I feel like a child talking to a teacher. She started it! My long explanation of precisely how bores her and breaks down, so before I am finished I am the one getting the strap, and it is not fair. The teacher is The Guardian itself. It is supposed to be progressive, and should not insult trans people.
Onywye. Suzanne Moore wrote in the Guardian with the throwaway line We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual. Irritating but not lifethreatening. Some trans folk objected, and there was a twitterspat.
Julie Burchill then wrote in the Observer a deeply insulting article- calling us “bed-wetters in bad wigs” was not the half of it. Well, I wear a wig, and with such a short urethra, post-operatively, I had some problems before I got my pelvic floor so strong. Lots of women have. The Observer has apologised and withdrawn the article from its website.
Then Suzanne Moore wrote a follow-up. To that teacher, who does not care about the subtleties, it might seem an apology. Suzanne has had friends who were transsexual, apparently.
But to me (subtly and out of the teacher’s attention) it pushes my buttons. It starts with the title. I don’t care if you were born a woman or became one. When does she think I became a woman? At my sex-change operation, perhaps? I have always been a woman. I have always been me. I have had one gender. Pre-transition self-identified trans women are women.
Then she says Some trans people appeared to reinforce every gender stereotype going. People comment that I seem more feminine than most women- I am exquisitely attuned to surprise or disapproval in that. It is an old feminist trope for hatred of trans women, though Moore extends it to men as well. I do not wear lace-trimmed skirts to oppress women, but because I like them. If you don’t like being criticised for your clothes or appearance- I assume Moore doesn’t- then don’t criticise mine. Simple, basic empathy.
No-one can speak for anyone else, she says. Moore does speak for me when she attacks the Government. She thinks I should focus on that, and get behind her, so she may insult me with impunity. No. I happen to find the insults the most important thing in the article. Her telling me what I should think makes it worse. She could always attack the Government without attacking trans people.
I am just angry. It brings up my stuff. Someone links it on facebook, I read it (yes I know I should ignore it, but well, I read it) and I get wound up.
Oh and- Julie Burchill objected to being called a “cis woman” to distinguish her from a “trans woman”. It is an ancient Latin prefix, commonly used, and it is the only way to refer to a non-trans woman which does not insult me. “Real woman” “Born woman” “Natural woman” and the rest all include me.
18 January: I am coming round to defending Suzanne Moore.
She does not think we trans women are really women, that is the thing. She thinks we are castrated men. She thinks if we call ourselves feminist we are faking; she may dislike our “femininity”; she is not going to come round. Even in her latest piece she says something about not liking the word “cis”.
I like what she writes about the Government. She said initially that we should get behind her attacking the Tories, and actually, she is so good at that that I am willing to overlook the odd throwaway line about Brazilian transsexuals.
Yes. It is “trans women/ trans men/ trans folk” rather than “transsexuals”. Yes, omit the “trans” unless it is relevant and necessary, and yes “cis” is the only way of describing non-trans women that does not insult us- for yes, I am born female too. And I know how much people get hurt by these remarks. And, still, hooray for Suzanne Moore, giving Cameron another kicking.
Press Complaints Commission ruling exonerating the Burchill article.
November 2020: Moore “left” the Guardian.