4chan plans “genocide” against transgender women
November 21, 2014
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December 23, 2014

Gender Critical Feminism, the roots of Radical Feminism and Trans oppression

Gender Critical Feminism (GCF) is a euphemism for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism (TERF). There is no ideological difference between the TERF and “Gender Critical Feminist” (GCF) movement; they are one in the same. GCF teaches that because sex is a natural binary, intersex people are actually just deformed men and women and trans people are always the sex they were assigned at birth. As Janice Raymond’s acolyte Sheila Jeffreys wrote, “sex” is fixed and referring to trans women with female pronouns is therefore immoral in the sense that it is a dishonorable act.

Postmodern and queer theorists share with transgender theorists the idea that “gender” is a moveable feast that can be moved into and out of, swapped and so forth. Gender, used in this sense, disappears the fixedness of sex, the biological basis that underlies the relegation of females to their sex caste. The inferior sex caste status of women is assigned with reference to their biology, and it is through their biology that their subordination is enforced and maintained through rape, impregnation and forced childbearing. Another reason for adherence to pronouns that indicate biology is that, as a feminist, I consider the female pronoun to be an honorific, a term that conveys respect. Respect is due to women as members of a sex caste that have survived subordination and deserve to be addressed with honour. – Sheila Jeffreys, PhD, Gender Hurts, pp 5-6

While GCF/TERFs claim that they apply a “Radical Feminist” critique to gender, they are actually an ideological offshoot of Radical Feminism because instead of rejecting sex essentialism, the GCF/TERF movement uses sex essentialism as its ideological foundation. GCF/TERFs are generally sex-essentialists who believe that sex is a natural binary because there exists some undefined male or female essence that is found in all men and women. Sometimes this sexed essence is viewed as habits acquired during early socialization and at other times it is some specific sex attribute.  The specific “essence” that GCF/TERFs appeal to changes from time to time, depending on the argument they’re making.

Sidebar:

Many trans people are generally highly critical of a supposed natural sex and gender binary. In this way, the views of trans people can align well with the views of the Radical Feminist movement. The progenitor of Radical Feminism, Monique Wittig, rejected notions of a natural sex binary:

The ideology of sexual difference functions as censorship in our culture by masking, on the ground of nature, the social opposition between men and women. Masculine/feminine, male/female are the categories which serve to conceal the fact that social differences always belong to an economic, political, ideological order. Every system of domination establishes divisions at the material and economic level. Furthermore, the divisions are abstracted and turned into concepts by the masters, and later on by the slaves when they rebel and start to struggle. The masters explain and justify the established divisions as a result of natural differences. The slaves, when they rebel and start to struggle, read social oppositions into the so-called natural differences. For there is no sex. There is but sex that is oppressed and sex that oppresses. It is oppression that creates sex and not the contrary. The contrary would be to say that sex creates oppression, or to say that the cause (origin) of oppression is to be found in sex itself, in a natural division of the sexes preexisting (or outside of) society. The primacy of difference so constitutes our thought that it prevents turning inward on itself to question itself, no matter how necessary that may be to apprehend the basis of that which precisely constitutes it.”

Sandy Stone, a trans woman who was targeted for death by armed TERFs, said, “There is no ‘natural’ sex, because ‘sex’ itself as a medical or cultural category is nothing more the momentary outcome of battles over who owns the meanings of the category.” Most TERF/GCFs are ideological sex essentialists; most trans, intersex and RadFems are not.

Consider the words of pioneering RadFem advocate, Andrea Dworkin:

“Hormone and chromosome research, attempts to develop new means of human reproduction (life created in, or considerably supported by, the scientist’s laboratory), work with transsexuals, and studies of formation of gender identity in children provide basic information which challenges the notion that there are two discrete biological sexes. That information threatens to transform the traditional biology of sex difference into the radical biology of sex similarity. That is not to say there is one sex, but that there are many. The evidence which is germane here is simple. The words ‘male’ and ‘female,’ ‘man’ and ‘woman,’ are used only because as yet there are no others.” – Andrea Dworkin, Woman Hating, pp 175 – 176

There’s a reason Sheila Jeffreys carefully edits out Dworkin’s thoughts about trans people when she, not infrequently, cites Dworkin in her many condemnations of trans people. I submit to you that she engages in this intellectual turpitude because to do otherwise would call into question her assertion that what she offers is a “Radical Feminist perspective” of the trans experience.

If one were to substitute “nature” for “god,” the sex essentialism found in the TERF/GCF crew is somewhat similar to the sex essentialism found in right-wing ideology. It is therefore not uncommon to find anti-gay propaganda mills and Tea Party politicians quoting TERF/GCFs and TERF/GCFs quoting anti-gay Tea Party propagandists. Just as right-wingers have token gay people, the TERF/GCF crew has token trans people. The GCF/TERF movement, much like other sex essentialist ideologies, encourages trans people to detransition.

GCF/TERFs promoting the “trans women are violent” meme at a Take Back the Night event.

So, let’s fly under our true colors, shall we? This group that professes to be “critical” of gender is so entrenched in it that they can’t even understand that they are acting agents of the very gender system they claim to hate. Or, as Wittig said, “The primacy of difference so constitutes our thought that it prevents turning inward on itself to question itself, no matter how necessary that may be to apprehend the basis of that which precisely constitutes it.

Here’s what most GCFs profess:

  • Females are a caste system because of “class analysis”
  • A natural binary is real; sex isn’t a continuum because “sexual dimorphism”
  • Intersex people are just deformed binary sexes because “sexual dimorphism”
  • Male and Female habits (socialization) are essential to being authentic males/females.
  • “Male” and “Female” sex identifiers should be compulsory and eternal
  • “Male” and “Female” gender identifiers are BS because “social construction”
  • “Gender identity” only ever means cultural identities

When pressed on their ideology, GCF will almost never be able to name the attributes of their “class analysis” or “social constructionism.” On a recent BBC interview, Sheila Jeffreys asserted, “the phenomenon of transgenderism [sic] which is a social construction…  is harmful to many groups of persons.” From what I’ve seen, these claims merely function as academic-sounding ideas whose value is purely rhetorical. Some of the brightest feminist thinkers of our time have noticed this too. Judith Butler notes that when GCF/TERF opinion leaders like Sheila Jeffreys burble on about social constructionism, the things she says makes no sense to people who actually understand social constructionism. Butler observes that Sheila Jeffreys and Janice Raymond “offers a kind of feminist policing of trans lives and trans choices.” About Jeffreys’ “social construction” talking points, Butler said, “If she makes use of social construction as a theory to support her view, she very badly misunderstands its terms.” She goes on to say, “I oppose this kind of prescriptivism, which seems me to aspire to a kind of feminist tyranny.”

