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TERFs offer only hyperbole

By Cristan Williams


TERFs are well-known for referring to their rhetoric as being “gender critical.” You might think that this means that they are critical of gender in all its forms. However, TERF criticism of gender seems to only ever extend to others (usually trans people).

There is a great line in SLC Punk that gets at the heart of a critique I recently made:

Brandy: Aren’t you, like, rebelling against society?

Stevo: Put that simply, kinda, yeah.

Brandy: Wouldn’t it be more of an act of rebellion if you didn’t spend so much time buying blue hair dye and going out to get punky clothes? It seems so petty. Stop me if I’m being offensive.

Stevo: Oh, no, go right ahead. It’s… No, it’s fine.

Brandy: You wanna be an individual, right? You look like you’re wearing a uniform. You look like a punk. That’s not rebellion. That’s fashion.

Stevo: Then what’s rebellion?

Brandy: Rebellion happens in the mind.

When was the last time anyone heard any of these radical “gender critical” TERFs speak about their own gender uniform? Noticing this glaring double standard, I dared to be critical this TERF gender hypocrisy. I dared notice that that the below TERF opinion leaders share a similar cultural gender expression.


Judging from the TERF response, apparently it’s only gender critical if the gender you’re being critical of is a trans person’s gender. Instead of offering a critical analysis of in-group gender uniformity, TERFs instead chose to pretend that they were being targeted by the sexist fashion police.


This TERF response is a beautiful example of the vapid intellectual hucksterism that is the TERF movement. What, exactly, does it mean to be gender critical of one’s own gender? Please point to a TERF who has obliterated their own gender identity and expression. 


How many TERF conventions, sites, speeches, presentations, pamphlets or books are dedicated to a TERF recounting the exact way they went about abolishing their own gender? After you’ve answered that, then ask yourself how many TERF conventions, sites, speeches, presentations, pamphlets or books are dedicated to a TERF shaming the bodies of trans people, misgendering us and denouncing trans people.

Being a TERF is about the drama of chasing the ghost of empowerment, not actual empowerment itself. Consider Organizing for Women’s Liberation as a case in point. This TERF FaceBook group has over 100,000 likes and the administrator(s) of the group post several times on an almost daily basis. The group, however, is fake. The group’s 100k+ likes are fake and the admins of the group spend their time posting to an audience comprised almost entirely of sockpuppet accounts. 

TAvsTERFAre we expected to believe that New Delhi, India is the new hotbed of TERFism and out of more than 100,000 people, only 77 interact on with their “community?” Compare this TERF hoax with the TransAdvocate FaceBook page. With only a little more than 21,000 supporters, more than 19,000 interact with the community.

Practically each day TERFs fill their fake group’s wall with numerous posts speaking up for abused women. Standing up to violence is very admirable. However, creating a fake group to generate the perception that one is standing up for abused women is merely performance. It’s about storytelling and nothing more.

When faced with substantive criticisms, the TERF movement is incapable of substantive action. Time and again they make it clear that they’re merely interested in storytelling:


The above hyperbole is from Julian Vigo, author of a recent a transmisogynistic article featured on the popular Counter Punch site. She also pretends to be a “hacker” who trolls suicidal trans people. Apparently in Vigo’s reality, trans people are misogynistic if they dare notice that TERF leadership engages in in-group gender uniformity. While I’d love to hear all about how Vigo is living a gender-free life, I doubt I’ll ever hear something like that from her. Dealing with that issue in her own life isn’t what interests Vigo. Instead, she would rather tell the story of how women are oppressed because TERF gatherings encounter the same issues that any other hate group encounters when they hold a conference.


According to Brownworth, for the crime of being gender critical of TERF leadership, the TransAdvocate is a hate site and should be banned. You might recall that Brownworth is the “award winning” journalist who admitted to talking an underage trans youth into exposing himself to her. Her subsequent behavior around that incident caused her to be effectively banned from writing about trans issues by her peers in queer news media. 

Being a TERF isn’t about creating meaningful change; it’s about playing a part, SLC Punk-style. In this instance, a critique of TERF gender hypocrisy is met with obtuse condemnations of anti-woman fashion policing. There exists no desire to talk about the specific ways TERFs have abolished their own gender; rather, there only exists desire to pretend that twitter hyperbole is how one stands against the patriarchy.

There’s a reason TERFs don’t discuss the outcomes of their decades of activism hyperbole. While we know we can lay the deaths of an untold number of trans people at the feet of TERF hate, what else might we point to as being a measurable outcome of the TERF movement? In all the 1000s of pages TERFs write, how many are dedicated to describing the exact way a TERF destroyed their own gender identity and expression in the real world? You won’t hear TERF communities talk about that because it’s not a discussion they’re interested in. Instead, they’re interested in describing how the gender of trans people is part of the patriarchy and how it’s really, really important that trans people stop oppressing TERFs with our existence.

