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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Trans Kids On The Today Programme

Originally posted at Transgender Trend

In the following report, we don’t judge either of the children featured (who were both charming and very likeable), we use their interviews only to question the level of rigour in the reporting of these cases, as well as the ideology which underpins the assumptions made about appropriate ‘treatments’ for such children.

What’s striking about the coverage of this issue on the Today programme is the lack of incisive questioning of the kind you would expect for a serious news item; John Humphreys tried, but came across as out of his depth on an issue which demands serious challenge. Children’s bodies are being medically altered into a biologically intersex condition to fit a psychological identity: the ideology behind this practice is not one which needs to be treated with polite deference.

The adoption of the new language – “assigned the wrong gender at birth” for example – obfuscates the issue from the start, and subsequent inaccuracies in language further confuse things.

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Thoughts of a person, with breasts

Originally posted at Glosswatch

Jaqueline Rose recently wrote 15,000 breathless, muddled words on transness for the LRB. “Transsexual people are brilliant at telling their stories,” she declared. They are interesting, you see, unlike cis women, those dullards, unquestioning conscripts to the gender regime who see themselves as “normal” because they lack the trans person’s unique ability to inhabit a liminal space:

The ‘cis’ – i.e. non-trans – woman or man is a decoy, the outcome of multiple repressions whose unlived stories surface nightly in our dreams. From the Latin root meaning ‘on this side of’ as opposed to ‘across from’, ‘cis’ is generally conflated with normativity, implying ‘comfortable in your skin’, as if that were the beginning and end of the matter.

Who, exactly, we may therefore ask – trans or non-trans – is fooling whom? Who do you think you are? – the question anyone hostile to transsexual people should surely be asking themselves. So-called normality can be the cover for a multitude of ‘sins’.

Cis woman, as far as Rose is concerned, restricts herself to a surface-only existence. She is Woolf’s looking glass, now providing an outline to be filled with someone else’s deep, meaningful knowledge of what it is to truly live as neither one thing nor another. The patriarchal insistence that women do not have souls gets an update; cis woman does not know her own soul, but that is her fault. She condemns herself to inauthenticity through her own lack of curiosity, content to remain tits and ass, “the cover for a multitude of ‘sins’.”

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Rape culture involves making targets feel bad about their boundaries

Originally posted at Stop Trans Chauvinism

An inherent part of rape culture is trying to put on the defensive those who raise concerns about predatory behaviour happening in front of or to them (or policy which enables it), or are in the classes of people most predated on (women and children), who might also conceivably object. The aim is to make them feel as though they are doing something wrong.

Accordingly, those invested in rape culture need to make targets and potential targets feel upfront – even ahead of time – that their boundaries and concerns are wrong. Preparing ground by ensuring that potential targets know to feel badly about thinking critically of them, and don’t gather allies against predation (but maybe even distance themselves from likely allies), is a common activity of predators.

Predators and their enablers achieve this quite easily when they apply a ‘reversal’ to what’s really going on, by making the targets/ targetted classes sound like the predatory ones.

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Not gender fluid – just children

Originally published by the Brighton & Hove Independent

At primary school, children should be able to play and learn freely, developing wide interests – without being taught that girls do one thing and boys another. Children who enjoy non-traditional activities should no more be labelled ‘gender-fluid’ than they should be called gay. Parents of budding female engineers or male ballet dancers should value all their children’s talents, not assume their skills indicate gender dysphoria.

In a culture which regularly exposes children to images of sexual violence and exploitation, we should resist anything encouraging further sexualisation. We should not stoke anxiety in parents nor over-zealousness in teachers – nor excitedly impose the latest ideological fashion on children already allowed very little real childhood.

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Woman Isn’t

Originally posted at The Perfect Birth

If you think the fact that some women will never have children, have never menstruated, no longer menstruate, have had their uterus or breasts removed, etc., proves that males can also be women, you’re a sexist.

Please examine that misogyny as you don’t think much of women. Women are more than their biology, but not less.

