DGR Trans-figured

Transgender people (or Two Spirits as some Native cultures call them) must not be excluded from radical circles. Misconceptions and prejudices are costing us much needed allies in our struggles. Today’s special guests are Sheldon Raymore of Urban Indian USA and Joelle Ruby Ryan, lecturer in Women’s Studies at the University of New Hampshire. They join me to talk about the history and struggle of trans and Two Spirit people, and to discuss how we can move forward into a future where there’s a place for all of us.

Part 1: Sheldon Raymore (Urban Indian USA)

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Part 2a: Joelle Ruby Ryan (University of New Hampshire)

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Part 2b

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Click here to visit Urban Indian USA

Click here to visit Joelle Ruby Ryan’s blog, ‘Transmeditations’


“George Catlin first documented a two-spirit in his painting, Dance to the Berdache (1832-1839), in which a tribe is shown celebrating an individual wearing both male and female dress.”

 

***COMMENTS SECTION DISCLAIMER***

Please note that some of the below comments are transphobic. Despite this, I am committed to free speech and have (unlike other websites) opted not to delete comments even though I strongly disagree with them. Some readers may be triggered or offended by opinions expressed below, so please read with caution.

 

Cats disapprove of transphobia!

33 Responses to DGR Trans-figured

  1. John Moore says:

    A great set of interviews Ron…I can’t understand why people who should know better, are so hard on Transgender people…keep up the good work:D

  2. ringaround88 says:

    As a radical lesbian feminist, I thought I might comment on your interviews. First, there are things Joelle said I definitely agree with, such that all human beings deserve respect and real empathy. I’m not trans, but I do know quite a few trans folks, and in fact dated one for over a year.

    Joelle says there can be no comparison between tranracial and transgendered people. Apparently, this is because the other group is so small. But has Joelle ever heard of something called “body integrity disorder”? I encourage your readers to google that, as well as “transabled.” There are folks out there who dream of having their limbs cut off. Sometimes they will do this themselves, and in some countries this is already being done to them by the medical profession. Is this seriously the road we want to go down?

    I do feel empathy for Joelle’s statement that “there’s a lot of suffering when you’re in a body that doesn’t feel like home.” I think virtually every female-born person on the planet can relate to that statement. Yet, when females do things to change their bodies, such as starve themselves, we are given therapy, not told we will be helped along in the process. Indeed, I have a good friend who suffered with serious anorexia for numerous years, and doctors had all but given up on her. She often made statements such as, “I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin.” Yet, somehow, she was eventually able to overcome her intense suffering.

    Readers, I would ask yourself how often in your daily non-Internet lives, you hear arguments such as the ones I’m making. Because to me, it feels as though supporting trans and gender variant people is the “cool” thing, and there is zero room for critique.

    • Jess says:

      Hey, I hear ya! I almost married a black man, so I use the N word all the time!

      But seriously, though. Supporting trans, gender variant, and gender non conforming folks isn’t the “cool” thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. Let’s all work together so that everyone has the right to be who they are, regardless of the body they’re in. And let’s not compare, say, an eating disorder to a transgender experience, in the same way I won’t conflate my experiences as a queer, femme woman of color with your experiences as a lesbian (yawns). I think that transphobia (and yes, comparing an eating disorder with a transgender experience or identity is a form of transphobia) is pretty rampant among cisgender, lesbian-identified folks and should totally be addressed so here I am! Work that shit out!

    • yerb says:

      I agree with Ringaround88. Thanks for speaking up. I, too, agree that all human beings deserve to be treated with respect, and have civil rights protections: the right to housing, work, free speech, freedom from violence, etc.

