World’s experts condemn the McHugh hoax
July 4, 2014
TERFs are the new Westboro Baptist Church
July 28, 2014

Hair does not make the woman, Sarah Ditum

By M.A.Melby
@mamelby

 

The appearance of Lavern Cox, a prominent trans woman activist and actor, on the cover of Time magazine was a great moment in trans advocacy.  Although Chelsea Manning was the first trans woman to be pictured on the cover of Time, the context of Lavern Cox photo was a bold statement.  Beside her name were the words, “The transgender tipping point: America’s next civil rights frontier.”

Sarah Ditum, a feminist journalist from the UK, reacted to the photo in a post on her blog.  Not only did she seem unimpressed, she mocked the notion that such a pivotal moment in trans advocacy represented “revolution”.

The revolution came to me as a hot woman on a magazine cover. The revolution came to me in high-high heels with legs totteringly crossed. The revolution wore a tight-tight dress, with breasts thrust forward and shoulders pulled back, facing down the camera but pouting seductively. The revolution’s hair was long, blonde and tonged; the revolution’s make-up was impeccable. In fact, this is what I think: if Laverne Cox on the cover of Time is the transgender tipping point, then it’s time to accept that trans politics and feminism have never been headed to the same place. Because Laverne Cox on the cover of Time does not look like a revolution to me: she looks like what women on the covers of magazines always look like. Beautiful, yielding, toned, sexy. The fact that she is a trans woman changes nothing about the kind of roles that women are supposed to perform in public life.

When Sarah Ditum examined Laverne Cox image, where I saw naturally full lips she saw a seductive pout, where I saw a step forward she saw “legs totteringly crossed”, where I saw a strong upright posture she saw “breasts thrust forward”, where I saw modest but striking clothing she saw a “tight-tight dress”, where I saw a statement of power and pride she saw an object ripe for the “male gaze”.

Ditum points out that women on magazine covers are often “Beautiful, yielding, toned, sexy”. This is true. The portrayal of women in media and the ridiculous unrelenting focus on women’s appearance is often criticized by feminists – and rightly so.

Sarah Ditum’s bizarre sexualized description of Cox photo, for example, degrades her personhood. In this respect, Ditum hypocritically commits the crime I once relegated only to straw-feminists, of shaming “the pretty girls” as if doing so elevates the rest of us.

The hope has often been expressed that trans women who are not conventionally attractive actors and models are given more of the spotlight. However, this is not what Ditum suggests. Instead, the beauty and femininity of Laverne Cox is presented as evidence that feminism and trans activism are not complimentary.

Certainly if Laverne Cox had natural short hair, wore jeans and a button-up shirt, sensible shoes, and had a lip reduction – we could still all be friends?  Her commentary smacks more of “masculinity by default” than media criticism.

Portions of Ditum’s article could be read as simply asserting that trans advocacy and feminism are not synonymous. However, she goes well beyond that.  After dismissing and demeaning the depiction of a proud feminine trans woman of color on the cover of one of the most respected news magazines in the United States, she goes on to accuse “trans ideology” of being antithetical to feminism.

Cox on the cover of Time makes us question no assumptions whatsoever about women, other than the fact that they must be female. There is nothing here to frighten fetishisers of gender roles, so long as those fetishisers can absorb a few exceptions into their system on either side. Narratives of transition so often spin out from stereotypes: statements such as I knew I was a girl because I liked playing with dolls and wearing pink are commonplace. So too are statements such as we knew he was a boy because he didn’t like playing with dolls or wearing pink, because there are parents who would rather diagnose transness in their gender-rebel kids than face the stigma of raising a child who fails to fit. The fact that these stereotypes are mutable, and we live in an era of anti-feminist backlash attended by an astounding degree of apartheid in children’s toys and play, is ignored in the rush to medicalise difference.

Truth be damned there is such a person as a trans man that knits!

The lens through which Ditum viewed the Time magazine cover was distorted and problematic, but her odd view of reality unfortunately did not end there. She leapt from simply disagreeing with Laurie Penny, a fellow feminist journalist who believes that feminism and trans activism are “natural allies”, to parroting insultingly inaccurate descriptions of trans identity.

She brazenly and inexplicably accuses the parents of transgender kids of supporting their children’s transition to escape the “stigma of raising a child who fails to fit.” She uses examples that aren’t actual examples, but quasi-non-quotes placed in italics. She constructs a scenario where children are observed and assigned a gender based on their performance of gender stereotypes. In the mirror-mirror universe in which she lives, parents are lined-up outside of endocrinologist offices begging for puberty inhibitors because their 10 year old girl scoffs at  “girl legos” and insists on wearing pants.

This is the dystopia that “trans critical” feminists fear, a repugnant nightmare scenario where gays are forced into transition in order to be straight or budding girl scientists are expected to transition to be literally “one of the guys”.  Soon after she published the blog post, Ditum retweeted the following from @stopblaminwomen a notoriously anti-trans account.

sbwditum

The link provided leads to an article that discusses the disturbing story of a cis lesbian in Iran who is being pressured to transition.

