Trans feminism

Trans rights are essential to feminism, for they are the way to value all that a woman can be, from ultra-feminine to (almost) trans man. Trans rights are a feminist issue. Trans people advance feminist concerns.

I spent half an hour last night on Youtube watching a feminist attack trans rights on feminist grounds. She told of the opposition to the women’s suffrage movement a century ago, by women as well as men, based on the idea that women were different and would not have the objectivity to judge the interests of the public sphere. She has been held back by this persisting idea of difference, which is the heart of women’s oppression, and which she says “trans ideology” actively enshrines.

That might be true if trans were static, one way of being trans being the only way. But trans people are creative, finding new ways of being ourselves in our own spaces, in performance writing and entertainment, and in ordinary lives in the world. Trans is a force undermining that idea of difference between sexes and promoting the truth of the variation within the sexes which increases the freedom of everyone.

I want to relate to others as myself, with minimal pretence to comply to gender norms. This is easier after transition. I tried to “make a man” of myself, with a restrictive idea of how a man should be. Expressing myself as a woman freed me. If it were indeed seen as leaping a chasm, becoming something utterly different, that would be conservative, enshrining difference. When the doctors got hold of the idea of trans, taking it out of our own subcultures, they produced a medicalised idea of transition, involving hair removal, genital alteration and hormone treatments, to create a person who would look like a man, or look like a woman, undressed as well as clothed.

The idea that I am really a woman, with a woman’s brain, spirit or character, which this feminist finds so oppressive because it means there is a difference between men and women beyond our reproductive function, freed me to transition. Thousands of us, rather than tens of thousands in Scotland where she was speaking and which proposes altering the law, might be freed from a conception of their gender which they find oppressive, yet they cannot change without this drastic step- by allowing transition. Out of 5.3m people, ten thousand would be 0.2%, a large number actually to transition.

The idea of a transsexual person freed me to transition, but even as I did I realised there were two questions.

Am I transsexual?
Will I be happier if I transition?

The second is more important. First the ideology, then the idea frees me to express my gender by teaching me that it is possible. So individuals and society together produce formalised routes for transition and recognition. Trans people become more visible, vocal and encouraged, and empowered to do something about the restrictions of their gender rather than living fearful, stultified lives or ending them.

As we become empowered, we critique the medicalised concept of transition. Do we really need genital surgery? Should someone necessarily be sterilised before their gender is recognised? No, we say. Do we need to live in stealth, where people think we were born (wo)men? No, because that is in fear of transphobic violence- it may be prudent sometimes but it oppresses us with an impossible ideal of beauty.

Gender ceases to be a choice of two, almost entirely aligned with physical sex, and becomes a palette of possibilities. It is happening- here, now, in Scotland and beyond, with people who would never think of themselves as trans but also with trans people, blurring the lines and increasing freedom. Eventually the two groups will meet, a spectrum of gender rather than a division between those self-identified as trans or not-trans. The increasing complexity of ideas such as genderqueer and non-binary accelerate this change.

Femininity is oppressive when people are judged as less because of their natural unfeminineness. Then femininity can seem merely oppressive, a tool to oppress women. Trans shows that femininity freely chosen is a source of strength and self-actualisation, valuable in its own right for AFAB as well as AMAB. I see trans men choosing what I rejected, and so am enabled to see value in it.

That feminist on the video, wanting to say “NO” to a trans woman entering a woman’s bathroom, and getting a loud cheer for rejecting the idea that women must always put others’ feelings before their own, paradoxically aids the conservatives by restricting trans people to a narrow, absolute concept of transition. She opposes the law being more liberal, and discerns a loosening of the concept of a “sex change”, though in Scotland the proposals would still require us to swear we would live in the other gender life long. Allowed to grow freely, the trans movement would increase the range of gender expression and freedom.

