Transphobia IV

My mother said, “They want to be disgusting because they are disgusting”. She was talking of homosexuals, a word she could hardly bring herself to say because the thought was so revolting. The thought may have been more revolting to her than the actual person would be- I hope so- if you cut us do we not bleed? Moral disgust is like physical disgust for rotting flesh, activating the same brain area. I can’t be certain. This is one of those filters which prevent some people seeing the humanity of others. Perhaps it would have prevented her. She was a product of her time and circumstances.

“Trans women get a sexual thrill from fooling others into imagining they are women”. Really? Is that all, do you think? Do you know anyone like that? Trans women are people with particular feminine characteristics. Of course not all women are soft like this, but it is an accepted gender expression for women, when we were too frightened to express our femininity as men. I do not have ovaries, but if the law and society call me a “woman” I can express myself as I am. I am not fooling anyone, but expressing myself.

Radical feminism, when it addresses transgender, is a conservative movement. It is femmephobic. When a person identifies as female, what is being defined as female? Is it the breasts? Lips? Ass? Slim waist? Small hands? Batting eyelashes? Flirtatious smile? Long hair? Finger-nail polish? Eyeliner? Lipstick? Submissiveness? Thighs? Heels? Demureness? A want to be taken care of? A want to be adored? Cat-called? Beautified? Idealized? Softness? Quietness? Well, what is wrong with any of that? (Except catcalling). It’s not for everyone. It is for some of us. I would put it more positively, the desire to promote reconciliation and smooth conflict, and not all of those apply to me. If there were not such social pressure to conform to gender stereotypes, perhaps no-one would transition, but right now it is my way to be feminine.

Just as the conservative says, men should not be like that, so the radical feminist’s revulsion comes from her idea that no-one should be like that. We are disgusting because we want to be disgusting. No, I am this way you don’t understand and don’t want to be because it is how I am, or as close to that I can get with the ways of being and expressing myself in the world that I see available. You are not like that yourself. Hooray! Your way of being is beautiful, and I support you in expressing yourself, and oppose the forces that would oppress you. That writer objects to feminists being empathetic to confused and vulnerable people [us]. Empathy is wrong, as it sees us as people trying to live our way in the world, rather than as subhumans or enemies.

That “radical feminism” is conservative because it preserves gender norms. Rather than being freed to express our gender and subvert patriarchy, we would be shamed and bullied into presenting male, and be unable to express ourselves.

As it is conservative, women promoting this view write for conservative publications such as Standpoint and the Federalist, a publication not afraid to promote conservative lies about climate change. Just as they lie about climate change, they also lie about transgender, claiming we imagine all gender non-conformity is transgender.

Consider the risks taken and the effort required to transition, then continually just living and expressing feminine after. The sexual drive is strong, but we take those risks to be our true selves, not to get a sexual high. Who would want to be aroused all the time? My transvestite friend had a week of it, and was sick of cross-dressing by the end. He could not wait to get his acrylic nails off. He dressed to arouse, in short skirts, I wear practical as well as pretty clothes. That is perhaps why he could not make the imaginative leap to see that transition was right for me. The conservative man feels disgust for me, the radical feminist feels the same conservative disgust. Men should not be like that. People should not be like that. I am Human! See that I am Human!

6 thoughts on “Transphobia IV

  1. This post reminds me of the song I re-wrote as part of my, yet to be produced, trans take on “My Fair Lady.” Eliza sings it at the time she begins to realize that she is not a cross dresser, and that transition is inevitable.

    The Street Where I Live

    I have often walked, down this street before,
    But you wouldn’t recognize me from the clothes I wore.
    All at once am I, standing so darn high,
    As I walk in my 4-inch high heels.

    I wear a lilac dress, into the heart of town,
    And on a lark, I may embark in evening gown.
    I’m just enchanted for, I can walk out my door,
    And go walk down the street where I live.

    And oh, what a towering feeling,
    Just to know I can walk in these heels.
    An overpowering feeling,
    Oh, you can’t know, just how so

    Great it all feels.

    Neighbors stop and stare,
    That doesn’t bother me.
    For I know that there is no-one else I’d rather be
    Still they may laugh and giggle, I just give an extra wiggle,
    As I walk down the street where I live.

    And oh, what a towering feeling,
    To know I can go out all frilled.
    An overpowering feeling,
    As I just walk, some talk, some gawk,

    Some are just thrilled.

    The neighbors stop and stare,
    They just don’t understand,
    For the last time that they saw me there I was a man.
    Still, they smile and wave, just as if I were Dave.
    As I just walk down the street where I live,
    Free to be, to be me, to be seen
    On the street and just live.

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  2. Perhaps I’ve been fortunate that I have not always been aware of the social pressures to confirm to a specific gender stereotype. It’s part of being less aware of social norms that goes along with being an aspie. I’m neither masculine not feminine, but being male, my lack of masculinity makes me appear more feminine.

    Looking back, I can now see that where pressure was out on me to behave in ways more “appropriate” for my gender, the more I tended to do the opposite. I think the one thing that saved me from even more pressure was my decision to grow a beard. In NZ at that time, beards were not socially acceptable and most work places had policies prohibiting the growing of beards. My decision to grow a beard was not to appear more “manly”, but because I really hated shaving (not uncommon with male aspies).

    I have subsequently learnt that my appearance due to the beard and my dislike of grooming in general protected me from hostility that some of my other behaviour would have otherwise generated.

    I wasn’t until discussions with family after my autism diagnosis that we realised that the abuse I received as a teen and young adult stopped when I grew the beard, even though I didn’t do anything else to conform the the male stereotype. I think this illustrates that perceptions of gender behaviour are entirely social concepts and not biological.

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  3. Excellent post Clare and of course you have hit the proverbial nail on the had because who indeed would want to walk around aroused full time. Cross gender arousal forms part of a much bigger picture is the obvious answer.

    Radical feminism is also a potpourri of contradiction in that they want free range of expression for themselves and not for men who are all part of a patriarchal conspiracy.

    Our only solution is to live true to ourselves and ignore everything else or risk not living at all. We will never correct every idiot’s uninformed opinion anyway.

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