What appears to be happening, time and time again, is that “trans critical” feminists such as Sarah Ditum are stumbling into an all-too-common fear-induced pit fall.  I remember clearly the same rhetoric being used to caution against the full acceptance and social integration of homosexuals.  While the average straight person would tolerate that “older unmarried woman” or “those two male roommates”, any push for even acknowledging that homosexuality was a “thing” was met with abject terror and the accusation that acceptance would lead to imposition.  “They are coming for your children!” and “They recruit!” were common talking points of anti-gay bigots.

This idea that trans activists wish to force transition related surgeries on those who do not seek them or impose male/female/genderqueer labels based on societal concepts of femininity and masculinity – is a story born out of simple cultural inertia.

It’s fantasy.

I am quite certain that, at this very moment as the trans-critical crew is reading this, they are desperately attempting to scower the internet for some example from an ill-conceived tumblr or tweet among thousands that somehow proves me wrong.  Know that finding examples from some zine or police report of a gay person saying or doing something that fits in with the scare-narrative of your average hate-monger is something I remember too.

Confirmation bias, quote mining, generalizations based on anecdotes, collective punishment….is nothing new. The manifesto of “trans ideology” Ditum occasionally references is stuffed somewhere between the “gay agenda” and the “atheist conspiracy”.

So let me explain, as a mother living in the West, what reality is here.

I have a 7 year old who, for about a year, refused haircuts primarily because haircuts scared him. Apparently, according to Ditum, it would be easier for me to force my child to transition instead of deal with the “stigma” of being the mother of a long-haired boy-child.

I know damn well what parents who couldn’t deal with raising “rebel kids” would do.

long hair

They would just cut it.

I knew I could do the deed while he slept. However, I heard a story, a long time ago, of a young teenage trans girl whose parents cut her hair while she was sleeping and she subsequently committed suicide. So, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, even though the situation was very different.

The girl who died was not a girl because she liked long hair. She was a girl who wanted long hair like other girls and her parents wouldn’t accept that. They wanted her to be a boy. They wanted her to be cis. They probably thought they could force her to change and all would be well.

They were wrong.

If a parent were seeking information about transgender kids, one of the first websites they would find makes a strong distinction between “gender non-conforming” children and “transgender children”.  The main criterion the website presents to know if your child is trans is not what toys they play with, but if the child persistently and adamantly insist that they are not the gender they were originally assigned.  It reads, “Gender specialists differentiate transgender from gender nonconforming by noting that a transgender child will assert firmly, over time, that their gender identity is the opposite of that which was assigned at birth. They will insist that they are in the wrong body, or that God made a mistake.”

But no matter, to Sarah Ditum there is no such thing as “gender identity” because she has not experienced it in the same way that she experiences sexual orientation. She does not find the evidence for this “element of the psyche” “persuasive”. She rejects the term “cis” (of course) because, having rejected the concept of gender orientation she redefines the term “cis” as being “identified in your very nature with one of these [socially defined gender] roles”.

Gender is not a spectrum, it’s a structure – a binary with “man” superior and centralised, and “woman” inferior and othered. To be designated “cis” is to be identified in your very nature with one of these roles, through the accident of your genitals. It is to take a hypothesised element of the psyche known as “gender identity” or “brain sex” by trans theorists, and give it the status of a truth, even though there is little-to-no evidence that such a thing exists.

I’m unsure why, in her view, it is the acknowledgement of gender orientation that will usher in a new age of medically enabled heteronormativity driven by regressive parents’ “rush to medicalise difference”.  If gender orientation exists in any form, coercing someone into transition would run the risk of inducing dysphoria.  This is one reason that trans activists tend to be strongly against elective genital surgery for intersex infants.  It is not “trans ideology” that would impose surgery on a lesbian in Iran, it is intense homophobia and the lack of respect for gender identity.

Trans-critical feminist’s perception is completely up-side down. Imposition of gender assignment is not the end-game of trans activism. Imposition of gender assignment is the end-game of the “trans-critical”.

No worries, however, Sarah Ditum isn’t anti-trans! She writes, “I hope that [Cox] appearance on the front of Time gives heart and hope to people living with sex dysphoria.”  And, with a sentence or two, she provides herself the ammunition she will inevitably use to accuse those who criticize her of attacking an ally.

In the end, Ditum reduces trans identities to either a pathology or a parental convenience. She reiterates the often TERF-hurled accusation that “trans ideology” supports gender conformity. She gives lip service to the photo of Cox being an inspiring moment in trans advocacy, and then immediately dismisses Cox as an object.

No, Sarah Ditum. That’s just what you choose to see.


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29 Comments

  1. Carlo says:

    The first half of the article made some good points. I have noticed a tendency towards fear based catastrophising from gender critical feminist. In most cases gender non conformity is not conflated with trans genderism by parents. Of course there may be some parents out there for whom the prospect of a trans gender child is a preferable option to a gender non conforming child but they must be rare.