Trans is a feminist movement, promoting the freedom of all, including cis women who do not conform to the cultural stereotype of femininity, including that woman who rails against it. Many cis women support trans rights. As Margaret Atwood says, A war among women, as opposed to a war on women, is always pleasing to those who do not wish women well. Women strongly opposed to trans rights should consider whether any of the wrongs they rail against has any realistic chance of happening.

An address to the radical feminists

A change of tack.

I transitioned fifteen years ago, and I don’t know why beyond it was what I wanted, more than anything else in the world. No-one knows why, not really; in the nineties I heard about the bed nucleus of the Stria Terminalis central section, a bit of the brain which is twice the size in trans and non-trans men that it is in trans and non-trans women, but there is no definitive research. I am a complex organism in a complex social structure is about as precise as I can get: I transitioned because I am human. I am I.

So we tell stories to each other about it. I don’t think the autogynephilia hypothesis is useful to explain or predict, but you might like it. I don’t know what being “really” a woman would mean. I know people have been doing this for thousands of years. Deuteronomy would not prohibit something no-one ever did. They were not “trans people” as understood now, but they were people seen as men by the authorities, wearing women’s clothes. There are people born with testicles who believe they are women, or third gender, all over the world. People transition in far less accepting cultures than ours.

Socially and legally I am a woman, accepted as a woman by such as Diva magazine and Women’s Aid Scotland. The former editor of Diva said, Thirty and forty years ago to be a lesbian was to be questioned. Today things are much better for us (for the cis lesbians, that is) but there are still places where to be a lesbian is impossible. So it is for transmen and women, many of whom have been or are lesbian or bi-identified. We know something of these struggles. And just as others have supported us, so we must support those among us who are trans or we risk ending up on the wrong side of history. Unfortunately, that quote is no longer on their website.

Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland said, We do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other. We support the Equal Recognition campaign and welcome the reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid in Scotland provide trans inclusive services on the basis of self identification. We will continue to work collaboratively with Scottish Trans Alliance and other equality organisations with the aim of ensuring that new processes are appropriately designed and without unintended consequences.

So the trans lobby that afflicts you is not a few dowdy, frightened trans women but a huge number of campaigning feminists, who are “women born women” or whatever phrase you would like to use. When you campaign against the trans lobby, you are campaigning against feminist organisations. Even if a few men in mini-skirts with their penises showing could terrify Women’s Aid by the threat of an Equality Act court action, they could not force them to make such a statement. Women’s Aid are used to assessing the risk posed by clients, and whether they should be in a group hostel or alone- or sent away because of lack of funds.

And you are working with the establishment and the hard Right: the Telegraph, the Spectator, Standpoint magazine, the Daily Mail. The Times is virulently anti-trans at the moment. I don’t know what Mr Murdoch has against us, but he has never been progressive.

Before I transitioned, I was friendly with a colleague. We were committed to the work we did and the people we served. Then I started testing out whether transition would be possible, and on one of our works meals out together dressed female. Ann was revolted. She apologised to me about her revulsion. She was aware of the organisation’s diversity policy, and equality legislation, but after we worked together on a strictly professional basis. I had great sympathy for her.

Again, there are stories we can tell about this. Ann might accept the word “transphobia”. We worked around it, just as people tolerate an arachnophobe, protecting them from spiders. The arachnophobe may be ashamed but other people are accepting. Or, you can be self-righteous, calling us dudes/chaps/trans-identified males/male-to-trans/trans rights activists. I am not going to say that your reaction is irrational, it is for you to consider how proportionate it is. I do not want to disparage your fear of male violence against women, but feminists whose life work is helping women who suffer male violence accept trans women in their spaces.

And it is not for me to tell you where to devote your campaigning energy, but you can fight those feminist organisations, or you can fight conservatism, the establishment and the patriarchy. It is a tragedy when feminists fight amongst ourselves.

Applause- thunderous applause- standing ovation. All congratulate me, and rush to tell of their Damascene conversions at my words. Or not.

