Can there ever be an alliance between trans and radical feminism? Can you imagine any way in which the interests of genderists and the interests of women can co-exist? Or even align?
As a jumping off point I am posting this thoughtful comment left by a male transgender addressing this very question.
September 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm e
I’m not sure if there’s a quote feature, but…
SheilaG wrote: “Soran, that was a thoughtful comment. And perhaps T is a poison. Whatever it is, it is unfortunately M to Trans are attacking the very group that finds them horrifying in the extreme.
So the best that can come out of this, is for all male to trans to work on MALE society…. to challenge male authority, to leave women alone.
Male who transes will know that like Columbus, you bring harm to the native peoples. When you enter female land, female sensibility, you still cannot escape the male …. and no, you don’t have benefit to bring radical feminism, you have ruin intentional or not.
Attack the patriarchy of men’s worlds, challenge them. Leave born women to our own liberation from male anything.”
Wow, I really have to apologize for the long-windedness below. I don’t have a great deal of emotional intelligence to apply to my situation. The radical feminist critiques of trans culture help me apply my analytical intelligence instead. It’s calming, in the same way as being around other trans people (especially those who don’t like the ‘community’). The trans community weirds me out because of the high heels and the makeup and the drag shit, and radical feminists are the only other people who seem to see this. It’s utter doublethink, but it sucks less than thinking that I’m obligated to deform my feet to be myself. For me, the radfem criticism of trans culture has taken the pressure off.
I can’t vouch for other transwomen, and I don’t know what they mean by ‘woman.’ I don’t know what I mean by ‘woman’ in reference to the one in my head, beyond the body I think I should have. Any ‘gender role’ can only be described in stereotypical terms that simply don’t ring true for me. This is a strictly biological aversion for me. I don’t mean that I’m ‘neurologically intersex’ or whatever. I think that’s a possibility, but for now I’ll stick with what I know.
For all of human history, a rather stable proportion of the population has ‘known’ (at least in the sense that I know my mind exists) that they could not sanely carry out the physical sex role assigned to them. By this I don’t mean BS gender roles, but the act of carrying the organs themselves. This population will never disappear. Like comic-book mutants, it’s moot whether they should exist because ‘normal’ humans will keep giving birth to more. It’s also moot what the cause is, because we can’t prevent it. There are other people who reject traditional gender roles but not their genitals, but I’m not talking about them.
So am I woman, or man? Wait a minute…lemme take off my Anglo lenses (I suppose my black ass should do that more often)…
Oh! It’s a false dilemma. The transgender population does not have to subscribe to Western ‘transgender’ ideology in order to reject their birth sex. Obviously most do, but that’s the Anglo lenses. Some Native American cultures see us as a third sex with a specific role that bridges the divide between men and women. In Thailand, a kickboxer named Nong Tum continued to fight and beat men after her ‘transition’ from man to kathoey (‘ladyboy’). I wonder how interested in women’s space she is.
I think I could be very grateful for a third-sex role. I think I could find more peace there than as an American-style Transwoman®. I think trans women reject the third-sex role for what they perceive as female ‘privilege’ (passing on patriarchal terms) and a larger community to be part of. I think I lucked out here in that I’ve always been a loner, so that’s not as hard for me. For the rest of this I’ll still use the term transwomen, because that’s the closest Western description I have for men who ‘should have been born female.’ By this I do not mean that I *am* female.
The group won’t disappear. But the ideas (western transgender ideology) are horseshit. So…maybe the group can get new ideas. I realize this isn’t your problem. I’m not asking you to solve anything, but I do consider your perspective necessary to this task.
As trans women have had the harmful effect on women that we’re discussing, I think that such a reformation should be treated as ‘with-women-or-against-them.’ By this I mean that however possible, trans culture should consider itself obligated to take cues from radical feminism (on issues where they would otherwise be sure to conflict). If radical feminism changes, it shouldn’t be to better fit trans culture, but to better use it. Trans culture should be subordinate to natal women, and in a pathetic cargo-cult fashion I think it tries to be.
Reason numero uno that I think trans culture should learn from radfem culture: A mutual enemy (patriarchy, whether trans women realize it or not). If women aren’t safe and free, I’m not safe or free. I think trans women should operate on this assumption, especially when it’s false (in order to check their own male privilege).
Reason numero dos: In this culture, a person who considers ‘hirself’ a third sex will feel compelled to use the same medical and therapeutic services as a Barbie-doll transwoman. Whether this is a good thing or not, it will happen. Since the money is already flowing, I think the harm can be reduced by applying radical feminist reasoning. I also have to admit that yes, I myself want these services. If I’m going to do that and add to the demand, the least I can do is tell my therapist that I’m not there to learn gendered stereotypes.
As for OCD, most trans women I know are rather messy. Especially their cars. Beats me.
Not that I’m qualified, but I feel that the above comments are saying that a man is obligated to carry a working penis. You can’t tell me that radfems saying ‘what about the menz’ and mourning some guy’s balls isn’t kind of funny.
TRIGGER WARNING – the next paragraph pertains to rape, and it IS offensive.
