The Scavenger

Salvaging whats left after the masses have had their feed

VSF-468x60

Thu03302017

Last updateTue, 29 Mar 2016 6am

Menu Style

Cpanel
Back You are here: Home Sex, Gender & Sexuality Diversity SGD Anti-trans ‘feminists’, you’ve got it so wrong

Anti-trans ‘feminists’, you’ve got it so wrong

women_only_spacesThe exclusion of trans people from women’s spaces is a tired and mistaken type of ‘feminism’, writes 3P.

“How, exactly, do you think socialisation works?”

I was brought up by loving, responsible, pro-feminist atheists. From the earliest age I can remember, everyone around me told me I was smart and capable. I usually got tools and books for Christmas.

For most of my childhood and early adolescence I was a tomboy and that was cool with everyone except, um, some of the girls. I realise this is not everybody’s experience but it was mine. Basically, it was extremely rare for somebody to say to my face that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. 

But they did say “girls don’t do that” and they did talk about how girls should be and what should be done to them. And books, TV, parliamentary proceedings all backed them up.

Nobody told me in person that I was too angry or too fat or too stupid or too ugly. Nobody said to me, 3P, personally, that I didn’t deserve control over my body. But I still believed all those things, because that was what they said about girls and women, and I was a girl. 

In short, most of my experience with misogyny came about because I identified as a girl/woman, not because people told me I was one. 

Of course this is an oversimplification and of course there are people who think less of me or treat me badly because I’m a woman. But I have to ask myself: would it affect me that deeply if it didn’t tap into a wellspring of internalised misogyny?

I’m tall. When I cut my hair short and wear pants, I get “faggot” from passing cars on a semi-regular basis. It scares me for a second but then I keep walking. 

When I get a catcall or a gendered slur, I obsess about it all day. I feel like it’s my fault. I worry that they’re right.  

“Do you think all women have the same girlhood?  Or even vaguely similar ones?”

I was extremely privileged in many ways growing up. I was surrounded by ‘girls can do anything’ messages. I am also white and English-speaking at home and culturally middle-class in a working-class migrant area. Looking back, I can see that my cultural capital is a big part of why my intelligence and capability were so highly praised.

(It totally went to my head. You should have met 12-year-old me, I was the most arrogant pretentious little shit. But whatever, we learn and grow. I’m still pretty pretentious, though).

I have never been excluded from a feminist space on this basis. I have never been told that I don’t belong because my parents were anti-sexist.

Nobody has ever tried to quantify my experience of sexist oppression or oppression generally.  It wouldn’t make sense. 

Nobody has the same experience of childhood, and every woman experiences sexism differently. 

Lots of women experience racism, fatphobia, classism, transphobia, and other things I don’t experience directly. They experience the world generally, and sexism in particular, in a totally different way to me. 

Even looking outside issues of structural oppression, we are all different. She’s monogamous; I’m not. You study engineering; I don’t. She is young and she is old. 

Feminism has a pretty bad history of being dominated by white and middle-class, as well as cis, women. But this domination and exclusion has not usually taken the form of denying that women who aren’t white and middle-class are women.  

(This is not to say that transphobia in feminism is worse or more present than other oppressions, just that all oppressions work differently).

I have heard people say that trans women can’t get pregnant or menstruate, and that they therefore don’t have a place in women’s spaces or movements, because women’s health and reproductive rights are such important, core, feminist issues. 

They are. But I’ve never heard anybody say that women who’ve had hysterectomies, or women who don’t sleep with people who can get them pregnant, don’t belong.  

I’ve heard people say that trans women are “too manly” and their presence might be triggering to cis women who’ve experienced violence from men; I’ve never heard anyone say that butch or androgynous cis women should be excluded from women’s spaces.  

Difference between women can’t be erased by the exclusion of trans women from women’s spaces. Nor should it be. That’s false solidarity. 

“Do you actually, seriously, think that trans women don’t experience sexist oppression?”

Trans women experience extremely high rates of homelessness, sexual violence, violence generally, depression and anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, sexist objectification, poverty, and a whole bunch of other things. 

When it comes to cis women, we have no issue seeing these personal problems as directly linked to patriarchy.

When it comes to trans women with very similar problems, heaps of people have no problem arguing that they brought those problems upon themselves.

I once went to a lecture where Sheila Jeffreys argued that trans women are actually masochistic men who fetishise the rape of women to the extent that they construct women’s bodies that they can control, that they can arrange to be raped.

If you don’t find this argument absolutely nauseating and some of the worst rape apologism ever committed to print, then I have no idea what the fuck is wrong with you.

If you’re one of the many spouting half-baked explanations for how trans women are not quite women, not ‘women’ women, not unless they look totally cis from all angles and in all lighting conditions and with all preconceptions, not unless they’re post-op, not unless they’re femme, but not too femme, as long as they are quiet and good and don’t do or say anything that could be construed as privileged – in short, not deserving of the resources feminist spaces and movements have to offer, this is the kind of sentiment you’re implicitly supporting.