      At the same time, as a radical feminist myself, I am deeply concerned that people who are uncomfortable with the gender roles patriarchy has assigned to each sex get the message from the trans community that they might be “born into the wrong body,” and therefore should change their bodies! Instead of realizing that the gender roles are just social constructs, not biological, or correctable with surgery! For example, the expectations of women to be caregivers, or to wear dresses, makeup, and do the housework is not based on female biology, and neither is the expectation that men wear pants, play football, and “bring home the bacon,” etc. These are just misogynistic patriarchal social constructs. If someone doesn’t feel they fit neatly into either such roles or stereotypes, it doesn’t mean there is something biologically wrong with them that needs to be changed (or even could be changed) via surgery and hormones: it simply means the narrow stereotypes are ridiculous and we should all reject them. The patriarchal sex role stereotypes harm everyone: they artificially cast people into narrow roles and expect us to be half-people, and to play the role either of oppressor or oppressed, rather than have a full range of capabilities and interests, and be equals. But that’s not all: the patriarchal roles are intended to maintain women’s oppression. The patriarchal social roles for women are intended to keep us powerless, the roles for men are intended to ensure men maintain power over women. These unnatural and hate-based “roles” should be rejected by everyone who values equality.

      Unfortunately, transgender is based on the belief that these roles are innate: that if someone doesn’t feel like they fit the role patriarchy expects for their sex, they must somehow (magically?) be “born into the wrong body.” (Excuse me, but why aren’t scientists and medical ethicists speaking up about such ridiculous thinking? How on earth is someone “born into the wrong body”? I think some have watched too many sci-fi movies to think such things. There is no such thing as “Case of the Body Snatchers.” That is fiction.)

      If someone can’t accept their body–their sex–or is “uncomfortable in it”, is the problem with their body, or with their thinking? With their belief they must somehow be the other sex if they don’t “feel” male or female? How would someone even know what it “feels like” to be the other sex, anyway? When I listen to why various trans people are convinced they are born into the wrong body, it is invariably because they don’t feel they fit the socially constructed patriarchal stereotypes for their sex! The problem is their unequivocal belief in the stereotypes, not one’s anatomy or chromosomes.

      The belief in “transgender” is actually a deep belief, the ultimate worshipping of the hateful, misogynistic, socially constructed patriarchal gender roles: a belief that they are somehow innate. And that if you don’t “feel” you fit the role or stereotypes patriarchal culture tells you are “innate” or “natural” for your sex, then there is something biologically wrong with you: and something that can be corrected with surgery or drugs.

      But surgery or drugs will not change a person’s chromosomes. Nor will it change the role a person was socialized into, from birth. Research has shown that patriarchal sex role socialization begins at birth, the moment a baby’s genitals are first seen and announced. Male babies are held differently in the birthing room than female babies. People speak to and about male newborns differently than female newborns. And that socialization continues non-stop from there. It is widely believed in the field of psychology that 95% of a person’s personality is set by age 5. A person may feel from a young age that she or he did not fit the role expected of them (and therefore, start to imagine they were born with the wrong body!), but that person is still being socialized according to the sex that their parent’s perceived them to be from birth, and that others perceive them to be. So if your parents saw you had a penis at birth, and gave you a boy’s name and dressed you in clothes designed “for boys,” even if you think you aren’t really a boy because you can’t relate to what is expected of boys, you are still being treated with, and socialized into male privilege from birth, onward, whether you want that socialization or not. That socialization cannot just be discarded later by believing you are female, wearing “women’s” clothes and hairstyles and changing your voice, or getting surgery, etc.

      Ideas about transgender were primarily developed and refined decades ago by men, and male psychologists and psychiatrists sympathetic to the distress that men, in particular, expressed about their sex vs. their perceived sex. These men were not looking at sex and gender from the evolving feminist perspectives, which held that sex roles were *social* constructs, not biological in origin. And right up to today, those early beliefs/assumptions by the men who first developed transgender theories, those patriarchal assumptions, are what are still being promolugated: if a person doesn’t feel s/he fits the sex role stereotypes,the problem must be the person’s body, not the patriarchal stereotypes! These are sex-role stereotype loyalists.