    However having rightly criticised the other side for fear mongering the author then quickly hints at the assertion of the trans movement – that children will undoubtedly kill themselves if they are not allowed to transition. Of course some trans people do kill themselves but the inflation of the suicide ideation statistics by unreliable studies and the narrative that any child whose gender is not immediately affirmed will take their own life is seriously over played.

    Given the current high exposure of trans issues in the media there has inevitably been a social contagion effect with a sudden rash of teenage girls identifying as boys. Most of them will not be trans gender and to funnel them down the route of hormonal intervention without any investigation of the aetiology seems as irresponsible as flat out refusal to accept their feelings. In the States there is an increasing number of young women who realised they transitoned in error whose stories should not be ignored.

    I am sensitive to the danger of the possiblity given that I nearly transitioned and was quite convinced for many years I was the opposite sex before in my mid twenties coming to terms with myself and my natal sex. I think transitioning would have been a mistake for me. One quite likely to have happenned had I been a teenager today as I was consistent and persistent. There is a balance to be struck between supporting those children who have gender dysphoria and gently investigating as best we can whether it is the result of neurobiological structures or psychological factors.

    “Imposition of gender assignment is not the end-game of trans activism. Imposition of gender assignment is the end-game of the “trans-critical”.

    I think this statement misunderstands the gender critical take. For they sex not as an assignation but as a incontrevertable fact. And that gender is assigned due to sex but that it shouldnt be- that ideally a child can choose their gender – by which they mean the cultural associations – which best suit them. So a boy who likes princess dresses should hav e the freedom to pursue that interest regardless of what he feels his identity to be.

  2. M. A. Melby says:

    Some stuff about the Ophelia Benson dust up…
    25
    Saturday
    Jul 2015

    Posted by M. A. Melby in Uncategorized

    ≈ 14 Comments

    I was going to make this a comment on PZ’s blog but here it is:
    There is a shit load of stuff going on here – and a lot of it has been caused by a very crafty narrative built by trans antagonistic feminists who consistently treat trans feminists like some sort of exotic pet and hold onto this dualistic idea that sex and gender are infinitely separable. Because the existence of trans people upsets this STRONGLY held belief by some radical feminists that gender itself is a fantasy and source of oppression – to them – respecting “gender identity” is respecting women’s oppression. READ shit that CCP or Sarah Ditum have written on the subject – that is what’s going on here. They will say they support trans women with one side of their mouth and then go on rants about how being called “cis” is offensive – not because they embrace a trans identity or question the trans/cis dichotomy but because they assert that *identifying with the gender “woman” is identifying with rape, subordination, forced gestation, etc* – they proclaim their *SEX* as “woman” but not their gender and forward a simplistic class analysis that emphasizes oppression based on reproductive class and define “woman” as sharing that class struggle.
    ANYHOW – when the fact that these feminists are extremely trans antagonistic is brought up to Ophelia she gets very defensive – and I GET THAT. I don’t play the game of people policing my follows or associations or any such shit either – but she does what she is doing now. She addresses the fact that she doesn’t appreciate how people approach her with these subjects – but then COMPLETELY IGNORES the substance of what people are trying to tell her.
    There is a pervasive and highly articulated persecution narrative that’s been deployed against trans activists. So the well is poisoned COMPLETELY when attempting to discuss these issues. CCP and Sarah Ditum are FUCKING RAGING TRANSPHOBES – and every time they have discussed issues related to trans women specifically they have SAID ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIC SHIT that appeals to a certain feminist paradigm so the awfulness is obscured by advancing those talking points that resonate with that audience. AND CRITICISM of them from the trans community is answered with *sometimes blatantly fabricated* accusations of harassment by “male entitled” trans women activists who are supposedly acting like fascists for pointing out that these feminists are ATTACKING THEM in some of the most VILE fucking ways possible – because it’s drenched in sugary sweet easy-to-digest feminist tropes.
    OKAY.
    So – I feel for Ophelia because I suspect she didn’t realize that the gender crit forum that she became a part of was an open group that is publicly view-able. I suspect she thought she could go there and they would help her think through a reasoned, informed response in candid ways. I appreciate that there is a “thinking out loud” aspect of all of this.
    And just fyi: when I said that people I know monitor the group – I mean we check it every once in a while. And no – that’s not in the guise of “The Block Bot” – “The Block Bot” is a twitter application that manages a shared blocking list. “The Block Bot” is not monitoring or otherwise checking Facebook groups or any other sorts of activities such as that, k? Alright then. I just mentioned that the group is checked occasionally so Ophelia didn’t feel like people were being stalkery to notice her posts there about James.
    The group was started by Elizabeth Hungerford. This is somewhere in the realm of a forum about feminism being started by Paul Elam. That information is probably useful to anyone who thinks that this is a good place to get information – cause IT IS NOT.
    Look through the posts and it is FULL of TERF talking points – links to “pretendbians” (a site run by Cathy Brennan) for example. On one post Hungerford points to an article and judges an individual’s “appropriation” of the term ‘woman’ offensive. Another member says that transSEXuals are okay because they can be “gender critical” but transgender people cannot. Etc so forth. I know activists who have joined the page, but most of them eventually get frustrated and leave – notably an activist who academically studies the neurology of sex and gender was often shouted down with pseudo-science.
    And yeah – Hungerford used a Swedish study to positively state that *transition does not reduce the instances of suicide* based on a study that compared suicide rates of trans people who had transitioned and THE GENERAL FUCKING POPULATION. My friend went on the page and desperately explained that TRANSITION CARE SAVES LIVES by pointed out how Hungerford was misrepresenting the study and posting other studies and information that made this *exceptionally clear*. The group members essentially ignored her and went on like her post did not exist – as if they had LEARNED that transition care was useless in preventing the deaths of trans people.
    That crap isn’t just toxic – it’s DEADLY BULLSHIT – in a similar fashion that anti-vaxx shit is DEADLY BULLSHIT.
    But the well is poisoned. ME POINTING THIS OUT = I’m the fucking gestapo.
    Jason pointing out that Ophelia faved one of Barbs posts = STALKER.
    And however much I empathize with feeling embattled. However much I can only imagine feeling embattled *by people I thought had my back*. I am not the gestapo or “loathsome”. Jason is not a stalker. James didn’t deserve to be trashed on her blog either.
    I get it though – however much people might be in “wtf” mode right now. I absolutely agree cooling it is likely the best way to go. I may have not used the best judgment in being blunt in her comments – but it is frustrating to hit a brick wall.
    And yeah – I think the worst thing that could happen right now is if someone mounts a “kick her out” campaign. Not only is that mean-spirited – but it would be a FUCKING FIELD DAY for the crew painting trans activists as a cabal of McCathyesque bastards IN THE SAME WAY that anti-feminist freeze-peachers latched onto Thunderf00t leaving FtB.
    [Oh hey – it looks like the Slymepit linked my post!]
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    About M. A. Melby
    Writer, physics instructor, feminist, arguer, atheist; Secular Woman Board Member, Block Bot admin, Transadvocate contributor; she, cis; opinions my own

