In a radical feminist world, there is no transphobia – Guest Post on ZinniaJones.com

Radical feminism is a platform for gender equality which includes, among other things, the belief that most gender is performed. As a radical feminist, I believe that gender roles are artificially created, that most dimorphism is affected rather than mandated by nature, and that the divide has been pushed beyond all reason to the express benefit of men. This is what we call the patriarchy.

One unfortunate aspect of this socialization is that society, through various messages including but not limited to role-modeling from peers and media, teaches young men that they are entitled to the hearts and minds of women, including but again not limited to domestic and sexual servitude. Women, no more fond of subjugation and servitude than men, become unfortunately prone to self-loathing and more fortunately prone to rebellion.

In the process of shaking ourselves loose the shackles of gendered expectations, different schools of feminism have emerged. Varying degrees of oppression are recognized, and socialized roles and appearances are sorted differently into categories of oppressive and benign. Radical feminism, as the name suggests, subscribes to the most severe criteria. Radical feminism is also unfortunately best known by queer communities as transphobic.

The rift between radical feminism and trans activism begins with the application of known oppressive phenomena to the analysis of trans presentation and activism. On the surface, it’s easy to see what their problem is. To the casual observer, trans women assert and express their womanhood physically and visually. They often wear feminine clothes, shave feminine areas, and insist on feminine names and pronouns. Trans men resist feminine obligations, much the way radical feminists do, but then also resist the designation of “woman.” In the eyes of transphobic radical feminists, the former too closely resembles role enforcement while the latter too closely resembles self-loathing.

If trans people and trans activists were at all interested in sending women at large back to the kitchen, entrenching them further into the sex class, or in the case of trans men, eliminating women altogether or otherwise gender-leveling up, the transphobic radical feminists might have a point. Inconveniently for them, this couldn’t be further from the case.

The patriarchy has the same persistent negative impact on trans women as it does cis women. Society tells them that they are more acceptable when they present in a feminine manner and worth less as a person when they fail to please the eye. The rigid physical standards applied to women cause trans women inordinate amounts of stress. The sex classing of women and requisite caste system of the class (more commonly known as varying degrees of fuckability, or even more commonly as a scale from 1 to 10) has inhumanely relegated trans women with a certain remaining organ to the undesirables. They are expected to be content with either fetishization or pity fucking, along with cis women of the overweight and differently abled varieties. This particular problem has recently been the birth of a massive online “cotton ceiling” debate. We’ll get back to that.

Let us first work on the premise that trans women are women and trans men are men. Of course without the validity of their genders decided upon, it’s easy enough for transphobes to make their arguments unchallenged. The most common radical feminist position on trans identities is that a post-patriarchal world would not require men to call themselves women to be feminine. They could just be feminine men; reverse that for trans men.

But this doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Society already does not require masculine women to call themselves men or feminine men to call themselves women. Furthermore, a post-patriarchal world – more specifically a post-gender role world – would necessarily have eliminated almost every trait that divides men from women. Things we think of as masculine or feminine would no longer be associated with men or women and would no longer even be recognizable as masculine or feminine. Masculinity and femininity would lose all meaning.

This is not a utopian fantasy. Many things have already lost masculine and feminine categorization. In my mother’s time, trumpet playing was masculine. In my grandmother’s time, making jokes was masculine. Today, neither of these activities are associated with gender. It is not possible to draw a line in this gender-blending at the physical. Perhaps the imaginations of older-generation feminists who grew up in far more oppressive environments than today’s feminists were unable to think as far ahead as, say, the thick-necked, slender-hipped, flat-chested physiques of the very feminine 2012 Olympic women’s gymnastics team, or the soft skin and round, well-developed breasts of a trans woman on HRT. Nonetheless, here we have it. The lines are being erased with the slow liberation of women and medical advancement.

If the contention of radical feminism is that neither behavior, nor presentation, nor physical appearance should make or break the difference between men and women, why draw the line at the word “man” or “woman?” The very words will become nonsensical and impossible to define. Sure, there will still be some natural hormonal division, but when people can safely, permanently, and completely alter these differences at will, why deny it? When women and men are socialized equally, what will anyone have lost? What will anyone have gained but the right to define themselves, the right for which radical feminists so arduously fight?

Back to the cotton ceiling debate, or really, any debate online between radical feminists and trans activists: Is a childhood of boy-designated socialization sometimes evident in arguments from trans women? Absolutely. To start with, they don’t question themselves, apologize for themselves, or wait for their turn to speak quite as often as cis women are taught to do from birth. Likewise, a childhood of girl-designated socialization is sometimes evident when trans men make arguments. It will be nice when girl-designated socialization and boy-designated socialization include a childhood where respect and assertiveness are taught equally, but though there has been progress, we’re not there yet.

However, there is no reason to make the leap from a sense of the way somebody was socialized as a child to their “true” gender. Like the wage gap, sex classing, and glass ceiling, all of which very much apply to trans people’s identities rather than their designated birth sex, these are simply the costs and benefits of the patriarchy. Like skirts, heels, trucks, and sports, they are no more reflective of the true identity of a trans person than they are a cis person.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

7 responses to “In a radical feminist world, there is no transphobia – Guest Post on ZinniaJones.com

  1. T

    Radical Feminism, heh?
    Like these Fucked Up people?

