April 17, 2014
Originally posted on Liberation Collective:
Janet Mock is a transwoman author who has strong opinions on gender and the sex industry shared in this memoir. Mock discusses many topics, but this review will cover five: essentialism, the term “cis”, the term “fish”, hormone blockers for children, and the sex industry.
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Finally a response from the Transgender Law Center’s Cecilia Chung after two days of death threats against lesbians and feminists in his twitter timeline. Killing women “is not helpful” at this time, in his estimation. Unbelievable.
April 4, 2014
The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “Gender Hurts: A feminist analysis of the politics of transgenderism” by Sheila Jeffreys.
Gender and women’s equality
Transgenderism cannot exist without a notion of essential ‘gender’. Feminist critics argue that the concept of ‘gender identity’ is founded upon stereotypes of gender, and, in international law, gender stereotypes are recognised as being in contradiction to the interests of women (Raymond, 1994; Hausman, 1995; Jeffreys, 2005). The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) was drawn up before the language of gender and the idea of ‘gender identity’ came to dominate international law discourse and to stand in for women as a sex category. It spoke instead of ‘stereotyped roles’ and recognised these stereotypes as the basis for discrimination against women. Article 5 says that States Parties should take ‘all appropriate measures’ to ‘modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudice and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women’ (CEDAW, 1979: Article 5). The idea of ‘gender identity’ relies on stereotypes for its meaning and is in conflict with the understanding in CEDAW that such stereotypes are profoundly harmful to women.
The term ‘gender’ itself is problematic. It was first used in a sense that was not simply about grammar, by sexologists, the scientists of sex, such as John Money, in the 1950s and 60s, who were involved in normalising intersex infants. They used the term to mean the behavioural characteristics they considered most appropriate for persons of one or other biological sex. They applied the concept of gender when deciding upon the sex category into which those infants who did not have clear physical indications of one biological sex or another, should be placed (Hausman, 1995). Their purpose was not progressive. These were conservative men who believed that there should be clear differences between the sexes and sought to create distinct sex categories through their projects of social engineering. Unfortunately, the term was adopted by some feminist theorists in the 1970s, and by the late 1970s was commonly used in academic feminism to indicate the difference between biological sex and those characteristics that derived from politics and not biology, which they called ‘gender’ (Haig, 2004).
Before the term ‘gender’ was adopted, the term more usually used to describe these socially constructed characteristics was ‘sex roles’. The word ‘role’ connotes a social construction and was not susceptible to the degeneration that has afflicted the term ‘gender’ and enabled it to be wielded so effectively by transgender activists. As the term ‘gender’ was adopted more extensively by feminists, its meaning was transformed to mean not just the socially constructed behaviour associated with biological sex, but the system of male power and women’s subordination itself, which became known as the ‘gender hierarchy’ or ‘gender order’ (Mackinnon, 1989; Connell, 2005). Gradually, older terms to describe this system, such as male domination, sex class and sex caste went out of fashion, with the effect that direct identification of the agents responsible for the subordination of women, men, could no longer be named. Gender, as a euphemism, disappeared men as agents in male violence against women, which is now commonly referred to as ‘gender violence’. Increasingly, the term ‘gender’ is used, in official forms and legislation, for instance, to stand in for the term ‘sex’ as if ‘gender’ itself is biological, and this usage has overwhelmed the feminist understanding of gender.
