An address to the radical feminists

Are you happy that trans women are being excluded from women’s loos across America, and trans girls excluded from girls’ locker rooms? People like me are very scared. I tend to hope you do not want us hurt or frightened, even if you do not think it your job to protect us, and are far more concerned about women frightened of an apparent man dressed female in women’s space. I propose an uneasy alliance against the people protecting women and girls from us- because they are very nasty indeed.

The people seeking to exclude trans women from women’s loos, and make it respectable to deride and be hostile to us in public, are the ones seeking control of women’s bodies by restricting abortion. They will not stop at excluding trans women: they want their Christian ethics imposed on lesbians and gay men too. Some might read The Handmaid’s Tale and wish to live in such a world. “Complementarians” seeking to impose “Biblical gender roles” are driving this legislation, from the far Right.

I watched that video about trans women or cross-dressers assaulting women, and I see the point. The assaults are appalling. Many of us have mental health problems, and do not look like women. But the people in that video have so little conscience or empathy that they feel able to assault another, and so little impulse control or concern for their future that they will do so where they may easily get caught. I beseech you to consider it possible that that is not all of us; and that such a person does not have to be cross-dressed in order to assault a woman in a toilet or changing room.

It is a matter of balance. Here we are, not knowing what you feel like yet claiming to be “women”, making a weird caricature of the most extreme forms of “femininity”- though some of us pass well enough, and are not noticed. Trans women reject men’s privilege and masculinity. It subverts patriarchy. It just does. If it reinforced patriarchy, the Family Research Council and other such hate groups would not be so eager to exclude us.

I understand that your arguments are not the same as the conservative’s. On pornography, the conservative fears and needs to control the sexual drive- only married couples seeking procreation should have sex, and they should not enjoy it- and divides women into “good” women to be protected and stultified, and “bad” women to be used and abused. Pornography perpetuates this divide, and shows sickening abuse, humiliation and objectification of women. Prostitution commodifies vaginas. Radical feminism seeks the enjoyment of sex from a position of equality- you might put this better than I have.

On trans women, the conservative opposes us from a belief in strict gender roles, the radical feminist from asserting that there are none. The conservative sees men in dresses and says we should be real men; the radical feminist sees men in dresses and says we are not women, and should not pretend to be; and that we caricature women, reinforcing the “feminine” gender role. The two theories are diametrically opposed. However, many of the arguments are not- both groups say that someone whose chromosomes are XY and whose gonads are testicles is a man.

However, toleration of trans women is part of liberalism as an anarchic force, breaking down unnecessary conservative control, permitting people to be who they want to be, men and women ungendered. Let us work with you to subvert that control. The control is most insidious when it is internalised by people: we have escaped those internal inhibitions, and so may be useful allies.

The question is, where may campaigning energy best be directed. Your decision, of course. When you campaign against trans women, the conservative sees your efforts and applauds: I found that video on a conservative site.

What I propose is an uneasy tactical alliance to achieve immediate common goals. It may be that in the world without patriarchy, when there is no prescribed gender role, no-one will be trans. In this world, I transitioned because I could do nothing else. If women as a class are to have greater freedom, and not be constrained into any gender role or excluded from power or any job, trans women may just be soft men and the much larger group uncomfortable with current gender roles will be free to express their full potential. Until then, please let us be your allies against your more dangerous enemies.

Sigrid Hjerten, Ateljeinterior

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