpress.com/2007/01/19/do-not-call-me-cisgender-you-do-not-have-my-permission-to-name-me/

Julian Real said...

Hi FAB Libber,

I hear your concerns and want to link to your post on this subject here. I support you naming yourself and being named in ways that feel/are respectful to you and of you:

http://uppitybiscuit.wordpress.com/2007/01/19/do-not-call-me-cisgender-you-do-not-have-my-permission-to-name-me/