In this book I have chosen to use the term ‘sex caste’ to describe the political system in which women are subordinated to men on the basis of their biology. Feminists have disagreed over whether women’s condition of subordination is best referred to in terms of ‘caste’ or ‘class’. Those who use the concept of women as a ‘sex class’, such as Kate Millett, are referencing their experience in leftwing politics and see the idea of ‘class’ as offering the possibility of revolution (Millett, 1972). Millett did, however, use the term caste as well, speaking of women’s ‘sexual caste system’ (Millett, 1972: 275). If women are in a subordinate class in relation to men, as the working class is in relation to the bourgeoisie, then women’s revolution can be conceptualised as overthrowing the power of men in such a way that sex class ceases to have meaning and will disappear as a meaningful category (Wittig, 1992). It also implies, as in left theory, that women’s revolution requires the recognition by women of their ‘sex’ class status as the basis for political action. Nonetheless, the term sex class can be problematic because it implies that women could move out of their ‘class’, in the same way that individual working class people could change their class position by becoming embourgeoised. The term ‘caste’, on the other hand, is useful for this book because it encapsulates the way in which women are placed into a subordinate caste status for their lifetime (see Burris, 1973). Women may change their economic class status with upward mobility, but they remain women unless they elect to transgender and claim membership in the superior sex caste. Both of these terms can be useful in articulating the condition of women, but the term ‘caste’ offers a particular advantage in relation to studying transgenderism. The very existence of transgenderism on the part of women demonstrates the stickiness of caste subordination. The marks of caste remain attached to females unless they claim that they are really ‘men’, and only a very significant social transformation will enable change in this respect.
Postmodern and queer theorists share with transgender theorists the idea that ‘gender’ is a moveable feast that can be moved into and out of, swapped and so forth. Gender, used in this sense, disappears the fixedness of sex, the biological basis that underlies the relegation of females to their sex caste. Female infants are identified by biology at birth and placed into a female sex caste which apportions them lifelong inferior status. The preference for biologically male children and the femicide of female infants, for instance, which has created a great inequality in the sex ratio in India and other countries, is based on sex and not ‘gender’. Female foetuses are aborted and female infants are killed because of sex, not ‘gender’ discrimination (Pande, 2006). Foetuses do not have ‘gender’ or ‘gender identity’, because the forces of a womanhating culture have not had a chance to affect the way they understand themselves. The inferior sex caste status of women is assigned with reference to their biology, and it is through their biology that their subordination is enforced and maintained through rape, impregnation, and forced childrearing. Women do not pass in and out of wearing ‘women’s’ clothing, as cross-dressers may do, indeed they may reject such clothing as inferiorising, but still suffer violence and discrimination as women. Though individual women may be successful in roles more usually arrogated to men, they are likely to be treated as interlopers and receive sexual harassment, as happened to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (Summers, 2013). Her caste status was continually thrown in her face by hostile male commentators, politicians and cartoonists. Women do not decide at some time in adulthood that they would like other people to understand them to be women, because being a woman is not an ‘identity’. Women’s experience does not resemble that of men who adopt the ‘gender identity’ of being female or being women in any respect. The idea of ‘gender identity’ disappears biology and all the experiences that those with female biology have of being reared in a caste system based on sex. Only one book-length critique of transgenderism was written in second wave feminism, Janice Raymond’s deservedly well-known tour de force, The Trannsexual Empire (1994, 1st published 1979). She usefully sums up the difference between feminist understandings of women and that of men who transgender thus:
We know that we are women who are born with female chromosomes and anatomy, and that whether or not we were socialized to be so-called normal women, patriarchy has treated and will treat us like women. Transsexuals have not had this same history. No man can have the history of being born and located in this culture as a woman. He can have the history of wishing to be a woman and of acting like a woman, but this gender experience is that of a transsexual, not of a woman. Surgery may confer the artifacts of outward and inward female organs but it cannot confer the history of being born a woman in this society. (Raymond, 1994:114)
“Gender Hurts” will be released on April 17. Order your copy here:
March 30, 2014
Reprinting this blog post for discussion. Nothing groundbreaking here, but not linking to source because there is some confusion over whether author “PlasticGirl” is the violent, deranged anti-lesbian and anti-muslim Dr. Aeryn Fulton of Pittsburgh, PA.
Dr. Aeryn Fulton claimed to be the author of blogger PlasticGirl’s posts in the course of Fulton’s violent gay-bashing death threats against blogger GayNotQueer, and others, who were critical of stereotypical sex roles for gay men, lesbians, and society at large.