Consider how closely the now decades old worlds of long term trans activist Susan Stryker mirrors the truths Wittig took pains to points out and TERF work so hard to obfuscate:

[T]he Nature you bedevil me with is a lie. Do not trust it to protect you from what I represent, for it is a fabrication that cloaks the groundlessness of the privilege you seek to maintain for yourself at my expense. You are as constructed as me; the same anarchic Womb has birthed us both. I call upon you to investigate your nature as I have been compelled to confront mine. – Trans academic and historian, Susan Stryker from My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage, 1994

I read Jeffreys’ book, Gender Hurts. In the precise way she hamfistedly appropriates social constructionism to attack trans people, she appropriates the concept of class analysis to support her targeting of trans people. Gender Hurts is not a class analysis of gender; rather, it is merely an appeal to class analysis. If you want to see a GCF/TERF squirm, press them to explicitly map the precise attributes of their “class analysis.” They’ll simply appeal to the authority of this academic pseudo-radical terminology until they’re blue in the face. When they utterly fail to support their position, then inform them that the progenitor of Radical Feminism rejected such analysis as rhetorical woo.

Consider what Witting has to say about much of what we find in GCF/TERF ideology. Remember, the following is foundational Radical Feminist thought, not (as GCF/TERFs would say) “transgender ideology:”

[N]ot only is there no natural group “women” (we lesbians are living proof of it), but as individuals as well we question “woman,” which for us, as for Simone de Beauvoir, is only a myth. She said: “One is not born, but becomes a woman. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society: it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine.”

However, most of the feminists and lesbian-feminists in America and elsewhere still believe that the basis of women’s oppression is biological as well as historical. Some of them even claim to find their sources in Simone de Beauvoir.

Colette Guillaumin has shown that before the socioeconomic reality of black slavery, the concept of race did not exist, at least not in its modern meaning, since it was applied to the lineage of families. However, now, race, exactly like sex, is taken as an “immediate given,” a “sensible given,” “physical features,” belonging to a natural order. But what we believe to be a physical and direct perception is only a sophisticated and mythic construction, an “imaginary formation,” which reinterprets physical features (in themselves as neutral as any others but marked by the social system) through the network of relationships in which they are perceived. (They are seen as black, therefore they are black; they are seen as women, therefore, they are women. But before being seen that way, they first had to be made that way.) Lesbians should always remember and acknowledge how “unnatural,” compelling, totally oppressive, and destructive being “woman” was for us in the old days before the women’s liberation movement. It was a political constraint, and those who resisted it were accused of not being “real” women. But then we were proud of it, since in the accusation there was already something like a shadow of victory: the avowal by the oppressor that “woman” is not something that goes without saying, since to be one, one has to be a “real” one.

Besides, if we take as an example the perfect “butch,” the classic example which provokes the most horror, whom Proust would have called a woman/man, how is her alienation different from that of someone who wants to become a woman? Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

However, as Andrea Dworkin emphasizes, many lesbians recently “have increasingly tried to transform the very ideology that has enslaved us into a dynamic, religious, psychologically compelling celebration of female biological potential.” Thus, some avenues of the feminist and lesbian movement lead us back to the myth of woman which was created by men especially for us, and with it we sink back into a natural group. Having stood up to fight for a sexless society,” we now find ourselves entrapped in the familiar deadlock of “woman is wonderful.” Simone de Beauvoir underlined particularly the false consciousness which consists of selecting among the features of the myth (that women are different from men) those which look good and using them as a definition for women. What the concept “woman is wonderful” accomplishes is that it retains for defining women the best features (best according to whom?) which oppression has granted us, and it does not radically question the categories “man” and “woman,” which are political categories and not natural givens. It puts us in a position of fighting within the class “women” not as the other classes do, for the disappearance of our class, but for the defense of “woman” and its reinforcement. It leads us to develop with complacency “new” theories about our specificity: thus, we call our passivity “nonviolence,” when the main and emergent point for us is to fight our passivity (our fear, rather, a justified one).

She goes on to note that if we are to apply class analysis to “woman,” it can only be done as a political class aimed at deconstructing the “natural” sex binary. GCF/TERFs do the exact opposite and view “woman” as a natural biological class aimed at deconstructing the a political binary.

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Wittig continues:

Marxist theory does not allow women any more than other classes of oppressed people to constitute themselves as historical subjects, because Marxism does not take into account the fact that a class also consists of individuals one by one. Class consciousness is not enough. We must try to understand philosophically (politically) these concepts of “subject” and “class consciousness” and how they work in relation to our history. When we discover that women are the objects of oppression and appropriation, at the very moment that we become able to perceive this, we become subjects in the sense of cognitive subjects, through an operation of abstraction. Consciousness of Oppression is not only a reaction to (fight against) oppression. It is also the whole conceptual reevaluation of the social world, its whole reorganization with new concepts, from the point of view of oppression. It is what I would call the science of oppression created by the oppressed. This operation of understanding reality has to be undertaken by every one of us: call it a subjective, cognitive practice. The movement back and forth between the levels of reality (the conceptual reality and the material reality of oppression, which are both social realities) is accomplished through language.

It is we who historically must undertake the task of defining the individual subject in materialist terms. This certainly seems to be an impossibility since materialism and subjectivity have always been mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, and rather than despairing of ever understanding, we must recognize the need to reach subjectivity in the abandonment by many of us to the myth “woman” (the myth of woman being only a snare that holds us up). This real necessity for everyone to exist as an individual, as well as a member of a class, is perhaps the first condition for the accomplishment of a revolution, without which there can be no real fight or transformation. But the opposite is also true; without class and class consciousness there are no real subjects, only alienated individuals.

Here, Wittig explicitly notes that the subjective is the fatal flaw of Marxist theory. You cannot appropriate and objectify women as a class; as a monolithic “thing” called “sex.” It is the subjective that can’t be erased when being critical of the supposed natural sex binary. Again, this isn’t so-called “transgender ideology,” this is Radical Feminism. And yet, with GCF/TERF goggles on, even Wittig supposedly rejected the subjective regarding gender:

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GCF/TERFs offer a perspective of sex and gender that’s fatally warped to the point that it explicitly advocates for the very ideas foundational Radical Feminist theory rejected. GCF/TERFs might call themselves RadFem or “gender critical” but what they offer is the very poison chalice RadFems spent decades warning against; it’s an ideology at war with its own roots. The very perspective GCF/TERFs so viciously attack is the foundation of Radical Feminism. GCF/TERFs have such a long history of, with all the asperity of a hellfire creationist, asserting that sexing everyone is better/different/more natural than gendering everyone that I hold no hope they will see past their own obtuse equivocations.

Radical feminists have developed the most realistic framework for analyzing the social realities of gender. Specifically: gender is a hierarchy which is constructed on top of the (real, permanent, dimorphic) category of biological sex. – GCF trans woman, SnowFlakeEspecial

Stop me if you’ve heard this GCF/TERF meme before: unless the natural sex binary is embraced and enforced, gay men and lesbians will disappear. Wittig refuted that meme decades ago but GCF/TERFs don’t want you to know that:

To destroy “woman” does not mean that we aim, short of physical destruction, to destroy lesbianism simultaneously with the categories of sex, because lesbianism provides for the moment the only social form in which we can live freely. Lesbian is the only concept I know of which is beyond the categories of sex (woman and man), because the designated subject (lesbian) is not a woman, either economically, or politically, or ideologically. For what makes a woman is a specific social relation to a man, a relation that we have previously called servitude, a relation which implies personal and physical obligation as well as economic obligation (“forced residence,” domestic corvee, conjugal duties, unlimited production of children, etc.), a relation which lesbians escape by refusing to become or to stay heterosexual. We are escapees from our class in the same way as the American runaway slaves were when escaping slavery and becoming free. For us this is an absolute necessity; our survival demands that we contribute all our strength to the destruction of the class of women within which men appropriate women. This can be accomplished only by the destruction of heterosexuality as a social system which is based on the oppression of women by men and which produces the doctrine of the difference between the sexes to justify this oppression.