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  3. There are many things possible in the universe. If you are called a TERF it could be that the person who said it is actually a self-loathing misogynist who hates feminism and puppies. It could be that the label was unfairly or inappropriately applied. It could also be that someone used the term to point out your casual trans antagonism or unconscionable jackass bigotry.
    Who the hell knows?
    Regardless, you have been told over and over again that once you have been tagged with the term “TERF” that a trans cabal will soon descend on you, wielding their mighty screen-capping skills and latent sense of “male entitlement”. Any moment now they will come to your door with pitchforks and whois searches ready to quote mine the last 5 years of your life and bend you to their will or you will face dire consequences.
    Or maybe nobody actually called you a TERF, just mentioned that something you said was trans antagonistic and made them angry, then you yelled at them and said “Next you’ll be calling be a TERF!” and you sort of remember it wrong – but whatever! The fascist PC police are ready to throw a spot light in your face and scream “Trans women are women! Yes or No! Prepare to be NO PLATFORMED!!”
    Now all the sudden even your close friends and acquaintances are part of this oppressive network of ideological purists. “I think some of the things you are saying about Caitlyn Jenner’s gender presentation are insulting to trans women,” says Sally. “That feminist you RT’ed the other day actually has very transphobic views, just so you know,” says Jo. “Christ! Did you just recommend Gender Hurts what the hell is wrong with you? Seriously – what’s next? The myth of the 6 million. GTFO!” says Patricia.
    You defriend and ban as quickly as possible, but as quickly as you cut off one head, another grows in it’s place.
    You think there was some time in all this when relationships could be salvaged, but that time is probably long gone. You feel drummed out of the feminist spaces that you have become accustomed too. Thank goodness you still have a few true friends that stood by you, letting you know that all your other intolerant friends were just out to get you because they HATE the notion of a nuanced, intellectually honest opinion! What else could it be?
    You’re upset. You’re angry – but don’t worry!
    You’re about to be love-bombed by a bunch of bigots who think that trans kids aren’t real, that trans related surgery is mutilation, that trans women should be turned away from shelters, that allowing trans women in bathrooms will result in rape, that trans women attracted to women are autogynophiles, that radical self-acceptance will magically make dysphoria disappear, that trans women being respected as women is a form of appropriation or mockery of “real women”, that trans women that were “socialized as boys” retain male privilege and entitlement and are therefor inherently violent, that transition is reinforcing oppressive gender norms and doesn’t actually save lives, and blah de blah blah blah.
    But no worry, all that disparagement, disinformation and fear-mongering against trans women – that has been advanced TIME and TIME again in high-profile articles in famous magazines will be wrapped in a nice little bow of courage in the face of harassment and silencing with a HUGE dose of pseudo-intellectual bullshit such as the ever-so-popular “Sex not gender!” song and dance.
    I’ve heard it all before. It’s a broken record. When trans women assert the validity of their lived experience as women, they are routinely accused of being entitled, violent men. Their actions and words sifted through to find anything unkind in a desperate attempt to paint trans activists as the villains.
    Amazingly, when I engage with other feminists with whom I disagree, even though (according to them) the word “female” on my original birth certificate decrees that my womanhood is an immutable obvious biological reality that must be respected to preserve feminists thought, I am often accused of the same damn thing. I am a violent man who refuses to acknowledge the boundaries of women. My male socialization is “obvious”! In fact, my “male privilege” is “even more astounding” than my cis male friends.
    This happens to me regularly.

