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I had the introduction to a diary that continued my analysis of Susan Sontag's essay, Notes on Camp, all written, and then, on my way to the main library in downtown Los Angeles (I have a new project: seven, and possibly eight, articles for the forthcoming SAGE Encyclopedia on Advertising and Society on topics like Banks and Advertising and the Marlboro Man), I opened my kindle, tapped on the latest issue (August 4) of the New Yorker, and found an article by Michelle Goldberg, "What Is a Woman?" about the dispute between radical feminism and transgenderism, one that I had no idea existed. As I read on, I became more and more annoyed by radical feminism. So you'll know where this is going, the issue of gender identity rankles radical feminists because, and I don't think I'm simplifying here, no matter where a transgender woman is in her transition, even if it is complete, she still carries the male sense of privilege and entitlement with her.

Now, admittedly, I should be cautious here because I am about to be snarky about a group of people and I remember what happened to my status here when I was snarky about the science of bisexuality (the reason why the great majority of my diaries since the end of March have been, if not for a community diary like Top Comments or IAN, on "safe" issues like, well, Camp). But there's some stuff here that feels like what was being put out by groups like the "ex-gay" movement, and that's the material which I think deserves to have a bright light shone upon it.

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A couple of caveats at the beginning. I noticed when I was doing some research for this that there has already been pushback from the trans-woman perspective, and that's the side I'm taking in this discussion. I'm pretty sure you know that in comments I've suggested that we think of our demands as a five word phrase: sexual orientation and gender identity, and that we stop using one without the other when we're discussing politics. I'm also going to do my best to tell you what time it is instead of telling you how to make a watch, which is REALLY tempting with some of the underlying concepts involved here.

Anyhow, here's how the problem is presented. It's an old dispute, and it began in 1973 over the scheduled performance of a trans-woman at a Lesbian conference. The net of it is that you have to be BORN a woman to BE a woman. Never mind anything Jdith Butler says about all gender being performative:

In this view, gender is less an identity than a caste position. Anyone born a man retains male privilege in society; even if he chooses to live as a woman €”and accept a correspondingly subordinate social position; €”the fact that he has a choice means that he can never understand what being a woman is really like. By extension, when trans women demand to be accepted as women they are simply exercising another form of male entitlement.
Naturally, that spurred what I think is a justified reaction:
All this enrages trans women and their allies, who point to the discrimination that trans people endure; although radical feminism is far from achieving all its goals, women have won far more formal equality than trans people have. In most states, it'€™s legal to fire someone for being transgender, and transgender people can'€™t serve in the military. A recent survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found overwhelming levels of anti-trans violence and persecution. Forty-one per cent of respondents said that they had attempted suicide.
Exactly. So what form does this radical feminist "objection" take? Let me introduce you to Sheila Jeffreys, a professor in Political Science at the University of Melbourne in Australia. According to Goldberg, she considers gender-reassignment surgery a form of genital mutilation, she insists on calling trans-women "He" and trans-men "She", and she says that men "demote" themselves to womanhood
for reasons of sexual fetishism . . . . She substantiates her argument with the highly controversial theories of Ray Blanchard, a retired professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and the related work of J. Michael Bailey, a psychology professor at Northwestern University. Contrary to widespread belief, Blanchard says, the majority of trans women in the West start off not as effeminate gay men but as straight or bisexual men, and they are initially motivated by erotic compulsion rather than by any conceived female identity. "€œThe core is, it'€™s really exciting for guys to imagine themselves with female breasts, or female breasts and a vulva,"€ he told me. To describe the syndrome, Blanchard coined the term "autogynephilia,"€ meaning sexual arousal at the thought of oneself as female.
So this has confounded some radical feminists because they won't accept the idea that they have to be trans-inclusive. It's becoming a society which forgets that being born female has consequences, they say. I was waiting for one of the radical feminists to say that trans-people were trying to adopt the feminine or masculine lifestyle, in the manner of, say, Matt Barber. HELL, no.