TERF ideology

I was debating halal slaughter, and someone said, “If anything it’s an attack on Islam, NOT Muslims! you do see difference?” Yes; though I might not if I were Muslim. In the same way, when a TERF says “We have nothing against trans women and no radical feminist ever wrongs a trans woman” they are asserting a difference between the people and our understanding of reality. Here I don’t see the difference, and unless a Muslim can become apostate as easily as a trans woman detransitioning a Manchester City supporter becoming a Manchester United supporter oh, I don’t know, no matter of identity is easily sloughed off- I don’t see the difference for Muslims either. And, that man really does not see the problem: he thinks Muslims should just stop being wrong. He wants their good, and their freedom from delusion. They don’t see it that way.

TERFs believe they don’t wrong us. It is simple. Women are oppressed; women need women’s space; a trans woman is not a woman; therefore trans women should not enter women’s space. Trans women do, so should be excluded. Trans women attack TERFs, who should defend themselves.

It is a class analysis. Women are the oppressed class, they say. All men, however unsuccessful, benefit from being male, as do we. All women have been oppressed. One does not stop being part of the problem by meaning well, but by acting against the class structure. That is why they have to insist that transition is conservative and supports the class structure: I am feminine, therefore I must be a woman, posits that women are or should be feminine. But conservatives disagree. They say I am a man, so should not transition. They think I attack their values, and their judgment should count.

Fortunately most people are swayed by individual stories, suffering and transcending. They can see us as individuals. The class analysis is unattractive. And social structures are cultural. It is not a matter of strict logic, that I have a Y chromosome therefore should use a man’s toilet, but society can make allowances and turn a blind eye. I am generally tolerated. The law gives me gender recognition. We are a mostly harmless anomaly, a tiny number of people.

TERFs debate on line whether they should recognise our pronouns out of courtesy, or call me “he” self-righteously, like conservatives do. They protest that their critique has a completely different basis to conservative hostility, but much of what they say, threaten and do echoes conservatism.

Their stance becomes an identity, just as ours is, the Manchester United supporter or the Muslim. They will not be converted. So we need to be peaceful, and refuse to rise to their provocations. They want to sway the general population against us, and try to accomplish that by making us look bad.

The tragedy is that we subvert the patriarchy, which they claim is their goal, and they divert their energy against us rather than the common enemy.

Them too

I have been sexually assaulted, treated as sexually available, humiliated sexually, by men using their strength and power to take what they want as if I were worthless. It is a common experience of women. From early puberty, men come on to them. In work, men stand too close or brush against them, or talk about their attractiveness in mixed groups. If women are brought up not to be self-assertive, or bossy, or to rock the boat, but to be accommodating; not given techniques to handle this, but taught shame; would they not be angry?

If a woman sees me as a man, might she find this a greater humiliation after previous humiliations? She is angry. She wants me out of the public loos and the changing rooms, and my assertion that I am hurt too is not enough, however badly I am hurt. What women share is that upbringing, and the reproductive system, which makes them targets, sometimes unable to fight men off.

She becomes focused on us. She collects stories of men in women’s clothes, assaulting women, and even though I am not that person she says she has no reason to trust me any more than him. She learns about the theory of autogynephilia, and then says that is the scientific fact, that is our motivation, we are perverts in the loos being sexually aroused and so even more of a sexual threat. We transition, one told me, because we get aroused by fooling people into imagining we are women. If I go in the loo they accuse me of male privilege and acting with male entitlement. They mock our femininity and ridicule our appearance.

Piss off, you’re a man, as Germaine Greer said.

And they talk of detransitioners, and doctors rushing people into transitioning, and no-one challenging transition or offering alternative ways forward. We would not listen, of course, we would talk of gatekeepers, and arguably once you change your name and live full time you should get hormones, hormone blockers, and surgery if you want it.