    When anyone attempts to confront what they view as transmisogynistic or cissexist, trans women are blamed for this lack of docility even when the majority (or even ALL) of the people involved in the conflict are trans men or cis.
    Remember A Thousand Vaginas!
    Remember The Vagina Monologues!
    VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA!
    Collective punishment is part of how bigotry works. These generalizations are then excused by claiming that good ones exist but the bad ones deserve it.

    And irony upon irony – the brave heroins standing up to the “male” oppressors have a list of demands required to be on the nice trans lady list wherein you gain the privilege of being referred to by your real name, your real gender, and not some cute little neologism implying your inherent lack of relative legitimacy.
    [Oh – if you are wondering what in the world #8 is about.]
    “Nail polish does not a woman make.” And that’s the thing – it may sound high-road and common-sense, but only to those that have the privilege of reducing the trans experience to an intellectual exercise and assume that trans women need a patronizing lecture on “What it is to be a woman”.
    They demonize trans women by insisting that trans women stop being some twisted stereotype they themselves dreamed up. It’s like if I walked into a physics class and the professor came up to me and said, “I just think women in science are great and I support you SO MUCH – just don’t distract the boys while they are working or cry if you aren’t able to figure stuff out!!”
    The resounding message that mainstream cis feminism is sending is: We will accept you into our exclusive club as long as we have the power to dictate who you are. That message is demeaning. It is not some sort of “nuanced” compromise.
    At it’s worst – this message insists that you place the comfort of others above your own life.
    The transgender women [in this gender critical discussion group] contradict the dominant narrative on what transgender women think- feel- believe on this issue and all of that can be very threatening to a political agenda in which everybody is required to play along lest they cause a suicide.

    This whole scenario is a pattern I have seen many times. Someone is criticized for parroting these talking points, they start shedding contact with anyone who doesn’t defend them against that criticism, and then they get loved bombed. These groups try to induct feminists who feel embattled, by wearing a facade of openness. They convince themselves and others that “trans women are women” is dogma and “penis is male” is science.
    I call bullshit.
    And no – I really, really don’t enjoy seeing this play out, especially among friends.
    However, just so you know, that if this process isn’t somehow magically derailed, the next stop is to indignantly froth about how unfair you were treated and how the big bad trans cabal messed up your Christmas and you’re sort of gonna sound like this:

    Editor’s Note: The author of this piece, so often called out by TERFs and their sycophants for her obvious male privilege and socialization is, in fact, a cis woman.
    Tip this TransAdvocate!
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    About Latest Posts M.A.MelbyContributor at TransAdvocateM. A. Melby teaches physics within a health sciences program in Minnesota. She serves as a Block Bot blocker; frequently documenting online abuse and was the lead author of the change.org petition presented by Secular Woman, asking the Southern Poverty Law Center to list Gender Identity Watch as a hate group. Latest posts by M.A.Melby (see all) So, someone called you a TERF. Now what? – July 26, 2015 Minneapolis Star Tribune runs full-page advertisement for anti-LGBT hate group – October 1, 2014 Quit attacking your allies! – August 11, 2014 #mdr-e1 .percent { color: #7B11C6; } .spark1 { background-color: #7B11C6; } #mdr-e2 .percent { color:#17C611; } .spark2 { background-color: #17C611; } #mdr-e3 .percent { color:#115AC6; } .spark3 { background-color: #115AC6; } #mdr-e4 .percent { color:#E01D1D; } .spark4 { background-color: #E01D1D; } #mdr-e5 .percent { color: #DB871A; } .spark5 { background-color: #DB871A; } #mdr-e6 .percent { color: ; } .spark6 { background-color: ; }Thanks for rating this! Now tell the world how you feel through social media.
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  4. […] At first, I wasn’t going to write a response piece to Caroline Criado-Perez (CCP) article concerning the term “cis”, because many of her ideas were similar to those in Sarah Ditum’s post I recently responded to. […]

  5. […] Hair does not make the woman, Sarah Ditum. Melby, M.A., The TransAdvocate (Jul. 2014). […]

  6. Ada says:

    she’s also a SWERF

  7. Kathy11 says:

    Ms. Magazine At 15………

    Posted: August 02, 1987 – Philadelphia Inquirer

    Gloria Steinam:

    “”Above all, she said, “the toughest problems continue to be things like self-respect. It’s hard to stand up for yourself if you keep feeling that
    somehow it’s not feminine to do so. It all goes very deep – it really does. . . . Sometimes I still think of myself as a fat brunette from Toledo (her Ohio home town), because it’s hard to lose the image of yourself that you had as a child.”