I invite any TERF to reply to this post with a description of their gender-free life. Once you’ve shared with everyone how you obliterated gender within your own life, please share the steps you took. On the other hand, if you’re a TERF who still enjoys their own gender uniforms, maybe you should think twice about privileging yourself to be critical of anyone else’s gender.

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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 and, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.

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  • Friesjones

    It seems to me that it’s simple: Cristan was pointing out that although those three women claim to be opposed to the social CONSTRUCTION of gender, they have themselves crafted a public EXPRESSION of gender that is uniform among a group of like-minded individuals and is therefore up for discussion as an example of hypocrisy. How can they claim to be opposed to the social construction of gender when they collude on a social expression of gender? What is this “Do as we say not as we do” bullhockey coming from the likes of Brennan, Keith, and Jeffries?

  • Gadgett

    Maybe its just me, but personally I couldn’t give two rat infested, peanut decorated craps what they wear. My own personal gender identity had absolutely no reflection on what I wear. Those are most likely drags. (There is a difference)

    They want to remove gender? Fine. Good luck with that and let us know how that works out. But one thing I am confused about. How can a lesbian strive to remove gender when she’s strictly into women?

    Something for your minds to ponder.

  • Chelsea Solis

    In all seriousness, we need to stop this persecution of the TERFs, the law will find them if they have indeed committed crimes. But regardless of what has been done we need to band together more than ever because right now the patriarchy is winning. And us infighting is not going to solve a thing.

    I get what you’re trying to do Cristan but you’re only doing more harm than good with an article like this.

    • sinmantyx

      Please direct this “no in-fighting” message to the TERFs who have decided to attack trans women. Pointing out that they are wrong to do that, is standing against infighting – not perpetuating it.

      This post though, is not really specifically about that, but is a discussion about femininity and masculinity in general. In many ways, their brand of feminism simply takes women out of a pink little frilly box full of hotdish and babies, labeled “girl”; into a utilitarian cardboard box with “boy” crossed out in magic marker and “neutral” written on it.

      The only thing that makes the picture a bit unfair, is that the sample space is small – because it’s not WHAT they are wearing, it’s that they all very uniform in their gender expression.

    • christian_transgender

      At first blush, it appears to be doing more harm than good but even if this is a byproduct, the clear intent is to place a mirror so that others can see themselves based on their actions. Only by looking in the the mirror (reciprocation understood), and seeing ourselves honestly can we take inventory and hopefully begin to work for our common good.

      My perspective about the opposition is that trans opposition is centered around the flawed premise, based on statistical truth, that those of us born male have a propensity toward violence against females, another way of re-stating “once male, always male”. If true, this is flawed on so many levels and in consequence is very destructive toward females with a trans history. Concurrently, we share safety concerns insofar as male violence targets all females, straight, lesbian and trans. As you say, infighting implies “incommon” interests which is preservation of life and limb and therefore a good foundation to start reconciliation with. What astounds me is the level of intelligence possessed by many on both sides of the issue: it truly speaks of a talented, albeit opposed bunch of gender “violators” that all of us are.

      Years after I left the State of CA, I returned to public safety, working for LA County DHS Campus Police Dept (OPS) for 2.5 years then resigned to be a stay-home “mom”. Many, apparently suffering from deep insecurity, wished to be absorbed by the Sheriff’s Dept to become deputies. I explained that while becoming a deputy might be admirable, the costs would outweigh the benefits. Infighting became the norm rather than the exception, so much so that I was relieved of such nonsense when I resigned. I explained to them that a civil war was mutually destructive and would serve only the larger County Dept who would arrive just in time to recover the casualties. In 2010, this is exactly what happened, but even worse. The hospital police, park police, and facility campus police “cushy” jobs were not gone but went to more senior deputies. Many went to jail, to guard inmates.

      Although I had full academy training, I was shocked (explained a lot), to learn that many I was working alongside did not, and couldn’t lateral as sworn deputies. Others had compromised backgrounds and shouldn’t have been sworn to begin with. Many didn’t make the “cut” and became unemployed. At least one, perhaps more committed suicide. The adage “careful what you wish for” came to mind. What does my history have to do with anything? Just as you say Chelsea, at some point we must stop our own mutually assured destruction and move forward, but no longer as adversaries, because the adversary (violence) fails to distinguish between who they will have for lunch, unlike we who currently make clear distinctions.

    • Perhaps the TERFs should change their ideology that to destroy the patriarchy, we must destroy trans women. I think tackling hyper-masculinity would be a good agenda item. Also, calling out sexism in the workplace (which I do when I hear it).