It is the system of heteronormativity that is at the root of oppression and it is the heteronormative gaze that produced the concept of the natural sex binary. It is only with a perspective rooted in heteronormativity that a GCF/TERF can assert that gender is an oppressive system that must be abolished by replacing it with a new set of taboos, norms, language and identity labels all must adhere to and somehow won’t be gender. A GCF/TERF seems to think that when they assert that a trans woman is male, insists upon using male pronouns, uses the person’s old name/old picture to construct a sex context for the trans woman to occupy within a cultural system, they aren’t engaging in forced gender performance.

If “he” is hurtful or if “she” is hurtful and you’re a friend, or someone who isn’t an asshole then I avoid using them. However I’m not, nor should I or anyone, actually be expected to lie to appease another’s feelings. When we (gender critical folk) are accused of “misgendering” what we are actually doing is telling the truth.  “He” and “she” denote sex, lets be honest about that and sex is immutable. – WhoIsCis, GCF affiliated with GenderIdentityWatch

In fact, most of them will assert that they aren’t performing gender, that they are instead honoring natural sex binary. They do this without seeing any irony. They seek to institutionalize the naturalistic essence-based sex binary as a means of taking ownership of sex labels, which they mistake for authentic empowerment.

Another reason for adherence to pronouns that indicate biology is that, as a feminist, I consider the female pronoun to be an honorific, a term that conveys respect. Respect is due to women as members of a sex caste that have survived subordination and deserve to be addressed with honour. – Sheila Jeffreys, PhD, Gender Hurts, pp 5-6

Let’s contrast the above GCF/TERF view with foundational Radical Feminist theory:

However, most of the feminists and lesbian-feminists in America and elsewhere still believe that the basis of women’s oppression is biological as well as historical. Some of them even claim to find their sources in Simone de Beauvoir… But what we believe to be a physical and direct perception is only a sophisticated and mythic construction, an “imaginary formation,” which reinterprets physical features (in themselves as neutral as any others but marked by the social system) through the network of relationships in which they are perceived. Lesbians should always remember and acknowledge how “unnatural,” compelling, totally oppressive, and destructive being “woman” was for us in the old days before the women’s liberation movement. It was a political constraint, and those who resisted it were accused of not being “real” women. But then we were proud of it, since in the accusation there was already something like a shadow of victory: the avowal by the oppressor that “woman” is not something that goes without saying, since to be one, one has to be a “real” one.

It is heteonormitive indoctrination that prevents GCF/TERFs from understanding that the “natural sex binary” is just another aspect of gender. While much of the rest of the feminist world is confronting both the causes and effects of oppression, GCF/TERFs spend a significant amount of time and energy in preserving, supporting and appealing to a binary sexed body system constitutionally incapable of working with concepts like cis, trans, gender queer, agender, intersex as it relates to reality of human bodies because such views of humanity are supplanted by the asserted preeminence of an ad naturam binary sexed essence:

Men appropriating our identity hate us, and want to take our skin to become us. Can never happen, but they sure want to destroy us in the process.

No, of all the oppressive forces against Lesbians and women in patriarchy, I believe the trans cult is at the top. Far more dangerous than the rest of the right wing like the nazis and clan and christian, muslim, etc. religious fanatics, THEY WANT TO DESTROY US FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

They are like the worst form of parasite, who tricks the victim into protecting and fighting for those who are killing them. So we don’t even end up fighting these men directly. We have to first face the women who are standing in front of them, working to destroy all women’s rights.  – Bev Von Dohre, TERF pioneer

GCF/TERF ideology is rooted in a twisted ad naturam morality, not radical-feminist-gender-critical theory. As Jeffreys herself puts it:

Consider that another reason for adherence to pronouns that indicate biology is that, as a feminist, I consider the female pronoun to be an honorific, a term that conveys respect. Respect is due to women as members of a sex caste that have survived subordination and deserve to be addressed with honour.

Jeffreys seems totally oblivious to the reality that when she explicitly appeals to the embedded ad naturam morality within her natural sex binary, she is publicly pronouncing her attachment to and support of behavioral norms and taboos predicated upon a coercive binary cultural system. Jeffreys’ hubris and morality blind her to her own hypocrisy while functioning to validate her cruel behavior. Not buying into the naturalistic binary of Jeffreys’ female-essence is, to her mind, a morally dishonorable behavior. Jeffreys’ drive to lay claim to labels rooted in a morally natural male/female essence means that she is privileged to dismissively or mockingly disregard another’s identity precisely because, within her gender system, such behavior is honorable and even preordained.

“There is a witness to the transsexual’s script, a witness who is never consulted. She is the person who built the transsexual’s body of her own flesh and brought it up as her son or daughter, the transsexual’s worst enemy, his/her mother. Whatever else it is gender reassignment is an exorcism of the mother. When a man decides to spend his life impersonating his mother (like Norman Bates in Psycho) it is as if he murders her and gets away with it, proving at a stroke that there was nothing to her… ” – Germaine Greer, PhD, The Whole Woman

In transsexualism, males put on “female” bodies (which are in fact pseudofemale). In a real sense they are separated from their original mothers by the rituals of the counseling process, which usually result in “discovering” that the mother of the transsexual-to-be is at fault for his “gender identity crisis.” These “patients” are reborn from males. As Linda Barufaldi suggested, this fact was symbolized in the renaming of the renowned transsexual of tennis, Renee (literally, “re-born”) Richards, whose original first name was Richard.” The re-birthing male supermothers include psychiatrists, surgeons, hormone therapists, and other cooperating professionals. The surgeons and hormone therapists of the transsexual kingdom, in their effort to give birth, can be said to produce feminine persons. They cannot produce women. – Mary Daly, PhD, Gyn/Ecology, pp 67 – 68

It is only through a moralistic lense that the trans experience can be constructed as being monstrousFrankensteinian and/or even vampire-like. Notice that GCF/TERFs like Janice Raymond make a point of ensuring that the morality of the natural is withheld when speaking about trans women through phrases like, “male-to-constructed-female.” TERFs, so focused on watch-dogging which essence is natural (ie, “real” and therefore valid) – predicated on the notion that their appeal to their own perceived woman-essence is natural – they fail to perceive their own hypocrisy.

