Birth wars: the politics of childbirth

Originally published by Glosswitch at the New Statesman

To be of woman born is a universal experience, yet women themselves remain a diffuse, fractured group. “What is a woman, anyway?” is still considered a deep, meaningful question to ask. The polite answer is, of course, “whatever anyone wants it to be”. More than that would close off the vessel, seal the hole, glue back together the broken shell. There’s a sense in which women are simply not meant to be whole. We need to be in pieces so that men can survive intact.

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Why I Won’t Accept The Politics Of Gender Identity

Originally published by The Morning Star

THE concept of gender identity is being enshrined into law in several countries now, giving new legal protections to transgender people on the basis of their identities.

In the United States, the Obama administration recently signed a declaration that all public schools in the country must recognise the gender identity of their students.

Canada has recently announced new legal protections for transgender people. In Britain, there is interest growing in allowing people to legally define their own gender.

As a person on the political left and as a member of the LGBT community, I am expected to applaud these changes to legislation, but instead I am critical.

This is because the concept of gender identity is poorly defined, and the politics of transgenderism is harmful to women and girls and rooted in individualism rather than collective action.

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I fought for civil rights. It is offensive to compare it with the transgender fight.

Originally published at The Charlotte Observer

Let us be clear: HB2 cannot be compared to the injustice of Jim Crow. In fact, it is insulting to liken African Americans’ continuing struggle for equality in America to the liberals’ attempt to alter society’s accepted norms.

Recently, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch compared HB2 to Jim Crow. Jim Crow laws were put into place to keep an entire race positioned as second-class citizens. HB2 simply says that men and women should use the restroom of their biological sex in government buildings and schools. This comparison is highly offensive and utterly disrespectful to those families and individuals who have shed blood and lost lives to advance the cause of civil rights. I take this as a personal slap in the face because I was an active participant in the civil rights movement.

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Did my views on trans women change?

Originally posted at The Idge of Reason

Appropriating the language of feminism for misogyny is a problem. That is not about denying trans women anything. Trans women need the discussion of structural inequality that they face part of. Feminism is not about controlling the worlds women so they have to concentrate on managing your identity instead of the lives they face because of structural inequality imposed on them for being women. Women did not choose the things attributed to our gender, even if you value them. They are not an innate part of womanhood. If your identity is so fragile you need women to manage it for you, that is about you, not them. There is no female brain that meant women wanted to be subservient for years. There is the responsibilities that still fall disproportionately to women, there is economic inequality rooted in this, there is the reason feminism existed in the first place. Which has not gone away.

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G.S.A. now means Genders & Sexualities Alliance

Originally posted at Purple Sage

Gay-straight alliances were originally created to support gay and lesbian students, but young people don’t want to identify as gay or lesbian anymore, even if they are actually homosexual. These designations are old-fashioned now, and much too “binary.” The cool thing to have now is not a sexual orientation, but a gender. In fact, sexual orientation is bigoted; anyone who has a sexual orientation is exclusionary and therefore oppressing people (especially if they are female and their orientation excludes males).

The goal of a gender and sexualities alliance is not to support gay and lesbian students, it’s to desegregate school washrooms and promote the idea that there are infinite numbers of genders that people may choose from, and that bodies need to be medically altered to reflect people’s “gender.” This does not help gays and lesbians at all, and in some cases it harms us. It reinforces sex stereotypes by claiming that anyone who is masculine is male, therefore lesbian women are encouraged to identify as male and change their bodies so that they appear male, instead of identifying as lesbian women. In addition, gender theory does not allow for lesbians to exclude males from their dating pool as long as those males “identify” as women, which is abuse toward women who are exclusively lesbian.

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Grayson Perry: I’m all man

Originally published on The Times Magazine website

He stresses he is a transvestite, not transgender: he dresses up for sexual thrills. Transvestitism is bound up in his taste for fetish sex, PVC clobber and sadomasochism, which featured often in his early work. “The trans spectrum is a whole different thing. I wouldn’t particularly want to live full-time as a woman. It’d be such a fag for starters, the amount of preparation every day!” (It takes him 90 minutes to apply the wig, make-up and padding.) I say I don’t find being a woman nearly so onerous. I’m being facetious, but like many feminists, I’m weary of womanhood being defined as an elaborate façade: fancy nails, false eyelashes, lingerie, sparkly clothes, heels.

“Transvestites – I speak for my own community – are heavily invested in sexism,” he says. “You go to a transvestite gathering, you won’t see anybody in trousers. It’s a joke, you know: if one of the other transvestites regularly wears trousers, they go, ‘They’re going to have a sex change any minute.’ Because only real women wear trousers all the time.”

Yet no one is equal in their sexual fantasies. “At some level, everybody is either being bent over the desk or is bending someone else over a desk. They’re not saying, ‘Shall we get cat litter on the way home?’ while wearing matching fleeces. Although in reality that’s exactly what me and my wife are doing. We live functional lives with people we love and our sex life, all the exotic stuff, happens off stage. And it’s best kept that way.” His first date with his wife was at a fetish club, but now they’re more likely to be at home watching Gogglebox: “It’s so funny. And it can be very moving.”

But we live at a moment when sexual identity appears to be in flux. Perry thinks the transgender lobby “is a very vocal group. They punch above their weight. I do wonder why they are so angry.” Maybe because trans women almost always began as heterosexual men? Perry laughs. “Yes, so they have that entitlement. Yes, it could be.”

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Woman by Proxy

Originally published by Julian Vigo on Medium

What the non-binary/gender fluid/transgender (et al) movement has completely missed is that women have been articulating their discomfort with gendered constructs through various precise and eloquent feminist discourses for decades. I have steadfastly maintained that all humans — especially females — are non-binary through the performatives of the everyday and the political and social constraints imposed upon their lives and bodies. Sexism functions on the assumption that females should match the singular, social definition of “woman” and it is against this monolith of gender against which women have historically fought as women have had to negotiate the interstices of gender, straddling the contradictions, negotiating the discomforts. That struggle took the form of women defying their bodies and families, deracinating the mechanisms and political codes of gender, and transforming their bodies into a socially and politically tendentious vehicle for political and even personal liberation. Women have always known that gender was never real simply because they had to become so well-versed in manoeuvring around it for survival.

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