Trans community

There is no trans community, and I feel that is a shame. We could benefit from supporting each other, in person not just on line. Trans readers, I need your help: how to create trans groups in real life?

Léne wants to start supportive groups, and also work with local services to ensure they meet trans folk’s needs. She used to be a social worker, now works in a school, and has contacts with the local council, which pays at least lip service to equality, diversity and the special needs of particular communities. She is holding a launch for the service next month. She also wants to open support groups for trans folk. Her interest is that her daughter transitioned recently.

Léne was in a pub recently with a cis friend and a trans friend, having a drink and a chat, when a man came over to ask if the trans woman was a man or a woman. They told him to go away, but he insisted, and grasped the trans woman’s upper arm. She went last night to report this to the police as a hate crime. The woman who interviewed her did not seem sympathetic, asking her why she thought the incident was motivated by transphobia. Well, taking someone by the arm is asserting power over them, the right to challenge their presentation, and saying they are not welcome. Léne’s parents were “Cape Coloured” from South Africa, and she says “Trans is the new Black”- no-one in a pub would say something like that to her, though they might have, in the 1980s. She is fifty. The racist would be challenged by someone else in the bar, and in the end the bar staff ejected the transphobe, who said he was only asking a question, and would not let it go.

Léne, short for Marléne, has been badgering the council for two years to consider trans people, and eventually wrote to my MP. He put her in touch with the appropriate council person, who said it was on the council’s website- so well buried that Léne could not find it. She has talked to the police, social services and housing, but had less success with trans people. She wanted to have three meetings in different towns this week, half-term, and had to cancel two for lack of interest. Two people had said they were interested but then messaged her to say they could not come. At another meeting, only I turned up. I looked at her draft website. It started, “statistics show”. That would appeal to a government worker, interested in measurable outcomes, but not necessarily to trans folk. Human stories interest me. I thought I could help bridge the gap: Léne could talk to service providers, I could approach service users. We have common goals, the desire for things to go smoothly with satisfaction on all sides.

So we had a lovely chat. We really hit it off. I feel I have made a friend. And there is no “trans community”. Some people get together for political activism. We don’t have the motive of the gay and lesbian communities, and several things to put us off: when two or more trans folk are gathered together, we are more likely to be clocked by cis people. Other trans folk remind us of the difficulties of transition, which we want to put behind us. And we don’t always like each other: we have this important thing in common, but otherwise are diverse as any other human group. The bits we cannot accept in ourselves we despise in each other.

When I transitioned I decided I would make my community in normal society. I left the Northern Concord and the Sibyls behind, but more recently when I have spent time with trans folk I have relaxed. I am with my kind. It’s a good feeling. Sharing experiences might strengthen us and give us tips.

Trans people- where have you found trans community? And would you like to spend time with other trans folk?

Miranda Yardley

How could a trans woman be transphobic? First, you have to define “trans”. My definition: a trans person is one who copes with their gender non-conformity by transgender behaviour up to and including transition. It is not something innate, but a choice we make in our particular circumstances. I feel it is a legitimate choice. We make our own lives easier. We do not harm others. This definition gives me freedom.

A transphobe, then, is one who delegitimises the choice, as Miranda Yardley does, even though she has transitioned and not reverted. For example, her insistence on the discredited autogynephilia theory, here. First, she selected the writings of four gynephile trans women, who write of being aroused by cross-gender fantasy. I don’t know whether these people have also written about being feminine, and if Yardley bothered finding out, she does not mention it, as it would refute her argument. Then she explains autogynephilia theory, that the desire to transition comes from an “erotic target location error”- you get aroused by the wrong thing, in this case fantasies of yourself as a woman. There is no explanation of what causes this error, because innate femininity (gender non-conformity) causes the error, and that refutes the theory. Yardley however wants to deal with the problem that sexual arousal is not a basis for living female continually, which she handwaves away by claiming that the erotic attachment becomes a romantic attachment.

The articles Yardley cites refute her. Why did Natalie Egan transition? Because when she was outwardly successful as a man there was always something gnawing away at me that I never understood and couldn’t explain. Only now do I understand it as a deep dissatisfaction with myself. This inner misalignment and horrific fear of expressing the person I really was inside. That’s clear enough for me, not enough for Yardley. Natalie was emotionally intuitive, yet hard to get to know. Her wife thought she was trans, at a time she herself was in deep denial.