      Going along with the idea that gender roles are innate is the ultimate danger to progress for women. If we allow the trans community to forward the belief that certain roles and “feelings” are innately either male or female, everyone will eventually suffer the political consequences of returning to this fundamental patriarchal belief. That belief is the basis of the rationale that men are innately superior, and women are innately inferior, and therefore must be controlled, dominated and led by men. The consequences will be a return to the belief that certain roles, behaviors, and feelings are innately “male” and other certain roles, behaviors, and feelings are innately “female.” This will once again be used to justify sex discrimination against women in employment, finance, and law.

      Women’s political progress is founded on the principle that women are NOT different than men, except reproductively: and that there are no “innate” sex roles.

      Trans acceptance of the patriarchal belief that there are innate sex roles is misogynist. The pro-trans position is simply a return to patriarchal beliefs about sex roles. It is inherently misogynist. It is consistent with and supports men’s oppression of women.

      We need to be able to talk about challenging the ridiculous patriarchal sex roles assigned to each sex, and men’s oppression of women that has promoted that belief, rather than changing the appearance of bodies through surgery, drugs, and wardrobe to conform to the patriarchal beliefs that there are innate sex roles.

      But more than this, I am especially alarmed by the censorship demanded by the pro-trans community. We need to be able to discuss different points of view. Just because someone disagrees with someone else’s beliefs or choices, which to hear might feel uncomfortable or even upsetting and painful, does not mean it is “hate” speech, or should be censored. Censorship is unacceptable. It is the opposite of democracy. It is the opposite of critical thinking: of thinking at all.

      (I don’t think it is even a good idea to censor hate speech. In the U.S., the legal remedy for disagreed upon or offensive speech is speech, not censorship. There is a good reason that what many people today consider to be offensive ideas, such as Hitler’s, or the KKK’s, are available in libraries and on the internet. It is so that we can know and debate them. Erasing or censoring history or beliefs does nothing to end oppression or danger. Quite the opposite: knowing and debating those beliefs is our best protection against bad or dangerous ideas.)

      Frighteningly, pro-trans groups have lobbied to get any voice that differs from theirs taken down from the internet, out of public meetings, out of print, and off the airwaves. There was an excellent web site called “Questioning Transgender,” with important, well-written, well thought-out articles, that was censored and taken down against the site owner’s will. It happens on other sites, as well. That serves no one. The appropriate and legal response for those who disagreed was to respond with rebuttals on their own sites, not censorship.

      If you have a good argument, make it. Don’t try to win by censoring others’ ideas. Being pro-censorship suggests the pro-trans community *doesn’t* have good arguments, and therefore can only “win” by censoring, shouting down, labeling, shutting out, barring, banning, ostracizing, name-calling, and trying to silence anyone who disagrees with them.

      Those who have a good argument don’t feel the need to censor their opponents or resort to labeling and name-calling, etc.

      People considering the pros and cons of the trans arguments and beliefs, and especially those considering surgeries or hormones should be able to find articles on the internet articulating all viewpoints, to help them make informed decisions.

      So my most important point and emphasis here, and I am grateful to Ringaround88 for bringing up, is that there needs to be an end to the bashing and censoring of anyone who expresses a different viewpoint other than the currently “allowed” party line on transgender.

      Again, the remedy is more speech, not censorship.

      • admin says:

        I agree that of course various viewpoints should have an open forum, and that differing ideas should not be censored. But there’s a huge difference between free speech and hate speech. Have you actually seen this blog that was included in one of the first comments on this podcast, offered up as a source of “balance”?

        transgendertropes.wordpress.com (FAIL)

        The above website is a hateful, fear mongering piece of shit blog that needs to be shut down. But bashing trans people is still socially acceptable so people feel comfortable and justified spewing their bigotry in the name of free speech. The point some are missing is that regardless of your opinions of them, trans people exist, and no it’s not “all in their minds”. In any case, the mind, as an aspect of the physical world, is in fact physical, and the brain, the last time I checked, is a huge part of our biology.

