On September 19, 2013 Well known anti-trans hate monger Elizabeth Hungerford published the following on the Orwellian NewSpeak named “Liberation Collective” sic. Blog.
This is my response to the reactionary and misguided “A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism” (The Statement) posted at FeministsFightingTransphobia.wordpress.com.
We can all agree, I think, that people’s actual lives are more important than theoretical abstractions– including those related to “identity.” This is precisely why, as feminists, we demand acknowledgement for the lived realities and material conditions of women’s lives, including the social mechanics of sex-and-gender-assignment that ultimately give rise to women’s oppression. But beyond this, there are a truly alarming number of misrepresentations, inconsistencies, and logical errors in The Statement. I will address many of them below.
First things first, I want to point out that characterizing gender critical feminists as “transphobic feminists” remains unsupported where “transphobia” is not defined. Repeated use of this term to demonize a certain kind of political speech or political actor is clearly intended to be insulting rather than instructive; it serves as a way to shame us and any of our potential supporters into silence. Personally, I have no intention of insulting other feminists and escalating hostility by using similar epithets to describe them or their political views.
Throughout this response I will refer to myself and others who share my general view of gender as gender critical feminists (no acronym). Because that’s what we do. We are feminists who criticize gender as a harmful social construct that distributes power unequally.
As one of the original signers of A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism I find Hungerford’s screed to be typical right wing pseudo-feminist bullshit. Something that could just as easily come from any one of the Christo-Fascist organizations with “Concerned” or “Family” in their title.
This pseudo-feminism is simply bigotry in feminist drag. A form of punching down similar to lumpen prole racism directed at an even more oppressed group.
Through out Hungerford’s piece she repeatedly resorts to group guilt type smears typically found in racist and anti-Semitic literature. Lies and distortions or the use of individual events to assign group guilt. This has in the past been described as “Blood Libel” and is typical of the hate speech directed at TS/TG people by Hungerford and others.
From Trans-Advocate: http://www.transadvocate.com/you-might-be-a-terf-if.htm
By Cristan Williams
September 24, 2013
Reposted with permission
I’ve noticed that there seems to be some confusion about what a TERF* is so, here’s a quick guide to help you figure out if you’re a TERF. Chances are that you’re a TERF if you believe that you’re a feminist when you…
2.) Out transpeople to employers.
3.) Tell trans women their surgery is about supporting rape culture.
5.) Claim that a world without trans people is preferable.1
6.) Find that your anti-trans arguments and the anti-trans arguments of far rightwing groups match.2
8.) Claim that gender isn’t real, but the MAAB/FAAB binary is.
9.) Claim that trans surgeries were pioneered by men in service of the patriarchy.3
11.) Fearmonger about the rape/violence threat transwomen pose to ciswomen in the womens restroom.
12.) Assert that trans people transition to satisfy their sexual urges.
14.) Work to overturn trans equality protections.
16.) Appeal to the Klan Fallacy.
18.) Claim that trans people transition due to political or social pressures.4
19.) Claim that when you work to halt the propagation of anti-feminist stereotypes it’s empowerment, but when trans people work to halt the propagation of anti-trans stereotypes it’s censorship .
20.) Assert that trans women transition because they’re actually gay men and that transmen transition because they’re lesbians wanting to escape the patriarchy.
* Over the past year or so, much of the trans community has stopped referring to TERFs as RadFems. We’ve done this because there’s a number of radical feminists/2nd wave feminists/lesbian feminists who find the above demonstrated behavior abhorrent to feminism. Out of respect for actual RadFems, the trans community has stopped supporting the appropriation of the radical feminist identity by what is essentially a hate group. Thus, we instead use Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs).
1.) They expect we’ll be shocked to see statistics about them being killed, and don’t realize, some of us wish they would ALL be dead.
– BevJo, TERF opinion leader, author and speaker
While there are many who feel that morality must be built into law, I believe that the elimination of transsexualism is not best achieved by legislation prohibiting transsexual treatment and surgery but rather by legislation that limits it and by other legislation that lessens the support given to sex-role stereotyping, which generated the problem to begin with. Any legislation should be aimed at the social conditions that initiate and promote the surgery as well as the growth of the medical-institutional complex that translates these stereotypes into flesh and blood.
– Janice Raymond (1980), Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery, TERF opinion leader, author and speaker
2.) Now one of the things I find puzzling about it is that, when I look at the House of Lords debate on this legislation, those I agree with most are the radical right. Particularly the person I find that I agree with most, in here, and I’m not sure he will be pleased to find this, is Norman Tebbitt… Tebbitt also says that the savage mutilation of transgenderism, we would say if it was taking place in other cultures apart from the culture of Britain, was a harmful cultural practice, and how come we’re not recognising that in the British Isles. So he makes all of these arguments from the radical right, which is quite embarrassing to me, but I have to say, so called progressive and left people are not recognising the human rights violations of transgenderism or how crazy the legislation is.
3.) [Transsexual surgery] could be likened to political psychiatry in the Soviet Union. I suggest that transsexualism should best be seen in this light, as directly political, medical abuse of human rights. The mutilation of healthy bodies and the subjection of such bodies to dangerous and life-threatening continuing treatment violates such people’s rights to live with dignity in the body into which they were born, what Janice Raymond refers to as their “native” bodies. It represents an attack on the body to rectify a political condition, “gender” dissatisfaction in a male supremacist society based upon a false and politically constructed notion of gender difference… Recent literature on transsexualism in the lesbian community draws connections with the practices of sadomasochism.
– Sheila Jeffreys, TERF opinion leader, author and speaker
It should be noted that Jeffreys’ own community – Australian lesbians – pioneered both FTM and FTM transsexul surgery in Australia.
4.) My main conclusion is that transsexualism is basically a social problem whose cause cannot be explained except in relation to the sex role and identities that a patriarchal society generates. Through hormonal and surgical means, transsexuals reject their “native” bodies, especially their sexual organs, in favor of the body and the sexual organs of the opposite sex. They do this mainly because the body and the genitalia, especially, come to incarnate the essence of their rejected masculinity and desired femininity. Thus transsexualism is the result of socially prescribed definitions of masculinity and femininity, one of which the transsexual rejects in order to gravitate towards the other.
Thus I will argue, in Chapter III, that the First Cause of transsexualism is a gender-defined society whose norms of masculinity and femininity generate the desire to be transsexed…. I believe that the primary cause of transsexualism cannot be derived from intrapsyic attitudes and/or behaviors, or even from family conditioning processes. One must begin with the roles of a gender-defined society, as the First Cause of transsexualism (that which, in the Aristotelian sense, sets all other causes in motion.)
– Janice Raymond (1979), The Transsexual Empire, page 16
A significant number of transmen are lesbians who report that they want to transition in an attempt to escape misogyny – their own internalized version as much as society’s. A significant percentage of transwomen are homosexual males, pressured into transitioning by conservative society that hates gender non-conforming gay men.