Mari Brighe (a lesbian cis-woman) at autostraddle.com, you may have the penultimate word:

As for Michelle Goldberg’s essay, if what she pitched to the staff of the The New Yorker was an investigation of both sides of the trans activists and radical feminist conflict, I think it’s fair to say that she failed miserably. In any case, the editorial staff of The New Yorker should be ashamed for allowing it print.
Well, maybe not ashamed; I wouldn't (and you wouldn't) have known about this otherwise. Here we have a group of feminists who still want to keep anyone they define as a man out of womyn's-only space. I'll admit that there are spaces for gay men that I'm glad don't admit women, but I don't think they should necessarily bar trans-men (so I'm not being a hypocrite here).

I guess people will believe whatever they want to believe. I'm sorry that a very few radical feminists have found themselves lying in the same bed with people they'd call bigots, but that's the only conclusion I can come to here.

And now for the stuff that makes this Top Comments:

TOP COMMENTS, July 30, 2014: Thanks to tonight's Top Comments contributors! Let us hear from YOU when you find that proficient comment.

From cai:

I'm submitting poco's comment. with a link to a newscaster in tears, in Timeaus's diary about the White House condemnation of an attack on a UN Shelter in Gaza because (and read cai's comment too) it's all too easy for "adult" "reasoned" discussion to preclude showing or even feeling real, human reactions to the deaths of children.
From Puddytat:
Nearly splattered the monitor with soda when I read zadatz's description of how hard it is to unsubscribe from a mailing list, and brillig's funny reply to it. Swallow whatever you have in your mouth first.
From your diarist, Dave in Northridge:
mconvente makes an excellent point about how California under a Democratic administration disproves St. Ronnie's famous statement about the government in Puddytat's equally excellent diary about the travails of Governor google-eyed homunculus's reelection campaign.
TOP MOJO, July 29, 2014 (excluding Tip Jars and first comments):
  1) It isn't rocket surgery. by SantaFeMarie — 246
  2) I call them Ammosexuals. by Walt starr — 153
  3) FWIW, someone was saying persuasively that by Timaeus — 147
  4) This is not news, not an accident by Sandino — 147
  5) Obstruction by Demi Moaned — 130
  6) He isn't the only NRA murderer. Harlon Carter is by Just Bob — 124
  7) What is wrong with... by thoreau32 — 120
  8) Then you'd definitely appreciate this: by Tamar — 117
  9) GOP states have enacted many Sharia laws by MartyM — 117
10) What a scary story. by onionjim — 114
11) It's a good thing he wasn't carrying toothpaste. by raboof — 107
12) The most morally depraved people are always... by The Termite — 104
13) Peace and blessings by gchaucer2 — 98
14) Thousands, maybe many thousands, will die of by Timaeus — 95
15) You mean an MD/PhD can be a complete wacko? by DrTerwilliker — 94
16) And the Republican House members say the poor a... by Done4nau — 92
17) Serious matter by MarEng — 91
18) Well, he was legal until he took it off his back. by CwV — 91
19) Trust me, employees and colleagues by cassandracarolina — 90
20) You wanna talk about heroes? by minorityusa — 87
21) Technically a gun by NMDad — 86
22) and their ex-president's son... by Glen The Plumber — 85
23) Blowhard at the coffee shop a few days ago by indycam — 84
24) Please stop doing this by IQof20 — 84
25) but it's LEGAL in Arizona and his Riiiiight! by MartyM — 79
26) Did Starbucks ask him to say "Grande?" by Yoshimi — 78
27) Let me get this straight... by DaveinBremerton — 76
28) Or had a cast on their foot. by Damnit Janet — 74
29) Ben Carson. Nuff said. by zenbassoon — 73
30) no water. no sanitation.  How long before by bkamr — 73
For an explanation of How Top Mojo Works, see mik's FAQing Top Mojo

TOP PHOTOS, July 29, 2014: Enjoy jotter's wonderful PictureQuilt below. Just click on the picture and it will magically take you to the comment that features that photo. Have fun, Kossacks!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Definitions (27+ / 0-)

    We know what "trans-" means in terms of gender, but "cis-" might be a more difficult concept. So here's the Urban Dictionary on cisgendered:

    The opposite of transgendered, someone who is cisgendered has a gender identity that agrees with their societally recognized sex.