        We also need to be careful not to alienate trans people who might want to be a part of our movements. As oppressed people, they have many valuable insights we might learn from. Let’s not use our hatred of patriarchy as an excuse to bash people, silence them, and de-legitimize their choices and existence

      • LouD says:

        thank you! as a black/part indigenous, sometimes bi woman, all sorts of alarm bells start ringing when i hear about such and such being “innate”. this was used (and still is used) to justify rape, genocide, slavery, oppression of women.. i could go on and on.. my goal, as a human, is to create a world where whatever expression of self suits you, is respected and cherished. i would be fooling myself, though, to imagine us as living in a vacuum where there are no societal expectations or influence on notions “femininity”, “masculinity”, “blackness”, “whiteness”, etc etc, that are rigorously enforced in a myriad of ways.. To get a real perspective on the extent to which “gender” roles are socially constructed, consider those cultures in which the men are deemed to be “effeminate” by american people.. and be honest! anyone who has lived a little bit has heard scoffing and jokes about [insert nonamerican culture] and its “fruity” men.. why deny the reality, that our concepts of ourselves are wrought both from inside, and from outside ourselves? why the fear? and why label those who have differing viewpoints with such inflammatory labels? how does that move any of us forward into the more just and peaceful world we all desire? I dont claim to agree with all the lashing out post conference, but i also dont agree that the stance i have touched on above, is transphobic in the least.

  3. Ashley says:

    The piano music was a nice touch… I never realized the feminist community felt that way about transgender people.

  4. InStruggle says:

    Hi,
    For some balance, I would encourage ya’ll to check out transgendertropes.wordpress.com

    If Joelle really thinks there is room for political critique, why is Joelle against Sheila Jeffreys attending a conference at Wheelock College? Can Joelle name some radical feminists “allowed” to give a critique of trans politics. Certainly, lesbian identify has been under scrutiny from both inside and outside the lesbian movement. But, now using the word “identity” has become a way to take things off the table for discussion.

  5. […] Podcast with Ron Whyte @ Deep Green Philly Please listen to the podcast I recorded with Ron Whyte here: PODCAST […]

  6. Activist says:

    I find this to be more about horizontal hostility instead of constructive criticism. And in that case Joelle needs to realize its a two way st. And also Joelle, you shouldn’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.

    • admin says:

      I think Joelle raised some valid concerns. How should a trans person interested in DGR feel after reading the material that’s out there? Simply labeling this criticism as horizontal hostility is just not going to cut it, you’re going to have to do better than that and actually put some effort into explaining what you mean if we are to take you seriously.

  7. InStruggle says:

    “You call that nasty, hate mongering site “balance”? Get the fuck outta here with that shit.”
    Yes, as a matter a fact I do. It gives the radical feminist response to many of the remarks Joelle makes.

    Can you please explain how the site is nasty and hate-mongering? I’m asking because these words get thrown at radfems all the time with regard to our critiques of the trans movement, and no explanation is given as to what actually is hateful about them. I pointed to this site because I thought it was especially respectful of trans people….but then, I’m not the one throwing out a load of curse words at someone who has taken the time to listen to all three of podcasts I put up and subsequently written a thoughtful reply.

    • admin says:

      from Trope #9: “Except for those actual goddamn females. The ones whose vaginal organs exist. Actual organs, not sheaths of skin created as penile fuckholes, not granulating inverted-penile cavities created to serve as masturbation holes for clueless women-hating men who would stick their dick in a sheep’s cunt if it was available and warm. Not an oozing wound dripping foul smelling bowel juice and requiring eternal dilation to prevent from healing closed. Not a flesh tube held in place by internal scar tissue. Not a surgical cavity causing chronic bladder infection and incontinence in more than 50% of purchasers. It may come as some surprise to you fellows but vaginas are actually organs, not just dick-insertion holes!”

      and from Trope #7:

      “See: “It’s about body dysphoria, not sex role”

      Subtext: “I am an island. I am unaffected by the human condition unlike every other human. In fact I only speak my own language that no one else can understand: ST HBbHjh jhsbu7hs cks cbsksc csjksjkhkhj c kckh skdcsdos;dskjiquyfyf ejk he vouevoev cjkdckjc.”

      “I am special magic. I control the universe. Obey me.””