    But she’s trying. In the August issue of Vanity Fair, she poses in a miniskirt for an article on the latest fashion, and her leggy portrait has inspired some unkind quips that paint her as frivolous.

    She disagrees: “Regimes that oppress women the most are those that cover up women’s bodies the most, because the bodies are thought to be obscene. Being able to uncover your legs without being attacked is the sign of a society that has some measure of equality.

    “And we also need to get away from the idea that if you’re a feminist, you’re not a sexual person. I mean, (anarchist) Emma Goldman, good old Emma Goldman, once said that if there’s no dancing at the revolution, she wasn’t going to come. And that’s right. There has to be poetry and music and dancing and style. It has to include all of life, or else we won’t win. And who’d want to win?””

    plus ça change. orthodoxy must be enforced…………conformity is freedom……

    • Pamela S says:

      “Being able to uncover your legs without being attacked is the sign of a society that has some measure of equality.”

      Sadly, as I note below, that is a freedom that is slipping away from birth-assigned men. The range of dress that men are allowed to wear without fear of being harassed is getting narrower, and narrower, and narrower.

      Transgender rights will prove beneficial to far more people than just transgender Americans. Transgender rights will liberate cis males, too.

      • Kathy11 says:

        Sorry. That’s really more their job.

        Trans rights aren’t important because of others.

        Laying all of the worlds needs on our shoulders is really unfair. We didn’t create them – and we’re a very tiny powerless group of people.

        Cismen (in general) however, do have that power. And exercise it to limit all of us.

        “It’s hard to tell you how I feel without hurting you
        So try to think about yourself the way that I see you
        Your life revolves around a force of oppression
        And I won’t deal with true blue devils of correction

        Got no flowers for your gun, no hippychick
        Won’t make love to change your mind, no hippychick
        No hippychick, no hip hip hip hip hip”

  8. Dee Omally says:

    Of course we all know that TERFS are also transgender…..based on how they dress…and as they themselves affirm the right to be gender nonconformists. This became obvious to me almost immediately. My question since then is why the lateral attack on your trans sisters? I mean the very apple-cart-upending act of being a lesbian, or as mainstream Christian society calls “sexual deviant perversion that goes against nature”….that itself is “conduct unbecoming a female” in that it fails to conform to the gender expectation that a female will ALWAYS choose a male as mate. You ‘all with me on this so far?

    To me, TERFS epitomize the adage “eating one’s own”……a trans on trans conflict that just goes on and on. Their passion, used against trans equality, uses every weapon at their disposal, including academic *!@#$#$## scramble that says much but means nothing. How many times do they have to repeat the statistically untrue “trans M2T want access to female spaces to rape “real” females”? There truly are M2T persons…and do quite well $…..just ask RuPaul and his cult goon followers. There is a name for such transvestite performers: drag. What defies my ability to comprehend is how arguing that trans = drag, knowing that there really is a medical and legal validity to sex changes—-how is this broken record lie supposed to overcome truth? Answer: it never can and will….and yet they don’t let up. What was that word that describes behavior that is repeated with the expected same result? I can’t think of it at the moment, but I do recall that it rhymed with plane.

  9. Dee Omally says:

    Oh, me oh my. A TERF by any other name is a ? She writes:

    “It is to take a hypothesised element of the psyche known as “gender identity” or “brain sex” by trans theorists, and give it the status of a truth, even though there is little-to-no evidence that such a thing exists.”

    Oh I see Sarah. “Gender identity” is not the skin in which sex is wrapped, but a hypothesis, you say—-a mere “guess”…a theory…a dart tossed with the hope that it sticks. “Gender” identity is of course a myth, because there is no such thing as a male. There is no such thing as a female. Humanity has had it wrong all this time, until you Sarah, enlightened us. Perhaps this “identity” can never exist without the presence of the yet-to-be-discovered-but-still-sought-after penis or vagina brain? If our sex organs possess this “elusive” phantom “gender identity”, whom does my arm or leg, also appendages with assigned function—what are they telling my brain?

    No Sarah….trans theorists might theorize but make no mistake, since the very first couple set foot on terra firma, gender happened because sex happened. If you truly are convinced that “gender identity” is but a theory….I extend my sincere sympathies. Nice try Sarah, at both denying Laverne Cox her place in trans history and in denying the 65 years of GCS, or Gender Confirmation Surgery to align body with mind. This history, Laverne’s role, and each and every person alive is proof of that elusive “gender identity”, and each and every trans person both past and present are the very evidence that “gender identity” is alive and well, even if the womb chose to give females a penis.

