These are my notes from my presentation at Radfem Reboot, Portland, Oregon. I was going to write a blog post that was more formal, but I am too tired. If you have questions about any of this, please leave a comment.
GROUND RULES FOR MY TALK
1. GENDER IS THE FOUNDATION OF MALE DOMINATION
2. GENDER IS A WAR – A WAR AGAINST WOMEN
3. GENDER IS PERFORMANCE THAT PROVIDES THE FOUNDATION OF MALE DOMINATION OVER FEMALES
4. GENDER NEEDS TO BE DESTROYED IF WE SEEK TO OVERTHROW PATRIARCHY
5. TRANS WOMEN ARE MALE AND TRANS MEN ARE FEMALE
6. WOMEN-ONLY ORGANIZING AND THE ABILITY TO ESTABLISH A BOUNDARY BASED ON SEX IS A KEY COMPONENT OF REJECTING RAPE CULTURE.
7. RAD FEMS WANT TO ABOLISH GENDER, TRANS WANT TO KEEP GENDER BECAUSE TRANS CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT GENDER. THIS IS A HEAD ON CONFLICT IN THE FUTURE OF FEMINISM
8. IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ANY OF THESE STATEMENTS, YOU CAN STAY AND REMAIN QUIET OR YOU CAN LEAVE.
“Disrespect is crucial. Disrespect for the cultures, values and institutions of male domination is the very foundation and sine qua non of feminism.” Sheila Jeffreys on religion, equally applicable to gender.
Prior to 1990: Trans was not particularly in with the Gay community. Drag culture, also misogynist, was not Trans. Trans was predominantly understood as Transsexuals. Cross dressing transvestites were mostly understood as something heterosexual men did as a kink.
How did Lesbians perceive Transgender? Janice Raymond, The Transsexual Empire. Lesbian liberation – and female liberation – requires the destruction of men’s power over women.
Lesbian feminism – began its decline in the late 1980s, early 1990s. Now virtually nonexistent.
What is Lesbian feminism? (credit to Sheila Jeffreys)
1. Lesbianism is a choice and an act of resistance to patriarchy – this is rooted in women loving, our politics are erotic and women are irresistible
2. Woman loving
3. Separatism – “women live in a state of atrocity” – Mary Daly
4. Personal is political
5. Rejection of male sexuality
6. Liberation of all women Women need to see each other as women and their common oppression as women – this is disrupted by Trans.
Trans disappears lesbians and gender expression is a tool of the patriarchy. Trans threatens women’s space. Trans entryism into Lesbian spaces.
1991: purposeful effort to develop Trans bill of rights. Included in this agenda was the elimination of sex segregated spaces & the enshrinement of gender (i.e., sex stereotypes) into law. Seeking to legitimate that there are ways of being that correspond (or not) to biological sex.
International Bill of Gender Rights
Susan Stryker, Phyllis Frye, Sharon Stuart and other male to female trans persons who had been heterosexual males
The right of access to gendered space and participation in gendered activity.
“Given the right to define one’s own gender identity and the corresponding right to free expression of a self-defined gender identity, no individual should be denied access to a space or denied participation in an activity by virtue of a self-defined gender identity that is not in accord with chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role.”
THIS REQUIRES THE DESTRUCTION OF WOMEN-ONLY SPACE.
Judith Butler: sexual desire is constructed out of gender difference.
THIS LEADS TO THE ELIMINATION OF SAME-SEX ATTRACTION.
Achieve equality through making gender accessible to all! This sounds nice and liberal and good, and it’s that niceness and liberalness and good-soundingness that has enabled Trans to run roughshod over women.
Trans is the Ultimate Trojan Horse into the Gay Community.
Trans means the end of Gay.
The 1990s saw this plan put into action, with the rise of GenderPAC and other organizations that pushed this, Trans women in particular worked on passing local laws. Trans is a social invention of the last 20 years. NGLTF has been a key figure in this, as NGLTF is the pusher of the overbroad gender identity bill.