      If this is your definition of “especially respectful of trans people” then you need your head examined.

  8. I recommend that the anti-radfem persons here strip away the rough language of the site in question and understand the real, underlying arguments being made.

    Until biological science is truly capable of changing genders, transpersons are their own unique category. Some MTF transsexuals mock femininity by pretending or supposing themselves to be women by adopting stereotypical and much reviled imagery of what it means to be female. This damages women’s ability to establish an identity divorced from patriarchy’s definition of femininity and subverts their struggle for liberation.

    I am all about respect for and defense of trans people AS trans people, I will gladly use their preferred pronoun, but I find something innately wrong with allowing any human born as a man to tell women that he is one of them.

    jus sayin

    • admin says:

      there’s no point in even taking these so called arguments seriously when someone comes on my site and refers people to a trashy, vicious, slanderous blog, and then goes on to imply that said blog speaks for all radical feminists, which is most certainly not the case. Radical feminists who are opposed to trans people for whatever reason are of course entitled to their opinion, but I’m also entitled to say “fuck you” when I don’t agree with their bullshit. I will also say “fuck you” to you for your ridiculous last paragraph…I mean do you people even realize how patronizing and oppressive you sound?

      Women should be embracing trans people who have, for whatever reason, given up their male privilege and subjected themselves to the same, if not greater sufferings endured by cis gender women. The fact is that trans people have always existed, and will continue to exist no matter what you think, so deal with it.

      • I agree the blog has a strong opinion and peppers its legitimate dissatisfaction (with men who abuse femininity in pursuit of the gender they identify with) with crude and even offensive remarks. But that doesn’t erase the issue itself.

        Let me speak as if I were speaking directly to a transwoman: Being a woman is not about how you walk, talk, dress, or look at all. Those stereotypes are how patriarchy makes a woman look and forces women to act in order to be acceptable in society. If they do not act that way, they are discriminated against, abused and sometimes raped.

        By all means, a transwoman should do what she requires to feel comfortable with herself and the body she was given. That’s not what I am saying. I’m saying you don’t do that and then demand recognition as a woman. There is a difference between being biologically female and psycho-chemically female. Transwomen are certainly psycho-chemically female, but they can never understand the female experience no matter how much surgery they get or wardrobe rearranging they do. They cannot be women. With hope, biological science will correct this in time.

        But there is a reason the Native Americans invented “Third” spirit rather than lumping men with women and women with men based on their oppositely gendered brain chemistry.

        It is oppressive for you to tell women that they have to accept men among them simply because that man has undergone surgery and now wears women’s clothing.

        Transsexuality is not about abdicating male privilege, an argument I think transwomen would be offended by, but about making one’s body match one’s mind. Its about being what you feel you are. And that’s beautiful, but it is not cause to forget that there is no way to fully realize one’s dream. If women accept you, that’s cool. Bu you can’t tell them who you are. You were born to the Rape Nation, and you are born in the blood of that culture. That can’t be erased.

        Giving up the privilege you had is not the same as never having it.

        • admin says:

          Trans women are beaten, raped and murdered all the time, just like cis-gender women. They are actually on the receiving end of disproportionate amounts of violence and negativity as the attacks from some radical feminists make clear, and as Joelle pointed out during the interview. They are dumped on from all sides, told incessantly that there’s no place for them, that they’re freaks, mistakes, etc. In many ways they have it worse than cis-gender women. So I don’t understand how a cis-woman could not empathize with a trans woman. Of course people can associate with whomever they will, yet it becomes a problem when personal beliefs or attitudes are brought into the public sphere.

          And you saying that women should not “have to accept men amongst them” shows that you just don’t get it. Calling a trans woman a man is extremely offensive. Trans women are not men, and they don’t refer to themselves as such.

          You are also claiming that “true womanhood” (whatever that is) is something unattainable by trans women. There are just so many problems with this I don’t know where to begin. But let’s start with the problem of biological determinism, something I thought feminists were against. Telling a trans person, “sorry, you weren’t born a woman, (according to conventional thinking) and so therefore you can never attain true womanhood” is essentially consigning them to a Pinnochio-esq limbo where they’ll never quite be real no matter how hard they try.