  • Rusty

    It seems like you’re arguing that gender non-conformity is itself a gender, am I right? If so, you’re highlighting the very big difference between your understanding of gender and the radical feminist view of it. Is it really too much to ask that someone who writes about radfems as much as you do take the time to at least try to understand what our position on gender is? You refer to the 1000s of pages we write as if you’ve read any of them.

    If you had, you’d know that the reason we don’t navel gaze about how we ‘destroyed our own gender identity’ is because that’s entirely your take on how gender works, not ours. We don’t identify as women, we just *are* women, and we know the world treats us as not-quite-human regardless of what we wear. We know that gender is a set of demeaning stereotypes assigned to us based on our biology and whose entire purpose is to make sure women keep feeding men at our own expense. We know that gender is a caste system, not some politically-neutral quality we all naturally possess that can be super fun to fuck with. Gender is woman-hating. Gender is this post, ridiculing women for not wearing what women are supposed to wear.

    • Chelsea Solis

      If this is the case then Transgendered women and men are the ultimate fuck you to that organization. Why cant you see that? It’s not about us saying “this is what a woman is,” or “this is what a man is” it is about being true to yourself no matter what you or anyone says to us. It is about knowing who you really are and achieving that goal no matter how many times your life is threatened or guns are pointed at you.

      The men you speak of HATE us, because we challenge what they think and know. We challenge everything they believe. I don’t just speak of transwomen, but transmen, and other transgendered identities too.

      The transgender experience is one of breaking the boundaries down and living life YOUR way. Yes there are those who misuse it and over the years we have had improper terms used towards it that I myself have used as well.

      You can use us, our experiences on both sides are the ultimate ammunition for your war against the patriarchy. We can offer you it’s weaknesses if you would just give us what we want. To be treated as fair and humanly as the rest of you. The words cisgender is not meant to be offensive, it’s because the english language doesn’t have the proper terms for what we mean. That is the closest term we could come up with, and it wasn’t meant to offend.

      But please, you have to stop fighting us, you have to stop harming our children. You have to stop harming out elderly, and harming us. Just, stop, everything. Stop the fighting, stop the bloodshed, stop the horrible slanders. This all needs to stop or we will destroy each other. And that’s what the patriarchy wants, to watch us tear each other apart.

      • christian_transgender

        You are so correct on all your points. The first line is so spot on and the way you wrote it had me laughing so hard because of the way you said it! That is so so true! Not sure what you mean by “that organization” but I am assuming you mean the male patriarchy, who is often so “offended” by us that they often state we are being deceptive, despite medical changes.

    • sinmantyx

      “we know the world treats us as not-quite-human regardless of what we wear.”

      Go one week with a feminine gender expression and then another week with a masculine gender expression and tell us how that goes for you. Just sayin’.

      At any rate, I’m pretty sure that Cristan understand the RadFem view of gender. You equate “gender” with what society attributes to sex; and therefore it is all the things you mentioned.

      The problem you have is that you only have two speeds “sex” and “gender”; not bothering to acknowledge how biology actually works and therefor denying the existence of gender orientation.

      To “abolish gender” as in GENDER itself and not all the things that society tends to attribute to gender; is equivalent to trying to abolish homophobia by abolishing sexual orientation. O.o

      I mean sexual orientation is just how you FEEL!!! Right? So obviously we can do some radical shift in our society and everyone will be magically pansexual and homophobia will disappear. 😛

      • It’s a semantic dance they play to distract from how much they put masculine gender expression on a pedestal and wish to instate it as a social default.

        Which is funny, because that’s literally what their Men’s Right’s Activist cohorts believe as well.

        • sinmantyx

          Yep. I bought into that for a while myself – until I woke up to what it actually was – you know – misogyny.

    • christian_transgender

      You are spot on on so many points in your 2nd paragraph with how “the world” dehumanizes females. Growing up male, I constantly asked myself “why the inordinate emphasis” on my maleness, particularly by my ultra-macho (but not abusive) Hispanic Mexico-born father who constantly admonished me to “behave like a young man.” Evidently I was a sissy after all, just like my school bus driver had called me on occasion. In short, I kept to myself growing up and never realized the extent that males are overbearing with women, for I certainly never was. As hormones began to work their magic, to my delight, I began to be acknowledged as female (whether I really am or only “appear to be” matters little to me) and was horrified to learn what it was like to be not mistreated but minimized. Sexual objectification quickly followed, although as a backhanded compliment of course.

      Gender, like race is often abused as an instrument of power by males. Nonetheless, as much as I would love to see a truly gender-less society, as long as secondary sexual characteristics develop differently based on sex, gender will continue to be an external representation of one’s inner sex. This would be just fine, were it not to be used, as you say, against females to bolster male superiority, clearly as a instrument of power.

