Difference Exists

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.

15 Responses to “Difference Exists”

  1. Sharon Gaughan Says:

    Back in the Trans-theory days, some of the list participants denied that people born transsexual even exist! I read what Joann Prinzivalli wrote but my reaction differed a bit — I nearly threw up.

  2. Andrea Rosenfield Says:

    The disregard for the harm done to women is so complete, and so consistent, that a rational observer might conclude that harming women is in fact the underlying motivation.

    If you’re lurking, Cathy, excellent article, start to finish.

    • Suzan Says:

      The utter disregard for women shown by many in the Transgender Borg/Transgender Inc camp is simply androcentric beyond words. It is the same sort of arrogant misogyny shown by the Men’s Rights Advocates, indeed they come off as totally self centered.

      Can’t get a job in the field you were so accomplished in before you transitioned. Of course it has to be transphobia because your skill set is so out standing. Oh, what was that you said women make up 5 percent of the people in that field but it must be transphobia.

      How come I rarely hear of sisters who were male nurses prior to transition having a hard time getting work?

      I actually hoped that Julia Serano’s book would help some of these folks connect the dots and see that what they are calling transphobia is actually a combination of old fashioned misogyny coupled with homophobia>

      But when you are so totally immersed in a cult you can’t even make the connection that about the same percentage of assigned female at birth sex workers are murdered as trans-sex workers. But we are even supposed to mention that the majority of TG and TS sisters getting murdered are sex workers because then we might have to argue for social safety nets to help people not have to do sex work.

      The identity politics of both Transgender Inc and the Transgender Borg Collective make it impossible to connect with the rest of the world outside the “community”. Using terms like “cis-sexual/gender” just furthers that disconnect.

  3. Cathy Brennan Says:

    Thanks.

  4. Geena Says:

    >How come I rarely hear of sisters who were male nurses prior to transition having a hard time getting work

    I’m in nursing school right now baby..and I can tell you with complete confidence. Nursing will teach you to convey a respect and generosity towards your patient and fellow student in ways that are completely absent from the TG activist mentality. Laugh if you like, but a crossdresser would make a better nurse than a self-absorbed trans activist.

    TG activism has become a contest to seek fame. I was sucked into it several years ago and realized, this is not me. Too many TG-inc-sters spend time trying to convince each other they speak from some platform, at the expense of having respect outside the collective.

  5. Angela Says:

    Is this not kinder, kuche, kirke all over again? Except that now those of us who are incapable of doing it are expected to spend our lives running around the outside of the enclosure maintaining its borders?
    Not the shepherd, but the sheep-dogs.

    • Suzan Says:

      I transitioned from male to female or more accurately from transsexual to female. I moved from the transsexual queue to the women’s queue. And my stance against the whole pile of gender bullshit is that it is nothing but Kinder, Küche, Kirche in post-modern drag.

  6. Angela Says:

    Ok, so I’ve invoked Godwin’s law, I admit it.
    But ERA or ENDA does it really matter?
    This thing is like a tank. It trundles on. Over British or European fields, American midwest, Russian steppes, African countryside or Far Eastern rice paddies makes no difference, because whatever local flora and fauna gets crushed under its tracks barely registers to the occupants.
    We are not privy to what goes on in the tank, we only hear about it second hand or third hand or via inferences and whispers.
    But with alarming regularity women and men and others fall off or are thrown out of the tank, here they lie before us, broken, battered and bruised, us the transexuals, trannies, the lesbian feminists, new age gurus and other odd bods.
    We patch them up and heal them. Most of them climb straight back in the tank and trundle off. Maybe they take a minor detour to avoid a molehill, in memory of us. Then they forget, and they carry on as usual.

    • Suzan Says:

      ERA is far more important to me as a woman than ENDA or anything involving Transgender Inc will ever be..

      Fuck Godwin, he’s a Nazi symp.

  7. Andrea Rosenfield Says:

    The male supremacists can’t get around the sex-stereotyping laws that prevent forcing people into “roles” based on actual sex, so they switch it around and make the legal sex follow the “roles” instead. The cherished stereotype “roles” are thus protected, even codified, while all laws that protect actual females become meaningless as a consequence. It’s a “two-fer” for them. Cathy has it exactly right in the third-to-last paragraph of her article.

    The “role” will become the sex, and no “feminine” sex role on offer comes equipped with a voice. They’ll use it to roll back suffrage eventually if it festers. Voting will be an “identifies as male” thing.

  8. Joann Prinzivalli Says:

    I think y’all read my suggestion backward. I was suggesting that the proponents of this LGBT amendment include women. Whetner it’s done in one amendent or two, I assume you would want women to hav equal rights. I also noted that is they had to be done separately, the ERA for women should come first.

    There are a lot of aspects of what Suzan says that make sense, as long as I filter out what I refer to as ” the separartist stuff” (the same way that I filter out readfem separatist stuff from the parts of redical feminism that make sense, or the separatist stuff out of the good parts of TS-Si). (Ecample of a really good bit above, wheee Suzan writes in a comment:

    “I actually hoped that Julia Serano’s book would help some of these folks connect the dots and see that what they are calling transphobia is actually a combination of old fashioned misogyny coupled with homophobia”

    That’s what I used to refer to as a “grain of corn” – a golden bit that is just so true – but I have to wade through thigh-high pools of negativity to find it, and the other worthwhile thoughts.

    Whole all this is going on, there’s a site that gathers quotes from many of us, I haven’t seen Suzan quoted there, but Sharon and Lisa from TS-Si, Zoe Brain and I seem to be popular “quote sources” for the radfems who run a delightfully funny (funny because they take things out of context and make fun of us in big, red, headlines, and delightful because it’s so much drek) over at a WordPress blog called “Mansplainin’ Transplainin’) where they make no distinction about anyone who doesn’t possess a naturally-occurring uterus, all of whom they consider men. This has nothing to do with any transgender borg, they aren;t interested unless you have a naturally formed uterus and have (or have had in your life history) a friendly visit every month. Over at their “radfem borg” sites, post-ops are the ones doing a god part of the colonization of womanhood, anf they resent you as much as they resent anyone else who is WBT (they use the term M2T to show how much they think of the womanhood of anyone with a trans history, regardless of surgery.

    They’re at:
    http://mansplaintransplain.wordpress.com/

    Take a look –

    Then take a look at one of my recent blog essays at:
    http://trans-cendence.blogspot.com/2011/06/radical-feminists-tied-to-social.html

    Suzan’s ongoing theory about how this particularly virulent brand of anti-trans radical feminism is related to the Catholic Church’s misogyny is another “piece of corn” (BTW, corn is a *good* thing in that reference). But they are still out there, and just as harmful as any other separatism.

    • Suzan Says:

      Joann I don’t have to go to some site that may well be run by Catholics like Raymond to hear some of the filthiest names I’ve ever been called. All I have to do is go to a transgender Borg or Transgender Inc site. Shit, a few months back Autumn Sandeen engaged in a four part trashing of a friend of mine using Pam’s House Blend as a platform.

  9. Angela Says:

    Perhaps what Joann is saying here is that as she doesn’t care what a load of lesbians are saying about her/us she definitely isn’t going to care about anything we might say about her.

    • Suzan Says:

      I don’t care about Joan’s word games. They don’t represent me or convince me to support her position.


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