New Language or New Narratives? The Transgender Movement Reaches the End of the Road
August 18, 2014
It’s the “Transgender Tipping Point”, described by transgenderist Jennifer Finney Boylan in his LATimes Op-Ed as:
“…what seems to be the Year of the Trans, a season of great progress in the movement for transgender equality. And yet commentators, both liberal and conservative, continue to struggle with the right words to describe the transgender experience.”
Boylan, a member of the all-male, all-white, all-heterosexual, all-middle-aged transgender leadership that recently took over the formerly gay lobbying group GLAAD, attempts to analyze this roadblock by drawing a comparison with the trajectory of the Gay Rights movement. As a disinterested bystander to the lesbian and gay movement (and quite a homophobic one at that), Boylan lacks insight into the decades of activism that preceded his arrival on the “LGBT” scene (to beg for scraps from bloated and obsolete gay orgs- the rudderless victims of their own success).
“What the trans community needs is its own discourse-changing idiom, in the same way that gay men and women found their lives transformed when the conversation changed from sex to love,” he states.
Boylan suggests that “Gay Marriage” worked as a memetic slight of hand, distracting the straights from all that formerly untoward dick-in-ass activity. He proposes that the transgenderist platform search for a similar, magical linguistic transmogrification- a magic bullet that causes the public at large to buy what his movement is selling. He fails to ascertain that the gay movement ultimately succeeded by clearly outlining the concrete ways in which discrimination resulted in unfairness and inequality: legally, financially, and practically. The gay movement never tried to insist the public applaud guys blowing each other. Indeed, many of those who now support equal rights for gays remain openly repulsed by homosexuality on a personal level, or a religious one. Like the transgender movement, the gay movement was/is a men’s sexual rights movement, ascending concurrent with the age of pornography. This is an era in which the powers that be (men) have no political will to cockblock another man’s hard-on under any circumstance.
“I’d suggest we use the term “equality of identity” going forward.” Boylan weakly suggests. “At its heart, the quest that trans people are on is to have the same thing that straight — and gay — people have: the ability to wake up in the morning and be ourselves, without permission, without apology. Our lives should not be defined by wigs, or surgery, or which bathroom we use. Our lives should be defined by our identities, and the truth we bear in our hearts.”
But that isn’t what the transgender movement is fighting for. Ultimately, no one cares what transgenderists do when they wake up in the morning, or how they conceive of themselves, their taste in wigs, or what they believe “in their hearts”. If that was what the transgender movement was fighting for it would be hitting no roadblock.
Rather, the transgender movement is demanding that we all pretend to agree with their personal, internal, subjective sex-role ideas. Which no one does. And they never will. Hell, even transgenderists don’t believe the shit they’re demanding we pretend to agree with. There are no magic words to be wielded Harry Potter-like by genderists that will cause the muggles to believe… well, that husband and father Jennifer Flynn Boylan is actually a woman, for example. Or that the five year old boy with a penchant for forbidden “pretty princess” swag is actually female, to be recognized via pre-pubertal sterilization and lifetime cross-sex hormones. It’s simply never going to happen. Instead of coming to terms with this, the solution of male activists like Boylan is to “double-down” on the same unrealistic, unreachable goals, using the exact same tactics.
“Gender can’t be Bent: Kellie Maloney Has Always Been Female” declares Transactivist Paris Lees, dubiously, in the Independent.
No one actually believes that aging boxing promoter and father of three Frank Maloney -having been “outed” to tabloids by a fellow member of his crossdresser support group- is now or has ever been female. Even Frank doesn’t believe it. If he actually believed that both he and his wife are female, would he announce that “I still don’t think that children should be brought up in same-sex marriages.’’ One thinks not.
“When you refer to Kellie Maloney with male pronouns, you’re telling me something about yourself and how you view people who change their gender,” Lees chides.
That’s right, Paris. What we’re telling you is that we view you as what you truly are: Transgender. As in: people that would like to occupy a sex-role normally imposed on the opposite sex, for your own enjoyment. Confirmed in the same text here:
“I can tell you what it felt like before I was able to express myself the way that makes me feel happiest.”
And what makes Paris feel happiest is expressing himself “as a woman” by trolling alleys and public parks for lots of sex with other men, and inviting random dudes to grope his moobs on public transport while telling him how pretty he is. Paris Lees doesn’t actually believe that he or Frank are female, and he knows you also don’t. He doesn’t really want you to (what would be special about THAT?) or expect you to. He just wants you to pretend that you do. Just use the pretty words. The magic words:
“Just refer to her as “she”. I’ve done it in this article. It’s not hard.”
Activists of the Boylan and Lees school simply double-down on the magical thinking even as they are mystified, (simply mystified!) why the decades-long tactics of the transgender movement stall the closer they get to the mainstream. Their male brethren continue the “activism” of demanding that lesbians accept the penis as a female organ, and harass and threaten feminists whom they claim diminish their rights as men.
Meanwhile, some other transgender activists are tired of banging that same old broken drum and waiting for the magic to happen. Let’s call this the dawn of Neo Transactivism.
- we are sexually dimorphic animals;
- transwomen are biologically male;
- sex-based socialisation *is* a thing; and
- the lived lives of women and transwomen are different.
The wider cult of trans dismiss these four ideas, and will not even come to the table to debate it. This is a problem outside the trans community, as these matters affect women directly (and they are, after all, oppressed under patriarchy) and also within the trans community: how can someone who, for example, transitions as a middle-aged man after having fathered two children suddenly ‘have always been a woman’?