The tragedy here is that women who are irreversibly hostile to us are devoting their energies to campaigning against a weak and marginalised group, who do not fit the conditioning of childhood, who are desperate, who would transition however painful transition was because it is better than staying as assigned at birth. I am not playing oppression olympics here. I am not saying we suffer worse,  that we suffer as much, or even that our suffering should matter at all; but that we are not the main enemy, and that attacking us does not achieve their ends.

Patriarchy, I am told, is the oppression of the class of females by the class of males. This class analysis leaves no room for individual differences. Male oppressing female is like white oppressing black. They will not like me telling them where best to direct their ire, or what strategy or tactics to use, so I am reduced to hoping that they will find some better enemy to fight, and saying it is a tragedy. Only the Patriarchy benefits from us fighting.

Linda Bellos

Once again, a radical feminist has the breathtaking hypocrisy to complain of a woman not being heard by a few score activists, in The Guardian, with a print circulation of 160,000.

Linda Bellos wanted to claim that trans women tell lesbian feminists what to think. We never do. Rather, we assert our right to exist. Bellos wanted to speak where some of her trans victims actually live, in a college. As the college hosts said to her, I’m sorry but we’ve decided not to host you. I too believe in freedom of expression, however Peterhouse is as much a home as it is a college. The welfare of our students in this instance has to come first. No-one opposes free speech, but we object to feminists leading a baying crowd mocking and deriding us, simply because of who we are. The Guardian writer has such a sense of self-righteousness that she quoted that, not realising how it made her argument monstrous.

I am a woman, the law says so. To get gender recognition I had to affirm before a solicitor that I had lived as a female for three years and intend to live as a female until death. Even if gender recognition is granted without a psychiatrist’s diagnosis, these are difficult things for a prankster to swear. It would take great courage for a trans woman to apply to Murray Edwards college.

When I transitioned, I ceased to loathe my body. I am not telling anyone what to think. I merely seek to live my life. For example, I use public loos. Trans-excluding radical feminists say I and my kind are a threat there, and find stories from around the world of cross-dressed sex attackers to increase the feeling of threat. There are not many such stories, but the effect is to put me under threat. I am wary in public toilets. As the lesbian feminist Prof. Saira Ahmed argues, calling me a threat threatens me. I fear that someone will abuse me in a toilet because she feels the need to “defend” women there from me.

I am not a “serious problem”! I don’t want to tell anyone what to say or what to think, only to live my life peacefully.

Claire Heuchan and others make trans v TERF a zero-sum game. Everyone is a mix of gender expression, and all of us are different goo-gooing at a baby from typing a report. Gender is oppressive because particular gender roles are enforced on people- in my case a toxic masculinity I could not bear. So I subvert gender. Conservatives hate us: consider the extreme-Right “bathroom bills” in Texas and North Carolina. If only feminists like Linda Bellos could see trans women as a mostly-harmless anomaly. If only I did not have to protest my very right to exist. Gender and patriarchy are the problem. We could combat them together.

I wrote this as a comment, as this morning the article appeared with the words Comments on this article will be turned on later. They never were. Thank God, as commenters would be debating my right to exist. You can find the Guardian column with a little googling, if you really must.

Giving a talk later, Bellos said, If anyone of those bastards [transwomen] comes near me, I will take my glasses off and thump them. [crowd laugh] Yes I will take my glasses off… But I do, I am quite prepared to threaten violence, because it seems to me that what they are seeking to do is piss on all women.

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!

Not Cis; not a TERF

My friend loathes the word “cis”. She told me of going to University, where the young ladies had a curfew of 11pm imposed on them, and had to wear a dress for the evening meal on Sundays. Male guests were not permitted after 7pm. She rebelled.

She was amazed and repelled by how compliant the others were. This was in the ‘Seventies, not the ‘Forties. I love her strength and determination. She managed to get round some of the rules, and was part of the pressure for their relaxation. There was no curfew when I went to Uni in the ‘Eighties, though one lad asked when “Lights Out” was, and we got the impression he would have liked one.