    Many transgender people prefer "cisgender" to "biological", "genetic", or "real" male or female because of the implications of those words. Using the term "biological female" or "genetic female" to describe cisgendered individuals excludes transgendered men, who also fit that description. To call a cisgendered woman a "real woman" is exclusive of transwomen, who are considered within their communities to be "real" women, also.

    Some of my friends are trans, but I'm cisgendered.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 06:34:46 PM PDT

    •  "Using the term "biological female"... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge
      Using the term "biological female" or "genetic female" to describe cisgendered individuals excludes transgendered men
      OOOOOOOOH.
      I knew what cisgendered meant, but I never thought about the people who using "genetic male" or "genetic female" were excluding, so I thought the term "cis-" was silly and unnecessary. Now that I know, I don't find it silly at all. Thanks for that.
  •  Good evening. (19+ / 0-)

    Our stuff has been delivered, with only a couple apparent breakages so far.  And we've so far managed to unpack about a dozen boxes...out of approximately infinitely many.  And one of the still packed ones contains my keyboard...so my computer is not as yet usable.

  •  Did you notice that Goldberg quoted... (17+ / 0-)

    ...the widely despised transphobe Ray Blanchard several time, but did little in the way of speaking with transwomen?

  •  Some birds... (14+ / 0-)








    Didn't have a good day at the airshow today. Tried shooting it with Lenszilla, and it just wasn't working. Got down to the show late because I had to stop in at work to have blood drawn for my yearly health analysis, but the nurse from the insurance company's Dad works for the EAA so she was as much of a airplane spazz as I am.

    No one knows what it's like, To be the bad man, To be the sad man, behind blue eyes....

    by blueyedace2 on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:16:16 PM PDT

  •  I remember reading about this conflict (15+ / 0-)

    back in the '80s, on whether or not trans-women would be allow to attend the Michigan Womyn's Festival, and similar sorts of events.  It occurs to me that it's sort of like what happened in colonial Massachusetts:  The Puritans were persecuted in England as an upstart Christian sect that did not submit to the rule of the Church of England.  Once the Puritans founded Massachusetts, they could now make their own rules and persecute whoever did not follow their own doctrine.  It takes a much larger heart to allow everyone the right to be free.
     

    -5.13,-5.64; GOP thinking: A 13 year path to citizenship is too easy, and a 5 minute background check is too burdensome. -- 1audreyrenee

    by gizmo59 on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:16:19 PM PDT

  •  I consider myself a feminist (14+ / 0-)

    I have for a very long time and there are extremists in the movement who have never spoken for me. That is true on this issue.

    Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. They lie through their teeth with their head up their behind. You open up their hearts and here's what you'll find - Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. John Prine

    by high uintas on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:20:43 PM PDT

    •  That's precisely why I made the "radical" (13+ / 0-)

      distinction. I think we've known since the 1970s that the vast majority of the so called "second wave" of feminism was concerned with achieving parity with men in what Elizabeth Warren called "equal is equal." I don't associate "radical" feminism with the movement as a whole.

      All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

      by Dave in Northridge on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:24:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, I don't equate them either (11+ / 0-)

        and IMO we need to be honest here. In some circles one can only get attention by saying ever increasingly radical and outrageous things.

        In that atmosphere consensual sex between a man and woman becomes "rape" and a transgendered person is trapped forever with the label that they were born with.

        I personally believe that when it comes to the issues that feminists face we definitely have bigger problems that need our attention.

        I don't have the time to waste on this kind of esoteric navel gazing.

        BTW, not talking about your diary but rather the idiotic spoutings of bigots like Sheila Jefferys.

        Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. They lie through their teeth with their head up their behind. You open up their hearts and here's what you'll find - Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. John Prine

        by high uintas on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:36:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  well there are (3+ / 0-)

        radical feminists who are not TERFs.  Radical used to be a good word.  I don't think we should give it away to the people who have gone genuinely and completely insane on this subject.  I love radicals!  I am a radical!  A radical feminist, even!  None of being a radical requires hating on people.

