A Gender Critical Response to: A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

September 20, 2013

“we reject any theory of gender, sex, or sexuality, or identity that calls on us to sacrifice the needs of any subjugated and marginalized group– including sacrifice of the need to acknowledge, discuss, and directly confront the material and embodied forms of women’s oppression on the basis of both sex and gender.”


I hope lots of women read Elizabeth’s response. Of course the men she’s responding to never will:

trans response to hungerford


The individuals in the twitter discussion captured above ARE THE AUTHORS (along with a few others) of the “Statement” Hungerford is responding to. THE AUTHORS!!! Unbelievable.

Sex matters.

This is my response to the reactionary and misguided “A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism” (The Statement) posted at FeministsFightingTransphobia.wordpress.com.

We can all agree, I think, that people’s actual lives are more important than theoretical abstractions– including those related to “identity.” This is precisely why, as feminists, we demand acknowledgement for the lived realities and material conditions of women’s lives, including the social mechanics of sex-and-gender-assignment that ultimately give rise to women’s oppression. But beyond this, there are a truly alarming number of misrepresentations, inconsistencies, and logical errors in The Statement. I will address many of them below.

First things first, I want to point out that characterizing gender critical feminists as “transphobic feminists” remains unsupported where “transphobia” is not defined. Repeated use of this term to demonize a certain kind of political speech or political actor is clearly intended to be insulting rather than instructive; it serves as a…

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27 Responses to “A Gender Critical Response to: A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism”

  1. I love when the boys on twitter take notice of my sweet analysis! And dismiss before reading. <That is the level discourse they are dealing in. SMDH.

    • GallusMag Says:

      I should have made it more clear: Kaveney and Kennedy and Newbury are THE AUTHORS (along with a few others) of the very “Statement” being critiqued here. THE AUTHORS.
      I will update my piece.

  2. red Says:

    I hope lots of women read it too, outside of our circles, because there, many women do not realize these so-called women are MEN. This is essential, make women on the periphery of the internet and in-real groups aware: they are MALE. Even accounting for the few ‘feminists’ who support them, that still leaves 99 per cent of them are Male.

    “I hope lots of women read Elizabeth’s response. Of course the men she’s responding to never will::

  3. ricki Says:

    I usually avoid these debates cause they often have no ending. This I must comment on. I think Elizabeth Hungerford has more brains in her left big toe than most of her online critics combined.

  4. KittyBarber Says:

    This is reaction I actually did not expect from these people. Elizabeth’s response is so well written, well thought-out, logical, reasonable, and accessible even to the most pseudo-of the pseudo-intellectual, that you’d think that even one of these genderists would at least TRY to formulate a reasoned response.
    But apparently, Bess’s piece has got too many big words, is too long, and they already know what is says anyway so why bother?
    Yes, this is the level of discourse we’re up against. And that’s on a GOOD day, when there aren’t so many threats of rape and burning.
    Of course, it is difficult to refute the plain truth. So instead, they’ll just be ‘catty.’ Like real girls are. ‘I’ve got a headache.’
    P.S. What is ‘word vomit?’

  5. KittyBarber Says:

    One other thing: Every single time I’ve been engaged in any sort of discussion with trans allies etc., they INSIST that I read x books, and educate myself. (I’ve read them, believe me.) But the writing that represents the feminist perspective isn’t worth reading? Is ‘word vomit?’

  6. mieprowan Says:

    More projection. I have difficulty reading these kind of transactivist statements, relying as they do on vagaries, false equivalencies, erosions and a general failure to address definitions, or even consider definitions of value. Critical analysis just ain’t their thang. They don’t want to hear about any of this because they do not care about any of it. Why bother when one can exercise male privilege and milk one’s supposed victim status at the same time?

  7. Seris Says:

    On one message board I used to frequent, ANY discussion related to women’s issues is dominated by men and by people who now call themselves women but were born male. People born female are shouted down, told they’re just self-hating misogynists, or even threatened. The “female perspective” put forth in these discussions is from people who never grew up as girls and only recently decided to call themselves women. *My* experiences don’t count, and neither do other women’s. These folks know more than we do about being women, and they are more genuine women than we are.

    And the sad thing is that some of the fairly well-intentioned liberal men participating in these discussions think they’re doing something good, that they’re helping women. They *want* to do the right thing, and yet the only so-called female POV they’re hearing is from people who HATE us and want to shut us down.

  8. GallusMag Says:

    From the latest post on “transfeminist” and “Statement” signitory Monica Roberts’ blog:

    “A true woman is defined by her spiritual femininity, her ladylike characteristics, and feminine thoughts, not her private parts.”

    This is transfeminism. Ugh.

    • del Says:

      What was that Lesbian’s name who was photographed with Monica after presenting her with her Bestest Lesbian Ever whateverthefuck award?

      Femininity. Is she choking on it yet?

      You know who I thought of reading that quote? Phylis Schlafly.

    • Seris Says:

      Bwuh? What is this, the 50s? It’s fetishization and a cargo cult of womanhood, not the real thing.