          • I think you are twisting my words.

            Transwomen are oppressed, without a doubt, and there is no limit to the amount of defense and support they deserve for their situations.

            But just like a white transsexual who is racist, a transwoman is being sexist by adopting a stereotypical view of femininity. By that same token, a transman is adopting a position of power against the gender to which he was born by trying to pass as a masculine man.

            Those images of gender are social and political, not biological or genetic. Period.

            “Calling a trans woman a man is extremely offensive. Trans women are not men, and they don’t refer to themselves as such.”

            Despite the fact that their birth as a man was not reflective of how they felt inside, it still happened, did it not?

            If medical science perfected a means by which people who were born of one race felt deeply that their psychology was more suited to another race, would you find it permissible for whites who became black to say “I am now black therefore I can speak to black issues” ?

            As for your final paragraph, yes, a transwoman can never be a woman until science permits this to be the case. This is not a moral judgment but a scientific observation. A man cannot be implanted with a functioning uterus capable of bearing children and a woman cannot be fitted with a penis capable of inseminating a woman.

            That doesn’t mean they are any less capable of living their lives as the other gender in personal terms, but that doesn’t “make them” that gender. Its not magic. They are in a third category of gender, and particularly I think transwomen still have responsibilities to fight patriarchy despite their sex change operations. Society’s problems still exist even if your former identity as the wrong gender does not.

          • I’ll take a stab at replying to this.

            Radfems are about the only ones to say the emperor has no clothes. We know that women put *every* cause first except our own liberation; to guilt us in to working for others is one of the geniuses of patriarchy. Indeed, the vast, vast majority of the trans activists I know, if not themselves trans or genderqueer, are female. And the vast majority of self-proclaimed “genderqueer” individuals are female-born, i.e. wanting to dissociate from the status of females worldwide. Is one supposed to just sit back and not notice this under the guise of political correctness?

            I believe someone mentioned radfems are biologically determinist in this area, though I can’t find where. How is it not biologically determinist to say “my brain tells me I’m a woman, so I must be one.” THAT is biological determinism.

  9. Jess says:

    I’d like to preface all of this by saying that I am a femme, cisgender, queer woman of color and a Philadelphia native and current resident. I am also an active trans ally and transgender rights activist and advocate, though I am not trans. I am making sure to note all of this in advance so you can get a more comprehensive picture of my following comments.

    Aside from the Administrator’s, I am deeply appalled by the majority of the comments, particularly from folks who are self-proclaimed feminists. I did some minimal internet sleuthing and was not surprised to learn that “Comrade” Martin is a seemingly straight white cisgender male, as evident in his public Facebook profile. While it is possible (although less likely) for straight white cis men to have comprehensive perspectives on complex systems like gender, it has been my personal experience (as a queer woman of color) that most straight white cis men like “Comrade” Martin do not.

    Gender is a complicated infrastructure that goes beyond our biological sex. (And when I say biological sex, it’s important to note that this is something determined generally by a single doctor based on the absence or the presence of a penis and not much else.) As a cisgender woman (for me, this means that some guy looked at my newborn baby crotch, decided I was female, and I still identify as female), I have been thinking about and impacted by gender my entire life, particularly as someone who is oppressed by the gender system. I would argue that I may have given gender more thought than, say, a straight white cisgender man like “Comrade” Martin who clearly knows very little about gender.

    Our reproductive organs along with the sex we are assigned at birth are just a few facets of the multi-layered and intricate structure that is gender. With that in mind, there are lots of very gendered things out there (clothes, for instance) and while they are also playing parts in the gender system, there’s still more to it.

    One of the most important parts of gender is this really remarkable thing I discovered a few years ago called self-determination. This means that we have a right to decide our gender for ourselves. For cisgender people, this means realizing that our gender coincides with the societal and social norms for our biological sex. For transgender people, this means that their internal gender may conflict with their assigned gender. This is a brash oversimplification, obviously, because it is not wise or useful to condense something as giant as gender into something as small as a comment on a website.