In the New Statesman, Yardley denied being transphobic. She is a trans woman. She addresses crowds about her heavy metal magazine as “an openly trans woman”. I parse that phrase, and find it can only be a claim to be a “woman”, rather than a man. However she is “gender critical”, which means she claims to be male, and that being a woman is a matter of reproductive biology. Gender is sex-based socialisation which oppresses women. She calls a trans woman’s claim that she has always been female, “gender essentialism”, which contradicts her gender critical approach. However, I have always been feminine, and argue that women should be free not to be feminine.

Then she reaches the nub of the issue. Do the rights of a trans woman who has lived as a man for 60 years to not feel intimidated by having to use male facilities trump the rights of women to have a safe space where they do not need to be concerned about voyeurism or sexual violence? She does not give her answer here. Mine is that no woman need be concerned about voyeurism or sexual violence, if I am in a woman’s loo. I go in there to use the place in the normal way.

Here’s the transphobia. Yardley asserts that women feel threatened, and we are part of that threat, simply because of being born male. However, we are as broken by gender norms as anyone. It is a literal fear, seeing me as a threat, simply because of who I am. That negates me, and denies my right to exist.

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!

The “Cotton Ceiling”

Of a thousand people, only a very few might want to have sex with me. For many of them, they would feel an obligation to be faithful to a partner. For many more, I would be the wrong age. Even if they would not want sex with a trans woman, or not with a post-operative trans woman, that might not be the main reason. People have varying strengths of sexual response, but I can imagine that most would not be that into me. You need to feel it to want it.

Because most people in any group would not want sex with me, I tend to feel that need not be said. I can accept it that people simply like my company without wanting more; I do not find it an insult that they do not want Heughmagandie. I don’t want sex with them, either.

This is why lesbians saying they would never have sex with a trans woman, or a pre-operative trans woman, is transphobic. It need not be said. When I meet someone I expect they will not want sex with me. If they feel the need to say so, it feels vaguely insulting, either assuming that I do not accept their non-interest, or implying I am uniquely repulsive: it’s not just that they don’t want sex, but sex with me would be impossible or unimaginable. “I would never have sex with a transwoman because I am a lesbian” is saying I am a man, or at least not a woman, and I find the statement that I am in no way a woman insulting. I am culturally a woman. That I am generally treated as a woman makes my life bearable. There is no need to say it. It is transphobic.

Possibly, a trans woman has come on to that lesbian, and not taken no for an answer. That is an unpleasant experience. I sympathise with the lesbian in those circumstances. The trans woman has no right to behave like that. But imagining that other trans women will behave in the same way because one has is transphobic. We are not all the same.

Many lesbians have had relationships with trans women. That does not make them not lesbian.

Transphobia can also make someone imagine that she will never fancy a trans woman. Generalised trans phobia might mean others never check us out, or try to get to know us.

The origin of the term was the cotton of women’s underwear, that we would never get inside. I find it an unpleasant term; I am demisexual gynaeromantic (ie not that interested physically but wanting heart-connection with a female partner) so the term seems a bit coarse to me. But it was one seminar by Planned Parenthood, with seven attendees. Here is a history of the term, and the transphobic overreaction. If you google “cotton ceiling” you find lots of TERF stuff, a lot of which is quoted on that link. It’s pretty horrible. We never meant any harm. We never did any harm.

Death threat

I make a strong impression on people, but rarely make them want to kill me.

I hate how drivers are desperate to pass bicycles. Here, there is almost no flat land, and the roundabout is at the bottom of a dip. I want to build momentum going down, to help me go up the other side, and so take the roundabout at a fair clip. It is reasonably safe, I am not taking huge risks: I can see all around, and can brake hard if needed.

However this driver is a selfish, thoughtless man: he passed me as I was accelerating, and slowed down for the roundabout. I had to slow down behind him. When he stopped at the roundabout, I whizzed past him on the left, shouting something about him not passing me then slowing down.

Going up hill, I noticed that he had come to a stop, behind a car turning right. He had pulled over to the left, but I could pass him again and shouted that passing me had done him no good.

