Reprinting this blog post for discussion. Nothing groundbreaking here, but not linking to source because there is some confusion over whether author “PlasticGirl” is the violent, deranged anti-lesbian and anti-muslim Dr. Aeryn Fulton of Pittsburgh, PA.
Dr. Aeryn Fulton claimed to be the author of blogger PlasticGirl’s posts in the course of Fulton’s violent gay-bashing death threats against blogger GayNotQueer, and others, who were critical of stereotypical sex roles for gay men, lesbians, and society at large.
Here is the post, open for discussion of transgender POV re: “womanhood”. His post is titled “Can Trans women and Trans-critical Radical Feminists ever be friends?”:
Can trans women and trans-critical radical feminists ever be friends?
Posted on March 30, 2014 by plasticgirl
I first discovered trans-critical radical feminism in late 2010, and since then, I’ve read Betty Friedan, Mary Daly, Sheila Jeffreys, a smattering of Andrea Dworkin, Janice Raymond, and Germaine Grier as well as Julie Bindel and Julie Burchill and every trans-critical rad fem blog I could find, in the hopes of trying to understand.
Setting aside for the moment, the various radical feminist postures on trans, I found my study of radical feminism to be mind-expanding. I lost sleep reading Sheila Jeffreys and Factcheckme. Radical feminism increased my situational awareness of the dynamics of power between men and women. I see media images and advertisements aimed towards women in a totally new way. I found myself in agreement of the idea that women as class: female, are still in need of liberation from the Patriarchy, because I had personally experienced patriarchal oppression as soon as I started presenting as a woman, I just didn’t have a name for it, other than, “welcome to womanhood”.
Then we get to radical feminism and trans.
To Mary Daly, I found myself wondering if I could have stealthed into your female-only classes. Would you have clocked me? Would you scan me as a female or clock me as a necrophilia-inspired Franken-imposter, sired by my srs surgeon? I felt…well, I felt NotAllTransWomenAreLikeThat. I wonder if I had passed as female, completed her classes, and then confessed to being transsexual, if she would be happily surprised, or angry with me for the boundary violation. I have imagined you, tutoring me, one-on-one, to help me dismantle any lingering maab socialisation.
To Andrea Dworkin, I would have liked to tell her that I’m sorry. By becoming Plastic Girl, I didn’t mean to uphold traditional gender roles. Before I transitioned, I had no premeditated intention to colonize feminist identification, culture, politics and sexuality. Nor did I have any desire to appropriate a woman’s body. I just wanted to be female and hrt, srs, and fulltiming it as a woman seemed the closest I could get. Your statement of what transsexualism is, does not align to my personal narrative Andrea, or, NotAllTransWomenAreLikeThat.
To ShielaG, who, when posting about transwomen at Miska’s FAB MATTERs blog in 2011, opined, “They’re fembots.” I had a vision of some transgendered women I had met who definitely fell into that category, but not me. I never wanted nor tried to perform “fembotism”. My reply boiled down to, “Come on ShielaG, not all transwomen are like that.”
To Germaine Gier, who stated “No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight”, I wanted to say, “Untrue Germaine! Begging for ovaries would not have made it possible. None of the srs surgeons offer that body mod, but had it been available, or “made mandatory” I would have accepted it! Or basically, “Not all trans women are like that, Germaine!”
To her claim that, “Whatever else it is, gender reassignment is an exorcism of the mother.” I would have asked her if she actually wanted a transwoman’s personal take on what gender reassignment is, because having had one myself, I can attest that exorcism of my mother was not part of the reason. Basically, #NotAllTransWomenAreLikeThat.
To FABLibber, who once claimed that we don’t smell like real females, I wanted to say, “FABlibber, do you know this from experience? Have you ever actually laid down with a transwoman? Have you ever smelled her hair, her wrists, her neck, her belly, her thighs, or her feet?” I was sure that if FABlibber smelled me, even just my wrists, her eyes would widen from surprise and astonishment, and she would retract her statement. Pretty much another version of notalltranswomenarelikethat.
