Arguably, trans is the most important issue in radical feminism.
If radical feminism is about recognising that the only meaningful differences between women and men are reproductive organs, and Patriarchy, which is the web of oppression in the culture around all women, then women need to unite to free themselves. The presence of men in women’s spaces makes that more difficult. Every aspect of reproductive physiology affects women, and not trans women, and women need the words to describe and celebrate themselves without those words being taken away or seen as oppressive by trans women. Women can recognise trans women’s difficulties, but are socialised to care for others, and that socialisation is part of their oppression. Their liberation means deliberately not looking after men, but considering women.
I am locked out completely by the principles, the underlying theory, the needs of women as a group and individually.
So what I propose is a temporary political alliance for political objectives. I observe that we transition, however unpropitious the circumstances. We get killed- this is not more important than women murdered by their partners, ex-partners or would-be partners, but the kind of fact that might put someone off transition, unless we were really committed. We go from the state of privilege, white educated male, to barely tolerated. You might debate what shards of privilege we retain, but it is less than before, and I hope we can agree little of it attaches to how we are perceived now. Many of us have an operation which is an extreme physical alteration.
We do all this because it is the best way we see of organising our lives, because we are unable to tolerate living as hard or soft males, we would rather be obvious weirdos in dresses. All this shows our desperation, however bad the circumstances. We will keep doing it as long as there are differences in gender roles; whether we would do it after that, I cannot know.
If you seek to exclude us from women’s loos and changing rooms, you seek the same as the extreme right-winger or evangelical Christian. Your reason is the same as theirs- that men and women are different. Your understanding of the differences, and your theoretical underpinning, is completely different from theirs, but people who are not studying the matter don’t dig that deeply. “Men and women are different” is as far as they go. “Trans women are men endangering women in bathrooms.” I have seen an Evangelical approvingly share a video made by a radical feminist, because she went no further than that.
Conservatives do not support us. Our rights come from liberal, soft-left or social democratic governments, and human rights treaties which the Right wish to restrict. We disgust the Right. If we supported traditional gender roles, we would please them, but we do not. We subvert gender roles. And despite a few outliers, most of us are on the Left. Human rights theorists support us though the scientific consensus has always been that a trans woman is a man: the researchers’ term for a trans woman attracted to men is “homosexual transsexual”.
So two oppressed groups fight each other, liberals sympathise with trans women, and only conservatives benefit. Liberal women will support trans women against the conservatives and radical feminists. Possibly they do this because they are socialised to be care givers, but the result is women are against women. You might see us as privileged, entitled and hostile, but we see ourselves as desperate.
Purely for political expediency, I suggest radical feminists temporarily call a cease-fire with trans women while we oppose our much stronger enemy together. We can reassess things later, after the conservatives are weakened. The end of patriarchy would benefit us as well as you.
And after all that, an image from Jupiter, taken by Juno when it was 12,400 km from the planet, of a swirling storm.