When he passed me again, he was really angry. He stopped, I stopped. He was shouting incoherently, I shouted at him that he should drive more carefully. When I shout, my voice sounds particularly masculine. Or I’ll kill you, you fxxking pxxf, he shouted, and started to get out of the car. I pedalled on, too slowly for my liking as I was going up hill. He was stopped well out from the side of the road, and I heard another driver honk their horn at him, which must have further irked the poor man. He came past me again, shouting You need killing. “Pxxf”? I’m gynephile! His gaydar is not very good…

I was scared when I got to the Quaker meeting. I wanted to put my bicycle in the garden so that there was no chance he see it, even though the chance he would pass and notice it was pretty small. Quakers were mostly sympathetic. One said he was a very sick man, and I should not “let him live rent free in my head”. Given her professional career, she should know better, though she is quite well off and not queer herself. I hesitate to talk about her privilege, but either she can understand that I feel frightened of passers-by as a default state, or she can’t. This was really horrible, and it was in my mind for much of the meeting. My anger emerged in thoughts of him starting a fight and me finishing it. The thought that came to me at the end of Meeting was that, for all his malice, and his greater power being in a car, because of the way society is he had managed to do me no harm at all.

Trans discrimination II

Why should discrimination against trans folk be unlawful? Because it stops us from thriving, and so stops us using our gifts to the benefit of all. People are weird. Our weirdness and difference is a source of strength. Accepting the idiosyncrasies of each frees everyone.

What can be weighed against that? A feather against a gold brick. Some people are transphobic. They find us repulsive. They want to say that, they want a nice, predictable world where everyone, but especially some groups such as fat people, queers, and immigrants are restricted, controlled into conformity by oppressive speech, and given a ghastly time.

Don’t compare your sin to my skin said Black evangelicals, who opposed gay liberation. There are so many overlapping oppressions. Trans folk are divided against ourselves, as if the bigots would tolerate a particular group of trans, if the others did not spoil it for us. Fighting ones own oppression is such a grievous task; and not everyone has the personality to sympathise with others, even when their problems are so similar. Do you think he can hide his nature? Jimmy McGovern’s hero priest in Broken asks the Afro-Caribbean man who despises his sister’s gay neighbour. We can, but it costs so much! None of us can escape who we are.

I demand that level of sympathy. All are broken, all are oppressed, all must work for the freedom of all; and when you realise that, you can be free.

It is not a free speech issue. You’re a man, really has little value as speech. Why would anyone want to be rude to me? To exercise power over me, to oppress me. A pointless, thoughtless cruelty for the sake of it. What do they gain? A fraudulent sense of their own correctness, understanding and control- but they don’t understand or control anything, not really.

The freedom that matters is the freedom to live your life as you choose. Freedom of speech has value where it allows people to work out new ways of living, but not when it restricts us. I harm no-one by expressing my femininity. I should not be deterred from it by the fear of not getting a job, or housing, or services. There is no value in being able to say to another, Ew! I disapprove of you!– unless that person is doing something which clearly harms someone else.

I wonder how this relates to Nietzsche’s conception of the strong and the weak. I feel, expressing myself female, particularly weak and vulnerable, yet feel that is closer to his Hero than to his resenting lesser men, who conform to a conventionality defined by others. It is not the same- I do what I must, what I may, not what I Will. I seek a world where none are weak, where no-one need to conform to anything but their true nature.

Is a trans woman really a woman?

Yes. But what can we say if told that we have testicles, so our sex is male, so we are men? It’s scientific, innit?

The word “man” has always had a different meaning from adult human with testicles. Rudyard Kipling: if you can show unswerving integrity, moral courage, and gentle acceptance of others’ inadequacies; if you never complain or show weakness, and

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

You’ll be a Man, which may or may not be different from a “man”.

Well I tried my damnedest, and I couldn’t. Force anything that hard and it breaks.

Someone quoted George Orwell: Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Ah, they is a martyr for Truth, rather than a tedious, pedantic, unmannerly oaf, calling me a “man”. Actually, that quote supports me rather than them. They seeks to simplify, we multiply words to seek to express nuance- gender queer, gender fluid, non-binary, trans woman. They wants to appear so Clear, Definite and Right, and is angry and desperate.

Trying to answer with science- “I have a woman’s brain, look at this study of white matter”– is a good start. That argument sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. Scientific analysis shows many variations on the genitals, in intersex conditions, and in the genes of those who appear to be cis. However, you are on the “man” side if you have or had working testicles and penis, and I share the feminist objection to asserting that innate gendered differences in brains cause men as a group to behave differently from all women. There is too great a range of behaviours in both genders for it to be so rigid. I feel the words “man” and “woman” have a use.