Transgender activists such as Serano have developed a new vocabulary to advance their political agenda. One of these new terms is ‘cis’, which they apply to all those who are not unhappy with their ‘gender’. In effect the term ‘cis’ creates two kinds of women, those with female bodies who are labeled ‘cisgender’, and those with male bodies who are ‘transwomen’. Women, those born female and raised as women, thus suffer a loss of status as they are relegated to being just one kind of woman and their voices will have to compete on a level playing field with the other variety, men who transgender. – Sheila Jeffreys, PhD, Gender Hurts, p 50

Returning to what Wittig said, “The primacy of difference so constitutes our thought that it prevents turning inward on itself to question itself, no matter how necessary that may be to apprehend the basis of that which precisely constitutes it.” Jeffreys, acting to protect her stake in a natural binary sexed essence asserts that cisgender should not be used because it somehow impugns the nature of her own claim within a natural sex binary. This isn’t about biology or feminist theory, it’s about a morality.

Let’s be clear about what GCF/TERFs offer. It’s not a non-gender system, it’s merely a new incarnation of a heteronormative gender system in which trans and intersex people are erased. It is an enfeebled attempt at empowerment through forced appropriation and objectification by defining what you are by what you’re not and in this way, what GCF/TERFs offer is nothing new or radical:

“Authentication and denaturalization, the second pair of tactics, respectively concern the construction of a credible or genuine identity and the production of an identity that is literally incredible or non-genuine. We have chosen the term authentication in deliberate contrast with authenticity, another term that circulates widely in scholarly discourses of identity and its critique. Where authenticity has been tied to essentialism through the notion that some identities are more ‘‘real’’ than others, authentication highlights the agentive processes whereby claims to realness are asserted. Such claims often surface in nationalist movements, where a shared language becomes a powerful force in the formation and articulation of an imagined national unity (Anderson 1983; Gellner 1983). Here the process of authentication often involves the rewriting of linguistic and cultural history.”– Mary Bucholtz and Kira Hall, Language and Identity in A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology

So, meet the new boss, the same as the old boss. It’s called “Gender Critical Feminism.”

Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter in the South and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable healthcare for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites TransAdvocate.com and TheTERFs.com, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.
  • Transition ruined my health and life, and the LGBT-inc and trans “communities” turn their backs on me, tell me I can’t exist as a detransitioner. Only gender-critical folks like rad fems seem to care about the well-being of me and others harmed by gender nonsense. And for that they deserve more respect.

  • The biography of Cristan Williams is quite impressive, and she’s doing amazing work. However, I want to set the record “straight” on a couple of issues. First, the people you name as important to radical feminism and pro-transgender are not all who you say you are. I am an historian, of the women’s movements among other things, and Monique Wittig was not particularly influential among American radical feminists, or anyone but the literary communities, though Simone deBeauvoir and Dworkin were. The quotation you cite was from Dworkin’s very early work — I taught WomanHating in I think 1973, and it wasn’t that new then. She went through a lot of ups and downs in her opinions since then. Other significantly important early radical feminists include Robin Morgan, Mary Daly, and others less than welcoming to transwomen. (Morgan in fact organized most of the opposition to Olivia’s employment of a trans woman, as I’m sure you know, and it got legs precisely because Morgan was so important.)

    Second, while as a group gender critical feminists include some who insist on biological essentialism, as a whole, they do not. (It would indeed be a contradiction with radical feminism, but not all, or even most, of the gc feminists I’ve read are radical feminists. By the way, TERF is unquestionably a slur, and evidence of that, from linguists and others who specialize in hate language, is beginning to emerge even in mainstream journals, despite their fear of offending trans women activists. Calabash’ point below would be well worth you considering fairly too — that hostility to trans people is not felt by most identified-at-birth women, but only to those who are (in my words) actively misogynistic. While “who started it” never yields good results on turf wars, it’s equally obvious that a lot of the most egregious hate speech recently is coming from trans women miffed because a group which has also been oppressed for thousands of years in many cultures disagree with their self definition. My mother always said, “I don’t care who started it; you stop it,” and I suspect the moral victory will go to those who treat the other side’s argument fairly. For example, the “hate speech” and threats you quote happened in the early 70s. Germaine Greer, who recently made an angry comment which infuriated trans people and was not well-made, is certainly still around, but has a perfect right to question who she defines as part of her group despite the emphasis of focusing on body parts.

    The radical feminists who are gender critical have specific issues: the demands, particularly by trans women, to use women’s bathrooms over any other women’s objections. By insisting on their entitlement, calling names and making threats of rape and other physical abuse to those who disagree, and often presenting themselves as “better” women than anyone else, is frighteningly similar to how men insult women and keep us in our place. By refusing to care about threatening an historically oppressed group, and the demonstrated outrage when we don’t just say, “Okay, yes master,” it’s very hard to think of those folks as female. Because the next issue is that men are the oppressors, and women are subordinate; this is a cultural truth which can be documented both historically and culturally, with a few exceptions which feminist anthropologists are still debating. When one small group of oppressed people demands concessions by another, large group, opposition is inevitable. To misrepresent their beliefs and quote out of context, and when challenged on something linking to ANOTHER anti-critical trans writer, rather than providing actual evidence, clearly the respect one should have for one’s group is missing; any woman who disagrees with you is not a member of your group.

    You will have to pardon us for assuming that all the stories of trans women on line and in women’s magazines saying how they knew they were different because they weren’t interested in boys’ games, wanted to play with the girls, or preferred Disney princesses looks a lot like gender essentialism. It would be just as easy to say, “I’m a boy, but I like princesses; many of us have kids who understand that concept. But given the enthusiasm for things coded “girl” rather than saying, “I love Ariel, and want to be like her, because boys can like mermaids too” again makes radical feminists upset and angry, since they were perfectly certain they were girls and yet didn’t think they should only like makeup and Barbies. Not everyone says it; but it’s pretty pervasive, if you care to do a study.

    But most of all, we feel robbed of our consent not to experience male bodies in female places. It doesn’t matter what people “feel” they are, we’ve grown up sexually assaulted, threatened, harassed, dismissed, and ordered about by the phallus, and changing rooms were once a safe place to not experience that. Lots of us even get upset when seeing a penis because of PTSD from rape and other violence by men. (These things happen because we were identified as female at birth. Oppression is real, even if gender is cultural. Culture is not a magical play-pretend; culture is the basis of each society, and the only “real” things for most people are what their culture has taught them. To want to just declare otherwise and attack every method of survival women have developed for enemy country is unfair, insensitive, and very, very male.

    • There are a few things I would point out in each paragraph:

      1st Paragraph: The idea that Wittig was unimportant or less than important to Western Radical Feminist thought is quite debatable. I think there’s a reason she’s often cited and included in radical work. Dworkin published Woman Hating in 1974, so I would think 74/75 is probably closer and while it is often claimed that her thoughts on trans people somehow evolved, those making the claim never support it with anything other than opinion. It was Raymond, not Morgan who made life hell for the Olivia Collectiver. Morgan made life hell for the Lesbian Tide Collective for being trans inclusive. Let’s not forget that Cell 16, Sisters, and others were also radfem trans inclusive collectives.

      2nd paragraph: “TERF” is used in the same way that bigot, racist, homophobe, etc. are used; the “TERF is a slur” campaign was launched a year after the political Right’s successful “homophobe is a slur” campaign; using the same tactics that are currently displayed in the “TERF is a slur” campaign. “TERF” is as much as a slur as homophobe is in that the terms are used in similar ways to describe specific toxic people/movements. I try to be specific in my language: TERFs are a specific type of Sex Essentialist Theorist who claim their sex essentialism is itself radical feminism.