    • Dee Omally says:

      History has been made…..as I now use a decaffeinated keyboard to type…this must be my shortest comment in recorded history. 😉

  10. Ella says:

    “Trans ideology” is ridiculous, totally bigoted and transphobic. Do we have a “Black ideology” a “gay ideology” a “disabled ideology”…? When you look at it like this “trans ideology” is not merely a vacuous setting up of a straw-man argument, but very bigoted. Effectively Ditum is a full-blown TERF, just as bad as the worst of them.

  11. Pamela S says:

    “She reiterates the often TERF-hurled accusation that “trans ideology” supports gender conformity.”

    The TERF gets it exactly wrong. “Trans ideology” is an antidote to socially imposed gender conformity. Transgender rights will yield significant side benefits to cis women and (especially) cis men in the form of freedom of self-expression. I will explain.

    Younger readers may not have noticed, due to the slowness of the process, but the straitjacket of gender conformity has been slowly but surely tightening around birth-assigned males to the point of suffocating self-expression. It’s as if males are being expected to cover themselves more and more, and do so in an increasingly dull and drab fashion. If you want to see how male swimsuits have changed since I was young, google some images of Lloyd Bridges in the old TV series Sea Hunt. Fifty years ago, those were commonplace. Today, any man who wears anything shorter than those long “board shorts” gets laughed at or harassed.

    Perhaps the right wing has found a bit of truth in fearing the arrival of the dreaded Burka. Trouble is, if the Burka comes to America as feared, it will be imposed upon men first.

    What transgender rights will do for cis men and cis women is kick the door of latitude in self-expression wide open. Even if one is a perfectly happy cis male, surely he would appreciate the freedom to wear clothing that better matches his inner personality.

    To the extent that transgender rights would result in many trans women and men dressing in clothing that is culturally associated with one gender or the other, it would merely be in keeping with my concept of freedom of self-expression. If a birth male or female feels that culturally feminine or masculine clothing will faithfully and accurately express him- or herself, so be it. While gender-typical means of dress will undoubtedly continue for a long time, such “dress codes” would become a lot less static over time.

    Male- and female-shaded self-expression would evolve over time as do most other fashions, thanks to the greatly enhanced latitude of freedom.

    That is not gender conformity; it is gender liberation.

  12. Sami says:

    Transwoman does stereotypically feminine things like wear makeup and dresses= “She’s not a real woman! She dresses like a stereotype!”

    Transwoman doesn’t wear makeup or girly clothes= “She’s not a real woman! She dresses like a man!”

    There’s just no winning with these people. You could present them with a transwoman wearing the exact same clothes and makeup they are and they’d still find something to bash about her appearance.

    • voxcorvegis says:

      And if they don’t at first realize that the woman in question is trans, then there will be no problem.
      But when the fact comes out, suddenly she will magically fall into one of the two categories.

    • Dee Omally says:

      I award you with the “best comment” award. You summed up precisely what Sarah Ditum said in “academic-junk speak”. These “once born male, always male” “only females are those born female” preachers sure have a way of revealing themselves. They forget that gender isn’t a stereotype: gender is the outward revelation of one’s inner sex, variations considered. As we make inroads, finally, they reach up and try to pull us down by our hair. PROBLEM: The Sarah Ditums of the world no longer have a secret: their critique is at thigh level…..not eye level. With stupid adversaries like this, we must be on guard, but truly have little to worry about, right Sarah?

  13. Nuala Shields says:

    Excellent article and well said.

    I find it is not trans people who promote the whole “dolls/pink/tutu” cliches as signs a child may be trans, but the sensationalist media who report on trans issues. I would be inclined to keep an open mind about the child who puts toy trucks to sleep under blankets, more so than the child wearing a pink tutu and dragging a princess doll around by the arm. I would listen for an adamant “I AM A GIRL!!!” over “I wish I could be a girl” or I want to become a girl”.

    When will we stop listening to people with a 1970’s agenda to erase trans people, particularly trans women, by declaring that innate neuro-biological knowledge of a trans person’s gender identity doesn’t exist, and start listening to trans people themselves?

    We have numerous peer-reviewed studies, empirical data, and personal lived experience. We have evidence of innate neuro-biological gender identity which is present in our physical brains…

    Just because some nay-sayer doesn’t experience the incongruence due to their being cis gender, does not mean our personal lived experience of knowing our true gender identity prior to our knowing our sex, sexual orientation, or any of the social aspects of gender roles, isn’t valid.

    Wearing clothing, hairstyles and such which are traditionally associated with cis women is not supporting the patriarchy, it is wearing the same clothes your sister is wearing because you are a woman in that age group, that social class, that work environment… The child seeks to play with the toys which their similarly gendered peers play with…

    Speaking up against injustice or making oneself heard will bring the opposite accusations…. instead of a trans woman being seen as a strong woman, or as standing up for herself or making her voice heard, she will be castigated as “retaining male energy” and other similar abject BS, just to attempt to other her.