        Anti trans, as near as I can tell, was a second wave feminist "thing".  But so was a lot of stuff, which ended up including gold and dross.  The founders of Ms. magazine were radicals.  They did some great things that changed the world.  They also published editorials, at regular intervals, ranking on trans women in ugly ways.

        The current TERF folks are, near as I can tell, a small bunch, who are very active.  When they lose -- as with recent loss of convention venue -- it seems to be because people are just nah, this stuff is prima facie hateful, go away.  But what they seem to be winning are a slice of young, militant feminists who are seeking some level of certainty about the world.  They are also rendering more and more spaces where trans women are nominally welcome into places off limits in fact.  Because who is willing to risk going to the women's party if someone will be here to deliver a hate diatribe or make male masturbation pantomime at you from across the room?  Like most bullies, they win by cowing the different.

        But it isn't just this old bit of feminist thought hanging on.  It is active adherents.  And they do not deserve to be called radicals, imnsho :}

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 05:40:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Forgive my ignorance, but "TERF"? nt (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jessical, Dave in Northridge

          "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

          by FogCityJohn on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 09:55:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  well it does have the word "radical" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dave in Northridge, FogCityJohn

            ...in it, but I begrudge it to them nonetheless.

            I'm not going to link to the "trans exclusive radical feminists" but you will find an internet history of trolling transwomen, and then outing them (old names, the most trans-looking nasty pictures, making new and old name and unflattering portrait easily searchable)  or attacking them in other ways which reportedly include workplace outing, at least one outing to a high school, and representation of transwomen's angry responses as harassment...which if it were one trans woman, might make sense.  These folks do this daily as sport.  You'll also (eventually) find a recent "feminist" submission to the UN against recognition of gender identity as a human right.  The hate me and mine, and they mean it all the way down.  Some trans folks hate them back.  Hard not too, actually, except they are so obviously obsessed and insane on the subject that from even half a step back, it invites "pathetic evil" as a D&D orientation.

            If you google TERF and spend any amount of time on it, it will make you a sadder person, and I recommend against it.  But there is at present a whole recent social history to the term.  

            ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

            by jessical on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 10:07:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jessical, rserven

              I think I'll pass on using the Google machine this time.  I really just wanted to be sure I understood what the letters stood for.

              Honestly I had no idea their views had led them to such extreme actions.  It's bad enough to try to exclude transwomen from the feminist movement.  (That seems to me to be just another aspect of transphobia.)  But it's a wholly different matter to seek to win a philosophical or political dispute by attacking transwomen personally.  This is especially so given that, in our society, transpeople are exposed to the almost constant danger of physical aggression.  

              So many contradictions here.  An oppressed, excluded group now seeks to oppress and exclude others.  Women who'd (rightly) scream bloody murder to protest violence against women are now facilitating violence against other marginalized people.  The mind boggles.

              "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

              by FogCityJohn on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 10:24:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The group of people (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rserven

                Who have fought for and against trans rights, on the left hand side of the line, are fairly well known to each other at this point.    I see this as the actions of some very specific individuals.   There are mean, crazy assholes everywhere.  I'm convinced we'll win this one by letting them fly their flag high and letting people see what it amounts to.  I can't possibly generalized this back to an oppressed group (except of course that every oppressed group who have people driven mad by their oppression, and a few who were just plain mean to start -- I don't derive any sense of irony.  I just get sad.)

                ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

                by jessical on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 10:43:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  It isn't radical. It's reactionary. (0+ / 0-)

        It's the patriarchal essentialist argument about saying in the place you were "born to be." Women adopting male roles is "unnatural."

        By the same logic, transwomen (of which I am one) are told to stay what they were "born to be;" that is, men.

        I renounced male privilege when I started living as a woman. I have to be careful where I walk at night. I am much more concerned about my purse being snatched than I ever was about my wallet being snatched before.

        I knew about these issues long before my transmission, but it wasn't until I started going out as a woman that I understood viscerally what male privilege is.