      3rd paragraph: TERFs and other sex essentialist activists are merely repurposing the same arguments the Right made about the ERA, gay people in public, people with HIV in public, and the arguments used against the repeal of DADT. Your fears don’t trump the right of women, of gay people, people with HIV, queer people who want to serve in the military and it certainly doesn’t trump the rights of trans and intersex women to be able to use a restroom the women’s restroom the way that cis women do.

      4th paragraph: Yeah, explaining being trans to a non-trans person is hard, especially when cis people controlled the discourse for decades. Powerknowledge is a thing.

      5th paragraph: What does it mean to “experience” a “male body” in the shitter? Why use the term “consent” in your discourse? I think we both know why, and as a PIV rape survivor, I very much resent the way you so casually pimp out my trauma in your rhetoric. But, let’s move beyond rhetoric to the heart of the matter: sex essentialism. What does it mean to have a feminized cis, trans. or intersex body? What does it mean to present a female phenotype? Is a phenotype or genotype the physical presence that is experienced in society?

  • Calabash

    Having read all the way through your essay, I see some of your points. They are the same exact points made my feminists critical of the construct of gender, but from the other side (you are arguing sex is an enforced binary just like gender and by refusing to admit males can be women, such feminists are ironically enforcing the gender binary they claim not to believe in or to want to abolish).

    I think what you don’t understand is that feminists critical of gender DO NOT MIND those transgender people who DO NOT MAKE SELFISH AND SEXIST DEMANDS (not having vulva cupcakes? Not being able to use the words “male” and “female” to refer to the reproductive organs of 99.5 percent of humanity? That is, having to literally erase our own identities in order to cater to this movement at every possible juncture? Criticizing FGM as “non-inclusive” and pushing to say “pregnant people” rather than “pregnant women” and “menstruators” rather than “women?” No-platforming feminists critical of gender, even when they are speaking on other topics? Making rape and death threats against anyone critical of the movement even if not the concept of transgender? The Green party saying “non-men” to be inclusive of MtF–but of course, never even ONCE considering saying “non-women” to accomodate FtM, who are generally not nearly so loud and demanding, having not fully absorbed their newfound male privilege yet, unlike the MtF’s who have been socialized with it? Having a medical practitioner invited to talk with a group of lesbians about testicular cancer to accommodate MtF “lesbians”–would there ever be breast or ovarian cancer speakers at a gay men’s group? Are gay men shamed for not wanting to sleep with FtMs who have vaginas, or straight men shamed for not wanting to sleep with MtF’s who have penises? Why does it almost exclusively seem to be lesbian women targeted for this shaming, which is extremely coercive, entitled, and a product of rape culture? And etc. etc.).

    This is similar to a discussion I had with my sister. When you over-identify with your oppression, you are giving credence to an identity which is forced on you (the foundation of all identity politics). It’s the same with strongly identifying as a “person of color” and with believing in race as anything other than a construct. On the other hand, it is for the PoC to RECLAIM that identity which was forced on them, and to find solidarity with others suffering under the same oppression, and to be able, at least, to NAME it for what it is, and where it comes from (appearance), even if it’s based on a construct with no basis in reality (race; there is more racial difference on a genetic level within than among racial groups). Sex has a whole lot more basis in reality than race, and yet we are not allowed to claim it?

    Yes, it’s a danger over-identifying with your oppression (sex as well as gender), but in this case, by trying to let anyone be anything they want before we abolish patriarchy we are putting the cart before the horse (very similar to the free love movement, which spawned “sex-positivity”: the proliferation of the massive porn industry, the normalization of the sale of women’s bodies, and the grooming of women into objects of male sexual abuse): of course men are going to use it an an opportunity to abuse, gaslight, and further oppress women. (I do not mean truly transgender individuals. I mean the people who have hijacked the transgender movement to oppress biological females and reinforce the gender hierarchy). Unfortunately, unless trans people are willing to own up to this virulent strain of misogyny in their movement and root it out, they cannot have a truly gender and sex-unconstrained world until we abolish patriarchy (believe me, my reproductive capacity and how it is used against me is very real. I am not making up “sex” as a biological reality, and I cannot identify my way out of it). Similarly, we will never have true female (or male, for that matter) sexual liberation until we abolish patriarchy. It will always be co-opted and perverted to uphold male dominance.

  • Calabash

    Oh my God, some of the links…do you also shame lesbian women who don’t want to sleep with trans women? Do you call them “privileged?”

    Heterosexual women do not have “privilege.” Being physically attracted to someone who is socialized above you in a hierarchy is not a “privilege,” it’s a torture (if you’re at all aware of what absolute shit it is to be treated as a “woman,” and don’t want to exist as some kind of fuck toy for men, to be owned by one or many). I have no idea what my sexuality as a heterosexual woman would look like in an egalitarian world. In this one, it looks like “I do not trust the vast majority of men as potential sexual partners, much less fathers to my children; I do not want to be owned and I do not want to be abused. I like sex, affection, love and closeness, and would like a partner, but all men have absorbed many unconscious sexist values and most men have a male-centric vision of sex to go along with their male gaze and tend be bad at it, selfish, and objectifying, especially in this world rife with violent, woman-hating pornography. I like sex, but I am terrified of men because I have been raped by men I trusted such as friends and boyfriends. I am sexually attracted to people who hate me and want to dominate me.” That is the “privilege” of my heterosexuality.

    Get a clue.

    • I don’t think you might not know what intersectional privilege is. You might want to check out some Black feminist literature. Read up on the Combahee River Collective.

      Also, I have to say, I think it’s really gross that trolls pretend that non-cis discussions about what it means to be trans or intersex in a cis world means that these groups want to have sex with them. Fucking gross.

      If, after all that Lesbians have gone through over the last 50 years, you think that hetero privilege isn’t a thing, I think that’s being willfully obtuse.

  • Calabash

    The cognitive dissonance in this article is astounding. It seems that each side is quite literally making the same argument to discredit the other.

    You do realize that feminists critical of gender believe that it is GENDER, not sex, which is socialized, and essentialist? Just as the existence of congenital blindness does not mean sight does not exist, the extremely rare cases of children born with intersex conditions do not mean that the way that human beings reproduce is not a reality (and I don’t think anyone radical has ever called intersex a “deformity” or used that sort of ableist language).

    The point that gender critical feminists are making is the opposite of what you are saying; in fact, it is an essential tenet of the transgender movement that gender is some unidentifiable feeling (based on stereotypes born of socialization? Not conforming to yours or feeling more like the other’s?), whereas gender critical feminists say people can feel any way they want, and advocate abolishing restrictive gender roles altogether (this would alleviate dysphoria for a lot of people, although I am sure there would still be some who would feel dysphoria and want to emulate the physical characteristics of the opposite sex, and there’s nothing wrong with that).