PIV is natural (like rattlesnake venom and hurricanes). Rape (not consensual PIV, but rape) is the natural mode of reproduction for half of the life on the planet. Ducks are engaged in an evolutionary arms race to see which sex can convolute its genitals more, to either facilitate or prevent rape.
The evolutionary psychologists are right IMO (and aren’t trying to excuse anything, largely – laymen are doing that). It’s nature that’s wrong. And I don’t mean that sarcastically. As animals, I think patriarchy is in our genes.
By evolutionary standards, Warren Jeffs is perfect. Utterly perfect, alongside the shark and the Venus’ flytrap. He created an entire culture to spread his seed, and when he could no longer do that he self-destructed. His is the standard to beat among living things, in terms of natural selection. Conscience would have been an impediment.
But we have gained abilities beyond those of other animals, and obligations beyond them as well. Lions are entitled to patriarchy because they can’t question it. As a human I have the ability to propose that our biology itself is obsolete. And I reject it. Apparently involuntarily. What I mean is that patriarchy is a symptom of a more fundamental problem – the existence of a 50% male population. You don’t need ten men to provide DNA for ten breeding women. Or a hundred women. If men find themselves in a role where they’re expected to turn wrenches during the day and be used as communal sperm dispensers by night, I don’t think they’ll mind too much.
And joy of joys – it’s easier to neuter or hormonally feminize men than to ‘fix’ women who’ve had enough fixing.
Maybe nature does have a conscience, lol. Maybe Nature (look Ma, no balls!) has decided that men have cultivated enough farmland and should start putting down their weapons, eh? That would explain why there are so few f-to-trans and so many masochist men and voluntary eunuchs and ‘sissies.’ Not to mention the deterioration of the Y chromosome, or the fact that an active process is required to maintain it once an embryo turns male.
Of course, one must ask what magical genetic programming I assume all women have that I am missing. I don’t know. I suspect that Nature’s role for women (derailed by accidental overbreeding of male children) is to create communities, which are defended and supplied materially by men. In a sense, that women are the head and torso, while men are the arms and legs. Now imagine a person whose limbs attack them and drag them into trouble against their will. That’s humanity.
I’m thinking of your statements about acting upon male space vs. female space. First, here’s what I can tell you about the privilege I have. As it stands now I present on most days as a man. A feminine man who’s frequently called ‘she’ and ‘her’ and ‘Miss’ even when I’m in dad jeans and a tucked-in gray polo shirt, but a man. A six foot, 230lb mulatto man. So people generally leave me the fuck alone. Until I open my mouth and they realize I’m not Antoine Dodson. Then suddenly I’m Mr. Very Articulate African-American Gentleman Friend of Mine. Colorism works to my advantage. “Good hair” fetishism works to my advantage. Truth be told, I get my ass kissed even racially.
But I worry a lot about other trans women. Many trans women aren’t part of the community at all, and many of these have such feminine bodies (without any type of treatment) that they can’t pass as male. Some are almost unaware of trans culture or don’t understand it. I see them all the time in the Hispanic community. For these and many other trans women, acceptance from natal women is the only safety they have (and many get that acceptance without a second thought).
I remember one woman I saw on the train, whom I didn’t ‘clock’ until some man did. She was maybe 19, 5’4″ and 110lbs, and dressed for a casual day out, nothing I don’t see on lots of young latinas. She froze solid in absolute terror when this man started asking her if she was ‘a dude.’ I asked the guy why he didn’t mind his own fucking business and proceeded to keep his attention on me. Then I sat between him and her. That was all I could do, and then she was alone again when she got off at her stop. I think she felt just as alone when I was sitting next to her. All I could offer was basic physical safety, and she probably couldn’t be sure of that.
Imagine how much genuine love this girl would have for any natal women with whom she could travel in a pack. Said natal women would probably laugh if you asked them whether they feared the trans girl. That pack is a female space that I hope to find myself in one day, but you are right – if I push my way in, it will disappear. For one, my own mind is not yet part of that space.
And if I find a safe third-sex space, will I be comfortable with women there? Will I be comfortable with men-born-women there?
Staying away from Michfest, etc. is easy. I don’t understand what it is that trans women think they can ‘soak up’ there. Yes, my psychology is bereft of female socialization and estrogen. It’s also missing memories of moonlit summers on the French Riviera, and a Ph.D in computer science.
But what a trans woman gets by barging into a WBW space is not female socialization. It’s women responding to what they see as a man. If someone’s going to play safari and ‘study’ WBW in their ‘natural habitat,’ they could at least realize that pushing themselves into the situation changes the dynamic.
As for challenging men in their space (the streets, office, home, the moon), I don’t think trans women will be properly qualified to ‘represent’ women’s interests unless they are listening to women. Otherwise all trans women can bring against patriarchy is uninformed Nice Guy mentality.
My only suggestion to radical feminists is this: I hope that men who want to ‘disarm’ themselves eventually become useful to you, and I hope that women gain the ability to control the male birthrate.
ALL non-abusive comments which are thoughtful and which relate to the feminist topic of THIS post will be approved. Comments like “Go fuck yourself” will not be approved. For those who have already posted responses to this comment on the other thread feel free to re-post them here. Please keep nested comments to a minumum, instead quote the portion of the post you are responding to when possible.