        I didn't begin living as a woman in order to "invade women's space." I fled the male space because living as a man was slowly killing me.

        Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here: http://bettysrants.wordpress.com

        by Kimball Cross on Mon Aug 04, 2014 at 03:56:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  my favorite example (15+ / 0-)

    of male privilege was told to me by a trans woman: she was paid more as a male engineer than as a female, and the only thing that changed was her sex.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:22:27 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary, Dave (16+ / 0-)

    I may be stupid naive here, but... can't we just let women be women and men be men and take someone's word for it when they say they're a cis-woman or cis-man or a trans-woman or trans-man and just focus on the woman or man part?

    So much easier, it would seem.

    "But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die." - - Cherokee saying

    by brillig on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:34:46 PM PDT

  •  For some reason, this song came to mind. (8+ / 0-)

    Like It Or Not - Madonna

  •  Welcome to my life (7+ / 0-)

    I've been chased out of feminist events for being trans as well as chased out a career in a male-dominated industry for transitioning.

    None of this is news to us -- I read the books that created this feminist transphobia as they were published.

    American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

    by atana on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 08:00:15 PM PDT

  •  And this (11+ / 0-)

    is why I stay off of Tumblr...it seems to be a bastion of this kind of idiocy. What sad, miserable people they must be since we're not in the 1970s anymore. I wonder how they feel about the HERO repeal effort in Houston...following their logic, it seems like they'd be concerned about the predicted transgender invasion of cis bathrooms. -eye roll-

    Off to Dallas tomorrow to spend a long weekend with the BF and then do some dissertation research. It will be my first major research trip of my own, so the anxiety is here and made itself known about the time I woke up this morning. On the other hand, it's exciting and I'm reminded why I'm doing this (which I needed). I'd say fingers crossed I find something, but based on the finding aid, I'm crossing my fingers that I can get through everything in four days.

  •  Ringing the doorbell late (8+ / 0-)

    Was on the phone with my brother who is having knee surgery tomorrow, having a good meaningful talk.

    Nicely done diary tonight, Dave. I would imagine that this kind of thinking makes trans people feel similarly to the way it makes me feel when straight people proclaim that being homosexual is a choice. You just want to scream 'No, it isn't, you fool. How dare you make pronunciations about me '. It is shocking coming from people who you would think would certainly know better.

  •  I think the only radical part of (6+ / 0-)

    radical feminism was the radical idea of seeing people as equal.  All people.  It's hard, but do-able to a large degree.

    It's looking past outward appearance, to the very essence of a person.  Skin color, sexual preference, age, attractiveness, etc. don't mean a thing when you look deeper.

    We should be united by a common humanity that we share.  The otherwise it's a way to separate us and divide us from one another.  Together, focusing on each other as full equals, we're stronger.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 09:16:24 PM PDT

    •  It's too hard to see people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge

      as individuals -- easier to categorize them so you can make your assumptions and figure you know all about them. To see people as individuals, you have to actually talk to them and get to know them, find out what they love and what they hate. Take them out of the boxes where you've put them and let them be as they are.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 11:42:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Um NO! (5+ / 0-)
    still carries the male sense of privilege and entitlement with her.
    Transgender women are women. They never had the male "sense" of privilege.
  •  Sweetie, I probably agree with you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, jessical, Dave in Northridge
    So this has confounded some radical feminists because they won't accept the idea that they have to be trans-inclusive. It's becoming a society which forgets that being born female has consequences, they say.
    Except For One Thing:

    Being born female does have consequences. For example, the GOP is trying to take away our right to contraception. Leave aside our right to abortion: they don't want to allow us ANY rights over Our Bodies, Ourselves.

    Look: I have no problem with trans- or cis-persons.

    But let's look at the real enemy here: it ain't us.

    It's the GOP and the Far Right WingNuts.

    It is late: I hope you understand what I am trying to convey.