    The reason that some radical feminists are critical of gender identity and the erasure of female biology is because the oppression of women (that is, people with XX chromosomes and the potential to bear children) is based upon reproductive capacity and ownership of said capacity. If the transgender movement were more sensitive to that (and some individuals are), really there wouldn’t be a problem. There are many transgender people who readily admit that yes, they are not actually, biologically, the sex they desire to be, and that they suffer from dysphoria, and have taken steps to remedy that, and come to peace with it; they understand that if they get surgery they are not creating actual organs but semblances of them; and they also appreciate the need to be sensitive about appropriating exaggerated stereotypes or somehow identifying that such stereotypes are what “make” them the gender they desire to be (that is to say, they are rational about it).

    Unfortunately, the transgender movement has attracted a lot of people who are not necessarily suffering from dysphoria so much as internalized misogyny (FtM), a reaction against sexual abuse, one which does not want to be “weak” or victimized again or which seeks to take on the identity of the abuser (again, usually FtM), sexual paraphilias (usually MtF, and which I am not condemning if they are not violent, pushy and again, not stereotyping some fantasy idea of “womanhood”), and sometimes other, more dangerous types of personality disorders (narcissism, for example, which often goes along with a rather extreme misogyny and sense of entitlement coupled with hypersensitivity; there are quite a lot of people–mainly men–out there who would pretend gender dysphoria in order to be as abusive as possible to biological women and extort sex out of them, and get away with it; these types usually do not have bottom surgery). There are often femme gay men and butch gay women who think they feel dysphoria, or something must be wrong with them, because they don’t match the stereotypes of masculine/feminine, and transition does not help them. In fact, there is significant evidence that transition does not lower the suicide rate of transgender people at all, because the underlying mental disorder (NOT dysphoria) that most of them are suffering from is not treated, and in fact, once they have transitioned, an event they placed great importance on and believed would solve all their problems, and find that they still have those problems, they may grow even more disconsolate (this is not just a matter of “not passing” as it happens to those who “pass,” too).

    The point of gender critical feminists is that women are oppressed on the basis of their reproduction (not because they “identify” as women; trans women will be oppressed either on the basis of seeming “sissy”–trying to be an inferior caste instead of the proudly claiming the mantle of manhood–or because they “pass” and thus are subject to the sexual harassment, rape, and other forms of sexist terrorism that biological women are subject to. Trans men who “pass” will generally receive a lot of “passing privilege” in social–non-sexual–relationships with other males; if they don’t, they will face violence for trying to “trick” their way into the dominant caste). Violence against transgender people comes from biological males, not females; and the most vitriolic rants (that is, verbal violence) I have seen in this debate have come from transgender individuals, usually MtF and usually in regard to some minor slight (this is why I think the movement has been hijacked by narcissists; this is a trademark response of narcissistic rage to a perceived sleight, no matter how slight).

    Narcissists are people who want attention all the time (“narcissistic supply”) and right now the transgender movement is in the spotlight. Identifying as trans grants both instant oppression and derision from the right and instant rights (and deference) from the left, both of which are great in the eyes of narcissists, who thrive on all kinds of attention, negative and positive (though they’ll take positive before negative–still, they love provoking others when not receiving the unadulterated adulation they expect and crave). The trans movement is the perfect thing for an attention-seeking narcissist to glom onto, and considering the correlation between narcissism and rape/violence (in peer-reviewed studies) THESE are the people who actual transgender people (that is, reasonable people with gender dysphoria) should be worried about, and they should root them out and condemn their misogynist, woman-hating vitriol at every turn. Unfortunately it is such people who are the loudest and are giving a bad name to the transgender community and phenomenon.

    To put it simply, there is a whole host of reasons people become trans, and the fact that lately it has become a fad can’t be denied (and something so life-altering and potentially irreversible should not be a fad, if that needs to be said). Just like “being a college lesbian” and then marrying a man used to be a thing, “being a college” (or high school) “trans person” is a thing now, but where hormones, surgery, or public policy are involved, this is dangerous. It’s also dangerous when there are people who are trans not out of dysphoria but other (possibly dangerous) mental disorders, or when men who are predatory pretend to be trans in order to hunt their prey with relative impunity. These are SERIOUS concerns of biological women, and should not be brushed off; the trans community really needs to police its own (fakers and McCarthyists need to be kicked out; discourse is not bigotry).

    Women don’t “identify” with sex and we are not “assigned female at birth,” we are assigned FEMININE at birth, which is something very different (we are assigned a gender, not a sex). I do not identify as “cis” (that is, I am not comfortable with the gender I have been given, as it’s oppressive) and don’t enjoy being labeled or told I have “privilege,” considering I have been harassed, belittled, unfairly treated, told I am less, as well as assaulted and raped on multiple occasions, something not uncommon for biological women. To me this is not “privilege” and nothing about my identity as a woman is “privileged.” In my opinion, someone with true gender dysphoria (that is, they do not feel like the gender–not sex–they have been assigned, but like all social portrayals/stereotypes of the opposite gender) needs to be sensitive to the oppressed group they are transitioning into (regardless of the reason for their dysphoria). The idea that talking about female bodies is “triggering” is co-opting the language feminists use when discussing male sexual violence and is frankly offensive.

    I am a woman because that is the word for someone born with my particular reproductive system, and I am also a woman because of an oppressive gender identity that has been forced onto me which has been actively harmful to my life (rape and the threat of rape, in particular, has shaped my life; as have reproductive realities like pregnancy–leading to abortion–menstruation, worry about contraception, attempted male control of my body and its reproductive capacity, etc.). That someone wants to transition into this identity is fine; if you are going to make it cartoonish and call it “celebratory” (as in drag shows), fine, but I am also free to see it as little more than minstrel performance, and to find it offensive and belittling of my experience; if you want to just shape a unique personality like any normal female person, that is fine and I will not be offended by it; if you start trying to erase my reproductive realities I will fight tooth and nail to stop you, because then you are actively collaborating in and furthering my oppression (and my oppression is but a drop in the vast bucket that is patriarchy).

    In the end, I think we are on the same side; I resent being gendered and oppressed for it; transgender individuals are also suffering because of the hierarchical, unequal nature of this caste system; that some people exploit the transgender movement to harm women is further reflective of the harms of patriarchy.

    Originally the trans movement was all about being “gender outlaws;” now it is gender essentialist (wearing dresses and make-up and feeling vulnerable and liking to knit makes you a woman, wearing leather jackets, slicking your hair back and fixing cars makes you a man, the push for hormones and surgery, the erasure of non-binary or androgynous people and pressure to “pick sides,” the pressure in a “conversion therapy” reminiscent way on femme gay men and butch lesbians to transition–the fact that Iran punishes homosexuality but sanctions gender transition to “fix” it)…how is this not upholding an extremely regressive gender essentialist binary? The “T” is effectively trying to bully and/or erase some of the L’s, G’s, B’s and Q’s. And no, it didn’t always used to be that way.

    The alignment of the transgender movement with liberal “feminism” and “sex work” (long the enemy of transgender people who have been forced into it, like most biological women in the trade) is a particularly toxic one which has not been good for truly breaking out of binaries or liberating this world for people of either sex or any gender (or no gender at all).

