So much for not diving into the fray – since I started commenting on this rather flippant response from Twisty, I may as well dash off some really late night thoughts that have been knocking around in my head. (by the way, I’m Jack on that thread, not JackGoff, for clarification’s sake. And the comments are looking to get just as messy as the ones that started this whole brouhaha. Once again, some of the comments are a sight worse than any flippancy, silence, or writing on Twisty’s part.)
Society teaches us to be transphobic, just as it teaches us to be all sorts of nasty things. Being queer or trans both violate cardinal rules about what it means to be a proper man or woman in our society. Traditional understandings of gender and sexuality are deeply ingrained and are drilled into us from a very early age. So it’s no small wonder that many folks wind up being homophobic and transphobic, just as most people wind up with sexist, racist, classist, ableist, and all sorts of other prejudicial views – which, in turn, we all have an obligation to challenge in ourselves and overcome.
I believe that some self-named feminists try to hide their own transphobia under the guise of feminism. By claiming that one’s anti-trans views are really just about being a feminist and anti-patriarchal, one creates a convenient moral shield for one’s own prejudices. If, in turn, someone challenges those ideas as transphobic prejudice, one can easily accuse the challenger of being sexist, anti-feminist, or simply not respecting one’s feminism or woman-centrism or what have you. And since, quite often, those trans-positive challengers consider themselves to be feminists as well, it’s a great cheap shot – “You don’t like my pro-women views? Huh, that’s not very feminist of you, is it?” As if one must make a choice between supporting trans people and supporting non-trans women.
I think that one of the most telling aspects of this transphobia dressed up as feminism is the double standard, for lack of a better phrase, that is exhibited towards trans women and trans men by some anti-trans feminists. Oftentimes, I see people claiming that trans women can never truly escape or abandon their “male” privilege and the “male threat” that they somehow pose towards non-trans women (see the arguments about trans women making women’s bathrooms unsafe.)
Alright – so apparently, trans women are always “still men” to some degree, entertaining that view for a brief moment. So what about trans men? Are they embraced by these same anti-trans feminists because of their apparently intrinsic and inescapable womanhood, their continued inherent lack of male privilege? Seems like the logical continuation, right?
Wrong. Trans men are either demonized for taking on male privilege and turning their backs on women, or are patronizingly pitied for being self-hating women duped by their own internalized oppression. Now, following that logic, wouldn’t one think that trans women might be embraced by these feminists for voluntarily shedding their male privilege and aligning themselves in solidarity with other women? Nah – see above.
And who knows where genderqueer folks like myself fall with these feminists. I’m sure they’d have something dismissive, disempowering, and/or vilifying to say about our identities. Luckily, we’re still ignored enough to be spared such commentary.
Well then, it seems like you’re screwed, one way or another, unless you stay right where you belong: within the gender assigned to you at birth, a gender based on biological essentialism, a gender determined by a patriarchal, sexist system of sex and gender roles. Huh. Somehow, that doesn’t sound very feminist to me.
Rather, it seems like a very convenient way to twist feminism in order to protect one’s own transphobia. Hell, feminism has been twisted to protect folks’ racism, sexism, and classism in the past, so I suppose it’s not so surprising that transphobia would get the same treatment.
These folks don’t like trans women, and they don’t like trans men. They can cry feminism all they want, but all I hear is the same “OMG EW TRANS GROSS!!!” that I hear from your average sexist homophobe. Sad, really.
Note: since this was a 3am post, I’ll likely be doing a good deal of editing to it. So please point out any glaring typos, and if you see any sudden changes, that’s why!