    “Comrade” Martin, as someone who appears to be a straight, white cisgender male and receives all of the privileges that coincide with that perception, I would ask you to please learn what it means to check your privileges and work on ACTIVELY dismantling problematic systems like transphobia, rather than supporting them. I would encourage everyone here, even myself, to reconstruct what gender is in our heads and recognize that it goes much further beyond our biological sexes. We must eliminate the notion that trans* people are somehow “men who abuse femininity in pursuit of the gender they identify with” or women attempting to gain male privilege because this is not the case. And we must validate the notion that everyone has the right to determine their own gender.

    When most cisgender people learn about the self-determination piece of gender, it can be really difficult to grasp. From reading these comments, it is evident that many of the people here are still grappling with gender (and fucking it up), and while I would normally give folks grace and space to fumble, some of y’all are just downright hateful, abusive and mean. What the fuck, homies? Can you work that shit out? Can you bother to read a book made in a year past 1983 and can you take two seconds out of your day to show folks basic dignity and respect? Is it that hard? Are you so overwhelmed with your own privileges that you can’t even see the struggles of others? I mean, what the fuck? Get it together!

    • I agree with you that as a cisgender “straight” (society percieves me as such although I am not, so I will accept this label of yours) white man I cannot possibly understand the complexities of oppression faced by basically everyone else in society. I make note of this fact repeatedly.

      I fully support and defend the right of transfolk to be transfolk and support the mass slaughter of all of their oppressive opponents. But I think transwomen (MTF persons) do not “escape” their duties to fight patriarchy in switching genders. This is the only point I pressed on and it is one you have obscured through a personal attack.

      I look forward to your reviewing my posts and replying to me fairly so we might have a productive exchange.

      • Sheila C says:

        One thing I have noticed over and over again on this thread and others regarding some “radfem”‘s perspective on transgender people is that they are assuming that all transgender people are the same, as in making sweeping generalizations. When someone goes from biologically male to female or maybe only switches their pronouns and their manner of presenting their gender that does not mean that they are saying that women=shaving legs, short skirts, nails done, etc, as some people have roughly suggested. It may mean that doing those things is the way that they see best fit to express their gender in this society. That “she” fits better than “he” but neither fit perfectly, while some people genuinely feel that she” is better than “he”. Basically, just because someone wants to switch from the two societal available genders does not mean that they are affirming the objectification of women. Just as much as ciswomen doing societal based women activities are not affirming patriarchy. There can be many genders and several expression of those genders. That includes a “femme” sort of expression that all women, trans or cis, should feel free to embrace. We have to grant them the agency that they have as critical thinkers that when they express themselves a certain way they do it because it makes them feel good not because society tells them they should. I say this also as personal experience as a femme person who has never stopped struggling against patriarchy. As much as a short skirt doesn’t validate rape it also doesn’t validate patriarchy.

  10. M says:

    Thanks for including these interviews, I am heartened to see DGR folks include a trans-supportive analysis. I like the DGR book etc., and in fact have interviewed each of the three authors at separate times on my radio show (Healing the Earth Radio, http://www.resistanceisfertile.ca), but I have deep problems with anti-trans stuff. So, thank you for bridging this gap, it is very important.

    Thanks to the previous commenter Jess, the self-determination point is so basic that it should end all this debate immediately.

  11. Liz says:

    Over and over I see any critique of transgenderism labelled as bigotry. This doesn’t deal with the validity (or not) of points raised by critics.

    Can black folks not see how offensive it would be if white folks started claiming they had always known they were black? Why is it the voices of females who aren’t totally passive and compliant that are called “bigots”?

    In the U.K. now, they’re starting an experiment for gender non-conforming 12-year-olds, which involves taking hormones which they will have to be on for the rest of their lives! This is despite the fact that all evidence shows the vast majority of gender non-conformers of their age will not grow up desiring to switch genders, but rather will be gay/lesbian.