    • I’m always astounded that people who call themselves “gender critical” seem to almost always uncritically conclude that their thoughts about bodies and reproduction are not themselves constructs.

      All that you’ve said is predicated on your apparent belief that the following quote is true:

      You do realize that feminists critical of gender believe that it is GENDER, not sex, which is socialized, and essentialist?

      While I agree that “GENDER” is socialized and constructed and is essentialist, I disagree that ontology is free of construction or somehow has a magical existence outside of human cognition. It is bodies and reproduction that are material realities, not your thoughts about them. The categorical thoughts you have about bodies and reproduction are, by their nature of being thoughts, gender.

      The reason that some radical feminists are critical of gender identity and the erasure of female biology is because the oppression of women (that is, people with XX chromosomes and the potential to bear children) is based upon reproductive capacity and ownership of said capacity.

      Either “female biology” can be erased because it’s a construct or it can’t be because it’s a material reality. Which is it?

    • Lisa

      “The reason that some radical feminists are critical of gender identity and the erasure of female biology is because the oppression of women (that is, people with XX chromosomes and the potential to bear children)”

      And there we get the standard erasure of both intersex people, infertile women and women who don’t want children.. The erasure of infertile/child free women is exactly the same as done by patriarchal men, since a woman to them has no value except to bear children.

      In fact these arguments mirror what is said by such men and organisations, especially the religious ones. I’ve done things like point by point comparisons and found no differences.

      This has been noticed by the Catholic Church no less, one senior theologian wrote a whole paper on the 9 points of convergence between ‘GCF radical feminist theory’ and Catholic dogma. The first, ironically, being the idea of ‘liberal choice’ for women (a bad thing they say).

      So not only in gender issues, there is a large range of commonality between them.

      These are, based on their own public statements the positions of Australian GCFs/TERFs over and above their attacks on trans women and their support for the gender binary (noting their many attacks on non-binary people as well):

      Anti Safe Schools, anti-marriage equality, anti-HPV vax (some are total anti-vaxxers), anti-IVF, anti- chemical contraception or abortion (RU-486, morning after pills, contraceptive implants, etc), some like Greer even totally anti the Pill and any abortion. Anti-sex education.

      Anti non Male or Female legal gender markers such as an ‘X” (intersex people can F.O. as far as they are concerned)…amazing given their endless mantra of ‘abolish gender’ …well except they don’t really. Anti-sex workers, anti-porn.

      So how different are they to ‘christian’ right wingers like our Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) ? Not a lot at all.

      In fact they work together very closely on many issues, quite openly. and many admit their agree with the ‘christian’/conservative right wing far more than the left.

      How on earth can any lesbian or feminist be against our anti LGBTI bullying campaign, Safe Schools? How on earth can any woman be against the HPV vax? But the GCFs/TERFs somehow manage that, working side by side with the patriarchy they claim to hate so much.

  • Dormant Dragon

    The same ‘anarchic womb’ may have birthed all of us – but you can bet your life it was a womb contained in a body that was female-sexed.

  • no

    Gender critical feminists also believe that gender is a social and experiential construct. In other words, simply stating one IS a gender doesn’t mean a lot – are you willing to LIVE as that gender, too?

    Also the early feminist movement was very big on the way one’s body is also part of one’s social life and experience because society will base its treatment of you upon what it sees. Women looked like women, were treated as women and oppressed as women.

    Women went through a lot to fight for women’s rights.

    Decades later along comes a generation willing to jettison all of that and insult those same women, who fought for many of the rights many people enjoy today and take for granted.

    Imagine growing up being shamed for having a woman’s body – and attending ‘consciousness raising’ sessions to accept the body is beautiful instead of a source of shame – only to have kids who weren’t even alive at that time, declare your body means nothing, and that the male sex body is still superior and IS a woman and that you are NOT. To declare to those same women who went through all of that just to remove the stigma of the female form, that they are not female but YOU are and you have a penis (to them, the shape of the oppressor) is the ultimate mind game.

    That’s how gender crit fems see it – and frankly most of you are too young and too arrogant to even try to see it their way.

    What’s ironic is that both groups are coming from a place where society shames them for the body they are in.

    • Hrm… Have you read Dworkin? Do you think MacKinnon is anti-woman? Is Wittig also part of the trans agenda? I guess Olivia, Cell 16, Sisters, and the West Coast Lesbian Conference was also anti-woman? I suppose the Lesbian Tide was also ati-woman:

      I guess all of these radical feminist women and orgs from the 1970s just weren’t gender critical, right? Or, maybe they actually were critical of gender and therefore knew sex essentialism was BS?

  • no

    None of this is what “gender critical feminists” believe. Instead they try to point out that the binary itself is cliched and oppressive.

    They point out that there is no essential need to wear a dress and makeup to ‘prove’ one’s ‘real’ gender. They point out you can be a ‘tomboy’ and be female or a ‘feminine’ male and still be male. And that’s all of it.

    There is also an inherent hypocrisy in growing up with all the privileges of a gender, and even still claiming all the privileges but then simply stating that you ARE a different gender, and therefore are at the same time oppressed…by the gender most people would assume you were at birth.

    Many older feminists also find it galling that with all women have endured, a man can live their life as a man and then insist that because he feels attracted to lipstick, stockings and dresses, he must BE a woman. No that simply means he might have a fetish.

    Gender critical feminists DO mostly (most of them) accept that there is such a thing as gender dysmorphia. What they are pointing out is that many who are hopping on the PC bandwagon are actually fetishists or people with other identity issues. Also they point out a lot of this ‘activism’ or ‘identity statement’ happens on the internet while the person in question accepts every bit of (usually male) privilege in their ‘real life’ or daily life otherwise.

    Above all when you speak for an entire group that you don’t consider yourself a part of you risk sounding bigoted. Just as I’m sure some will twist my words here and try to make me sound that way, even though I haven’t said what my own beliefs are.

    Gender critical feminists are skeptical of the gender binary is the best way to put it, I think. But you’ve completely misrepresented their beliefs here. I smell a huge agenda.

    • When a GCF makes an assertion, I don’t assume they’re lying about what they believe.

      Here’s a sample of what GCFs believe: http://theterfs.com/tag/terflogic/

      PS: “gender dysmorphia” isn’t a thing.

      • no

        Whenever someone who insults a group tries to define “what that group believes,” I’m going to give it a side-eye.

        Admittedly I’m not going to click a strange link, so if that’s an ironic website run by Gender Critical Feminists, I’m not going to know that.
        Since the URL contains a slur I’m going to guess it’s a site that is critical of or biased against Gender Critical Feminism.

        Here’s a question. What’s with all of the labels? What’s with the need on the internet to sort and divide and label and group, and then to assume everyone of that group is exactly the same?
        No one wants that type of treatment.
        I’ve had a lot of transgender persons tell me they have gender dysmorphia. Also what’s a “thing” changes with each generation or even with each season. So who gets to decide ‘what is a thing.’ Maybe we can all have our own opinions on what’s “a thing.” Just like your opinion seems to be that it’s fine to use slurs against a group that you do not consider yourself a part of.