Here is the post, open for discussion of transgender POV re: “womanhood”. His post is titled “Can Trans women and Trans-critical Radical Feminists ever be friends?”:
Can trans women and trans-critical radical feminists ever be friends?
Posted on March 30, 2014 by plasticgirl
I first discovered trans-critical radical feminism in late 2010, and since then, I’ve read Betty Friedan, Mary Daly, Sheila Jeffreys, a smattering of Andrea Dworkin, Janice Raymond, and Germaine Grier as well as Julie Bindel and Julie Burchill and every trans-critical rad fem blog I could find, in the hopes of trying to understand.
Setting aside for the moment, the various radical feminist postures on trans, I found my study of radical feminism to be mind-expanding. I lost sleep reading Sheila Jeffreys and Factcheckme. Radical feminism increased my situational awareness of the dynamics of power between men and women. I see media images and advertisements aimed towards women in a totally new way. I found myself in agreement of the idea that women as class: female, are still in need of liberation from the Patriarchy, because I had personally experienced patriarchal oppression as soon as I started presenting as a woman, I just didn’t have a name for it, other than, “welcome to womanhood”.
Then we get to radical feminism and trans.
March 28, 2014
Why aren’t we doing more about sexism? (self.asktransgender)
submitted by lolokreality36 F
I am lucky in that I was able to transition while employed, and everyone at that employer treated me very well (mostly). I left amicably and went to go work in a different town, where I knew nobody professionally, nobody personally, and I pass exceptionally well. I am out to two people, out of necessity (some benefits & legal stuff) at that company.
I have also just had what I consider to be my first incident of actual sexism (in the workplace; that happened long ago “on the street.”).
I am mid-career, and an engineer. I am very familiar with the way people interact with me, as an engineer, professionally. At my previous company, when I transitioned, nothing changed. With one (somewhat notable) exception, there was one date in which my name changed in email, and everyone switched to the new names and pronouns. Professionally I was treated almost exactly the same. In “not-quite-professional” situations, I was treated differently: people now held doors open and smiled more at me. They defaulted to driving on business trips (to the extent I didn’t even need to rent a car; my male coworkers more or less insisted). So those things changed, and I “noticed” them, but it didn’t bother me and I didn’t think much of it other than, “oh, that’s nice, they’re trying to make me feel comfortable/they like me/random vague positive thoughts.”
And I think what happened, as I look back, is I was able to retain some of the – I will say it – male privilege – I had before transitioning. This is to say, nobody doubted the veracity of anything I said because I was a woman, because to them, I was a man, and had thus been vetted and passed all the requirements (that is, maleness) for intelligence, authenticity, and honesty. Bear in mind I worked on two different teams, one of about 100 people that had maybe twenty women, and another of seventy people that had one woman – me (for those counting, that’s 12% or so women, or 1:8). Read the rest of this entry »
Very Interesting. Lesbian Feminist attorney Elizabeth Hungerford -who authored the controversial “Letter to the UN Commission on Women on Gender Identity” with another lawyer now states that the original “is incomplete”. A “doctor’s note” is insufficient to protect women from males who wield “Gender Identity” for an “Improper Purpose”. Read more at the link.
March 17, 2014
The following Mansfeminist Manifesto appeared today on “The F-Word” website (the word which cannot be spoken being Feminism, apparently). The guy who wrote it submitted the post FIVE MONTHS past his deadline, which explains the reference to him as being “November’s guest blogger”. The post is “Who your friends are matters” by Charlie Hale. Enjoy!
Who your friends are matters 16 March 2014, 11:01
This is Charlie Hale’s first guest post for The F-Word. They’ll be blogging for us throughout November. Charlie Hale is a Computer Science student and blogger by night and asleep by day. They’re a genderqueer, kinky, polyamorous pan/bisexual who can’t keep their mouth shut.