“Manliness”, “manhood” and “man” define an ideal, which is enforced in the culture. We don’t fit it. The answer is, change the culture, but that can’t be done quickly. Meanwhile, some people transition. We have been doing it for thousands of years, and the threat of death has not stopped us. I could not have accepted my feminine self without transition. As things stand, presenting male is just too difficult for me.

Then, this powerless group becomes a political football. EU human rights law has led to the Gender Recognition Act in Britain. The law says I am female. It makes my life easier. It is generally a working compromise. I dress female, use a female name, make some effort to lighten my voice, and mostly get by. Vulnerable people, for whom this is the most important thing in our lives mostly get tolerated. It takes all sorts to make a world. Me identifying as female is weird for some people, but then some people identify as Scottish first, or British, or Glaswegian, or European, and the relative importance differs for each person- and some of us get very steamed up about that. Anything human is rarely cut and dried. It is continually changing.

Some of the objection is transphobic. Ew. Men in women’s clothes! I want to be myself. I might look a bit odd. Greater acceptance of diversity benefits everyone, freeing us to benefit from each others’ gifts unrestricted by the strain of trying to appear normal. Everyone becomes aware of more possibilities, some of which they might try out. Everyone feels less need to conform, so as none of us fits stereotypes completely we are all more free.

It is possible that acceptance of a trans woman as a woman in some exceptional situations may harm other vulnerable people. That is certainly not true in every case, and the risk of someone being upset at seeing a trans woman in some random public loo is not a good reason for prohibiting all trans women from women’s loos. There might be particular circumstances where a trans woman should not use women’s space. I am open to persuasion. We should behave considerately in women’s space, but then, everyone should behave considerately in every public space.

That particular individual is incorrigible. Consider more of their drivellings: if we erase the notion of biological sex from the language, it would be impossible to walk into a wrong bathroom or discriminate against the opposite sex. But then we will live in the 1984 dystopia. What a martyr they is! I don’t want to erase the notion of biological sex, just permit the odd discrepancy, because human culture is complex, and changing it difficult, requiring bodges. Casting the issue in such apocalypic terms, they are surely justified in causing me such small discomfort as to instruct me what toilet to use. It is not an argument. There will be no meeting of minds. It is a power struggle.

Continued: Is a cis woman really a woman?

Transphobia in the New York Times

What’s missing from this paragraph? What the three men in Oregon understood, but the White House doesn’t, is that in a healthy society, Islamophobia doesn’t disparage just Muslims, racism doesn’t demean blacks alone, misogyny hurts more than women, xenophobia insults more than immigrants. Rather, we are all diminished, so we all have a stake in confronting bigotry.

“Transphobia does not just hurt trans folk.” Why can’t Nicholas Kristof say that? Because it is too “politically correct”? Because no-one really cares about trans folk, because there are not enough of us to matter, because others would deny that and he can’t be bothered to argue? Because he would deny it himself?

He was writing about the murder of Rick Best, who stood up for a Muslim woman against an Islamophobic rant on a Portland commuter train. Rick Best is a hero. I don’t impugn Rick Best by imagining he might not stick up for me in similar circumstances, but I wonder if New York Times editors and writers would, because there is a constant stream of such things. They miss us out when writing about disadvantaged groups, whom it besmirches civilisation when they are demeaned, but include us at other times?

People have to choose between heating their homes, buying food or buying health care and you want them to worry about the survival of the planet or transgender stuff?…White lives matter, too, you know. That woman forgot that — and lost. We lost our discipline and our moral code in this country. So we need honest Trump to shake things up. That’s Roger Cohen imagining Trump supporters, who later he calls decent, thoughtful, anxious, patriotic Americans who felt they were losing some part of their country’s essence. I wish I believed Cohen thought me as important as climate change, but I fear he just feels I repulse Trump voters as much as climate change realism does.

This happens again and again. When the NYT needs an example of Liberal ridiculousness or political correctness gone mad, it picks on us. Opinion articles devoted to trans issues are generally positive, despite the possibly disconcerting article “My daughter is not transgender- she’s a tomboy“- but there is this steady drip of hostile references. Send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee– but, perhaps, not for trans folk.