    • Teal Deer Says:

      Spiritual femininity? What the frak is that?!

      I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. They think they have to rigidly genderize everything, except genitals, of course.

    • mieprowan Says:

      “A true woman is defined by her spiritual femininity, her ladylike characteristics, and feminine thoughts, not her private parts.”

      Which of these characteristics involve bullying, threatening, deliberate misrepresentations, outright lying, and claiming false causality? Are these behaviors considered spiritual, ladylike, or feminine? I’d think more like sociopathic, but I’m a woman, what do I know?

      • GallusMag Says:

        “A true woman is defined by her spiritual femininity, her ladylike characteristics, and feminine thoughts, and her violent threats to rape feminists with her penis.” LOLOL

      • mieprowan Says:

        Seriously, it would explain why they get so much traction. Sociopaths can be brilliant con artists.

        I’m sure you are familiar with this page:


        It really is alarming how much of this fits some of these more visible trans activists. It’s going to be interesting when more people start realizing what a con job this is. It could also easily backlash into more strict gender role enforcement for men. If I were a non-gender role conforming man I would be extremely concerned about this.

        I think Elizabeth is really on to something about their insisting on the gender binary but at the same time denying it, especially since so many do not stick with one role all the time. And what more fun for a sociopath than to have an opportunity to play different roles in order to transgress boundaries, and actually garner sympathy for it, from people for whom they secretly have nothing but contempt?

      • Motherhood Says:

        Yes men defining true womanhood. These guys wish they were more than two testicals and penis. They’re not. One big rape threat is what they are. By spirtuality I suppose they mean falling prostrate to the god of their dicks.

      • mieprowan Says:

        Motherhood, whenever a man works to promote a content-free image of himself as being giving and self-sacrificing and gentle and non-threatening, my hackles go up. It’s just another way of treating women like gullible children to be enticed into their games. As if we run our entire lives wandering around blindly waiting for men to tell us what they are, and what to do. As if we don’t notice what they actually do, as if we are all living in some horrible fairy tale where the girls are all asleep, and the live women all heartless and evil.

    • “A true woman is defined by her spiritual femininity, her ladylike characteristics, and feminine thoughts, not her private parts.”

      This quote is indistinguishable from the primary source material historians use when writing about the Cult of Domesticity.

    • hearthrising Says:

      This is “Fishy” Roberts? The one who equates women with the smell of their private parts?

    • Ave Says:

      “A true woman is defined by her spiritual femininity, her ladylike characteristics, and feminine thoughts, not her private parts.”
      did they actually say that or is that a joke?

      • Here is the link to the post with the quote: “A true woman is defined by her spiritual femininity, her ladylike characteristics, and feminine thoughts, not her private parts.”


      • Motherhood Says:

        Oh god I went to his FB page–Rebbeca De’vignes. He sends himself love note posts–how hot he he is. but he isn’t just hot and loveable he has a mind too. He posts his political thoughts. Here’s a nugget I culled: “The original citizens of America was the American indian, then came the immigrants.
        Horrible circumstances took over afterwards for control of the American continent. ”
        Okay well then we have some big thinkers out there–articulate, insightful with a historical perpective.

  9. Adrian Says:

    I commented on the original post but I’ll say here what I said there:

    “Wow. I cannot “like” this essay enough. I started copying out some choice bits for reference later but I realized I just need to bookmark the entire thing and keep it handy, because it basically says exactly my thoughts but in a well-written and coherent manner that is beyond my personal abilities.

    Thank you [Elizabeth Hungerford] for writing it.

    I now know that I should (and will!) refer to myself as a “gender critical feminist.”

    Again, thank you.”

    Lately I found myself on some sites where it’s forbidden (apparently) to question current “born in the wrong body” innate-gender-essentialist theories of transgender, even as the site itself happily makes (deserved) criticism of people claiming to be “transethnic.” When the discussion becomes clearly awkward because the elephant in the room is that the same (correct!) arguments for why “transethnic” makes no sense can also be applied to “transgender,” the room goes silent until someone says “but of course transgender is real, that’s why those ‘transethnic’ people are so damaging, they hurt our true cause” and everyone just nods solemnly and moves on. …except for me lately, even if only putting out the timidest of feelers in resistance to that, and so then I’m a “TERF,” and while I was happy to say “I’m probably closest to a radical feminist” (not to say I deserve to use the label or not) I usually would just say “I don’t believe in innate gender” and thus would start whatever shitstorm.

    So yes. “Gender critical feminist.” I’m liking it. A lot.

    Bottom line is as always for me, you have a body, with whatever bits, you have a personality, they’re a valid combination as they are, they exist, you’re YOU, it’s okay.

    • mieprowan Says:

      A friend of mine makes a nice analogy about this. She lives on a Spanish land grant in central New Mexico. She pretty much loves it there, loves the people, the country, the agrarian life.

      But, as an Anglo, she can’t be trans-Spanish, no matter how much she would like to be, no matter how much smoother it would make her life in some ways, how it would increase her options. Because these folks have a long history and shared cultural experience that she can’t just invite herself into. She will always, to that extent, be an outsider.

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