Back in the Eighties, feminists talked of “Consciousness raising”. If you could explain to women how oppressed they were by patriarchy, they would become feminists, fighting it. No-one talks of that now. No amount of consciousness raising will drive the soft pink floral sweater from the nation’s wardrobes. Some women see the oppression and fight it, some women love femininity and work with it. I don’t know whether James Damore, formerly of Google, is right that women are generally more co-operative, interested in people rather than things, or whether that is from socialisation or predisposition, but some women are.

Why should she be called “cis”? She rejects the feminine gender stereotype, because she does not fit it. She is a radical feminist: women share reproductive organs, and femininity is merely cultural, merely oppressive. She is a woman, but that does not make her a particular gender, and her gendered expression sometimes fits and sometimes fights the gender stereotype.

I wish she would meet me half way. I would love co-operation between her gender non-conformity and my own, because the gender stereotype, the Patriarchy, oppresses both equally and because I am more interested in people than things, and in co-operation. She called Trans a conservative movement. Tell that to the conservatives, who hate us! I suppose her argument is that we go along with the idea that my co-operativeness, etc, makes me feminine so I should express myself as female. Feminine = Female is a conservative idea. However, I have sought out the way society permits me to be my extremely feminine self- it is transition, which allows me to escape the masculine expectations forced on me. I love floral blouses and dresses, so want women to wear men’s shirts, jackets and ties if they wish; and if they wear dresses I do not imagine that says anything about their levels of co-operativeness or interest in people.

So, she is not Cis, because she does not conform to gender. Not only trans people reject the gender enforced on them. I could argue that it makes a useful shorthand to distinguish those who call ourselves trans or non-binary from everyone else, but she is not having that. She even rejects the idea that we might be particularly distant from the stereotypes, thinking gender oppresses everyone, apart from a few “alpha” males.

I would not presume to state her argument against the word TERF, but she is not hostile she says to trans women, only supportive of the rights of- she would say “biological women”. Calling us “women” sticks in her craw, but it is our way in to freedom.

The lesson I draw from this is that it is a disaster for both trans folk and her kind of feminist that we should be ranged against each other; that the oppression we suffer from Patriarchy, or whatever, is very similar, as is our interest in attacking that oppression. I feel in some cases her side’s objection to us is rooted in revulsion from femininity, falsely enforced on them. Femininity freely chosen is beautiful.

Trans, or non-binary?

Why would you say you were non-binary, rather than trans?

I do not have “a woman’s” spirit, or soul, or mind, or brain, but my own. When I say I am a woman, it is an approximation, and refers to a cultural concept of what a woman is rather than a concept independent of culture, if such a concept is possible. I do not believe I am really a woman, though some trans women believe it of themselves- some call themselves women with a trans history. That could be a way of shutting down argument, rather than explaining: they do not want to explain my behaviour to anyone. If you have to justify yourself you are already less than the Normals, who need not explain themselves. I might do that by saying, “I am Clare”- I am who I am, which is even more difficult to attack.

It seems to me that the names we call ourselves can be used to explain ourselves to ourselves or to others, or to give ourselves permission to behave in a certain way, or to argue to another that I should be able to behave in a certain way. When I first saw a gender psychiatrist he gave me a card saying that I was undergoing treatment for transsexualism and it was appropriate for me to use a woman’s loo. I never had to bring that card out, but I carried it in my handbag until I went full time.

-Why are you dressed as a woman?
-Because I am trans.

Omygod I have this compulsion to dress as a woman.
I am trans
Therefore dressing as a woman is alright.

Do as thou wilt so long ye harm none. However I dress does not harm anyone.