Trans were aided by Lesbians who became men, such as Shannon Minter, Paisley Currah, as well as Lesbians who have completely co-signed Trans ideology, including Liz Seaton and Jennifer Levi (both of whom are masculine of center).
What has Trans done to the Lesbian community?
1. Creates a false hierarchy of oppression between cis and Trans. This false hierarchy derails efforts to advance the cause of female liberation.
2. Invisibilizes the oppression of women/lesbians and turns women/lesbians into oppressors of men.
3. Gender is anti-feminist – it is radically inconsistent with a feminist world view. Trans has defanged feminism.
4. Trans is part and parcel of other ideologies that harm women/lesbians – specifically, porn culture and prostitution. We now have “Feminist Porn Awards,” and a Trans woman – Tobi Hill-Meyer – has made a career out of this.
5. Trans has successfully made it “bigotry” to oppose it. There’s a small space for anyone except religious bigots to oppose it. This silences Lesbians who are acutely aware of the pain of being a member of an oppressed minority (i.e., women). Opposing Trans is impossible without a willingness to ensure a loss of community or social power. This is incredibly silencing.
What about gender queer?
There are only so many gay people. That is, putting aside what might happen post patriarchy when it’s abundantly obvious that the only relation women would want to have is a lesbian one (ha ha), we are a limited group. Gender queer allows straight, heterosexual people to claim membership in an oppressed minority.
Being an oppressed minority is a fashion statement in 2012.
Trans also has allow heterosexual people (Trans women who identify as lesbians are heterosexual men) to dominate Gay priorities.
WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?
Why did Trans entryism work in the Gay community?
Entryism: the practice of members of a particular group joining an existing group with the intention of changing its principles and policies, instead of forming their own group.
1. Gay culture is male identified and misogynistic.
2. With the decline of lesbian feminism in the 1980s, Lesbians in the late 80s, 1990s mimicked gay sex culture and BDSM. Lesbians became “open.” They adopted individualism.
3. The emphasis on Equality. Gay people are well indoctrinated in Equality and respond well to this message. Unfortunately, “Equality”“ invisibilizes the very real differences between men and women, and why women might wants different things, and have different priorities, than men.
4. Gay men have as yet not raised objection to Trans, as Trans focuses their attentions on the Lesbians. Because misogyny, gay men don’t care that Lesbians complain
5. Lesbians are LIBERAL and as good liberal allies, put their needs below those of Trans women (i.e. men). Trans has made incredible strides for a marginalized group, due largely to efforts of the Gay community and willing liberal allies.
Who are the willing liberal allies?
1. Unions – collective bargaining agreements through gender identity in without second thoughts.
2. Women’s Organizations
3. Liberal religious organizations
Neo-liberalism/Ultra Capitalism – an ideology made for Trans.
1. Free market economy
2. Minimal state intervention
3. Limited social programming
4. Free trade
5. Strong property rights
7. Weak unions
In academia, neo-liberalism collides with post-modernism. The individual and free choice reign supreme. Sovereignty of the individual becomes the most important. “Everyone can decide for themselves, everything is relative.” Taking a political position against something becomes a judgment; the person taking a political position becomes a bigot. In neo-liberalism, there is no structural inequality and no systems of oppression; groups with collective interests do not see each other or organize with each other. There’s just a lot of individuals making individual choices with lots of self-empowerment (credit to Gail Dines).
Neoliberalism plus post-modernism IS third wave feminism.
Neoliberalism plus post-modernism IS Transgender Ideology.
It proposes that you are born into culture as a free agent (this is false – we are born into a culture with systems of oppression firmly established, and your class dictating how you are treated within that system). Trans requires the destruction of the class of sex, to destroy collective action based on this class and a class-based analysis – it substituted a new “class” of Trans. The ideology of Trans is a product used to control thought.
Where is the Feminist opposition?
