The variety of human sympathy and desire, with men loving men, women loving women, and men who wish to be desired as women… We insist it is a question of gender identity, not sexuality. Trans is who I am. Some people cannot and will not see it that way. It is a matter of sex.
Miri Rubin’s article sees sex as the heart of the relationship between men and women, almost to the exclusion of anything else. She is opposing patriarchy and seeking agency for women, but imagines that friendship between the sexes has rarely been possible with even old folk tormented by memory of lust and satiation. “It is better to marry than burn” wrote St Paul, but then marriage is two people thrust together uncomfortably by sexual need. I have a romantic idea of two people becoming one as a team working together and supporting each other in family love, not just as the beast with two backs, but some people see sex as the imperative towards union. Then transgender is seen as sexual, because everything is.
Even if Blanchard is wrong, and trans women are not motivated by sexual desire for ourselves rather than others, transition is so difficult that it consumes our attention, first deciding to transition then doing it. When the word was permissible, someone said “There are two ‘s’s in ‘transsexual’, and both of them stand for Selfish”. Then the medical treatments we receive blunt our libido, sometimes to nothing. The distinction is clear to us: it is a matter of identity. I am a woman. It is not that I want to be a woman, or that I want to be seen/desired as a woman, but that I am one. She confounds me by using the word “patriarchy” and then “desired as a woman” as if women were mere objects of desire, rather than sexual beings with desires and pleasures in their own right- though perhaps she thinks trans women, being men, think of women that way.
Hers seems a patriarchal view. Men overcome the resistance of a potential sexual partner. Some men want to be desired by a woman as they desire her, so that the two come together freely without force. Or, want trust and friendship in a couple first, so that sex follows naturally. The fear and resistance has gone before desire arises. Perhaps, though feminist, Prof. Rubin wants to be desired and overcome: perhaps that is not just a patriarchal construct, but the nature of some women.
Exclusive trans folk, who imagine themselves in some way true trans, say that others are just playing at it, out of a sexual perversion, rather than having the true trans identity. Calling others perverts is a way for them to project their insecurities around this. We are insecure. I do not make distinctions among trans women, but say “It is a matter of identity”. Prof. Rubin just does not understand. Well, we tell ourselves stories in order to live, and perhaps we do not understand. It really is all about sex, but we cannot admit that.
I do not know Prof. Rubin’s attitude to trans folk. That line I quoted ignores trans men- but then I do, mostly, some of what I write applies to all trans people but I rarely employ inclusive language. She appears to think it is all about sex. When we say it is all about “Identity” we seek to make ourselves safe. No, we are not perverts flaunting our sexual perversion in your faces as we walk down the street. We are women (or in the case of trans men, men). But these are two separate issues. Someone may think we are sexual perverts, but support our right to live in society. Someone might even accept it is about identity not sexuality, but still think we are not Normal so want to exclude us.
Some people accept difference, so accept us; some are simply not enraged enough at us to bother opposing us. Some people will never accept it is about gender identity, but that may be OK.