To Shiela Jeffreys, who has argued that “the vast majority of transsexuals still subscribe to the traditional stereotype of women” and that by transitioning medically and socially, trans women are “constructing a conservative fantasy of what women should be. They are inventing an essence of womanhood which is deeply insulting and restrictive,” I wanted to say, “I am sorry Sheila, that was never my intention. I honestly had no idea that by transitioning, I was upholding patriarchal norms or inventing an essence of womanhood. I am self-identifying as a woman because my maab socialisation trained me that I could be anything or have anything I wanted, by going all out, rolling over all obstacles, and persevering until I had what I wanted. But since I’ve been transitioned for almost half my life now, what should I do? What do you want me to do? Where do we go from here? My underlying premise? Not all trans woman are like that. Obviously.
To Julie Bindel and Julie Burchill, I wanted to say I am sorry we come across as such entitled maabs. For what is worth not all trans women are like that.
To factcheckme, who in April 2011, posted
“so in the interest of maintaining consistency, i hereby make the following concession: post-op MTF transsexuals are less dangerous to born-women than are genitally-intact MAABs, because post-op MTF transsexuals cannot impregnate women against our wills.
okay? there, i said it. now, i am *not* saying that SRS makes MAABs into FAABs, or anything of the sort. in fact, the problem with post-op MTF is STILL twofold: the MAAB problem, in that all post-op MTF are STILL MAAB, and therefore were groomed as oppressors of women (and rapists) since birth. even if we concede that MAABs without their dicks are less dangerous than MAABs with them (or lets just say they have one less trick up their sleeve?) there is STILL a legitimate complaint here on the part of FAABs, who dont want to be subjected to misogynist hatred from the oppressor class, perhaps particularly in FAAB-only spaces and (yes!) the restroom.
second is the problem of schroedingers rapist. among MTFs as a group, we dont know who still has their dicks and who doesnt, and we shouldnt have to guess. AND in addition, the FACT that MAABs, as oppressors of women and rapists, rape with things besides their dicks, all the time. its a rather MAAB thing to do actually.
Factcheckme is the only rad fem I have tried to go out of my way to communicate with. I expressed solidarity on intersecting issues and pointed out that mtfs are also vulnerable to schrodinger’s rapist, and asked her, what would she (or rad fems in general) have us do [about the bathroom issue], and she replied, “NOT MY PROBLEM DOOD”.
More than any other internet rad fem, I tried to understand factcheckme. I love her writings. She has been my primary radical feminist teacher. Her observations on the condition of faab matters helps me pass better, socially, with women.
To you, factcheckme, I just wanted to say that I appreciate your writings more than you can ever know. You have taught me so much, and I have no way to repay you. I also love my surgically altered body, even if the neovaj was birthed by rape culture. It’s a part of me, and I love myself. I know it’s not the real thing and I am okay with that. I am still going to use the women’s restroom, even if I that makes me a colonizing, boundary-crossing, privileged maab, because I too need somewhere to pee, and the bushes are just not going to cut for me. I tried to examine my maab privilege and understand where rad fems were coming from and I hope you realize that I don’t consider transactivists to be “my peeps”, oh heck, what I really mean to say is, not all trans women are like that.
But I don’t think factcheckme, Sheila Jeffreys, Julie Bindel or Julie Burchill or Germaine Grier really care about what our truth or our experiences are. The existence of transwomen seems to be seen as an affront, if not an actual threat to both women’s liberation and radical feminist theory. I understand we don’t belong at Michfest, but I am not going to detransition, which means there is a remote possibility we might share a women’s restroom someday.
Twisty Faster at I Blame The Patriarchy seems to think that after The Revolution, there will be no gender, and thus no need to trans from one side of the gender binary, to the other. The Lesbian Separatist Utopia has no use for us either.
Back to the post title: Can trans women and trans-critical radical feminists ever be friends politically? No. Never. Not in this life.
The thing of it is, I don’t sense that rad fems really want to sit at a table with us about their concerns, and even we did, I doubt we could meet them halfway on the issues, because what they really seem to want, is for us not exist. Our offense is transitioning in the first place. Our existence and our narratives seem to be real thorn in the side of radical feminist academia. For the most part, these radfem academics don’t seem interested in hearing our side. Or having read some of us, we’ve been pigeonholed as a group, as fembots striving to preserve sex-based gender-role stereotypes.
