As a 1970s era feminist and lesbian I have been angered and puzzled by the ocean of bullshit regarding “gender”. To me it is just sexism in post-modern drag.
I was around in 1969, I may have smoked pot and taken acid in those days but I not only took photographs and kept clippings, but have a library full of works from that era. I have been disgusted by the way 1960s and 1970s era feminism has been reduced to a caricature, as though the only thing either feminism or lesbian feminism stood for was the trashing of transsexual and transgender people, as though is was purely reactive instead of being actively pro-woman.
I never saw there being a “T” in the L/G communities until about 1995. I never saw transsexuals as being part of the “Trans-Ghetto” until our colonization during the 1990s.
I was on a very argumentative mailing list called Trans-theory about a dozen years ago when the point was argued that one could queue in line with women or one could queue in line with transgender but that one could not do both.
As a 1970s era feminist, indeed some might say, radical feminist I believe in putting women first. To me women are simply adult people with vulva/vagina (the parts that cause someone to be labeled female at birth by the commonly applied standards). Both the religious right and the Transgender Borg want to apply stricter standards in order to maintain their colonial rule over post-transsexual women. Ironically they do this at the same time they argue that one can have a penis and still be a woman.
Today, Joann Prinzivalli presented a comment/argument on the post “Get In Line” that had me sputtering WTF?, WTF?. She argued that instead of women working for the ERA they should instead assent to being folded into an amendment protecting LGBT/T people. The disregard for women was stunning, unfortunately it is all to common in the arguments of both Transgender Inc. and the Transgender Borg Collective, who have embraced the idea of gender defining who is a man and who is a woman with out examining the potential consequence such an appropriation and repurposing of woman might have on actual women.
Too often transgender people assigned male at birth seem blind to their own expectations of male privilege and show a total disregard for both women and for the feminist struggles of women, they claim womanhood but rather than queue with women in common cause they queue with “Transgender” and push for their rights without regard for any harm they might cause actual women.
I have also been part of Lesbian Communities since the 1970s because, “Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice.” I never needed a “T” to be part of that community, being just another woman who loved women and who understood the oppressive nature of the patriarchy was sufficient. So much of my opposition to both Transgender Inc and the Transgender Borg is rooted in the sense that it doesn’t give a rat’s ass if it harms women or adds to the oppression of women.
From Baltimore Out Loud: http://www.baltimoreoutloud.com/k2-fetch-latest/thinking-outloud/opinion/item/602-difference-exists
Written by E. Hungerford and Cathy Brennan
Friday, 01 July 2011
Reposted with permission
Something has gotten lost on the way to liberation for the GLBT community – females. Females have been the backbone of the movement, with lesbians playing key roles in the 1980s fighting the “Gay Plague” of their gay male brothers, working to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and fighting for anti-discrimination protections at the state and national level. Lesbians deserve a pat on the back for their contributions, and the gratitude of their GBT brethren.
Lesbians also deserve recognition with regard to state legislation that has been advanced in the last 15 years by GLBT civil rights organizations, most notably the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, to ban discrimination based on “gender identity.” “Gender identity” sounds like a great concept; and one that – you would think – lesbians should embrace, as lesbians know full well the harm caused by sex stereotyping. But the gender identity legislation presents two fundamental problems for all females, and for lesbians in particular.
First, we are female. As females – like all females – we are vulnerable to harm based on our biology. Humans are a sexually dimorphic species. Females and males are reproductively different. Yes, there are Intersex folks, and we do not deny their existence, but it is not a female’s “brain sex” that puts her at risk of sex-based male violence. It is her reproductive capacity. When females are raped by males, we suffer all the physical and emotional traumas associated with rape, in addition to the potential for impregnation.
This is a massive problem for females, who represent approximately half of the world population. We live in a rape culture. Females are assumed de facto available to males. Indeed, even Bristol Palin writes in her new autobiography about her “magical” first sexual experience – and it turns out she was drunk and not conscious. Some of us call that, well, rape. But no matter what you call it, female sexual assault is alarmingly common. So common, in fact, that Bristol Palin’s story is barely scandalous. It is a testament to why we, as a GLBT movement, should care about female reproductive vulnerability and support legal protections that recognize female harm and harm potential.
Second, as females, lesbians have been subjected to all measure of sex stereotyping as a means to keep us excluded from full participation in society. False assumptions about our biological sex’s capacity to perform specific jobs, for example, have been used to justify sexist stereotypes and marginalize women since the founding of this country. Lesbians know this all too well. Many of us transgress “norms” of so-called appropriate female behavior and appearance. For decades, members of the lesbian community faced social censure, alienation, job loss, and sexual assault for refusing to wear “women’s” clothing in public. For these women, defying gendered norms of feminine appearance is not cross-dressing; it’s just dressing. Similarly, lesbian attraction to other women in defiance of compulsory heterosexuality – a term coined by Adrienne Rich, a lesbian and Baltimore native – is not reflective of lesbian desire to be male. Rather, it is an authentic expression of desire unbridled by social duress.
Gender identity, rather than rejecting the notion that there are traits associated with genital sex, instead elevates this notion to fact – that there ARE “gender identities” that go along with your biological sex. Rather than acknowledge that there is no “way of being” that goes along with your anatomy, gender identity allows anyone to “claim” a gender based solely on a willingness to adopt stereotypical mannerisms, appearance or “behavior” of the opposite sex.
As lesbians, we accept “gender identity” as a means to provide protections to the T under our umbrella. We also abhor irrational discrimination, knowing all too well the detriment it causes both to the individual and to a society deprived of the full participation of all its members. But we need to draw a line, because lesbians endure – like all females – the specific harm that results when males run roughshod over sex-based protections. Women require distinctive legal protections that acknowledge both our biological vulnerability and the socio-historic context in which gender norms operate.
Laws that offer sex-based protections do so for a rational basis – the harm that females can and do suffer at the hands of males. If gender identity replaces sex, and “gender identity” allows every Tom, Dick, and Harry to decide “I feel female today,” females will have essentially no protection under the law. We oppose irrational discrimination against transwomen – but in their desire to use the ladies’ room, we kindly ask that they shut the door quickly behind them. A narrow definition of gender identity accomplishes this. Limiting the protections of “gender identity” to people committed to transitioning with a medical need to do so properly weighs the interests of all community members under our colorful umbrella.