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May 1, 2012

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Where it is a thought crime to say “I respect trans women as women, but I do not believe they are female,” as well as “Females have a right to set a boundary and have it be respected.”

Oy vey.

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Gender Atheist.

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15 Comments on “Follow Me on Tumblr”

  1. Feciainthe Says:

    Only because you are putting your ideas about someone above their experience. In the same way, it would be wrong for someone to tell me that although I identify as a bi woman, I can’t really be bi because they don’t believe bisexuality is real, because they are straight/gay and can’t imagine it. Boundary setting can protect a minority, but it can be harmful when it excludes other minorities. Just as a women’s group would be wrong for turning away bi/lesbian women because they didn’t really feel they fitted their image of “what women are”, and there are indeed such groups, a women’s group that rejects trans women is a majority defining a minorities identity for them, telling them they are wrong/lying about who they are and as such need to be excluded. As a cis woman, I do not feel threatened by sharing safe spaces with trans women, many of whom appear to experience much more misogyny, particularly about living up to expectations of what it is to be women than I do. There is too much misogyny against women in general, trans or cis. Practising it against each other and defining who we can be and how we can express ourself into thin boundaries doesn’t help any of us

    • bugbrennan Says:

      Females have a right to set a boundary based on sex. And sub-communities of females have rights to set their own boundaries. If WOC wanted to meet, I wouldn’t dream of crashing that boundary – I would respect it.

      Respect for boundaries is crucial for females, as we spend our lives having our boundaries violated. And we should ignore our boundaries because it might make trans women feel bad?

      No.

      • Feciainthe Says:

        I’m going to assuming that based on the way you use it, by sex you mean anatomy within pants/chromosomes/having secondary female characteristics? Correct me if I am wrong.

        Would you check the pants of every women who wanted to enter your group/ make them take a DNA sample? I understand this is an exaggeration, but is this actually the crux of what you are basing the right to this exclusion on? That’s not a rhetorical question, I am genuinely asking because I can’t see how that there would be any more validity to that than excluding people on the basis of presence of breast or not, or whether they had the genes for digesting lactose.

        If you are excluding them on the basis of what’s in their pants, would you feel that equally important to exclude cis women who happened to have no cis female genitals? Or maybe functioning cis genitals but non-functioning cis male genitals? I’m sure you’re aware that such things arise, and how many permutations there are. All these people could develop all the secondary sexual characteristics, and you wouldn’t know unless they disclosed it to you. I assume that you probably wouldn’t see a need/right to exclude these people from women’s groups. I don’t know, but I can’t understand why the presence of cis male genitals on a cis woman, with all the characteristics you would regard as a woman, would be reason for them to be excluded until a) they cut off the offending organ or b) forever, because regardless of everything else about them, that is their defining characteristic

        Genetics is also variable. Secondary sexual characteristics are defined by a mix of hormones. If you get/lose the genes for those hormones in developement, or chromosome mismatch happens your sex chromosomes may not work the way you expect. So you get XX cis men and XY cis women. Normally these individuals only find out about this because they think they might be infertile and go get tests done. I’m cis, and if you met me, I expect you would assume I was cis, but for all I know I could be XY. Or even XYY. Unless you’ve had checks done, so could you. Again, would you reject a member of a women’s group based on such data. Would you feel afraid of infiltration by “XY cis imposters” unless they could prove to you that they were XX. Because I really can’t see any value for anyone that.

        And secondary female characterics. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to convince you that feminine appearance/obvious boobs/curves/whichever trope you pick should not define someone’s womanhood. Additionally, random overproduction of testosterone and other growth hormones in cis women, either around the time of birth or in adult disease, will give secondary cis male characteristics e.g. a lowered voice, hair on face etc.

        So I don’t get why you would have the right to discriminate on these things. I don’t know why it should matter if someone who appears to me to all intents purposes to be a cis woman happens to have some different genitals. I don’t know why it should matter if their genes are not XX, because again, that’s probably not going to effect their interaction with me. Well it might, but that’s because I’m a biomedic, and I would probably get all excited and start taking blood samples. Assuming I had their consent. It would’t effect my interactions with them as a person. And I certainly wouldn’t see that it was to anyone’s advantage to disregard their input to a group because to all the world they appeared to be a cis man. Because I’m not really hot on treating someone as different based on appearane.