    At some point we have to start thinking critically, while still supporting the trans folks we care about as people.

  12. Joelle Ruby Ryan says:

    “Over and over I see any critique of transgenderism labelled as bigotry.” Umm,,.that’s cuz the vast majority of it IS bigoted, and hateful, and discriminatory. Whether you like it or not, transsexualism is a REAL, innate, condition that a certain percentage of the population possesses. Just like a certain percentage of the population has same-sex/same-gender attractions. It is an ontological reality, and I get so tired of people who wish to only see trans-ness in the context of radical politics. It is akin to saying the only reason for the existence of lesbianism is mistreatment or sexual abuse by men. FAIL! Hormone Replacement Therapy and Gender Confirmation Surgery are life-saving medical procedures to treat people with the condition of transsexualism/ transgenderism. Without those, as well as hormone blockers given to youth, MANY MANY more people would die, from suicide and other causes. So if you are critiquing these technologies, YES you are being bigoted, because you are basically saying that you want more of us to die. HOW DARE any of you stand in judgment of people who are struggling to survive in a virulently transphobic, cissexist society. Whose Bodies are these, anyways?? and HOW DARE YOU deny the womanhood of trans women who identify as women and the manhood of trans men who identify as men. HOW DARE YOU repudiate our lived gender identities and experiences and replicate the very odious biological determinism you are supposedly critiquing. Reading through most of these comments I was absolutely repulsed by the brutal level of bigotry, and hope that some of you come around to the very real damage you are inflicting on a group which at the absolute bottom of the social, economic and cultural hierarchy.

    Finally, I’d like to say to Jess: THANK YOU. Reading through the onslaught of negativity, your comment was a flash of positive light. I hope some of the other posters follow your lead to become an ally rather than a detractor. Us trans folks have enough people hating on us.

  13. Joelle,

    Is there room for any critique of transsexualism? If so, what would an acceptable critique look like?

    Not all of us believe homosexuality is innate; biological explanations are currently “in,” but they certainly haven’t always been.

    For more on this, I suggest checking out Queerbychoice.com as well as an article I wrote
    on the subject:
    http://womononajourney.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/coming-out-as-a-lesbian-lets-get-personal/

    The percentage of lesbians who consider themselves lesbian for biological reasons has steadily increased since the 1970’s. Also, how do you explain all those women who just came out of marriages during the 1970’s, proclaiming they would rather be with women?

    Just because something *feels* biological doesn’t mean it is.

    People are free to identify as they wish, and there are tough situations where one most do what s/he needs to for survival. However, just because one “identifies as” something doesn’t mean one IS that. I recently stumbled upon a medical journal that said what we now call transwomen are really men who have been through plastic surgery. My perspective runs deeper than that, but that is true, yes?

    • anon says:

      “The percentage of lesbians who consider themselves lesbian for biological reasons has steadily increased since the 1970′s. Also, how do you explain all those women who just came out of marriages during the 1970′s, proclaiming they would rather be with women?”

      This is moronic. Did you ever consider that the increase has anything to do with a society being more accepting of homosexuality? Don’t you think it has been easier for people to be more comfortable with who they are post-late60’s? Think about what was going on back then, think about how much shit got shaken up cultural-wise..

  14. Mary says:

    I find it so sad that this is even a debate. I am a feminist and strongly believe in dismantling patriarchy, but people you’re on the wrong track with this – it’s not your business whether someone is gay/straight, cis/trans, or somewhere in between.

    The analogies of race and class are ridiculous. Period.

    The slippery slope arguments such as people wanting to cut off their limbs or grouping trans people with porn culture and pedophilia sounds an awful lot like the homophobic arguments against gay marriage – sanctity and all that. Not to mention the old “don’t let those homosexuals around children” crap.

    There’s no way around it, you can come up with all the theories you want but it doesn’t change the fact that all you’re doing is alienating people from the movement, spewing hate, and hurting people. You’re on the wrong side of history with this one.

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