A recurring theme within a certain sector of feminism, which we might refer to as privileged, professional or media feminism, is the pushing back at criticism based on friendships or political alliances. To critique one’s friends, they argue, is creepy, or scary, even a totalitarian-esque attack on the freedom of association – entirely missing the significance of these associations. No one will find unanimous agreement on everything with everyone; even between friends, there is – and should be – large scope for disagreement. However, there are some issues on which disagreement should be a clear cut deal breaker: I could not, for example, be friends with Fred Phelps, Vladimir Putin or Norman Tebbit, whatever the circumstances.
Why not? Well, because they’re vile human beings. Who would want the company of someone so appalling? However, more than this, it would give endorsement – on both personal and political levels – to their views and actions. My friendship would imply their views were, to me, credible; that I felt these views were welcome in society. This applies to events as well: to invite bigoted and frankly unacceptable views to be aired on your platform is to give them tacit validation and approval. This isn’t a matter of endorsing the truth of an associate’s views, but rather the acceptability of them.
[Now… who are the feminists who are friends with Vladamir Putin, etc, whose associations are of such concern to Charlie? I think you can see where this is going. There are actually NO feminists who are friends with these gents. This is called “building a straw man”. But there are some sort of feminists associating with something or someone that, to Charlie is, (as the kids say) “worse than Hitler”. Ammirite? ]
“This is the primary idea behind no-platforming: the practice of an organisation refusing to give a platform to someone, and/or a person refusing to speak on the same stage or panel as them – something which is the responsibility of any responsible organiser or speaker. Inviting such speakers not only negatively impacts the climate of the movement, but actively makes marginalised people feel less safe and welcome in the event and the movement as a whole.”
[Hmmm. So feminist women who are personal friends with Fred Phelps, etal, (of which there are none) should, if they DID exist, be no-platformed from expressing their own views due to that non-existent association, according to this fellow Charlie, a man who feels comfortable telling women how to run our own liberation movement, and telling women who we can associate with. Okayyy…]
“In many cases, a person’s problematic politics will be dismissed as “not problematic enough” to warrant no-platforming: this, however, is a blatant display of privilege. If you are in the position where you are able to wave away oppressive behaviour with no personal ill-effects, you are almost certainly not in the position where you could reasonably speak for that oppressed group.”
[So women cannot trust our own judgment about which politics a feminist’s friend has, which are “problematic” enough to taint a woman via “contagion”, requiring her to be quarantined using the “no platform” method. (Are you keeping up here laydees?) Moreso, the very fact that we deem something NOT “problematic” should be a giant red flag that we are privileged cunts too stupid to know when something IS “problematic” for Charlie, a man who is oppressed by women. I do sooooo hope you are keeping up here, dear readers.]
“It is never the privileged who suffer from the toxic atmosphere – and, from a platform of privilege, that can be easy to ignore. Active engagement with less privileged members of a movement is the only real way to promote accessibility.”
[“less privileged” than women: Charlie, who needs you to “engage” with him, listen to him, and trust his judgement over your own stupid cuntedness.]
“There is some pragmatism required. It is usually unreasonable to expect someone to call out their boss – as journalist Laurie Penny has been pressured lately to do. I generally don’t expect people to starve for their feminism and we can’t assume that people are always able to actively tackle problematic views from their superiors without risking their own well-being.”
[He doesn’t expect TOO MUCH from you laydees. Charlie doesn’t require you to actually starve for him! He’s a reasonable guy vis a vis you meeting his male feminist needs.]
“However, active endorsements of problematic individuals and groups must be tackled. Feminists who cosy up to TERfs, white supremacists or misogynists for their own advancement – or, as is becoming common, to seek sympathy from problematic groups having been called out – must understand the serious damage they are inflicting. Placing the views of the oppressors above the safety of the oppressed sends a very clear message: ‘my feminism is for me, and my ilk, and us alone’. This is as much a part of the patriarchy as what they claim to be fighting against.”