Before 2011, feminist opposition occurred in academia, with Sheila Jeffreys and Janice Raymond, among others. However, academia is dominated by Trans supporters. So, it’s a tough road to be an academic and trans-critical/radical feminist. Feminist bloggers have been key in opposing Trans ideology: Fact Check Me of Femonade, Undercover Punk, Lishra of Against All Evidence, Smash the Patriacrhy, No Anodyne, Gallus Mag of GenderTrender. however, as radical feminists, many of the bloggers have no desire to participate in the creation of public policy, as this would require working within the government, which is a patriarchical institution.
I was VERY happy to hear Kathleen Barry say yesterday that we need to work to affect legal change, and that doing so doesn’t make us not radical feminists.
What has happened over the last year?
Spring 2011: In Maryland, a very public fight over the Maryland gender identity bill, which didn’t include public accommodations
April 2011: Beating of Chrissy Polis
May 2011: Radical Hub launches
August 2011: Letter to the United Nations
What did the letter say?
The letter objected to “gender identity” legislation as (1) compromising rational sex-based protections for females and (2) incorporating stereotypical ideas of “what is female” into law. “Gender identity or expression” means includes a person’s actual or perceived gender, as well as a person’s gender identity, gender-related self image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression, whether or not that gender identity, gender-related self image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s sex at birth.
Written from a Lesbian perspective: “As lesbians, we are concerned about the impact of this legislation on our community, and our community’s ability to meet free from male influence and involvement.”
Written from a Female perspective: ”More importantly, as females, we are concerned that in the attempt to provide protections for a few, we will compromise the protections of the many.” Preserving women-only space: The proliferation of legislation designed to protect “gender identity” and “gender expression” undermines legal protections for females vis-à-vis sex segregated spaces, such as female-only clubs, public restrooms, public showers, and other spaces designated as “female only.” Females require sex-segregated facilities for a number of reasons, chief among them the documented frequency of male sexual violence against females and the uniquely female consequence of unwanted impregnation resulting from this relatively common form of violence.
Public policy, therefore, rationally permits sex segregation in certain settings where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists. “We cannot deny the implications of this legislation – and the radical shift in priorities it represents for females. Female reproductive vulnerability has a long history of exploitation by males in the form of sexualized violence. As attorneys, as females, and as lesbians, we seek legal recognition and protection for the potential harm that females may experience because of our reproductive vulnerability.”
Every state in the United States plus the District of Columbia has adopted a law that bans discrimination based on sex in employment, housing, and public accommodations, among other areas of public life. These “Anti-Discrimination Laws” stand as evidence of a public policy statement against irrational discrimination, which has no place in a free and open society. However, each of these Anti-Discrimination Laws also preserves an exception to the general policy against discrimination with regard to sex-segregated facilities. These exceptions operate as an admission by that state that females have an interest in sex-segregated facilities. The definition provides no objective standard by which to assess the legitimacy of the “gender identity.” Rather, it merely requires the person seeking protection to assert that he or she identifies as the sex opposite his or her sex at birth.
It allows all males – including registered sex offenders or males subject to a domestic violence order of protection – to assert “gender identity” as a means to invade female-only space. State laws that permit discrimination in sex-segregated facilities based on sex allow a person asserting gender identity as a basis to avoid “discrimination” access to sex-segregated spaces based on their chosen “gender identity” – without regard to any action taken on the part of that individual to change their physiology to “become female” (i.e., sex reassignment surgery.) Gender identity laws provide a legal basis for males to be in sex-segregated space. It is well-documented that males as a class have a demonstrated history of harming females as a class by exploiting female biology (i.e., rape, sexual violence, unwanted pregnancy).
Accordingly, definitions of “gender identity” that permit the individual to “self-identify” without any duration or medical documentation requirements present the potential for a human rights violation against all females. Sex stereotyping: A legal definition of “gender identity” that suggest or codify into law that there are ways of expressing one’s self (or behaviors or appearances) “consistent or congruent with biological sex” present a risk to females, as such definitions codify the notion of stereotypes based on sex into law.
