In 2009 Alex Drummond transitioned from male to female. She still has her beard, and did not opt for hormones or surgery. I’m widening the bandwidth of how to be a woman, she said.
I rarely sympathise with the Mumsnet terfs, but when one asked why she couldn’t widen the bandwidth of how to be a man, I am with her. Men should be able to wear skirts if they wish, and should act as feminine as they feel inside- but if it means accessing women’s spaces, I feel there should be some restriction, to honestly intend to appear as a woman. Alex claims to be a woman, she may honestly believe she is one, and so that is not enough: she should not have to alter her body if she does not want to, but keeping the beard means she should not be in women’s spaces. There. I have now taken an exclusionary position.
We’ve all had to start somewhere- male features, bad wigs, unfashionable ill-fitting clothes, thick make-up not quite covering the stubble, obviously trans women. We might intend to transition, but not have started on hormones, or even beard removal yet. You shave as close as you can, and stubble shows. Why should that exclusion not apply to me? If I don’t pass now-
Because of my intention to appear like a woman, which is more than belief that I am one. Mix it up by all means, but go to the toilet of your birth sex, or gender neutral toilets. I will go to gender neutral toilets where available. What if I just could not appear as a woman at all? If I were street homeless, I could not maintain a wig- and therefore, could not socially claim to be a woman. Practically, I would revert.
No, you don’t have to wear skirts, makeup, high heels, long hair all the time. Women can dress down, and so can you. And at the margins it can be difficult- if women can dress androgynously, why not trans women? Of course we can- but not in women’s spaces.
I know that self-ID is a minor administrative change, only affecting those of us who intend to transition life long, not affecting the prevalence of medical treatment of trans folk, or our numbers. And some people appear to believe that it will result in a crowd of men claiming to be women, invading women’s spaces. In reality there are not that many of us, and we’re there already. Or it will in some way restrict other ways of challenging the gender binary, where people are forced to identify as trans rather than as with their birth sex. It’s not a threat, but they claim it is, a personal threat because their identity as a woman, though not “feminine”, is under threat.
Those who don’t like trans people are using the minor administrative change to open up the whole question of trans women in women’s space. They want us excluded, even though we have been there all along. They talk about genuine trans women and predatory men, and the boundary between these two groups- genuine so at least grudgingly tolerated, and predatory so to be excluded, and ideally shamed and prosecuted- is fuzzy. Some would exclude pre-op trans women. Some would go further, look at our motivations, decide some post-op trans women were “autogynephiliac” and exclude us too.
As there won’t be any particular change, there is no new threat. Trans women have been expressing ourselves as women, broadly tolerated, for over fifty years. Transition is a radical act, and only a very few will undertake it: it needs not just gender dysphoria, but the conviction that you will be happier transitioned and can make a go of it. Yet the pretence is that there will be a sudden influx of- people who are objectionable in some undefined way, and they may use that as an excuse to try to exclude me.