[Ohhhh… feminists who “cozy up” to “terfs”! Feminists who exchange ideas (or friendship!) with RADICAL feminists, with UNDISTILLED feminism, with feminism that centralizes FEMALE (and not Charlie’s) concerns. Oh thattttt. And the feminists cozying up to white supremacists and misogynists? Who are they? Oh hell, I’m going to guess they are WOMAN-CENTERED feminists TOO! And we’ll just call them “Vlad Putin Fred Phelps Hitler Racist Misogynist-type Feminists” too! Because Charlie!
I love this part: “…as is becoming common, to seek sympathy from problematic groups having been called out”. Ohhh Noeeee! Women become alienated when you try to isolate them, control them, tell them who they can be friends with, tell them not to trust their own judgment, tell them what to think, tell them how to speak, make them perform loyalty tests, threaten to publicly smear them, call them degrading names? Awww. Sorry, Charlie.
Hey wait a minute. Who is this Charlie person anyway and why should women obey him? I’m not questioning, mind- because questioning would be a HUGE red flag that I’m about to do something cuntly and not at ALL prioritizing Charlie’s oppression as a man over that of the women worldwide who are keeping him down! I’m just curious, you see, and trying to educate my stupid cuntly self.
This is Charlie. He says he is genderqueer. You must obey him. If you don’t, he and his friends will rain hell upon you- or at least unload a disconcerting spam-like stream of internet messages to yourself and whatever “platform” you are speaking on, possibly threatening suicide and murder and a shouty demonstration (where only a handful of his peeps will actually show up because they are all anti-social shut-ins who fear daylight).
This is Charlie showing you his kinky polyamorous porn-loving gender-lovin’ ass. “Obey it!” Charlie says. Charlie likes stackable plastic storage basins. Clean your room Charlie. Your mum isn’t going to do it anymore.
I was very confused by screencaps that someone sent me today from an individual ranting hatefully and calling me names on Christopher “Cristan” William’s all-male transactivist website. This person clearly has some sort of beef with me. How on earth have I upset them so?
Come to find out the author is none other than Anthony “Louisville Slugger” Casebeer, and my “crime” was re-posting his death threats against lesbian feminist Cathy Brennan, whom he intended to murder for co-authoring with Elizabeth Hungerford a letter to the UN regarding the legal status of “Gender Identity”. The letter indicated a need for some sort of objective criteria for males seeking access to spaces sex-segregated for female protection- those places where females are especially vulnerable to male predation in public life (prisons, homeless shelters, rape crisis centers, areas of public nudity such as locker rooms, etc.) The UN letter modestly suggested a doctor’s note or evidence of constancy and persistence (of gender feelings) for male admittance. Seems like an extremely moderate position, no?
Casebeer’s public response to the UN letter, acting as a Kentucky Fairness Campaign representative was: “Pimp slap is not enough here: a nice home run swing to the head with a 38-oz Louisville Slugger is more in order. There’s no brains in her head to destroy to start with. It’s personal, and if I ever saw her in my windshield, I’ll be wiping blood off my white Buick. But I won’t be using the brakes.”
You can read more about Casebeer’s homicidal history here: http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/kentucky-fairness-campaigns-anthony-g-casebeer-lesbian-feminists-will-be-gruesomely-murdered-–-by-him/
Casebeer represents a footnote in feminist history as possibly the first time a violent anti-woman transgender activist was exposed to the wider public by a feminist blogger (myself) by documenting his self-published activities. His story was picked up by the mainstream media and Casebeer was subsequently ejected from the Kentucky Fairness Campaign. Casebeer complained that he was unfairly “outed” as author of the death threats and claimed that women had no right to respond to his public, explicit, violent threats. This case ushered in a new era of women online exposing the men who use death threats in attempt to silence female participation in civic life.
Pathetically, Casebeer, now calling himself a woman named “Annie Barchetta” still feels maligned by the (surprising to him) occurrence of women noticing when men publicly threaten to violently murder us. Get over it fella. Never again will murderous males such as yourself get away with terrorizing women for engaging in public life. We will not be silent. Your actions will be recorded, remembered, and protested. Some of you will now be legally prosecuted and convicted for your crimes.