      This post, perspective notwithstanding, isn’t portraying women as caricatures to be ridiculed because many of us are trans and gender nonconformists also. The context simply clarifies that it is disingenuous to mock trans persons for challenging gender expectations while the women in the picture are clearly doing the same, based on what “the world” expects, which isn’t constructive. I think that having different takes on gender is diversity personified, not a bad thing at all, and one that shouldn’t create an impenetrable barrier between us and our shared interests.

    • Friesjones

      “It seems like you’re arguing that gender non-conformity is itself a gender, am I right?”

      Nope. But it seems like YOU’RE arguing that this one particular strain of gender conformity is actually gender non-conformity. If it was actual gender non-conformity, the trio with near-identical opinions about gender would not be wearing near-identical expressions of their own gender. They’ve just traded one strain of gender conformity for another. That’s the exact same thing they accuse trans women of doing. They are hypocrites. That is the thesis of this article we’re commenting under.

      • Rusty

        “If it was actual gender non-conformity, the trio with near-identical opinions about gender would not be wearing near-identical expressions of their own gender.”

        I’m so confused. What gender are they conforming to exactly?

        • Friesjones

          Your bogus disingenuousness strains my equanimity. :p

          They share an EXPRESSION of gender that is “slightly butch cis female.” There is little diversity of expression among the trio. It’s actually pretty rare to see three non-related women who barely know each other in person who just happen to sport nearly identical haircuts anywhere except maybe a Tea Party rally where many of the women try to style their hair like Sarah Palin. Especially three non-related women who barely know each other in person who span a three-decade age gap.

          • Rusty

            So you’re point is that, because these women have a “gender expression” that you have decided is “slightly butch cis female,” they are hypocrites on account of the fact that they believe gender is toxic to women.

            Do you understand why that makes no sense? You call them hypocrites for not adhering to YOUR rules that are based on YOUR ideas about how gender works. Again, radical feminists don’t think about or experience gender the same way you do. You’re projecting your own beliefs around gender expression and identity onto us and then calling us all hypocrites for not living by them. I guess if you knew more about radical feminism you would see that there’s no hypocrisy happening here.

          • Friesjones

            It makes perfect sense to call out the hypocrisy of a brand of radical feminism that attacks trans women for being trans (under the guise of fighting to abolish the social construction of Gender) when that brand of radical feminism is fronted by people who have themselves developed an “acceptable” public expression of gender that is masculine of center.

            I guess if you knew more about feminism in general, you’d stop being such a disingenuous ass with your Tea-Party-like oversimplifications and pretense at misunderstanding. If you knew more about feminism in general, you’d know that biology is NOT destiny, and that lived experience trumps ideology every time.

  • AnnOnFem

    Nice try sweetie, next time try engaging your brain though. Thing is you’re being disingenuous – pretending the misogynist slur was thought out criticism of anything is dishonest. It wasn’t. It was an immature slur exactly like misogynist men use, and feminists saw through it. Your posthoc attempt at justification is laughable.
    If you had as you pathetically try to claim made an attempt at rational analysis, you’d still be wrong but it’s ok to be wrong. What you said was an ugly, nasty, misogynist attack.
    If feminists point out that it was essentially the same as sexist men saying: why you ugly lesbianz no wear pretty clothes to please menz? that’s because it was.
    Clue: what they’re wearing is if anything masculine, although really I’d call it gender neutral, so it’s not exactly gender conforming now, is it? It’s really just what most middle-aged women wear in casual situations. I don’t consider it the same, Hardly uncritical acceptance of gender. In fact by mocking them for not wearing heels and pinksparkles which we know in your warped little minds Real Women do, YOU uphold gender.
    Sorry thinking is so hard for you.
    YOU are the haters.

    • Chelsea Solis

      Pretty sure you are the one missing her point. But you do have some good points so I’ll bite. You are assuming what she intends for women to wear but have you actually asked her? Who cares about what you or any other woman wears? If a woman wants to wear pinksparkles and heels more power to her. Personally I dislike heels, but every woman is entitled to her opinion.

      Isn’t the freedom to wear whatever you want a freedom you aspire to? Isn’t having your own style part of being human? If a man wants to wear a pink dress with heels, I say more power to him. If a woman wants to wear a pink dress with heels, I say more power to her. I wear what I want, regardless of what anyone thinks and FYI honey, blue was considered docile and feminine and pink was considered energetic and strong because it was close to red so it was considered masculine. Funny how that’s different now.

      Colors don’t have genders, Clothes don’t have genders, objects, hobbies, anything doesn’t have gender. People are what put genders on things when really they have no business doing so.