Today, it was really hot, so when I got to the town centre and chained up my bicycle I could not bear to put my wig on. Anyway, under the helmet I was sweaty, and did not want all that sweat in my wig. I put on my skirt over my shorts and walked through the town. “I am embracing my inner non-binary,” I thought. I can have a skirt, breasts made of flesh rather than padding, and male pattern baldness not completely obscured by having just shorn my head with clippers. I am, just for today, non-binary. I went into a charity shop, then thought I cannot try that on because I am so sweaty: so I am concerned for others still. I noticed my awareness narrowing, a self-defence mechanism: rather than thinking “Everyone is staring at me” I only notice other people to avoid bumping into them, deliberately not noticing how they look or if they are looking at me. So, possibly several people were staring at the odd man in a skirt. After going round with my wig off I could just decide I am entitled to do that, and not need a name for myself to justify it; but in the meantime I can take different names which seem contradictory.

So you might call yourself non-binary if you wanted to do things you felt were restricted to one sex or the other. That seems fine if you want to present male three days a week and female the rest of the time. It is more of a problem if you think women should not shout, or men should not cry. That is a radical feminist objection: a woman can behave as she wishes, according to her own nature, and should not be restricted by patriarchal concepts of what is “feminine”. Harridans and pansies unite! But I do not use these names to restrict anyone, but to liberate myself.

However, there is no clear line between “trans” and “non-binary”, so that you could clearly identify a person as one or the other apart from their own identification. And lots of people behave as they wish without the need for these labels. Some are more normal, and some have more self-confidence.

Gender Diverse III

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.

Gender Diverse II

No, we can’t just get along. There will be no alliance of radical feminists and trans. They don’t think they are gender diverse, but ordinary women.

They believe the differences between males and females are to do with reproductive biology, and patriarchal oppression. There is a mounting body of research of how girls are moulded to be soft and gentle, boys to be independent and dominant, from birth. It’s one more issue I would need a Masters degree to get an informed opinion, it is fraught and political, but the resistance strengthens. I could allude to discrete facts, such as that the median size of males being greater than that of females, and that men’s voices break, which might show the biology is more than merely reproductive, but women’s voices are deeper in England than in Thailand, and that is cultural. Women are vulnerable in the later stages of pregnancy and when nursing, so cultural differences could have reproductive origins; but I could not make a coherent opinion based on an assessment of the evidence.

My friend mimicked her high-pitched, girlish teenage voice. It sounded mocking, but was not. My attempt at functional and analytical empathy is, resentment at not being equipped to deal with a particular threatening situation, in fact being socialised to be accommodating, and have greater difficulty; memory of bewilderment and hurt; and in particular anger, and determination not to be so threatened again. From this comes an intense fellow-feeling for women- cis women, biological females- in similar situations. There is more to resent: disparity in wages, imbalance of political power especially as it affects women’s issues, imbalance of power in social situations generally.

All that produces the attitude to trans women. For them, the concept of a woman with a man’s body is ridiculous, meaningless. We are men, who have not had the socialisation that has harmed them. Women need women’s spaces, we should not be there, and excluding us is not cruelty, not even hostility to us. Their sympathy for our difficulties and struggles does not extend to admitting us where we have no place. So they are innocent victims of our angry responses, which bespeak male privilege and entitlement, and they are entitled to defend themselves.

I see a lack of femininity in them, and think it a sign of gender diversity. They don’t. It is the aspect of a woman in the world with her consciousness raised. They see my femininity as a caricature or reinforcement of Patriarchal concepts of womanhood, which are oppressive, which they resent. However much I say that I express this feminine because I am this feminine, I don’t feel I am believed. It is more difficult in that there is no agreement on what “feminine” means.

There can be friendships, understanding, even respect. To be seen as an ally, though, I would have to revert to using a male name, avoid women’s spaces, and become a passionate and knowledgeable advocate for women’s rights- in their estimation, not merely in my own. This is a price I am unwilling to pay. Then my assertion that I am subverting gender stereotypes becomes a political argument, which they refute to their own satisfaction. This piece on cognitive dissonance shows how difficult change could be.

I am glad not every woman thinks like this. Not even every radical feminist- consider Sara Ahmed. Enough people tolerate me to enable me to get by.