    “As Sheila Jeffreys has put it, and I think we all agree, it has to start with this: there is something wrong with men. It is a pathology with both physical and psychological features. I personally think it is as old as our evolution as hominids. I think it’s a biological adaptation which is now rotten, dangerous, and vestigial. I think we have to force the scientific establishment to take a clear look at this colossal sick old mammoth taking up all the space in the living room, and make it stop distracting itself with sexy cosmologies and particle accelerators. I don’t quite have a name for this pathology. Let’s give it a real name together.
    […]
    Joanna Russ presented us with an early vision of a woman-only society. James Tiptree, Jr. wrote a story in which the women characters flee earth entirely. Some say an earth with only 10% men will be a safe earth free of oppression. We need more of these visions.

    My own personal vision is that women will cure the sickness that ails men and that men will stay around, hunkered in their man-caves playing the ukelele, leaving us in peace at last. As to what that cure may be, my best bet is that what’s wrong with men is that their androgens need genetic modification.

    I’m serious about this. If we can do it with corn, men ought to be easy.”

    Example comments on the article by site readers:
    “re the womyn-identified focus: I think it is a very important feature of ours and definitely the best defence of our politics: All the rest of the world’s politics are not womyn-centred. We have the only truly womyn-centred politics on earth. We advocate FAAB womyn-only spaces, btw, something men keep trying to infiltrate and destroy…

    re the fact that we are Westerners: Is there really no radical feminism in the so-called ‘third world’? I believe they are currently building strong womyn’s movements there, no?

    re men: yes, they are the problem, and womyn will have to realise this. Men are the carriers of a Y chromosome that makes them the way they are, I believe. Womyn have to be strongly aware of the posibility of men’s inherent sadism and cruelty.

    Heterosexuality is NOT natural for womyn. It has been forced, imposed and indoctrinated upon them via malestream customs and culture. Womyn who want to be free seriously have to consider overcoming heteropatriarchal conditioning.

    As a radical lesbian separatist, I tend to advocate that womyn separate from men as much as they can (either to become lesbians or spinsters).”

    AND

    “men are biologically, genetically mentally ill, and the only solution to this is a biological solution, and the last thing they want is for us to solve this problem? the problem of them?”

    AND

    “Let’s assume instead, correctly, that the majority of humanity being female, we are the “norm”. Our biology is the basis of humanity. Now let’s look at what it is in the male sex that drives them to such deviant aggressive behavior as constant war, hierarchies, and strict domination of women. None of these behaviors are adapted to the needs of our modern world. It’s their androgens, to put it simply. It’s not just testosterone, though men have on the average an astounding 14 times the “norm”, that is, the amount women have. What is the “safe” amount of testosterone a human being with an XY genotype can have without causing unacceptable harm to others due to his abnormal aggressiveness caused by this ancient hormonal adaptation to a hunting environment? I won’t go on, but I think it’s a reasonable question, and the answer would indeed lead to a treatment protocol, and then…oh, I know, this isn’t simple, really, but…I think it could easily be established that men are sick with abnormally high levels of aggressive hormones and they can’t run amok like this any longer now that technology can treat this condition.

    Oh, and I don’t think this condition even has a name yet. It’s the Great Unspeakable.”

    AND

    “On a possible matriarchy, this is something I have always missed and am constantly working on. I often wonder why I am a feminist at all given how women have, and do tend to treat me. I am determined, however, to build my own little female centered utopia. Seeking loyal, reliable friends is where I am beginning.

    Even if we killed off 90% of men, the majority of women left over would do their best to keep the oppressive system. I’d dare say we’d have to kill off all the women too and leave the little girls and radfems to create the utopia.

    Great post. Just what I’ve needed to read to help clarify what exactly Radical Feminism is today.”

    AND

    “The *magic number* to bring the males under control is ~30% of the population (roughly 2 females per male). There are a few countries (like in Africa) where the men have managed to kill themselves off with a lot of warring, then the women get into politics and make a lot of community-friendly[…]”

    AND

    “This post was nothing short of BRILLIANT. So inspiring, thank you!

    My Vision:

    A world where mothers are in charge, every step of the way, from the (tribal) family unit – where sisters and aunties and grandmothers all help one another and this group of females serves as the loving centre of the family – to the community decision making level.

    A world where males are shunned by everyone & punished severely (outcast?) if they are aggressive or violent.”

  2. Agreeing with the premises does not obligate a person to agree with every single person’s conclusions, which was really the entire point of my post. So please go back and read again, thank you.

  3. rogiriverstone

    Heather, You are probably feeling rather disappointed at the REACTION — not response — to this. Ppl were reactionarily triggered by buzz words and didn’t hear you. Even a Trans* person I know asked me if you thought genders “should” be eliminated, and confused gender with sex. I was flabbergasted. I, on the other hand, was thrilled, b/c I’ve been intuiting, but unable to articulate, something very similar to what you say re: intersection of radical feminism & Trans*/GenderQueer. I would even add MRAs to this. Won’t elaborate much here, but I see the seat of the anger & resentment in the SAME THING: artificially-imposed gender roles/restrictions.