Speaking of which, stay tuned for my follow-up report on the infamous online terrorism of Pittsburgh anti-lesbian death-threater Dr. Aeryn Fulton, exposed last year on GenderTrender.
For more recent Casebeer doings, see his eerie “Crossdriving with Annie” blog where he discusses driving around “en femme” and refers to his woman-suit persona in the third person.
February 26, 2014
It is time for you to stop referring to women and girls as “fish”. We have asked you time and again to stop doing so. You have been told repeatedly how offensive this is to us. Yet you continue to “fight” to express your opinion that “fish” is a synonymous descriptor of girls and women.
We get that you grew up as a gay boy who was ushered into teenage prostitution by what you describe as an “underground railroad” of adult gay and transgender men. You characterize (even glamorize) your own childhood sexual exploitation by adult males as a positive and empowering experience for you and a desirable right of passage for gay male “transgender” children in general.
We get that your life experience has little in common with that of women. You grew up as a male whose primary frame of reference for “womanhood” is the gay male drag queen and transgender culture. Us women get that. “Transwomen” and women are fundamentally different. We get it!
What we don’t get is your toxic level of female-hatred (and pedophilia!).
Your stance on child prostitution has been ignored and un-addressed thus far in both the mainstream (male) and LGBT (male) media. No interviewer has yet asked you to explain why you believe teen boys having sex with adult males is a good thing. The adult male transgender community has an HIV infection rate 40 times that of the general public. The “Transgender Day of Remembrance” annually commemorates the violent murders of males (largely “sex workers” and largely men of color) at the hands of their violent male “customers”.
No interviewer has yet asked you to reconcile your framing of child-prostitution for males as an affirming experience of “sisterhood”. Let me ask you. Have you personally facilitated teenage males into this “sisterhood”? Are you a member of what you call the “underground railroad” that guides transgender-identifying youth into what you call the “freedom” and “agency” of child prostitution? These are the interview questions that women would like to see posed to you by the mainstream media.
We get that female life is many steps removed from what you, as an individual cultured almost entirely by fellow males, understand as “womanhood”. We would like you to know that, overwhelmingly, women do NOT view the grooming of youth into teenage prostitution as an expression of “sisterhood”, nor as an affirming or positive activity on any level. We believe those who sexually exploit minors are predators and criminals who should be incarcerated without exception. We believe the FBI should contact you about this child prostitution “underground railroad” that you speak of, and we find the media silence on the subject deeply troubling.
As for your insistence, Janet, on the use of the word “fish” as a synonym for girls and women: We demand that you cease this abusive practice. Girls and women are not synonyms for what men like yourself imagine as our “dirty smelly” reproductive systems. We are every bit as fully human as you. It is damn ironic that you express being a “female identified” male yet continue to abuse women by referring to us by a word that is a pejorative for the very thing that makes us female. It is beyond ironic, crossing over into the surreal, that you would object to media interviewers discussing reproductive organs in relation to sexual reassignment while you name women and girls “fish” based on your experience of females as stinky, dirty, and genitally foul smelling. You complain that Katie Couric asked about the nuts and bolts of “sex change” while at the same time you define her as a foul smelling vagina thing.
These are the issues women would like to see media questioning you about.
Males like you who call us “fish” are responsible for making girls and women feel ashamed of our bodies, marketing to us as unnatural and dirty and rank for the thing that makes us different from you, our reproductive systems, even as you claim to “identify as” female bodied, and try to approximate our bodies through medicine and surgery. We don’t need men claiming to embody us while defining us in the most degrading, ugly, grotesque terms imaginable.
We say NO. Women say NO to you Janet, and to the other men in your male “sisterhood”. Women are different than male transgenders, vastly different, but we will never be “those dirty stank vagina things” that transgender males define us as. Women and girls will never be “fish” no matter how much men like you would like us to be.