    I fear the rift between the trans community and that tiny offshoot splinter group of haters which occupy a miniscule sliver of 1970’s 2nd wave radical feminism and are trans excluding/trans erasing/trans denying, will never heal because the trans-haters refuse to communicate in a dialogue of equals to reach a common understanding. One cannot expect peace talks when the nay-sayers deny the other side’s simple right to exist.

    • Carlotta says:

      Its commonly said that gender critical feminists are denying trans peoples right to exist but I think its more accurate to say they are denying that a trans identity makes a person the opposite sex to that they were born.

      Having read as much of the scientific literature as possible there does look like a potential neurobiological cause for trans genderism. Medical transition may be the best treatment currently available and therefore adults with a diagnosis should be eligible.

      However the question remains does a gender identity of woman make a male bodied person a woman, either before or after medical transition. Clearly trans women feel so but to the rest of the world its harder when the evidence of our senses clashes with that we are being told. Any condition which is invisible and for which there is no objective test is always liable to be doubted – ME for example – where sufferers are often suspected of being shirkers..

      Given there is so much about a womens collective identity that is to do with biology – having periods, pregnancy etc and to do with treatment in society and being raised as a girl, it is difficult to feel that a brain with less testosterone exposure in utero in the body of a man is really the same thing as being a woman.

      My sympathy goes out to trans men and women who feel very strongly that their gender identity defines their reality but I also understand why it is so hard to accept people as what they feel rather than what they are. I think a mistake of trans activists has been to insist that there is no difference when very clearly there is.

      • Helena says:

        So periods and pregnancy are part and parcel of what makes a woman a woman? Nice essentialism that throws a lot of cis women under the bus too. Revealing.

  14. johnnie says:

    ditum is perhaps off some… but not way off… i am thinking of islan nettles… a pretty young woman beaten to death in front of a police station in harlem… we know this story… she was pretty… but she was tall and skinny and no butt or tits to speak of… and she was known by her murderers… she had much of the biology of a boy… who knows maybe she would have become a woman with the looks and hopes and dreams of lavern… time is a bourgeois magazine and part and parcel of the capitalist imperialist racist terrorist patriarchal establishment… the idea of the owners is to sell copy… make $… true, every now and then their liberal side shows but then in the same issue they support fascist thugs in Kiev and zionist thugs in occupied palestine and oppose unions and 15/hour for low-wage workers… laverne on the one hand looks like a woman in a woman’s skin and she is put on the front of a magazine, on the other hand islan looked like a girl in a boy’s skin and she was killed… many of us will never pass for women and i am ok with that much of the time… but i know this is my own problem i have to get over and adjust to, right?

    • Kathy11 says:

      “Talking about the show’s poor reception brings up insecurities that Cox says she still faces however far she has come. “I still walk down the street and will hear people say ‘That’s a man.’ So, yeah, I’ve been bullied and harassed by cisgender people, but I also have gotten criticism from some trans people because I’m not passable. I look trans.”

      The issue of trans people passing has received particular attention in media recently, in no small part due to Grantland’s now infamous “Dr. V” feature, which outed the story’s subject — a trans woman who had been passing for years — and allegedly played a role in her suicide. To people who suggest a trans person not wanting to be outed is deceptive, Cox counters, “Being able to walk down the street and not having strangers recognize you as trans is about survival. We become targets for violence. So, I absolutely understand trans women who want to live under the radar. ” She cites the example of Islan Nettles who died in 2013 after being beaten by a group of men in Harlem who confronted her on the street after realizing she was trans.”

      I guess it’s not just your problem……………..

  15. Emily says:

    What a horrendous way of looking at Cox! Sure she is beautiful and that likely had some baering on whether or not the Time Magazine, but her beauty is secondary to who she is. A powerful Trans Activist and Actress. I just hate it when the Trans Critical say all Trans Woman doe is reinforce Gender Stereotypes, because it totally erases me. I don’t wear makeup, prefer big clumpy boots and all my clothes are either Gothic or Steampunk. I don’t think I am upholding any Gender Stereotypes, at least not the ones Trans Critical are always accusing me off holding up.

  16. Jared TWG says:

    “Truth be damned there is such a person as a trans man that knits!”

    Hello! That’s me! I’m *gasp* a feminist, too!

    • M. A. Melby says:

      Nice to meet your acquaintance. I was thinking of a particular person when I wrote that, so now I know at least two trans men that knit. I know – how is that possible?

      Very cool stuff at your etsy (linked on your nym) by the way!

  17. Knave Murdok says:

    Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve heard this kind of rhetoric from women who claim to be feminists. If they slut shame the cis women, then the trans women aren’t any safer. It’s embarrassing and make our cause look bad. It’s always the worst of us who seem to get the most attention, and Sarah Ditum’s article seems to be getting more than it’s fair share of attention.
    Average Joes and Janes who have little invested in feminism out of apathy or ignorance are gonna see her article, think this is what we are about, and dismiss the movement outright.
    This is damaging and hell and needs to be stopped.

  18. Nikola-Kovacs says:

    Interesting article, thanks for taking the time to write it.

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