Feminists mentioning trans

Here’s Gloria Steinem, on why some films are called “chick flicks”, because they have more dialogue and less violence, and appeal to women, and some films are just films, which appeal to men. Her suggestion for an adjective for “men’s films” is a pure delight.

I realized the problem began with the fact that adjectives are mostly required of the less powerful. Thus, there are “novelists” and “female novelists,” “African-American doctors” but not “European- American doctors,” “gay soldiers” but not “heterosexual soldiers,” “transgender activists” but not “cisgender activists.”

Ooh! A feminist mentioning trans in a way which does not seem completely hostile. The article is not about trans, but about oppression, and it has a list of oppressed groups at one point, and one of those oppressed groups are trans folk. Thank you, Gloria Steinem. Wow, Gloria Steinem, in the pantheon of Feminist Pioneer Intellectuals, being nice about trans people. It almost makes up for a certain Australian intellectual being horrible. The article is not about trans. It mentions homophobia too, and I think it is wrong about that, quoting a playwright: if we look at all real homophobia, it’s anti-feminism. It’s really misogyny dressed up, or pointed at men. No, it is anti-feminine. Not all women are feminine, and many men are, and this is a good thing, oppressively policed by femmephobia. Feminism has to be for the harridan as well as the feminine.

I first noticed this in an article by Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues. I can’t remember what it was about, now, but it mentioned trans in a positive way as an aside. Something like they’re women too and they have a hard time. I had read a radical feminist critique of this, and it poisoned my understanding. The rad-fem said that she only says that because she is terrified of the all-consuming power of the

Trans Activists!!!!!

who will ruin her career unless she is a cringing, fawning lick-spittle to them. I had definitely been reading too much TERF stuff. Gloria Steinem, with a huge list of awards and honours including several “most important or influential woman” appreciations and a Doctorate of Human Justice, is above that. It is merely true that women, people of colour, gay people and trans people have less power than men, white people, straight and cis people.

In 1977, Dr Steinem expressed concern about sex reassignment surgery, concern which I share. In my own case, I thought I wanted my body altered, where I now believe I really felt that having my body altered made me part of an acceptable category of feminine men, and I wanted to be acceptable. Explaining her stance in 2013, she said We need to change society to fit individuals, which is my current position. It would then be clear why people wanted genital alteration, and those who still wanted it could have it.

I believe that transgender people, including those who have transitioned, are living out real, authentic lives. Those lives should be celebrated, not questioned. Their health care decisions should be theirs and theirs alone to make.

Trans folk disagree about surgery. It is deeply emotive. It should be our discussion, first- not the doctors’, and not wider society’s, but ours, our theory, understanding, choices and ideological struggle. And Gloria Steinem is an ally against the femme-phobia.

Gloria Steinem, What about men?


11 thoughts on “Feminists mentioning trans

  1. Ooooh, I do so agree, and many of the arguments can be applied to other categories of person…
    I was ruminating lately about the word, ’emasculation’ for which there does not appear to be any equally expressive female equivalent. So the dominant in the patriarchy have a word for their loss of virility, a word which points the finger at the oppressor others. That is a kind of inverse representation of power, is it not, a classic projection of the powerful, blaming the weak.

    A wonderful post, thank you! 😀 xxxx


    • We have to be allies. We make our decisions under pressure. We are not free. Together we can free each other. I am pleased with Gloria Steinem’s aside, and willing to listen to her ideas about surgery. And non-op trans and trans who find the operations an essential part of their identity and journey need to be allies, too, working for each others’ freedom, for we cannot win freedom at the expense of others.

      Emasculation was liberation for me. I no longer had to conform to the stereotype which crushed me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha!

        I think the difference is that to emasculate is to weaken and humiliate, while women becoming like men is “monstrous”, as in the “Monstrous Regiment of Women” or Lady Macbeth saying “Unsex me now”. Men lose manliness, but women lose their very humanity, in the patriarchal lie.


        • Women can certainly be objectified, which could lead to a loss of self esteem and identity. Even as a trans woman, I have been objectified a number of times, and it is only because I have had to work so hard to accept my own gender identity that I can (eventually) write off those attempts at making me abject (so, maybe I’ve really been abjectified, but I don’t think it’s a real word – I rather like the sound of it, though).

          Liked by 1 person

          • Being objectified is the essence of how some men see women. The President of the US is not interested in women over the age of thirty. Ignoring your intelligence, gifts and contribution can be dehumanising, but we must resist. It happens particularly to older women who sometimes get ignored completely.


            • This particular sexagenarian woman will NOT be ignored! Nor will I allow anyone to marginalize or victimize me. The many decades I spent overcompensating, to show myself to be the best man I could be, affords me the weapon of emasculation. I once told a man who was objectifying me that I used to be twice the man he’d ever be – and twice the woman he could handle now.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I attribute my survival to two things: My music and my wit. I have always remembered this line from something I read many years ago in school – by Wilke Collins, “Any woman who is sure of her own wits, is a match, at any time, for a man who is not sure of his own temper.” Of course, I can understand it more because “I have looked at life from both sides now” – Judy Collins (no relation, that I know of).

              Liked by 1 person

  2. You are absolutely correct my dear Clare. Those qualifiers are there to make sure people understand the individual is coming from a place of decreased status. It’s a way to make sure they know their place

    Liked by 1 person

    • I got it from Gloria. I read that “African-American” was the choice of the people themselves, but it was from a choice of adjectives, one must be picked- “People of Colour”, “Black”, better than ones imposed by the oppressors.


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