Welcome back! In our last episode I mentioned that I’d received a few comments that stradled the line of what trolling means. Rather than just approve or ignore them, I’m responding to them in a more open format. Enjoy!
Anonymous’ second comment was to The Transphobic, Cissexist People in our Lives. It’s a little long, so I’m going to break it up and respond section by section.
So this is something that makes me angry… Trans people, specifically the M to F people, saying they are feminists. They weren’t raised as women, they were never oppressed because of their genitalia or reproductive organs, never told they couldn’t be firefighters. Perhaps they were told they couldn’t play with dolls?
I don’t understand why they think they expect to be automatically considered “women” when they are obviously MID-TRANSITION. You are, by definition, IN THE MIDDLE, not on either side.
So claiming to be a feminist!? is distasteful to me, at the very least, because you want to shuck your privileges as a male and then whine about how hard women have it. When YOU WERE NOT BORN THAT WAY. You have CHOSEN to become a woman, so STOP THE FUCKING WHINING.
I think that Anonymous was responding more generally to my blog, and not to this specific post, as it (and the discussion that followed) didn’t really cover feminism.
However, that’s irrelivant to the larger claim that anyone, let alone trans people specifically, can’t be feminists. Neither Dictionary.com, nor Wikipedia, nor Stanford, nor any other resource I could find indicates feminism is a philosophy exclusive to women, or people raised as women. Feminism, at least the feminism I identify with, isn’t a womyn-born-womyn space, and doesn’t benefit only women. CrimethInc says it better than I could but, in short, for every girl who was told she couldn’t be a firefighter there is a boy who was told he couldn’t be a ballerina. Yes, women are ultimately the victims of sexism and the benefactors of feminism more often than men, but it’s naive to think sexism doesn’t cut both ways and its elimination wouldn’t benefit people other than those who have “been oppressed because of their genitalia or reproductive organs.” (Which, by the way, trans women have too.)
I’m also really interested the anger Anonymous has towards mid-transition trans women who wish to be considered ‘women.’ Unfortunately, until there’s a trans-only bathroom/pronoun/clothing line/dressing room/etc I’m forced to pick one or the other. On top of which, there is no gatekeeper to gender. Every definition has its exceptions (intersexed, AIS, infertile, too feminine, too masculine, too something) and I don’t see how my self-identification as a woman harms anyone.
As for accusations of having been male and suffering from misogyny, I’m not going to pretend I’m magically free of the effects of having been socialized as male for twenty-plus years, and that transitioning hasn’t been a humbling experience. Transitioning has helped me understand exactly how insidious culture and socialization is in creating expectations about appropriate behavior, and I am learning that certain things I was socialized to think were OK really aren’t. You have every right to call me out if you perceive something I say to be misogynistic. But you don’t have a right to presume I don’t know what I’m talking about, or that everything I say, as a trans woman, is automatically misogynist.
But we’re not done yet. That’s right, there’s more:
I couldn’t choose to be a man. I was born into this body, born into the Mormon society that automatically strips women of their rights except in regards to childbirth and the home. You are CHOOSING this life, although you have neither the genetic makeup(XX chromosome) nor the hormones, nor the biological structures associated with “being female”. So why the fuck you’re crying when people call you out on not “passing” for female or when they challenge your right to be called a feminist, or when they just get sick of your sensitivity to trans-centered jokes or transphobia (or homophobia for that matter)… I mean, it’s probably because you’re being RIDICULOUS.
I’m choosing to transition. But it’s the same choice a diabetic makes when taking insulin: treatment or death. The only thing that kept me going before transitioning was the thought that I might one day be able to do so. Had I felt that door was forever closed, I would have killed myself before hitting puberty. I did not, however, choose to be trans.
And I don’t know – I haven’t gotten a chromosome test, but (as I said above) any definition of gender is fraught with those who don’t quite fit, and who straddle the line. Likewise, I know women who have had mastectomies or hysterectomies. Does that mean they’re no longer women, because they lack “the biological structures”? (And, although I’m forced to admit I don’t produce them myself, I do have the hormones. My curves are mine, thankyouverymuch.)
But moving on:
I dated a man who decided towards the end of our relationship that he really wanted to become a woman, wanted the surgery, hrt, the whole shebang, and well, since I’m attracted to men, not women, we decided to break up. Being the kind-hearted, open-minded individual I am, I tried to remain friends with this person. He changed his name to Tiffany. So Tiffany began changing radically from the man I had known and loved, changing into this uber feminine pre-teen sort of person, which is not the sort of person I’d hang out with anyway– I’d chosen this person because they were the kind of person I enjoyed hanging out with, and now they decided to radically not be that person anymore, belying any of their genetics or biology — which to me, is really what you ARE — and they became this person I just didn’t enjoy talking to anymore.
And then I got accused of being “insensitive”. I’m sorry? I’m not really expected to be friends with someone who I don’t like, am I? Moreover, someone who doesn’t respect my own perspective AS a woman, specifically the perspective that rejects society’s view of women as objects and anyone not uber feminine isn’t a real woman– I mean, seriously, these are things I’d spent my whole life learning, and to watch someone else stumble through it like a noob when I’m right there trying to help is FRUSTRATING.
At last, we get to the root of the issue. Anonymous is an essentialist, equating biology and genetics with destiny. This argument always confused me, particularly coming from someone who I assumed considers herself a feminist. In addition to not being gender-exclusive, a big component of my understanding of feminism is biology not being destiny. Going back to a diabetes analogy, I hope Anonymous wouldn’t begrudge a diabetic their insulin, even though it goes against their genetics or biology.
I’m not trying to say genetics and biology have nothing to do with who people are. I know that I have a lot of my parents in me, and I’m thankful for it. But to say I’m biologically destined to be something is just silly. And again, I didn’t choose to be trans – but I’d argue strongly being trans was biological in origin, which means not transitioning would be going against my biological ‘programming.’
All that said, I’m truly sorry Anonymous couldn’t stay friends with Tiffany. She’s right, in that a lot of trans women (and men, to a lesser extent) change drastically in their transition and undergo a very awkward, very stereotypical, very hyper-feminine stage, which they may or may not grow out of. It’s the same reason girls go through a very similar stage, with excessive makeup and ridiculous outfits, as they try to develop their own identities as women. I don’t think Anonymous was insensitive for calling Tiffany out if she did become a stereotype or a parody of femininity. But I do strongly suspect Anonymous did so in an insensitive way anyway, simply because nothing she’s said thus far indicates she ‘gets’ what being trans means.
Anyway. I understand that being trans is hard, but life is hard all ways. Even if you do decide to stick with what you were born with and not use your “gender confusion” as a cop-out to obfuscate your REAL PROBLEMS and REAL LACK OF COPING SKILLS.
I lied. The root of the issue had a deeper, uglier, root. (Like with pie.) Anonymous, by using quotes to dismiss the possibility gender dysphoria is a real thing, doesn’t believe trans people really exist. She’s not denying my actual existence as a person, but she’s saying I don’t really want to transition – I’m just using it to cover up what’s really going on in my life. How kind of her to clue me in on my secret motivations…
I would suggest growing some figurative balls and stop being such a baby about things in general, but that’s just the way *I* deal with things. As a woman.
Does this mean you’re not coming over so we can do our nails and cry at Gilmore Girls?