      People should be allowed to wear whatever they want (within reason) and no one should give a flying fudge. I see clothes as an art, and like any art it’s open to interpretation by the individual. Some people will like it, some people will be offended by it, and some people will not care one way or another.

      The sad thing is, most people seem to get offended if certain people use certain things that are “gender locked” and that’s a problem. Which is the reason that women, men, bigenders, gender queers, agender, two spirits, meta genders, gender ****s, and (any other label you can or don’t need to think of) need to work together to get rid of the system entirely. It’s stupid, it’s always been stupid and it always will be stupid. Because it oppresses everyone, not just women. And that’s why we minorities need to work together instead of fighting each other. And we need to bring over the majorities to our side of thinking. (AKA the men and other groups)

      So please, stop this ridiculous infighting. It’s been going on for long enough, no more blood needs to be shed. Why cant we all just get along? Why cant we all just respect one another as women?

      • christian_transgender

        Nice. An excellent portrayal of the real problem, faced by all of us who transcend gender, both sides of which are represented here. I am thrilled to see a discussion because it means that whatever mutual loathing exists, it isn’t so horrible that we can’t share common space.

        I will never forget when as a child I would ask myself “Why are there rules for everything, even dress codes based on sex/gender, but where are the rules written that state males must lose their hair and girls keep there’s?” I instinctively yearned to grow my hair long and pretty but “boys’ aren’t supposed to”. I hold this view today, even more strongly. This is why I will speak up against what I see to be unmerited attacks but I hold the right of self-expression as being so sanctimonious that I adore all with the courage to write their own gender script, trans or not.

        I guess my definition of trans has a dual meaning: transition gender and transcend gender, both of which need not be mutually exclusive. This is why I have made it an objective to seek common ground with what is nothing less than mutually expressed opposition. I have and continue to be crystal clear on what I oppose, what I defend and it would be a thrill to set aside what I see as internecine civil strife and join forces going forward which I believe would compound our strength. It might be a pipe dream but I have hope.

        I apologize if I seem to lean more toward neutrality, but if I truly were but neutral it would only dilute my potency as an activist for trans equality. I can never really be faulted for seeking common ground. Looking back with 65% of my life in my rear view mirror, an objective assessment would conclude that planned or not, it truly has been my calling to be a peacekeeper. With law enforcement steeped in tradition, perhaps as the pinnacle in patriarchy, too often it has been the source of adversity for my trans brethren. Having a trans and law enforcement history (although not as trans), I guess I can’t help but be a personification of that intersection. Apparently being trans and not ultra feminine by choice, I find myself at another intersection as well, which explains my vehement active trans defense, striving never to intentionally offend.

  • Justin Allen Norwood

    Also making fun of how females dress because it is outside conventional female norms is misogynist.

  • Justin Allen Norwood

    Really? Aren’t Trans activist the one’s saying “we are dying because you are misgendering us.” nonsense?

    • Chelsea Solis

      Need I point you out to the pioneers in our struggle for rights? Brandon Teena, Gwen Araujo, and many more were killed because of misgendering and because of misogyny.

    • danah gaz

      LOL, I noticed you disappeared from our earlier FB conversation after you were clued into the violently eliminationist history of TERF feminism.

      Funny, I actually assumed better of you – I thought maybe in light of learning about people like Janice Raymond and Bev Jo that you might have reconsidered.

      *sigh* – So often I hold out hope for people, and so often they disappoint. Here you are again, trolling and splashing in the same toxic kiddie pool of an ideology you were before you knew anything about it.

      I think that at this point, it’s safe to say you’re the very textbook definition of a bigot.

      That’s not surprising – I’ve encountered plenty of cis gay men like you before.

  • Gandin Cmail

    I’m male, I don’t identify as anything.. and honestly I think this whole thing misses the point. “Gender” doesn’t exist on an individual basis, that’s whole the point the women you’re writing about have been trying to explain. “Gender” is a collective construction, like a mass hallucination — it can’t exist without multiple people vaguely agreeing on what “man” and “woman” means, and then dividing (gendering) things like toys, pronouns, careers, people, into those two categories and not questioning why.

    If you want to read a good study about gender I recommend The Gender Trap by Emily Kane (not a “TERF” but a sociologist at NYU), which reveals a lot about about how “gender”, the division based on sex and inequality, is created

    • “I’m male, I don’t identify as anything.”

      Stop right there and think real hard about the statement you just made.

      • Gandin Cmail

        You fail to address anything else I offered. I’m male-bodied. That’s what “I’m male” means when 99% of people use the word. Should biologists use a different word or words?

        • *sigh* Just stop. Think REALLY hard about what I wrote and not what you seem to think I wrote. Let me try to to help you grasp what cultural gender is.