None of it holds up to close examination and none of it is acceptable.

3P is a student from Melbourne, Australia who’s been involved in a few different feminist collectives and spaces. She is cisgendered.

 

SEE ALSO: Where do trans and genderqueers fit into ‘women-only’ play parties?

 

Comments   

0 #8 Alana 2010-09-08 17:57
I have had the pleasure recently of being elected co-Womens Rights Officer at my University. One of our jobs next year will be taking care of the Womenspace at University. Both me and my fellow Womens Rights Officer feel very strongly that trans-women need access to Womenspace and are willing to defend any women who faces opposition when they try to use the space. They face more hostility than we do in this world so are in an even greater need for a safe space where they can simply BE.
Quote
0 #7 AileenWuornos 2010-09-05 02:21
If you don’t find this argument absolutely nauseating and some of the worst rape apologism ever committed to print, then I have no idea what the fuck is wrong with you.

Hm, maybe it's because Sheila Jeffrey's isn't a rape apologist? You know, it's really feminist to attack other womyn (especially when they support womyn) or so I've heard.

Eden, holy crap, that is the best comment I've ever read from a trans woman. And it doesn't make me want to beat my head into a desk repeatedly.

"For every womens space that won’t accept trans-women there are others that will and it’s wrong to try and force every womens space to accept all trans-women, people use space differently and get different things from that space. The space is created by the people within it and like any members club if you don’t meet the requirements then fine, accept that, understand that, don’t demand that those women in the space change their needs for one person. That to me shows selfishness and lack of understanding of what the other women in that space gain from it.

Democratically if the majority of women in that space don’t want trans-women there, well that’s fine with me. You can legally force people to recognise you, but you can’t force people to like or accept you or even be friends with you and it’s time to accept that. "


Totally agree with this. Thank you for making my day.
Quote
0 #6 David Skidmore 2010-08-28 16:53
I can understand transpeople taking offence at prejudice directed towards them and wanting to combat legislation which disadvantages them. But why would anyone want to share a space with people who hate you be they radical feminists or anyone else?

Put it this way, many Muslims loathe gay men and would happily see them dead. This gay man doesn't want to share a space with them. I'm quite happy to be excluded from their mosques. I want to put as much space as possible between me and them instead.
Quote
0 #5 Bayne MacGregor 2010-08-28 09:41
This piece brilliant demolished the lies and rhetorical deceits and logical fallacies and hypocracies used by so-called feminists to harm a group of women far more vulnerable and far more in need than they are.

Lets see the evidence shall we?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/04/2918401.htm?section=justin Harassment of and violence towards GLBTI people in Queensland Australia

Key survey results:
Received verbal abuse:

76 per cent of males
69 per cent of females
92 per cent transgender male to female
55 per cent transgender female to male

Physical assault without a weapon:

32 per cent of male
15 per cent of females
46 per cent transgender male to female
45 per cent transgender female to male

Physical attack with a weapon, knife, bottle or stone:

12 per cent of males
6 per cent of females
38 per cent transgender male to female
9 per cent transgender female to male
12 per cent other

In every case transgender classed there as Male to Female have a vastly higher rate of suffering than that of cisgender women. So clearly the needs of transgender people should be one of the priority issues for feminism. Considering these numbers and others like those which show higher sexual assault and rape rates suffered by Transgender women than cisgnder ones it suggests the arguments that safe spaces for women need to exclude transwomen seem not just untenable but an extreme injustice by the more-privileged against the less-privileged .
Quote
0 #4 Sophia 2010-08-28 07:49
I was born intersex, and remember one nice incident in an ambulance where my bladder was distended and I could have lost my kidneys, I was 5 years old. All people could talk about was what toys I played with and what clothes I should wear. This debate about "Women only space" always puts me in mind of that incident, why? Because a lot of the theory that underpins the reason for excluding people from women only spaces seems to be tied to social conditioning, or in other words the ideas of Dr. John Money. And we all know what he did, mutilated children to prove this point which failed.

This is what sticks in my gut quite frankly, how the reasoning used to maintain these exclusive spaces is essentially the same reasoning used to justify some very unpleasant practices and policies in other areas. If Sheila Jeffrys was correct, David Reimer would still answer to the name of "Brenda" and still be alive. He is dead and rejected the socialization. So no the socialization arguments used by the "Feminists" simply do not wash with me.
Quote
0 #3 Eden Walker 2010-08-28 05:52
[CONT from below] I feel that there are a great many trans-women and trans-men who throw the transphobia card around all too easily, moving from the tribe of man to the tribe of woman will be questioned but every time the questions come up someone will invariably drop the word in.

Calling someone transphobic is designed to stop the conversation. It screams shut up you’re hurting my feelings. Why not just explain that you’re offended and explain why? Have a conversation, have a bit of mutual understanding for fuck sake.

My friends call me she, they also call me he, they tell me that I have a male point of view on some things or that other women in our group would never say some of things that I say, but that’s because we have different historical and social reference points, but instead of me spitting my dummy out and saying running around screaming transphobia, we sit, we talk, we understand and we move forward together.