The answer to this, of course, is they haven’t: I know this, you know this, women know this, transactivists know this, everyone knows this. And this is why these ideas are so threatening: trans people know they are true, but the insist everyone else says they believe something different, or else they’ll cry ‘transphobia’.
Why set ourselves an unattainable goal that leads to such life-sucking concepts as ‘I was born with a birth defect’ or ‘my middle finger means I was female in the womb’ or the shockingly anti-feminist ‘I was born with a woman’s brain’? (These may appear improbable, but these assertions are worryingly common).
We live in world that is increasingly libertarian, where we are becoming more free to express ourselves all the time. We should seize this and run with it: express ourselves how we want, enjoy ourselves while we do it, and have a good time.
Look at how the black civil rights movement is remembered now: through brave actions sparked by great figures such as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. What will be remembered from the trans rights movement? ‘The penis is a female sex organ’. ‘I have always been a woman (in spite of the children I fathered)’ and ‘I was born with a lady brain’. Is that really going to be our legacy?
Whatever we do, we have no right to do it at the expense of anyone else: trying to force ideas that are just plain wrong and use them as the bedrock for a rights movement is dangerous and de-legitimises that same movement.
It is good that people in wider society can get behind and support the rights of trans individuals, these allies see men becoming women, who are then oppressed. Ironically they are blind to actual women’s oppression, and the rights of women are balanced away from them and towards those who transition.
This, moving the balance of power further from the oppressed class (women) to the oppressor (men) is reactionary (my new favourite word), makes a mockery of intersectionality and is completely unnecessary. Transwomen and women should be on the same side, and the onus is on the former to make it so. It is presently our greatest failure.
Transwomen are profoundly affected by gender, and we are allowed to be gender critical: surely having a solid understanding of what gender does to us and what it means, and an acknowledgement of the real reasons this happens can only be good for us? And after all, isn’t transition supposed to be us coming to terms with who we are?”
From an essay titled “Keep your identity diversified!” by neo-transactivist and retransitioner Joel Nowak:
“But here’s the thing, if your goal is to convince everyone on the planet that a neo vagina is the same thing as a natal vagina that is a fools errand. Even if you are able to convince some people of the validity of your argument there is always going to be the next person you will then need to talk to and try to convince. That is just reality. So here is another significant way in which transwomen are DIFFERENT from natal women. (Not worse. Not better. Just different.) While you can’t overlook the fact that many natal women also have their own “femaleness” questioned on a regular basis – it is a very different kind of questioning than that faced by transwomen. For the natal woman, it is based on cultural expectations – and (with the exception of certain women born intersexed) it is not a “literal” questioning. For transwomen, it is very literal and often an expressed refutation of their “femaleness” coming from those who have a different criteria than the transwoman does for what they consider male or female. And as much as you or any trans person wishes that this wasn’t so, this is one thing that you can’t do anything about other than silence them (or live your life in a way that is less of a big deal for them and for you … I’ll get to that in a moment.)
I know that is hard to deal with. I spent hours and hours ruminating and trying to convince myself that the definition of gender that I was building my transition on was logical and true. For me, I couldn’t do it. That was the one piece that my entire transition depended on – my being able to convince myself that people’s sex can be truly “reassigned” (or corrected after being “assigned” the wrong one at birth – I am not talking about intersex conditions here.) When I realized that I couldn’t convince myself of this that was where the house of cards that my transition was built upon fell down and I knew I would have to rethink some pretty major things about how I was living my life. In my case it led me down the path of retransition – there were a lot of reasons why living as a male again were appealing to me. That was just my choice though. know that many other transwomen have gotten to this point as well but have learned to accept and even celebrate this reality.
Here is what I worry about. When your entire identity is built upon something that is still very speculative (i.e. the various theories about the nature of transgenderism) or cannot be sustained without forcing others to accept the validity of something that they do not believe to be true, then you are in a dangerous spot. We need our identities. It is good if they are flexible, but we need them to be solid. Having them knocked out from under us can be devastating. So that is why I worry when I see more and more people trying to make sure that nothing can challenge their gendered identity by enacting laws, or trying to silence others who they feel are a threat. That is just not going to be sustainable in the long run. It is not realistic. I think it is dangerous.
But here is the important thing that I think some trans people need to be mindful of. Your identity is much more than if your are “truly” male or “truly” female. There is so much else to it – literally everything else about ourselves that makes us who we are. And that is solid. It is always going to be there. But just like someone who believes their entire identity is built upon a certain career and then they get fired – the consequences of having that shaken can be devastating. I don’t want to see people get themselves into that position. I basically have been there and it is not a fun place to be. Some trans people (who knows, maybe even most) will never really face that – but again, with the large numbers of people who have transitioned recently – I am confident that quite a few will face some sort of identity vacuum after coming to their own conclusion that they have not really changed their sex. And for those who come to this very personal conclusion I think it is important that they are able to transition to a new way of how they wish to define themselves in terms of gender, whatever that may be. I am absolutely positive that if we can continue to create a climate where it easier for these people to find their way, real lives are going to be saved.
It starts with realizing that there can be new narratives for transwomen (and transmen) going forward living in their chosen gender. It includes people who decide to retransition talking about it. This is about creating more options and maybe trying to help people realize that a lot of the more militant trans-activism that is going on right now is actually creating an environment where it is harder for people to thrive and be safe.
We need more options – not less.”