          I asked you to think “real hard about the STATEMENT you just made.” You WROTE, “I’M MALE.” and then asserted that you don’t identify as anything.

          You just used culture to sex yourself. Then you used culture to form a neutral identity. That IS gender. Gender is the way culture conceptualizes and works with sex. Unless you’ve ceased using culture to conceptualize sex, you have gender.

          • Gandin Cmail

            I really don’t understand what you’re saying. I was using very solid biology to “sex” myself. Do you have a problem with biology of sex dimorphism? How would you rewrite the textbooks? “I have black hair” doesn’t mean I identify as black-haired, it is a description, even if “black” can also mean “really dark brown” because culture.

            People are raised differently based on which of the two sexes they are born as. Thus it’s important to disclose which sex I am which implies how I was raised (see: The Gender Trap) which implies what my positionality is. It’s like saying “I’m white-skinned” — it’s a biological fact.

            Why are you telling me to stop? Do you want me to stop talking to you?

          • Is the way we express ourselves – language included – culture? Yes or no. If you assert that culture isn’t about expression, I’m not sure you understand what culture is.

            I keep saying “stop” because you keep asserting that gender is culture while seeming to simultaneously assert that language-based sex identifiers isn’t gender. If you use culture to express your sex, you have gender.

            Let me put it to you this way. You said “‘I have black hair’ doesn’t mean I identify as black-haired, it is a description.” That last word you used – “description” – IS culture. How you express the state of having black hair will depend on the avenues your culture affords you. You MUST use culture to *describe* the state of having black hair.

            Likewise, you MUST use culture to *describe* your subjective experience of having a body with a penis both as a private experience and as a social experience within a society. More than that, there is the private and subjective experience of having a body with sex organs that exists outside of using descriptors. All of that is part of what we mean when we talk about gender. If you express your experience as a human with a sex, you have gender.

          • Gandin Cmail

            So by “gender” you just mean “personal and social experience of having a body in a world where people believe in gender binary”? Am I getting that right?

            But that’s not what most people especially the people you talk about in your article mean when they talk about “gender”. For example Judith Lorber’s short essay “Imagining a World without Gender” uses the word way differently than what you are talking about: — “There are no women or men, boys or girls — just parents and children, siblings and cousins, and other newly named kin, and partners and lovers, friends and enemies, managers and workers, rulers and ruled, conformers and rebels. People form social groups and have statuses and positions and rights and responsibilities — and no gender. The world goes on quite familiarly but is radically changed — gender no longer determines an infant’s upbringing, a child’s education, an adult’s occupation, a parent’s care, and economy’s distribution of wealth, a country’s politicians, the world’s power brokers.”

          • By “gender” I mean both the private subjective experience of having a human body with sex organs AND the many complex ways we conceptualize and communicate that experience to ourselves and to others within a society.

            Judith Lorber might as well be a hippy talking about how the concept of *nothingness* is mind-blowing. If you are human and are aware in your body, you will attempt to conceptualize and communicate that experience. If you do that, you’re *doing* gender. The idea that there can exist culture – conceptualizations and expressions of being “parents and children, siblings and cousins, and other newly named kin, and partners and lovers, friends and enemies, managers and workers, rulers and ruled, conformers and rebels” – without doing the same thing with your body is in no way reflective of reality. The moment you use the tools of culture to describe biological sex, you’ve given rise to gender.

            Everyone who possesses consciousness will have a private and subjective experience of having a human body. Part of that private and subjective experience will include that body’s sex organs. That subjective experience is gender.

            If that human lives in a world where most folks have either a penis or a vagina, everyone who *does not* have a penis will share that physiological experience. Everyone who *does not* have a vagina will share that physiological experience. If either of those groups attempts – in any way – to conceptualize, describe or communicate that experience, you have gender. When in-groups share certain tenancies for expressing that experience, you have what I referred to as a “gender uniform.”

            Take TERF talking points about sex out of discussion and break the human experience down to what is basic. There is the sound and then there is the hearing of it. There exists the experience and then, depending on culture, how you interpret the sound and how you describe the sound will be about culture.

            Let’s say there is the sound – a chirp – that arrives to your ears. You as someone with hearing will have the experience of receiving a sound. Even before you know it, your body (brain) is reacting to it. That’s hearing. However, there’s also another level of hearing. Some might hear the chirp as key fob having been pressed and someone else might hear a bird. How they each hears and describes that sound *is* culture. Lorber offers the vapid assertion that there can be a world filled with just sound.