        So no, I don’t understand why a) you have a right to and b) you would want to exclude people based on the criteria above, or how it would be to your advantage. Unless you are talking about gender identity, which if I’m right, you feel doesn’t exist, or socialisation. I don’t know about you, but I feel that the things that threaten/harm me are male privelidge or individuals with a male identity who value it above female identity. I do not feel threatened by the presence of a squishy organ/ a Y chromosome/ people who look a a bit male is the actual problem. Hay, maybe some individuals may feel uncomfortable if they were talking to a cis woman with a beard, or a cis woman who they found out had in addition had a working penis. But should they then have the right to exclude those women from the group, in the same way that some straight women feel uncomfortable talking to gay/bi women, or some able bodied people feel uncomfortable being around differently abled people, or white women feeling uncomfortable around black women? Because that to me doesn’t seem a good reason for anything.

        Again, I am not being rhetorical, I am actually asking these questions. I cannot see any reason why it helps anyone to exclude people based solely on sex. This is where I’m going to stop asking questions about sex. I am assuming that what you actually feel is the threat is not actually sex, it’s identity, socialisation, which can accompany but are by no means restricted to sex. However, if the presence of sex organs/DNA/appearance is the actual threat to you, ignore what I say below.

        You’ve said you don’t believe in gender identity, so I assume you don’t regard that as a threat. I also assume that you believe that we are more than just society tells us who we are, particularly as women. If we are told from a young age we are lesser than men, does that make it the truth? Should women who feel that because of everything that they have been told be kicked out of women’s areas? If a cis women indentifies as “one of the lads”, and maintains that identity by agreeing with sexism to any degre against other women, is she no longer a woman, and to threatening to be allowed to be around other women? Socialised sexism can be a problem in cis women just as much as trans women. To be fair, society in general judges trans women more harshly- “you appear feminine enough/talk feminine enough/act in a feminine way? You’re a lier”. To me, that is the anti-feminist statement. And yes, trans women do sometimes adopt female stereotypes as a badge of femininity to avoid criticism. Know who also does that? A good chunk of the cis female population. Cis women with less feminine appearance/lacking confidence attempts to feminise their appearance so that a sexist society treats them better. I would assume you’d say it’s sad that she feel that way, but you’d say it was societies fault, not hers? A trans woman does exactly the same, but she will be accused of perpetuating a stereotype.

        An additional potential harm is the fact trans women may have absorbed some of society’s sexism. And cis women haven’t? I notice myself judging myself and other women by societies standards of acceptable womanhood every now and then, even if I know it to be wrong. I’m by no means alone. Am I to threatening to be allowed into a women’s group? I know you say you don’t believe trans women are really women, but with that in mind can you imagine that it’s something they believe about themselves, even if you think they are wrong? If they have absorbed those standards, they don’t exclude themselves from them. Because, you know, they identify as women. They pick up just as well as you or I the definitions /requirements of appearance/action/personality. And, suprisingly, just as I don’t want to have my identity stripped to a placid femme subsmissive object, neither done my friend who is a trans woman. I do know trans women who have internalised sexism against women. Trans women who have internalised society’s sexism and believe it tend to be people who are racked with shame/disgust that their appearance/speech/action doesn’t match up to the idealised image of women, and they wish they could change to fit that image. Very much like my cis younger sister. Of the societal teachings that damage cis women due to them being women, I cannot think of any that do not damage trans women. I mean, you could say if they stayed in the closet, maybe society might not outright direct it at them, but they sure as hell tell themselves. Same as a gay woman may not be abused for being gay if she stays in the closet, but she sure as hell knows what the homophobic individuals in the world tell her she is.

        Surely being a feminist, cis or trans, is about fighting that image, standing up and saying I will not allow myself or other women to be defined like that, and we are not lesser member of society, regardless of what society tells us. Sexism is something both cis and trans women are affected by, and few of us are free from its taint. Ostracising individuals more obviously internalising it than others, cis or trans, isn’t a very good way to help deal with the problem.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        No, I actually think it should be enough for females to set a boundary and have others respect it. Go figure!

        Cis women are female.

  2. Feciainthe Says:

    Ok, outright question. Reffering only to cis individuals for a second. What do you feel is the purpose/importance of having a boundary round a women’s group that excludes men? That’s not sarcastic, I agree that there are good reasons too

  3. Feciainthe Says:

    Its mainly what I’ve said above. An environment where women who experience societal sexism can get a break from all but the internalised kind, which they can then help each other attempt to overcome. Would you agree with me? Would you add anything else?