        Feminism is NOT what you are defining it as in my opinion – it’s always said you can BE a masculine female or a feminine male. What’s happening now is that extreme gender constructs are being laid out and if a girl is at all masculine she’s made to believe she’s a boy. If a boy is at all feminine he’s made to believe he’s a girl. Again this is not to say that there is no such thing as a person whose sex and gender do not match – since you dislike the term G.D. I won’t use it.

        • While you refuse to read what gencrit activists say they believe, you’re me they were apparently lying it’s not what you believe? Google “hubris.”

      • no

        Gender fluidity is nothing new either btw.

    • Marja Erwin

      Sometimes, they insist that butch trans womyn would simply be heterosexual men.

      Not understanding that trans womyn might need different hormones from men, some might need surgery, and some if not most may not relate to hetero ideas of relationships and sexuality.

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  • Dormant Dragon

    Another thought that has occurred to me – as I’m sure it has occurred to others – is this: What does it actually ::mean:: for a natal male (ie: a human born with a penis and testes) to say that he “feels like a woman”? Does this mean something other than that he experiences a profound disconnect and discomfort with the socialisation and expectations commonly imposed upon natal males in our gendered society?

    • This phrase is something that cis people pioneered to conceptualize the trans experience. If you know anything about Foucauldian power dynamics you’ll understand why trans people sometimes use the dominant culture’s terminology to communicate experience.

      • Dormant Dragon

        Are you really citing Foucault as a sensible source, without even bothering to address my query? Post-structuralist discourse is really nothing but extreme solipsism by another name.

        I’ve never seen or heard trans people use anything ::other:: than the idea that they “feel like” the other sex to explain what it means to experience feelings of ‘masculinity’ or ‘femininity’ without any physical or social point of reference with which to ground these notional feelings. One generally never hears non-trans people declaring that they “feel like” men or women in any existential sense.

        • Yeah, that’s a great example of an ad hominem. If you don’t believe that there’s discursive power in ontologies, then feel free to explain how that’s so. As far as the “feel like” thing, the people who controlled access to trans care are the people who asserted that this is what trans people go through. But then, you’ve asserted that such a discursive power relationship can’t explain why trans people who wanted to access trans care used the language of the doctors to explain their experience.

          Trans people “feel like” their subjective experience of embodiment in the same way you do: an implicit way that’s testable. As a good gencrtit, I’ sure you’ve read Delusions of Gender (a fairly good book, btw), you know what implicit testing means, yes?

          • Dormant Dragon

            “Discursive power in ontologies” means what, exactly? Plain language is usually best for describing realities.

            If trans people feel like themselves in the same way I feel like myself, they would not be trans.

          • “Discursive power in ontologies” means what, exactly? Plain language is usually best for describing realities.

            Irony, thy name is Dormant Dragon.

  • Dormant Dragon

    But surely transgender ideology upholds gender essentialism – the belief that it is gender, as opposed to bodily sex characteristics, that determine who and what a person is. Gender-critical ideology defines gender as the set of socially-constructed roles and assumptions that are built on the foundation of biological sex, conditioned into natal males and females from birth onwards. To a GCF, a natal male claiming to ‘feel like’ a woman has merely internalised the social construct that is the ‘feminine’ gender.

    Though you criticise gender-critical ideology for being biologically essentialist (and it’s true that from a purely objective stance, bodily sex characteristics ::do:: define ::what:: a person is, even if, under a truly equal society, they would have no bearing upon ::who:: a person may become), transgender ideology is no less essentialist – it just opts for gender, rather than bodily sex, as its innate feature.

    • But surely transgender ideology upholds gender essentialism – the belief that it is gender, as opposed to bodily sex characteristics, that determine who and what a person is

      Nope. This is absolutely not what I as a trans person believe. Gender and sex essentialism is BS. Please read: http://transadvocate.com/a-trans-advocates-perspective-on-trans-101-questions_n_14906.htm

      • Dormant Dragon

        What you do believe, though, according to the cited post, is that a person’s ::internal concept:: of themselves defines ::what:: they are and must therefore dictate everyone else’s perception of them, regardless of their physical attributes. This internal concept, in common trans parlance, is usually labelled as a ‘gender identity’.

        Sexually dimorphic characteristics are just physical features of the vast majority of humans. Sure, human societies have constructed meanings around these physical attributes, to the detriment of anyone who feels constrained by the expectations attached to their body type.

        Feminists have ::always:: fought against the notion that a person’s biological characteristics ::ought to:: limit their choices and forms of expression. They have not been in the business of denying that differences in human bodies actually exist, though – it’s simply a fact that the roughly half of the human population with bodies categorised as ‘female’ are subject to different practical constraints and different forms and means of oppression than those humans who have bodies characterised as male – and it’s an historical and sociocultural fact that for the most part, the limitations imposed on female-bodied people are more onerous than those placed upon male-bodied people.

        Dismantling the use of gender as a tool of oppression is not likely to be a realistic project if gender has been elevated to become a person’s foundational and unquestionable understanding of themselves, independently of embodiment and socialisation.

        • I wrote the cited post.

          Can we at least agree that while bodies and reproduction are material realities, a person’s thoughts about them are not?

          • Dormant Dragon

            We can certainly agree that biological realities are real – and I would add, that they have real implications for how a person experiences the world in the body they are. Some of those implications cannot simply be waved away with rhetoric, because they are simply facts about male and female bodies; whilst others can and should be challenged, because they are merely social constructs crafted upon the basis of bodily functions.

            Gender-critical feminists ::agree:: that assumptions made about the ‘proper’ behaviours for male- and female-bodied people are immaterial and arbitrary; however, those very assumptions have been used, historically, to oppress and subdue female-bodied persons and to restrict the range of acceptable behaviours for everyone, just on the basis of sex.

            At the end of the day, every individual person has their own subjective experience of the world and of their body. Gender-critical feminists are not in the business of arguing that sex should stand in for gender as an imposed restriction on “appropriate” behaviours – but the actual physical realities of sex are what they are.

            To (hopefully) clarify – I happen to be a female-bodied person; in other words, a woman, an adult human female. That fact of my physical embodiment says precisely nothing about my particular abilities and interests – indeed, nothing about my personality at all. Because of the categorisation of gender, however, certain assumptions will be made about me on the basis of my sex – such as, I am naturally nurturing, desirous of having and raising children, that I am submissive and only partially rational – none of which (though in the latter case, perhaps I flatter myself) are true of me. It is those ::assumptions:: that gender-critical feminism seeks to abolish, not the physical reality of sexed bodies.

          • To be clear, you agree that material reality of bodies and reproduction are different than the thoughts you have in your head, yes? You know that your body is not a thought, right?

          • Dormant Dragon

            Thoughts are not the same as bodies, obviously – but neither are they entirely independent of bodily experience. Precisely ::what:: people think about their bodies is a product of a combination of biology, environment and social conditioning. For a person to actively think that their body is something it is not requires an element of dissociation.

          • For a person to actively think that their body is something it is not requires an element of dissociation.

            Yes, believing that the body is a mental category does require an element of dissociation.

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