I have to add George Yancy, published on 19 June. Is your God dead? He writes we should be mortified by the inadequacy and superficiality of our anguish when we witness the suffering of others, the sort of anguish that should make us weep until our eyes are red and swollen and bring sleepless nights and agonizing days. He quotes Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Any god who is mine but not yours, any god concerned with me but not with you, is an idol.” I continue to be haunted by the murder of an unarmed Trayvon Martin in 2012. Hundreds of thousands of children around the world are suffering. We all have known about the cruel and despicable violence toward transgender individuals. We know about the magnitude of human trafficking, the magnitude of poverty, and the sickness of hatred… “Through lamentation, voice is given to pain.” Yet our lamenting, our mourning for those who suffer, is far too short-lived. I need my lamenting to be heard. It is almost bearable, if I am heard.

It was going on since Trump was elected. What is the most boring, irrelevant topic? According to Mark Lilla, it is transgender rights. Fascination with the identity drama has even affected foreign reporting, which is in distressingly short supply. However interesting it may be to read, say, about the fate of transgender people in Egypt, it contributes nothing to educating Americans about the powerful political and religious currents that will determine Egypt’s future, and indirectly, our own. No major news outlet in Europe would think of adopting such a focus.

Ongoing NYT watch:

22 June, Brett Stephens: nominating more progressive candidates isn’t likely to solve the contempt problem, at least with voters not yet in sync with progressive orthodoxies on coal, guns or gender-neutral bathrooms.

6 July, Mark Penn and Andrew Stein, …working-class voters saw the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland.

Credit where credit’s due- Lindy West on the need to be unequivocally pro-choice, 2 August: I hear from some people on the left that Donald Trump’s victory was at least partially the fault of “identity politics” — of feminists pushing too hard, of Black Lives Matter being too aggressive, of trans people needing to go to the bathroom — as though the violent suppression of a movement points more toward its irrelevance than its necessity. Lindy West regularly names us in a positive way.

James Kirchick does not like Chelsea Manning’s leaking, even though it exposed American crimes. I find this sentence disgusting: But it’s hard to imagine Ms. Manning receiving such a positive reception — never mind a spread in Vogue — if she still identified as Bradley, transgender being the liberal cause du jour. Ms. Manning’s atypical identity adds a frisson of subversion to her already subversive acts. Transgender, it would appear, trumps treachery. I am not a “cause du jour”. I am a human being.

A more subtle one, 24 September: Americans have rarely disagreed more in recent decades. We disagree about racial issues, bathroom policies, health care laws, and, of course, the 45th president. It’s a list of serious matters affecting the lives of millions, and in the middle is a non-issue affecting the lives of thousands, made scarily important and controversial by Bret Stephens.

6 October: Roger Cohen says that after immigrants and “elites”, trans folk are the people the hard right most hate. In Brandenburg, as in Trump-world, there’s plenty of political energy against globalized, mealy-mouthed, quinoa-loving, inequality-fostering, immigrant-embracing elites with their gender spectra, climate doomsdays, multilateral organizations, mainstream parties and smug no-alternatives views of existence.

Misgendering

When people want to complain about “Political Correctness gone mad” they name Misgendering. It frightens me when they say Democrats or other relatively Left parties should drop PC, and pick on trans folk, as if we had lost the Left the elections, and throwing us under the bus was the route back to being in contention. Constantly complaining about dopey things, from pronouns that “misgender” to whether Ann Coulter should be allowed to speak at Berkeley … has become a hallmark of Team Blue over the last decade. It’s no small part of the reason Red America threw up their hands, looking for any alternative to push back against the inanity wrote Matt Labash in the NYT. Labash is a Republican, but Democrats say this sort of thing too.

This gets wearing. The archetypal PC idiocy is treating trans folk with courtesy. Possibly the complainers felt even gay marriage was off limits; too many people support it, no-one is particularly attacking it. They may in the future, but not now. But some people take pride in misgendering- calling me “he” and feeling self-righteous about it. I slip up myself, so don’t object to people making mistakes, only to people who do it intentionally, or do not see why it is offensive, like Labash here- I think he finds the complaints dopey, not the “mistakes”.

It matters to us. We transition whether or not the circumstances are propitious. We fail to thrive, or get murdered, where they are not. The callous answer is something like “Well, truth matters to me, you’re really [or not] a man”- but it is an excuse to be callous, a preference for being nasty to us, a way of finding someone to look down on. Some prefer the liberating chance to be cruel over the chafing requirement to be courteous.

They have such an elegant way of expressing it! We named the microaggression “misgendering”, one simple word for when someone uses pronouns as if I were a man. That means when the Right wants to allude to trans folk, they merely need quote “misgendering”, in scare quotes because they deny it is a real word, though it usefully names a phenomenon and has wide currency: it is in the Oxford dictionaries. And some Left-wing writers say the Left should abandon the more extreme political correctness, and the example they choose is Misgendering.