    English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

    by Youffraita on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 12:36:40 AM PDT

    •  its worth some attention (3+ / 0-)

      if only because it isn't just old Janice Raymond books at this point.  It is an active internet campaign, it has gotten on talk shows, it is being used in real time destroy lives, and it is affiliated with at least one popular new environmental group (!).  To be sure, if the GOP wins just a wee bit more we will all be in the soup and this won't count for much.  But this is real stuff, bad and present, nonetheless.

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 04:16:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Against my better judgement (5+ / 0-)

    and entirely against good taste, a late (late) comment on this thread.  Because y'all are some of my friends on here, one trans woman's perspective, in detail...

    Having spent far too many of my life's limited hours on the subject of this diary, I thought I'd throw in a couple of thoughts.  The first being that as a meme, the whole TERF thing is just vile.  In a world that encourages trans women to hate themselves at every turn, a few of these folks are very active -- one in particular at this point in history, but she has followers (and I am genuinely afraid to use her name, though she is a famous attorney with a couple of celebrity followers and you can find her easily enough).  Trans exclusive radical feminism has some serious hate mojo going.  There is an active campaign right now in 2014, as I write, which posts the most cruel of pictures, use people's previous names, outs teenagers to their schools...does a level best job, under guise of feminism, to destroy already fragile lives.  This is some genuine grade A nasty shit, in progress.

    And that said, as a trans woman -- and admittedly I think this is an easier thing to say two decades post transition -- I do retain some kinds of privilege, and lose others.  Like most stuff of this nature, it's all in the intersectionality.   I tend to think trans women sometimes retain some of the confidence which is rewarded in boys and slapped down in girls.  And this is -- sometimes -- a profound kind of privilege.  It is something that everyone should get, but boys get preferentially.  In a world where girls get told to watch their weight and boys get the first ice cream cone, the loss of having who you are denied at every turn is often, I think, accompanied by the message that you can fix the car and find the integral.  It's complicated.  Honesty and real growth require me to say that first.  There's stuff to unpack here, for those of us who want examined lives or a nuanced perspective on gender and social justice.  Or on our own relationships.

    BUT -- and this is a huge but -- trans women lose the privilege of being considered human or sane in much of (most of) society.  And this greater isolation, in many ways, renders retained advantages of confidence moot.    People unlearn some kinds of relating to others, and learn new ways, because they have social contact and support and community.  And those are often, I think, the things trans women lose.  Whether in jobs, housing, relationships, public safety -- the more subtle kinds of privilege are meaningless if you do not have these things.   We die in numbers -- far more than the cruel and horrible examples which you see in the news -- because we are denied our place in the human story.  Even to ourselves.   It will take more than a Time cover and a bad article to change that.  

    The values of the enlightenment, which eventually led to a world where things like slavery, the old Jim Crow, or the new Jim Crow are all beyond the pale...was fostered for a couple of centuries (depending on how you count) by people for whom non Europeans were not part of the moral universe.  When I take a step back, I see many places where me and mine are simply no part of the moral universe -- we are mad and grotesque outcasts there -- and I try not to make too complete a summary judgment.  40 years ago there were no few people who did their best to destroy Sandy Stone (an early and continuing trans pioneer) while they were fighting for the rights of women worldwide on other fronts.  I try to hold both things in my mind -- not out of sympathy, but out of concern I will misunderstand history and make it too much about me.  But there is a limit to that, too (it is too terrible and too easy to write oneself out of the moral universe.   When I think of this I think of trans women I have known who have died by their own hand.  It is oh too terribly easy, an knife in butter, a fall to dark water, and best tread with care).  I don't find it necessary to make this kind of careful distinction for the present crop of TERFs....so near as I can tell, the present anti-trans feminist strain is running pure hate.

    And there you have it, a 10 hours late, much too long response to a TC diary topic :)  Which I will say, thank you for covering.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 04:12:25 AM PDT

    •  I'm late to this party ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, rserven, Dave in Northridge

      but a comment like this makes me really glad I came.

      It gives me an insight into what is to me an unknown world.  I particularly appreciate the way in which you try to dissect the relationship between being born biologically male (and thus privileged) and being trans (and thus outcast).  

