29 September 2010

Rage: (Cis) Feminists Other Trans Women

This is going to be a short ragy post because, as a feminist and a trans woman I find it depressing to dwell on this subject much.  Feminism has a long, shameful history of only being for some women, the right women.  The sex-positive movement, womanism, and others owe part of their existence to the fact that feminisms, or perhaps more accurately, feminists have not lived up to any sort of ideal that feminism is the radical idea that women are people.  As a trans woman I'm definitely not people and often not a woman.

Now I'm not just talking about the transphobic radscum types who take pride in their hatred for trans women.  Haters are everywhere, only their supposed justifications differ.  Radscum really say the same things as the religious fundamentalist haters.  So I dismiss them pretty easily.  Except.

Except it's amazing how most cis feminists don't actually denounce radscum.  Oh, they're happy to give lip service about how awful it is that they say these things but they're otherwise happy to accept that they really are feminists who are concerned about all women.  Or, you even get cis feminists who claim to not be transphobic and then make approving comments at radscum hate sites.  But the most annoying thing is when cis feminists don't necessarily do these things but make statements that exclude trans women as women and as feminists.  Like this lovely quote I found in a recent post by a cis feminist elsewhere:
I am always fascinated when transgendered people describe (witness!) the sexism they have encountered, and chronicle the differences in the ways they are treated after transitioning to man/woman. I don't think any better witnesses concerning the realities of sexism can be found, since they really have experienced it from both sides of the gender spectrum. 
That's pretty othering.  Trans people as witnesses to sexism.  Like we're subjects of an experiment that cis feminists are running.  Like we're not feminists but only exist to "fascinate" cis feminists.  This is the sort of reason why some trans women are saying they are no longer feminists.  Because feminism doesn't include us.  At best we're examples for feminism in its relentless theorising, our lived experience considered in the most limited way. Silly trans women!  We show how the system is broken!  Thanks for that.  Maybe feminism will liberate you when they liberate all women (ie, never).  But don't con yourself that you're a feminist who can theorise and analyse like cis feminists!

So why do I stay a feminist?  Because I do believe in the ideals.  Because I know feminists won't listen to non-feminist criticism.  Heck, they barely listen to feminist criticism.  I'm sure at some point it will be too much for me to bear any more and feminists will drive me out of feminism.  No great loss.  Same old, same old.


  1. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

  2. More feminists like you need to keep the label. I know I could easily scream and bail from the racism and genderism within the movement as a white cis female. How it is for those who aren't would be very angering indeed.

  3. What I always find to be so amusing is the gyrations that radfem advocates put themselves through to deny the trans narratives that seriously challenge their theoretical assumptions (if not outright invalidate them).

    It has always struck me as a case of having too much invested in a theory, and failing utterly to consider the full breadth of evidence.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Okay, deleted a comment for completely degendering trans women [Hint: "it" is never an acceptable way to refer to a person or people without permission] and offering the horribly insulting "opinion" that transsexual women were abused as children as the cause of our being trans. I was not abused as a child. Therefore, that opinion is not backed up by the facts and is both awful AND wrong.

    I admit I almost left the comment was just so cartoonish and ridiculous, and I would like cis people to see the kind of nonsense trans people have to put up with where people feel free to suggest we're basically "broken" and "in denial" because of some awful trauma (similar to how some people suggest lesbians are lesbian because they were traumatised in various ways). But I'm afraid it could have been triggering to other people so buh-bye it went.

  6. For an excellent example of this: Judy Rebick testifying for Vancouver Rape Relief at their trial with Cynthia Nixon as plaintiff. She says she doesn't like that sort of transphobia, but 'VRR has done *so* much for women.'

  7. No other movement has to cope with this issue. TransWomen are that. TransWomen. They are not Women. They do not share the same history. Have not been brought up as Women etc. The vast majority act like Men. The black movement does not have to cope with white people putting black make-up on, declaring themselves black and bossing black people in the movement about. Why does the feminist movement have to accept people who fundamentally DO NOT understand ciswomen's issues? People who insist on entering women only spaces and act like men (which they always do for they were brought up that way). It's time TransWomen realised they are TransWomen NOT Women. Feminists are happy for your right to be TransWomen. TransWomen should be happy for us to have our rights and our own spaces as CISWOMEN.

  8. I love anonymous cowards. They all sound the same so I can fantasize that they are all the same person and that actually only one person on this planet is that much of a worthless piece of crap.

  9. So agreed, Asher.

    Anonymous, you need to get new material. That shit's been around since the '70s and the racist appropriation bullshit is really getting on my nerves. So you know the vast majority of trans women, do you? I call bullshit. A cis woman friend of mine also calls bullshit on the idea that trans women act like men and she knows a few, which is likely way more than you. Trans women are women. Period. The feminist movement is not just for cis women or even just for women. If it's only for women, cis or otherwise, it's self-defeating. I left your comment here because I like people to see the bullshit trans people, especially trans women, get. But comment anonymously with this crap again and it's getting deleted.