Being a woman is not being a not-man. Womanhood is not defined as the absence of total masculinity. Woman is not something you can define only in relation to seemingly not amounting to man. Womanhood would never be revoked by an absence of those individual biological things, and absence of those things in others is not confirmation of who can or can not claim womanhood. “Woman” is not some dumping ground category to include men who don’t conform to rigid gender standards. If this were true, 90% of the world would be “woman”. Woman is not an afterthought. Woman is not second place.

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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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Shrinking to survive: A former trans man reports on life inside queer youth culture

Originally posted at 4th Wave Now

There is power in naming. It’s how we find each other, how we connect to our histories, how we connect to our futures. Driving us apart from each other is the easiest way to keep us from learning to recognize attempts to redefine our realities.

I didn’t know this then. I subscribed to an incredibly misogynistic set of beliefs for years. “DFAB privilege” was a common phrase in our community – “designated female at birth privilege.” It was accepted fact that being born female gave you a lifelong advantage over a male who transitioned. This included men who used transition only to mean using different pronouns on Tumblr and having an anime girl as their avatar. We believed that, as “dfabs,” we needed to shut up about our petty problems. We could never have it as hard as any “dmab women or non-binary people.” Everyone in the trans community agreed that it was our responsibility to uplift “dmab voices.” None of this seemed outrageous or strange to me; it felt pretty intuitive. Growing up under male domination is a grooming process that leaves many girls and women extremely vulnerable to manipulation.

The first experience that did make me start to feel suspicious of male transition was when I was 18 and a genderqueer-identifying man who had never pursued any kind of transition raped my best friend, a woman unacquainted with insular trans community politics.

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Letter to a “TERF”

Originally posted at Bauhaus Wife

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It’s interesting to me that you seem to take offence to my pointing out biological facts about my son’s body.  He does indeed have a penis and testicles, that will, at some stage in his life (I assume, as all signs point to his body being healthy and functional) produce sperm.  My understanding of science is admittedly rudimentary, but he is clearly a male human and as such, he will never become pregnant through sexual intercourse, or give birth spontaneously to a child.  How could such a simple observation be contentious?

And I’m really not sure what you mean by “TERF-Y”.  I have heard that this is an acronym for “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist”. Who exactly am I “excluding” by observing the material reality of biology? I cannot fathom.

I agree entirely that the body does not always dictate our gender–this is, in essence, the underlying point of my original article: “Gender” is simply a set of social conventions and societal attitudes that inform, suggest, and sometimes even enforce, through subtle and not-so-subtle pressures, notions of masculinity and femininity.  “Gender” conventions shift and change from era to era and from place to place–that which is considered masculine at one time or in one culture, may be considered feminine in another.  “Gender” and what this means also varies greatly among individuals.  There is no metric to measure or quantify “gender”, and every human is “gender-fluid”–incorporating elements of that which is considered masculine and feminine, to some degree or another.

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Hitting Peak Trans and Becoming a Minority of One

Originally posted at Gender Critical Dad

I have a beautiful, witty, smart wonderful daughter. She’s always been quite quiet, shy but determined when she sets her sights on something. Late to puberty, lost her last milk tooth only a few weeks ago age 17.

A couple of years ago, she told us she was lesbian, our reaction was that we wondered when she was going to tell us, as far as I can tell we were totally relaxed about that, then after a while she was bisexual, fair enough its all a bit academic in my view until you start fooling about with other people.

She developed an interest in drag culture, fair enough, Ru Paul was all over Netflix, I thought it was all a bit sexist and shallow, but tried not to bang on about that.

She asked permission to cut her hair, we’d never said she had to have long hair, I thought it was a fine idea, she could never be arsed to look after it, and had the bone structure and long neck to carry it off. She got it cut and looked fantastic, you could see her smile so much more and her lovely eyes.

She got into wearing men clothes more and more, and wearing sports bras, then a binder, but hey I dressed like a fright at her age.

She dropped hints about trans stuff, nothing specific, just a bit of Social Justice Warrior rubbish that kids say.

In her small group of school friends, people seemed to be changing sexual orientation, then gender identity became the latest trendy thing, we decided to just ignore it, wait for the next thing to come by. She started going to a gendered intelligence support group, which I imagined to be a bit like a feminist consciousness raising group.

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