They might choose abortion in the US, and write of “reaching out to pro-life Democrats”. This article in NYT points out abortion is an economic issue. Poorer women have more unwanted pregnancies, where they cannot afford a child, then where they could not continue in work or education fall further into poverty. On that basis, misgendering is economic too: we will transition even though in an atmosphere of hostility will lose our jobs.

Inequality matters. The inequality of badly paid workers with insecure jobs matters, and I want them to vote Left; and the Right makes them angry, then diverts the anger against out-groups, such as immigrants or LGBT folk. The Right-wing siren song is that nothing can be done about the inequality, but at least you can feel better if you can express anger against an out-group. They want to blame immigrants, then call third generation British Asians “immigrants”, then foment hatred for us. First they come for the immigrants, then the queers. Who’s next? Might it be you?

Are trans women monsters?

No.

Anatomy and physiology matter. Wombs, their functions and malfunctions, menstuation pregnancy and childbirth, all matter. Sexual attraction always has something to do with anatomy, however demisexual romantic you are, and a penis is not a vagina. Sexual autonomy matters- you have a right to choose a partner, and a right to reject whole classes of partner, such as anyone with a penis.

None of this means that my understanding of myself, my expression or my choices are illegitimate, and it certainly does not mean I should never enter a women’s loo.

I have a twitter account, but have only tweeted once in the past year. I prefer to google someone and look at their tweets than to follow, and I rarely even look at my feed. I am not familiar with twitter. 140 characters is not enough to construct an argument. You can make a bald generalisation, but twitter is better for encouraging your own side than arguing constructively or persuading. It only really works when people make allowances and try to see the good in each other- otherwise, it promotes misunderstanding.

I don’t know why someone would erase a date or the number of replies, retweets and likes from a screen capture. A date would make these tweets easier to find. I got these images from a transphobic blog, and the Tweeters may have laid themselves open to transphobic use.

Transphobia and transmisogyny. Well, no, I don’t think so. I want to be seen as a whole person, but sex involves genitals and some people don’t want sex with a penis. That a lesbian would not have sex with her does not invalidate the trans woman’s life experiences, choices, or self-understanding, but the lesbian is entitled to the choice, and to state it is not necessarily an expression of hatred or fear of the trans woman.

If a lesbian tries to use her dislike of penises to make a point about trans women, invalidating us, that is different. There is no need to harp on about groups you don’t find attractive. Most people would not have sex with me- they feel a need to be faithful, they find me too young or too old, any number of reasons which we have no need to enumerate in civilised society. “I would never have sex with you” could be an insult, an attack on my general attractiveness. It is unpleasant, and Rachel’s riposte invalidates such attacks. I feel Rachel goes too far, though.

Um. Some people were brought up to be ashamed of periods, never told what to expect so shocked when they started to bleed, and this is not OK. I did not experience that, I was surprised, unhappy and ashamed about wet dreams. Periods are not a trump card, excluding me from women’s loos, or women with Turner’s Syndrome would be not real women. A little consideration for other people, which can’t be shown by one tweet taken out of context, would accept that women are entitled to talk about anything to do with periods from menarche to menopause. Yes it is wearying if they judge me by my inability to menstruate, or say that means I am not a woman.

The way we encourage each other on Twitter can be taken out of context. I am female. My experiences and choices are valid. Periods are not a trump card. Yet these tweets have been taken and quoted to prove to the blogger’s satisfaction that trans women are monstrous and possibly threatening. It does no-one any good.

I don’t know if the only @ThurMonster I found by searching is a different person. Some of those tweets are witty. I found none trans-related, but did not scroll far. The profile picture on the screenshot appears on this TasteKid page, where the facial hair is more visible. I am happy to call myself lesbian. Some people would object. The tweet seems to be an ally defending us against the idea that only “women born women” or whatever can be lesbian. I don’t feel that the tweet by itself is particularly objectionable.

It’s wordpress for nuance, twitter for twitterspats. Let us encourage each other. People will take our reassurances of each other out of context to use to portray us as monstrous, and that’s unavoidable. Possibly sometimes the reassurance goes a bit too far, and lays you open to transphobic people. Try not to put off potential allies, or give ammunition to those who would.

Thanks to Violet for introducing me to that post.