The trans “debate” II

There is no such thing as “gender”. A man cannot become a woman.
But trans women exist, and for thousands of years in all kinds of cultures apparent men have expressed ourselves as women.

Women need women’s space.
Trans women are integrated into women’s space, and should not be excluded.
(This one can become Oppression Olympics, where we compete to show which group is more oppressed.)

I need space in society. I need to go to the loo.
Use men’s spaces.

If women cannot define “woman”, if “woman” includes some men, then there is no basis for women’s rights.
Trans women are an anomaly, 0.1% of women, not worth all this energy.

There is a proposed new law which will end women’s rights.
There has been no movement on gender recognition reform since it was announced two years ago, and diagnosis is based on self-ID anyway.

There is little trans debate. There are opposing views, which complement each other like the ones above. On social media people who agree gather, and hone their arguments on each side, so that someone might speak for an hour on the first point, talking of brain plasticity and citing Cordelia Fine. But another might speak for an hour in refutation, on gender in culture. We talk past each other.

Then there are particular issues.

Even if testosterone levels are now women’s, male puberty and a male skeleton gives advantages in sport.
Skeletons change just as muscle-strength changes, in hormonal transition.

Then there are the appeals to the undecided middle. So “Self-ID” must be presented as a great change, allowing a sudden flood of men in women’s spaces, rather than a change to the births deaths and marriages registration system, having little practical effect even for trans people. Often there is some attempt to affect sympathy with “truly transsexual” people, and distinguish them from “predatory men”. In the private spaces, the definition of truly transsexual gets more and more restricted, as the interested party is drawn in, learns more of the “argument”, shares the anger.

Ah, the anger. Stories are shared. Tara Wolf’s assault on Maria McLachlan has done terrible damage to trans rights, cited again and again as a step on the way to radicalisation. Then there is self-righteousness: they see “women meeting to discuss women’s rights”, I see a crowd whipped up into communal anger, derision, fear, disgust against me.

You’re not one of us. So much of feminism is bringing Patriarchy to the attention of women, how society is organised in the interests of men. It just seems normal, it’s what you’re used to, then you grow to see how oppressive it is. This creation of an out-group is not subject to the usual objection, as it is punching up rather than punching down. I agree, actually. A lot of that makes sense to me. I would just like to be accepted in the group. I am scarred by male gender stereotypes too.

(Do I need to explain “punching up”? Have you read the same shared articles as me? Do you frequent the same social media spaces? The language can increase our intimacy through what we share, or alienate. What about “work wife”?)

Possibly you care so much about this because of your own hurt. Others are less hurt or have other concerns.

Debate, the construction of apparently logical-rational arguments from oft-repeated stock phrases, will not bring us together. Can we come together face to face, to see and hear each other?

What do you want?
What do you feel?
What hurts you, inspires you?
What do we share?

Because we share about this on line, typing onto screens, it becomes an intellectual debate. However it is a conflict. Trans women are in women’s spaces, and some women object. Should the women who object be able to exclude the trans women, or not? Where do your sympathies lie?

Any thoughts on how two sides might be brought together and the heat lessened- please share. How to break through the carapace of intellectual argument and Shield of Righteousness, to the hurt within? Can we find common interests?

All comments welcome.

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