Traits stereotypically assigned to females – such as care-taking, emotionalism, and weakness – have served as sufficient legal justification for women’s exclusion from employment, participation in government, and many other critical social functions. Archaic stereotypes are directly responsible for the denial of female credibility and intellectual authority, in addition to causing the historical marginalization of females, lower social status vis-à-vis males, and lack of power to engage equally with males. Even where law has evolved to formally prohibit sex-stereotyping; women continue to suffer from the lingering effects of sexist ideologies about female inferiority. So although we support every individual’s right to freely express their gender identity, it is absolutely critical that law not confuse “feminine expression” with female reproductive capacity or female genital presentation.
“Gender identity” laws that codify the notion that there are traits, manners of expression, or modes of appearance that are inconsistent or consistent with one’s biological sex violates United Nations conventions seeking to eradicate sex stereotyping.
August 2011: Trans invades MichFest. GenderTrender post blows this up.
December 2011: MRA attack of the Radical Hub, Trans notices and starts allying with MRAs.
January 2012: NGLTF agrees to allow Lesbian Caucus in response to the lack of lesbian representation at Creating Change. GenderTrender blows this up.
February 2012: SPLC piece on MRAs.
March 2012: The Cotton Ceiling. Fact Check Me blows this up, but Gallus Mag at GenderTrender first noticed it.
April 2012: SPLC follow up on MRAs and the Hub – quoting me, known transphobe, generated huge Trans response.
June 2012: Radfem 2012 gets harassed out of Conway Hall
June 2012: Dyke March
July 2012: Radfem 2012.
July 2012: Radfem Reboot.
Onward, Radical Feminists!
Young women are hungry for community that represents their lives and speaks to their realities. Radical feminism does this.
NEVER stop talking and never stop listening to women.
I think we are doing pretty well considering we have NO academic or institutional support. I get emails, text messages and phone calls from women across the country. Like this one:
Cathy, I just wanted to thank you for everything that you’ve done for women, and also apologize for the fact that I didn’t realize it sooner and gave you a teensy bit of shit about it. For whatever reason, when I first got a Tumblr I started following many trans bloggers, and started drinking the Kool-Aid on what I know now to be a misogynistic, homophobic type of feminism (third wave? fourth wave? something awful). I never read any of the counter arguments, and at first it seemed like I could easily believe everything they were telling me because they could be genderqueer/pangender/agender/whatever and I could stay a lesbian and their dysphoria wouldn’t be my problem. And, of course, you were constantly vilified and I sent a couple nasty asks to your old account without even thinking about the logic you were making, which I sincerely apologize for. Then the cotton ceiling thing happened, and that horrified me. I’m a bigot because I don’t like penis? What? I felt guilty and ashamed about my supposed transphobia for months before I started finally reading your blog for myself. I, a lesbian that had overcome so much to come out in the first place, felt guilty for not liking dick. The irony! But your blog helped me get over that within days. You give a voice to females, and the value of that truly cannot be overstated. I can understand why males with vagina-envy hate you, but what makes me upset is that there are still so many women out there like me that buy into “cissexism” for fear of looking like bigots, but then get coerced into supporting people that care more about their elitist gender identity than about the oppression of millions of females worldwide. Anyway, I just wanted to say sorry for fighting for the other side for so long– it’s very embarrassing to realize that you were railing against someone that was on your side. I hope Tumblr doesn’t delete your new blog, we can hope that the more people that actually read it, the more support you will gain. I wish you all the best. If it’s any consolation, I saw you mention Rachel Maddow a few days ago, and I went to her book signing in DC and she mentioned that she’s a lesbian feminist, so if I’ve wikipedia-ed correctly I think that means she’s on our side 🙂 and doesn’t Rachel always win?