  4. Feciainthe Says:

    Ok. And again, as I said above, how do you define male? And for that matter female? Socialisation/pants contents/DNA/appearance? If you met a random cis woman,their personality, looks and the way they acted/thought about the world might suggest to you that they were male or female. Would you believe that they were a female if they appeared masculine and seemed to be derogatory of females/other mysogynistic/steretypically male behaviour? I have met people of whom I have been unsure of gender, and know to be cis. I assume If they showed you their genital-dependant birth certificate or evidence of XX chromosomes, you would believe them?
    Other way round. Im also a cis woman, and from my appearance, most people assume Im a woman upon meeting me. But for all I know, I could be XY. I haven’t checked. I could have what I thought were cis female genitals, but were in fact remodelled cis male genitals and internal cis male genitals that I never realised I had because my body didn’t correct produce enough testosterone. On the changing of a body’s sex organs, its happens, or at least used to happen. Babies with damaged cis male genitals have had their genitals cut and remodelled to resemble female ones, because that’s seen as easier to cope with, and those babies are brought up as female, but they often in later life “come out” as male, and undergo genital surgery.
    Uteri are also occasionally transplanted. Maybe I had a cis female twin, and I the uterus I think of as mine is really hers. I would hope my parents would have told me, but my parents didn’t tell me that I had an older sibling who died, I only found out by accident. This is aside from all the chemical changes you can carry out on a baby in utero to switch on and off the developement of particular limbs/organs. Basically, I don’t know for sure if my genitals have always been there. I don’t know if Im XX. I don’t know that I’m cis. And unless you have checked, neither do you. I don’t know about you, but if I was told tomorrow that my genitals had been altered at birth, and that my DNA told me XY, I wouldn’t say that my 20 odd year long life as a women was a lie, and that I was suddenly say I was a man. And I would base that not on the fact that that is what I’ve been told all my life, but my identity. I identify as a woman. So do you. If I took a blood sample from you right now and told you you were wrong, if I showed you proof that you’re genitals had been modified, would you, personally, say that you were still a woman? That is identity

  5. Feciainthe Says:

    I am a cis person. I have a female birth certificate and cis female genitals. Is it so hard to believe that I rely more on my general feeling of femininity to define myself than checking my pants/DNA/who my parents tell me I am?

    • bugbrennan Says:

      Huh, I don’t know many women (and when I say women here, I mean female) who say they “rely more on my general feeling of femininity.”

      Good for you!

  6. Feciainthe Says:

    I do exist. If you really want, I can send you a can of my birth certificate. Is that the only point at which you’ll believe I exist?

    I don’t think it’s hard to feel that just because I have only had a cis experience of life, and I can’t say for definite what it’s like to be trans, then they must be wrong

    I’m bi, as I’ve said before, although again, you’ll have to believe that I’m not lying.
    I don’t need to tell you that there are a reasonable number of straight people that say being bi/lesbian is impossible, because women aren’t really attracted to women. They say things like it’s a phase, that lesbian/bi women are confused, that it’s a mental illness, that its just a way of being rebellious/stirring up the system. They could look at the uterus/vagina of cis lesbians/bi women and point out how obviously its set up to work with a cis penis.

    But you know what, I still define myself as bi. Despite the fact that straight cis people, including my relatives and people I meet, tell me that I’m not really attracted to women for whatever reason. I doubt that such things convince you otherwise of your sexual identity.

    So I know that its quite possible for straight people with straight experience to say there’s no such thing as different sexualities. Its not that hard a step that a cis person, when a trans person says to me “I’m a woman”, I don’t say, well my experience of gender is that only cis exists” I believe them. The same way I as a white person believe my black friend when she says there is still racism in the world and that it happens to her. I spend almost everyday with her, and I don’t notice it, but I don’t say she must be lying. The same way as that I don’t suffer from depression, and can’t imagine what it’s like, yet I believe it exists when someone who has it suffers. The same way that I, as a rich person, haven’t really experienced much direct sexism in my life, (slur calling, being told I shouldn’t go to uni, I should stay at home and make babies etc.) but I will believe people who live in less privelidged circles who say that that type of sexism still exists.

    I don’t see how you can judge anyone’s experience of who they are as wrong when you yourself don’t share in that experience

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