      It strikes me that a transwoman might well find whatever male privilege is offered to her somewhat oppressive.  Being treated like a man, even when that treatment is preferential, might just "feel wrong."  It would be just another painful reminder of how her body and other people's perceptions of her do not match her identity and self-concept.  

      I'm not suggesting that transwomen are in any way eager to experience sexism.  It's just that I can imagine how transwomen might not experience being granted male privilege as some kind of unalloyed good.  I suspect it could come with a heavy emotional price tag attached.  The "gift" of male privilege could be viewed as yet one more denial of one's gender identity.  And on some level, that's got to sting.

      Just some uninformed musings that were spurred by your post.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 10:15:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks :} (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave in Northridge

        I work as a software engineer.  I have to participate in a lot of meetings about systems and ideas.  I joke that male privilege is my substitute for a Barnard education.  I see many small ways in which I know to deal with the mostly male environments I encounter, where someone who was not trans might not.  At the time I made the joke though, I was working in NYC with women who were ex Citi VPs, who were (and are) smarter and better than I will ever be...I'll take what I can get, when it comes to certain kinds of social facility and confidence :}

        It's a bit wrong of me to obsess on the details in response to such a supportive post from a person who is, in my experience, both supportive and wise.  But I sorta gotta...

        I think what your comment misses is that if you're extended male privilege in a real way (not just as a set of skills or wins or lack of micromanagement you might have enjoyed growing up as a boy) then you don't pass...and that is going to be so much worse and nastier that the rest won't even register.  My time totally nonpassing was really PTSD material.  The ways in which privilege informs speech and confidence, cadence and timing in a male dominated environment...are all from before.  

        The other thing that made me twinge...is that we evaluate trans women, existentially, in terms of perception of realness.  Some people put this in terms of validation, but it is more than that (or rather, validation is about something extended...realness is about who you are).  During transition (and sometimes for the rest of their lives) trans women can stay crucified on this.  With reason, of course.  But one thing I spent a bit of time considering, about a decade ago, was what parts of masculinity I, a trans woman, wished to own.  Because it isn't all bad, by a long shot, and we exist in a noosphere of gendered virtues.  I enjoy opening doors.  I admire devoir, as a virtue, perhaps above all others.  I like opening doors, and being a little butch on dates sometimes, and a certain precision in conversation which is often considered masculine (though it should not be).  These things are me.  And I am not the only woman (trans or not) who has thought about this and decided what to own, and what to jettison at speed.

        And at some point...at this point...I'm just a middle aged woman in the workplace.  And not even knowing boys really well can save me from sexism and ageism together.  

        And now off to program :)  I have made WAY too many comments in Dave's nice diary.

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 11:04:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not sure I understand. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jessical

          Perhaps I wrote something I did not intend, but I'm unclear on where your response is coming from.

          I thought I wrote that getting male privilege might be oppressive for a transwoman precisely because it's a reminder that others are treating her as a male.  (I guess I should have clarified that I was speaking about transwomen prior to transition, when people will tend to treat as male those who "look" male.)  I'm not sure how that differs from your point.

          I also hadn't intended to comment on "realness" whether it be perceived or not, and I didn't mean to suggest that transwomen who can "pass" or who look like "real women" are somehow any more female than transwomen who don't.  

          But I have the distinct impression that I've missed something very fundamental in what I wrote.  I suspect it comes from some kind of blind spot.  Whatever the source, I had no wish to offend, and I confess I'm not really able to understand what you're getting at.  Sorry.

          "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

          by FogCityJohn on Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 04:40:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •   Dying attitudes.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jessical, Dave in Northridge

    ....far too slowly of course, but I cannot see them ever gaining back any of the ground they have lost. Not with stories like this one appearing on the front page of the more conservative of the two local newspapers in Vancouver:
    http://www.theprovince.com/...

    This is the landscape that we understand, -
    And till the principle of things takes root,
    How shall examples move us from our calm?

    (Mary Oliver, "Beyond the Snow Belt.")

    by sagesource on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 04:55:22 AM PDT

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