          • Gandin Cmail

            I think I see the miscommunication going on. My male body isn’t part of my identity. I don’t “feel male”. If I suddenly with a different configuration of biological organs, I would be surprised, but it wouldn’t rock my whole conception of myself. It would be like waking up with blonde hair. “Male” was descriptive and was meant to imply things I should have made explicit (once again see: The Gender Trap)

      • MarekT

        “There’s no such thing as animals that live in the water. I don’t ~identify as a fish~, I’m just fish-bodied. Aquatic life is a mass hallucination based on multiple lifeforms vaguely agreeing on what terms like “water” and “life” actually mean.”

        • Gandin Cmail

          You’re not picking up on the widely accepted sex/gender dichotomy here. Should I have said “I have a male body and I don’t hold it as part of my innate identity nor do I want to change any of my organs”? Would that be clearer?

          • MarekT

            What’s wrong with saying that you identify as a cis male? (Aside from the fact that you want to have a gender while claiming that gender doesn’t exist, that is.) All “male” tells me is that your innate identity (yeah, you have one too, get over it) is… male. It doesn’t tell me anything about your chromosomes, your hormone levels, your primary or secondary sexual characteristics, your reproductive ability, your medical history, the sex marker on your paperwork, etc.

          • Gandin Cmail

            I’ve always felt that labels hinder understand. “Liberal”/”conservative”, “atheist”/”theist”, etc, are words people argue about all the time without actually agreeing upon what the words refer to.

            So I guess it depends what you mean by “identity”? I identify as my parents’ child, as my friends’ friend, as a member of humankind — these are positions that influence my everyday behavior and thoughts. But besides the habits in thought and behavior that my parents, peers, and the media trained me to have because they see me “as male” (i.e. someone with a penis, the ability to grow thick facial hair, etc etc), my sexual/reproductive biology is not part of my identity.

            My parents and peers expect me to act “like a man/male”. I defy these expectations regularly. I don’t identify with the cultural expectations most people have by looking at me. Am I still cis, then? If I’m not comfortable with the male “gender” but comfortable with my body?

          • MarekT

            You don’t have to think about being male in any detail because cis guys- like you- are at the top of the gender heap. The world being set up to make you the default is what allows you believe that being male isn’t part of your identity. And let’s not have this disingenuous Clintoning about “what does ‘identify’ really mean?” You have repeatedly asserted here that you’re male- this is what ‘identifying as [gender]’ means.

            Mind you, I have no idea why you’re having this conversation about something you think is nonexistent…

          • Gandin Cmail

            I really think it is important that we make clear what you mean when you say “identity” because otherwise I can’t understand you (and vice versa). I’m not here to hate on the article or people, I wanted to really see what people like you think. When I said “I’m male” it was shorthand for “I was born with biological parts consistent with the category of humans called ‘male’ which means I can’t speak for people born with other parts, being that I was raised in a world where having the parts I have means specific cultural things, whereas the experience of female people is different” It wasn’t short for “I identify as male” at all.

            The assertion was to make clear that I’m not oppressed for my biological sex in any way but I do have some thoughts and questions on “gender”. I probably should have just left out the “I’m male” part since people are really focusing on it when my original comment isn’t about me.

          • MarekT

            Well, as a biologically male man with a vagina, your shorthand was so incredibly vague as to be completely useless. Do you think of yourself as A) male, B) female, or C) other (please specify)?

          • MarekT

            Lol, check it out, “Gandin Cmail” can’t manage to respond when backed into a corner that can’t be escaped via TERF ideology. Could that mean that he knows he doesn’t have a leg to stand on?

          • Gandin Cmail

            maybe it means I have a life and need to make time to come up with a response that would be constructive? or perhaps it’s not worth it

          • Friesjones

            “I’ve always felt that labels hinder understand[ing].”

            Exactly, labels interfere with understanding just like light interferes with vision. We should stick with the status quo on gender and sexuality until Humankind has developed direct telepathic communication!

    • Friesjones

      “I’m male, I don’t identify as anything.. and honestly I think this whole thing misses the point.”

      That’s two spaces on the Bingo card: The “I’m Not a Racist, I Don’t Even SEE Color” space and the “Let Me Tell You What Your Point Is” space.

  • Alexis Pendergraff

    The worst part is that’s basically what I wear.

    • sinmantyx

      Me too – well, for the most part – but I own it.

      OWN IT.


    • Yup. Me too. If you catch me on my Harley, then you can add army boots and a biker vest to it as well.

  • Alexadra Williams

    I’m truly beginning to hate the inherent idiocy of groups like this — TERFs I mean. How is it possible that we (trans*) can quote scientific research validating our experiences and solidly explaining our choices, but they cannot? How is it that I (and hopefully every other trans*) can prove them wrong at every turn, but they simply stick to their obviously misguided attempts to verbally, emotionally and psychologically (if not physically) abuse me.

