I have been quite busy recently and ended up having to take a step back from many online activities, which means I haven’t been following the trans debate very closely. The recent decision on Title IX was too much of a temptation though so I had a look at Twitter to see the reactions. All of it is of course fairly predictable, and pretty disheartening.
The claim that we deny the right of trans people to exist is a logical fallacy. It is a straw man: an argument that doesn’t represent our position and one which can easily be refuted. But it’s part of the apparently infinite arsenal of claims that trans activists curate in order to shame and silence us. And it works: who needs to address our arguments when such misrepresentations immediately discredit us as hateful and bigoted, and therefore worthy of any contempt, abuse and threats we might receive?
There’s also the problem of assuming that since trans people do face transphobia, any criticism or questioning of trans politics is necessarily transphobic. This is another claim that doesn’t withstand scrutiny. Arguing that women, i.e. adult human females, face specific oppression as a class and therefore should have their rights protected is not in any way bigoted or oppressive towards trans individuals. Women are oppressed not because we identify as women, but because we are female. Patriarchy has attached meaning and expectations to this fact, resulting in the specific discrimination and violence that plague us from the moment we are born.
It is frustrating to see so many people give up on critical thinking when it comes to trans ideology. Ultimately we can change the meaning of words so that they no longer refer to anything material, but the underlying reality doesn’t adapt to reflect this change. In other words, you can believe that a “transwoman is a woman” but there are always going to be two classes of individuals in species that reproduce sexually. Similarly you can believe that a MTT can be a lesbian, but there will always be a class of females who are exclusively same-sex attracted and who therefore reject transgender male as potential partners. For lesbians, demanding that we accept gender identity ideology without question is demanding that we change our orientation. How can this be defended?
It is easy to see that trans ideology as it stands is solely about the validation of subjective identities. We could effortlessly solve so-called bathroom issues by providing unisex facilities for example (though I personally argue for retaining female-only spaces as well) but this suggestion is always rejected by trans activists. Such a position can only be explained by acknowledging that it is misogyny and homophobia driving the trans movement: a movement that aims to remove the rights of women and lesbians to assemble in female-only spaces by demanding that we suspend disbelief and ignore material reality.
It would be helpful if at the very least people recognised that rights are conflicting and that we should work towards finding solutions that work for everyone. Instead we’re witnessing girls and women being vilified and silenced for defending their rights. This happens because of ignorance and misrepresentations and nothing else. Plus ça change I guess, it’s sometimes hard to see an end to it all.
I find that constantly fighting for women’s and lesbian rights can be soul destroying at times. The misogyny, sexism, erasure, homophobia and threats are never in short supply, and it often feels like no one has our lesbian backs. Though I want to give credit here to the likes of Feminist Current and the straight women who do speak out in our defence: it makes it a less lonely place.
Anyway, when I’m struggling I sometimes turn to lesbian fiction, which is mostly a safe world I can escape to. And I found a little gem this time. Not so much in the storyline, which involved a woman realising she was a lesbian, but in the character. This woman was socially awkward and her idea of fun was a quiet evening in reading, rather than partying. Someone like me I guess. I’ve been trying to remember the last time I could identify with a character and nothing comes to mind.
Maybe I’ve been reading the wrong books, I don’t know, but I enjoyed this book just for this character. I’ve had a lifetime of being told I’m too serious, I don’t let my hair down enough (both wrong, I just need to feel comfortable for a person to see how silly I actually am), I need to be different because being me is not good enough. So having a character appreciated for who she appears to be at first, uncool, awkward, etc., well it made my day.
Ready to go again.
Edit to add: I know some lesbians have found the premise of this book problematic and I understand and respect this viewpoint. For me, an awkward character made up for the premise but I’m aware that’s not going to be the case for everyone.