Every six to eight months the same thing occurs, some second wave feminist decides that the single most important issue facing women today is that trans women assert they are women and the world accuses trans women of blocking free speech.
First things first, it’s only ever trans women who are told they are not women. no one ever tells trans men they are not men. Caitlin Moran in her book How to Be a Woman asks
“You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, ‘And are the men doing this, as well?’ If they aren’t, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some total fucking bullshit’.”
Clearly since cis men are not getting on national television or using the few column inches there allowed to talk about men’s issues (If it’s not clear I’m being ironic), to inform the world how trans men arn’t “real men” then one can only assume in the words of Mrs Moran, this is some total fucking bullshit.
But of course saying that (especially if you say it loudly) gets you accused of attacking the freedom of speech, which again is “some total fucking bullshit” but lets roll with it and look at there arguments.
There are two main arguments used. The first is the insane biological determinism augment. In a nut shell it goes “you where born with a penis so your male“, well lets leave aside intersex people, this argument is an insane one to be used by a feminist. Do they really believe you’re defined by your sex organs? It’s only a very short hop and skip from this to, “you don’t have a penis so you can’t be president, you don’t have the skills”. Do they really think men are not going to use that very argument against them? They are currently, so giving them ammo really isn’t helping. Thankfully even most of the TERF’s (Trans Excluding Radical Feminists) realise this and so cage there transphoia slightly differently.
The second set is fundamentally the same as the arguments made by J Ramond in her 1979 book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male there caged in somewhat nicer language, but the arguments are the same. It is “All women have a shared set of experiences since they where born female, trans women weren’t and so aren’t women“. As to what theses shares experiences are TERF‘s tend to be a little bit cagey but if pushed it tends to come down to something like, men look at 13 y/o girls breasts in a lustful way. While I really can’t comment on if this is the case or not, it strikes me as extremely troubling that they are defining there gender purely by being hassled. I hope for a world where 13 y/o girls (not to mention 26 y/o or 52 y/o women) are not sexually hassled, I have hoped for and, for most of my life fought for, equality AND this is where we’re heading, things are getting better.
So what will happen when we get equality? Will men and women cease to exist? Of course not.
The argument is problematic for another reason. If there is a set of shared experiences that makes on a women, what about cis women in the here and now or the past who don’t share throes experiences?
in 1851 Sojourner Truth, a black cis woman addressed the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio. Her address became known as Aint’ I A woman? and it speaks to the different experiences black/negro women had in comparason to white women
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?
While TERF’s aren’t talking about being helped into carriages they are suggesting that some women are more women then others. They are creating divisions within the feminist movement and as a result they are hurting all women. Lets an issue I consider very important for feminists, FGM.
Why should TERF’s care about this? For the most part TERF’s live and work in the western world, where instances of FGM are thankfully very low. It is therefore clearly not a shared female experience. None of my cis female sexual partners have had the procedure performed on them, and to the best of my knowledge neither has any of my cis female relatives.
Since it isn’t a shared female experience why should feminists care?
Yet for the survives of FGM it is a huge part of there experience as females. Likewise sexual harassment is a big part of the experience of some women, but not all.
For my cis male readers who may have difficulty associating with this, have a think, what is the (or set of) fundamental cis male experiences? Is there an experience which all cis men (and only cis men) have? Are the men doing it?
And since there isn’t a fundamental female (or male) experience, cis women can’t be women.
OK they may be wrong, but there entitled to there views.
Indeed they are, just as I (and other trans women) are entitled to our views as well.
What you’ve read above isn’t the product of my genius level brain, it’s the product of the genius level brains of trans women (and trans men) over the last 40 years. That said my guess is this is the first time you’ve heard it.
Now riddle me this, you’ve heard TERF’s repeatedly tell the world how trans women are not real women, but you’ve never heard the reply…
Yet it’s trans women who are stifling debate?
Trans women have been arguing the same points for the last 40 years, have you seen the paper print a reply? have you seen a television show host a debate? have you heard the other side of the argument?
Yet it’s trans women who are stifling debate?
I don’t want to spend the next forty years defending my existence against attacks from my sisters. We have a lot still to fight for. Equal pay, reproductive rights, FGM, street harassment etc. etc. etc. the list goes on and on and on and I’d rather spend it fighting throes things.
Let me ask you a favour, the next time some cis women yells from the newspaper or television interview how trans women are not real women answer back, Oh I’m not going to ask you to defend us (it would be nice if you did but I understand if you can’t), no, answer back “Is this the biggest problem facing women?”.
The next time a you see “Trans women are stifling debate” ask “will you publish a counter piece?”( not by me, I suck at writing, but there are a lot of trans women out there who are much more articulate then I and would love to reply)
With that let me leave you with a final quote from Sojourner Truth.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.