    OK, so I’m going to butt in here. Cuz part of the problem is presentation. You have hearing issues. You need to check your microphone volume, and refer to the levels as you go, so you know if you’re peaking/distorting.

    You are presenting a LOT of information. DETAILED information. Most of these concepts are very new for ALL of your audience, which includes, but is not limited to: ppl who’ve heard rumors, harbor resentments & prejudices about: Trans* vs. radical feminism, MRAs, radical feminists….

    You’re writing essays that are too complex for the venue. If you can, break them down into smaller sections, label them as parts of a series.

    If you can edit in graphics, it will help a LOT to keep viewers’ minds focused on your issues and not to wander off into… “I don’t like her hair; where’d I put my cigarettes; what the hell did she just say; why doesn’t she get her own channel…..babble.

    You have GOT to speak more slowly. Listening to this is the effect of hearing a sack of ball bearings, falling down a flight of stairs. There’s a lot of it, it’s coming at you at a high rate of speed, it’s probably dangerous to walk and one might bounce up and take an eye out.

    People cannot hear you and part of that isn’t political. It’s mechanical. You could also use a MUCH better microphone. The sound quality is really, really bad.

    It’s a damn shame that got so many dislikes and so much asinine chatter about off topic junk you didn’t even insinuate, let alone say.

    You were speaking to your audience as if you were speaking to ZJ. Your audience isn’t as broad minded, well read, open as ZJ. And it’s a LOT more acclimated to attacks & hostility, giving and receiving.

    To quote Ellie Arroway’s daddy in “Contact,” Small steps, Sparks, small steps.

    I sincerely appreciate what you’re trying to do. I think it’s VERY necessary. I think you’re getting shit for stuff you absolutely do NOT deserve.

    I seriously think this will work better if it’s: smaller per video, slower, has graphics & has better audio.

    Video 1 gender/patriarchy description
    Video 2 what radical feminists THINK Trans* might threaten
    Video 3 what Trans* actually is
    Video 4 the synthesis: arguing gender roles are artificial/symptomatic of patriarchal requirements.

    Relax. Calm down. Be kind to yourself. Breathe. Don’t rush.

    You’re doing good work. But try to remember: when I go to the doctor, I only have the most rudimentary understanding of my cardiopulmonary system. So, when she says, “you have emphysema,” I COMPLETELY freak out and can’t hear another word she says. Now, SHE knows it can, in these early stages, be reversed, through medication, exercise and, of course, cigarette cessation. But she doesn’t know that I don’t know that. All I hear is, “you’re going to die within five years by drowning in your own fluids.”

    That’s pretty shocking and I can’t hear another word she says.

    That’s what’s happening to you, my dear.

    YOU know what you mean; ZJ knows what you mean.

    The rest of us are scared shitless, pretty much.

    Get it?

    • Thanks for the tips. We were actually already considering something like that – a video simply addressing “what is patriarchy” lol

      • rogiriverstone

        Yeah, u r doing post grad & they’re not quite @ 101 yet. Even at post grad, what u r doing is just EXOTIC to most of em. Even more exotic that ZJ! Also, it’s something SO petty, SO trivial, I hesitated to mention it before, but I will now. They’re jealous of you. Yeah. They’ve had lil ZJ all to themselves, all the way back to the “faggot” video in the pink Reddit shirt. And you’re horning in on their time with ZJ. It’s sibling rivalry, grrl! LOL srsly Or, you’re the Evil Stepmother…family dynamics suck

  4. Lady Rarity

    As a trans woman who often considers herself relatively radical on the feminist spectrum, this post is the >>most good<< imo.

    There was one thing i'd like to add, though, which i find people often overlook. This post seems to halt at "but it's ok to present in a more feminine-coded way" without mentioning two things which really contribute to many trans people's–i specifically speak in the realm of trans women as i have no experience as a trans man–public presentation: trans women are often -required- to present in a style which is overtly "feminine" in our society for two reasons. One, we have all been socialized that certain things are "masculine" and certain things are "feminine," therefore body dysphoria can be compounded by the self-perception that one is "masculine" when one has a female identity.

    Secondly, in order to survive in a cis-dominated world, oftentimes one must conform to cis expectations. Trans women must be EXCEPTIONALLY feminine in order to get recognized as feminine at all. If a trans woman is butch, for instance, she can at best expect the snickering smugness of cis supremecy: "see? She even ACTS like a man!" Trans women who are not overtly feminine risk not only putting themselves in compromising situations, but oftentimes dangerous ones.

  5. Everest

    I’ve just read the text here (I’ll watch the video when I get home) but I thought this post was really great. I’m a cis-woman feminist without much exposure to trans* people/ideas and I’ll admit that I have had thoughts about trans*women strengthening gender stereotypes in their conforming to them so it was great to read the rebuttal to that thought. I’ve got a lot of cis-privilege and general confusion about the whole thing (probably stemming from my privilege there) and have sought out some preliminary readings but this post really connected with me so thanks for writing it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s