Yes there are spaces that I won’t go into, being pre-op I won’t use the womens toilets, mainly out of respect for the other women using that space, but some trans-women show little understanding of this and expect cis women to understand without question why there’s a cock in the womens restroom. I find lesbian spaces tricky to be in because I feel my history kicking me in the backside.

For every womens space that won’t accept trans-women there are others that will and it’s wrong to try and force every womens space to accept all trans-women, people use space differently and get different things from that space. The space is created by the people within it and like any members club if you don’t meet the requirements then fine, accept that, understand that, don’t demand that those women in the space change their needs for one person. That to me shows selfishness and lack of understanding of what the other women in that space gain from it.

Democratically if the majority of women in that space don’t want trans-women there, well that’s fine with me. You can legally force people to recognise you, but you can’t force people to like or accept you or even be friends with you and it’s time to accept that.

I was born inter-sexed, I was raised as a middle class boy, I’m privately educated, I hit my career goal at 34 I’m now 37 and two years into transition.
Quote
0 #2 Eden Walker 2010-08-28 05:51
Some feminists would argue that being a trans-woman I’m just eating away at the limited space that women have to call their own. Rather unfashionably agree with them.

I see some trans-women who live in role and wear the clothes and the make-up and try to integrate into a new community, into a new level of society while still carrying the weight of their previous male lives. It’s not enough to take your HRT, three sachets of estrogens and a zoladex shot won’t ‘fix’ anything.

All the HRT does is change your body, what about the attitude shift, what about the use of language? What about “divesting the male privilege” as bell hooks put it. It’s not enough to aspire to be physically as female as you can be, trans-women must try harder.

All of my friends are lesbian many of them feminist ranging of the spectrum of feminism, I’m accepted by them. If you ask them how they see me they’ll just say that I am me. I don’t lay claim to gender, I’m neither man nor woman, I’m in this transitional space between the two and I’m fighting to keep my individuality under the pressure of the gender clinic.

As a society we are all split into little tribes. We have the tribes of man and woman which are split into several levels along lines of colour, sexuality, politics, food intake , fat or thin, tall or small. Everything has an opposite. Not every tribe gets along, we know all the tribes exist and we recognise them but clinically obese people don’t claim to be size eight.

Trying to move tribes takes time and effort, If you’re a size 22 and want to be a size 14 then the dedication needed to lose the weight healthily and without costly medical intervention isn’t to be underestimated and it can take years in some cases but with diligence it is possible to move tribes.

Having been raised as boy and lived, loved, and lost as a man I can understand that my life experience isn’t anywhere near traditionally female. Over the last two years I’ve seen my life change beyond recognition, I’m no longer seen by the straight world as being straight, I hear people ask if I’m a man or woman, or hear people chuckling at me. I don’t mind at all.

I’m not making any special effort, I live in jeans and trainers, I don’t own a dress or a skirt, and at six foot two inches, hell would have to freeze over before I put a pair of heels on. I won’t be growing my hair, it’s just too much of an effort. I keep my nails clean and short but unpolished and I have better things to spend my money on other than makeup, which mainly involves pencilling in my eyebrows but that’s because they are lightly coloured and it looks like someone’s half shaved them off, I bring attention to my eyes because I have a strong nose. [CONT...]
Quote
0 #1 Rebecca Dittman 2010-08-17 07:54
Wow 3P!!! What a wonderful piece which undermines the prejudice and bigotry that some groups of women, feminists and lesbians included, have against trans women. What are they so frightened about? Do they really believe that anyone would put themselves through the medical and surgical procedures that gender transitions involves, just to expand their supposed wish to dominate women and gain access to gendered space? What utter drivel. I suggest you look to yourselves because that is where the problem lies.

As someone who has been a trans women all her life but did not actually transition until their late forties, my experience has been from both sides of the gender spectrum. It is with purpose that I use the word 'spectrum' as the usual word used is 'divide'. In my view this only goes to reinforce the positions of the bigots. Life, as they see it, is a 'battle of the sexes' over which they must continually be on their guard. Gender is a spectrum of possibilities with which most people are happy with from the day they are born and assigned. Trans people have a real and abiding self-identifica tion which goes against this, but it does not change them into monsters.

As a 'man' I was and remain a caring individual who recognises the injustices faced in an unequal society by women and do what I can to help redress the issue. It is a nonsense and politically unsound to argue that all men are the enemy. I too have had to deal with the inequalities that exist for women since I transitioned, as well as the transphobia that still stains our society. In a couple of weeks I shall be attending court as a witness in a case against a man who tried to beat the shit out of me because of my gender status.

So please all you women who hold such strong views which would exclude trans women from their entitlement within society, think again. There are enough real problems in our world without you picking on an already vulnerable group of individuals.

Rebecca Dittman
Former Chair
The Gender Trust www.gendertrust.org.uk/
Quote

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Share this post

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Personal Development

personal-development
Be the change.