    Ten years ago I believed in the Feminist movement, because I believed they were fighting for EQUALITY. But it’s becoming perfectly transparent that they are fighting for a power shift instead — towards themselves. They simply lust after the perceived power they imagine men have — the same ‘men’ that transwoman are clearly announcing they never were to begin with.

    Furthermore, wouldn’t ‘men who identify as women’ receiving fair and equal treatment actually support their perceived image of ‘equality’? Or am I spouting ‘crazy talk’?

    • Chelsea Solis

      I know what you mean. Sometimes things like this make me want to organize our groups resources, buy a small island and have our entire population live there without discrimination, without hate, and let the two groups duke it out themselves. We have so much to offer both sides, but they both push us away and refuse us. They attack our kind, they hurt and kill our children. In any other country that would be a declaration of war, maybe it’s time we should start thinking of ourselves as a third gender. And FUCK the others who disagree with us.

      And then after thinking I realize that there are plenty of feminists (yes even RadFem’s) who aren’t our enemies.

      Also sweetie, male power is a real thing, that’s not imaginary. But anyway I get what you mean.

      There are good people out there, people who don’t want us nailed to the wall. People who actually realize we are people and not less than human that they think of us. That we aren’t the threats they seem to think we are.

      What is eternally sad is that they accuse us of working for MRAs, when MRAs want to shut us down. They want us dead as much as they do. Instead of working with us, they abandon us so maybe… I don’t know. I just know that I’m sick of being treated less than human, I’m sick of being ridiculed and made fun of for their amusement. Sooner or later somethings got to give.

      Also, fuck that noise I’m a woman with a physical deformity, that’s all. I wasn’t “born a man, or a boy” I was born a girl just one that went through a little different raising than other girls.
      /end rant

  • christian_transgender

    I absolutely adore the freedom to “violate” gender norms, something we who are trans often share. I also treasure the freedom to love who we will (yes I catch bitter porridge from anti-LGBT so-called Christians for holding this view which I will simply not waver from). That makes me LGB +T and a gender nonconformist, although I am past my androgynous phase (profile pic).

    I abhor all violence, except in self defense, and have been in harm’s way for others countless times. Long ago the abuse of male privilege against females became rather obvious, even before my transition began. I used to wonder why females were excluded from male-dominated occupations or not respected as possessing knowledge worthy of consideration.

    What eludes my ability to comprehend, despite the above values apparently shared by our opposition, and despite having more in common than different with them is the motivation behind the animus that feeds a mindset throughout much of society that essentially creates a daily life of torment for us. I just don’t get it because our opposition’s vehement stance against a sex change, laser-focused on we who are MtF, completely is going against the grain as we finally begin to receive trans protections across our land. They are in the midst of finding themselves on the wrong side of history, despite their best efforts.

    I look forward to the day when they can roll up their sleeping bags, fold up the canopies, blow out the campfires and join us in combating the real problem: violence against all women, including trans women. Mitigating violence is tremendously more effective in alliance, not disunity. This would be mutually beneficial.

    ADDED: It should have dawned on me earlier but it didn’t: to explain why I appear to flaunt my Christian identity. It’s not that I flaunt it for faith is a personal, private decision and so is worship. What motivated me to add “Christian” is after I began to be banned from so-called Christian rant sites simply for holding a pro transgender viewpoint despite remaining civil although quite firm in defense. To fake Christians who delude themselves, and who lack intelligence to realize that gender in whatever form isn’t a “sin”, “transgender Christian” is like saying “devil saint”………an oxymoron. It is an in their face “get behind me Satan” statement, not proselytizing at all.

  • sinmantyx

    So – treating masculinity as default is radical now?

    The point went WAY over their heads. To be fair, they do sometimes have to deal with sexist jabs due to their masculinity; but this was not that.

  • Toni

    They remind me of the massive ego rock stars of the 80’s – MtF trans persons merely want to be like them – women. Well ok, maybe not *those* women, but all we really want is to be women – or for many just to be ourselves and accepted as such. They also seem to conveniently forget that there are FtM trans people too, or are trans men acceptable to them simply because they were “born female”? What makes them the self-appointed gatekeepers and deniers of womanhood? They’re just as bad as the anti-LGBT religious bigots and hypocrites.

    • In plenty of ways, their views are completely identical to the anti-LGBT religious right.

      • Nara

        Not only they have identical views, they actually partner with the religious right.

  • Friesjones

    “Hey, all three of you have the same kind of shoes and haircuts and clothes.”
    “Why U hate sensible shoes and short hair and pants? Misogyny! Men in dresses and such.”

    They never get the irony of their own femmephobia, to the point of total cognitive dissonance.