As far as I know neither Mary Daly, nor Andrea Dworkin, nor Germaine Grier ever tried to get our input on our identities before forming their opinions on “what transsexualism is”, and putting their conclusions into publication. They just took their Franken Fembots with Mommy Issues theories, and ran with them. That does not seem like rigorous [honest] academia, to me.
My primary concern, my main response to trans-critical radical feminism has always basically boiled down to #notalltranswomenarelikethat, but I am pretty sure they already know that we are not all like that.
I think radical feminism is going to die, and I feel like I and am partly responsible for that death, because I am a Plastic Girl. I am voluntary transform. A future-tech biomorph. I used my privilege to transform into a faux-female at a young age. I do not experience transphobia or transdiscrimination. People do not “sir” me, or ask me what pronouns I prefer. I don’t get clocked for gender ambiguity, yet most rad fems seem convinced that none of us can pass and or they can spot us all a mile away.
It might be hard to accept that some of us just don’t stick out, and without a scarlet “T” on our breasts, you really have no idea that we were male assigned at birth. I understand that that is probably intimidating. I think in the future, there is going to be a lot more of us who transition earlier than I did and who will be even harder to spot. We are not going to go away.
As for transhumanism, take for example Google Glasses. Someday the Google Glasses maybe an actual eyeball or implant or maybe a permanent contact lens that people have installed. Sooner or later, bionics and cybernetics will be so advanced that people will willingly trade in perfectly good body parts like eyes, ears, arms, legs, even internal organs, for body mods that will take their place, that perhaps even do a better job than their genetic counterparts.
How will the Shiela Jeffreys, the Twisty Fasters and the Factcheckmes of the world deal with the coming transhuman phenomena? I don’t think radical feminism is ready for cyborgs. There will be cyborgs who will not identify as male or female or who identify as both, or something else entirely, and these cyborgs are going to need a bathroom to pee in too.
Trans men and trans women are just the beginning of transhumanism. How for example, will feminist notions of body acceptance take hold in the minds of men and women when a person can just change what they don’t like by throwing money at the problem? Body acceptance will never take hold, because modern technology combined with capitalism means privileged people don’t have to settle for acceptance. The future belongs to Cyberpunk Dystopia and transforming surgeries. Boob jobs, stomach staples, penile enhancements, phalloplasties and vaginoplasties are just the beginning of the choices we will have to change ourselves.
The rights of Cyborgs and Transhumans will be codified into law before the feminist liberation occurs, and that will be the end of radical feminism. Rules protecting gender variant and trans gender persons in public spaces means that women will have to tolerate gender or sex ambiguous people in the bathroom and every where else too.
The force of history is, for better or for worse, on the side of transhuman body-modding. The concept of woman-born-woman space, while necessary and healing and nurturing for women-born-women will become extinct. It’s almost extinct now. I guarantee you that Michfest will eventually cave to the political antics of transactivists. Having already lost restrooms and rape shelters to transgender inclusion, Michfest, as it currently exists, a one week intentional community for FAAB women to gather away from all MAABs, will be over. Like the polar ice caps, WBW space is being pushed further and further back. And like the great auk, the auroch and the polar bear, WBW space will soon be a thing of the past.
Make no mistake about it, Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford’s UN Letter will have no effect on slowing down the erasure of female-born-female as a specific identity with specific concerns needing specific protections. Class: female will be available for anyone who feels like they are female, and anyone who wants to look and live like one and can afford the process.
The concerns that some women have, that this process is happening too fast, that faab experiences matter, that there are issues with allowing anyone who self-identifies as female access to any and all female spaces will go ignored, because these concerns are not politically correct. Women will be forced to accept these impositions so that no self-identified male-to-female TG ever has to have hurt feelings.
In the final analysis, trans rights and radical feminism are diametrically opposed to each other. We do not have the same agenda, the same concerns. or the same goals. Because radical feminism seems biased in favor of their preferred academic theories over our individual and collective transsexual narratives, while taking every opportunity to invalidate our identities as women, I do not think we can ever really be friends. And if you think life is uncomfortable now with the increased visibility Plastic Girls and Plastic Boys, you had better prepare yourself for more awkwardness in schools, the workplace and the restroom, because we are just the beginning.
[sic. Images added by me- GM]