How do you know if you’re “transphobic”, and what is to be done about it?

How do you know if you’re “transphobic”, and what is to be done about it?

Great post to start the week

writing by renee

There’s a new catchcry in town. It’s been flying around New Zealand media like a ball in a pinball machine since February 20, when Family First launched a campaign called Ask Me First. The campaign amplifies the voice of Laura, an 18 year-old student who has challenged policy changes at a New Zealand all girls’ high school. The policy changes were made to accommodate a student who identifies as trans. Liberal media is reacting to Laura’s concerns with loud wails of “transphobia!” – but have any of these journalists really considered what “transphobia” might actually mean?

Does transphobia really mean, never questioning or turning over in one’s mind the views or demands of a trans person? Couldn’t obliging with haste and without question to someone’s demands, be a sign of fear?

And could noisy, flailing overcompensation perhaps be a symptom of deep discomfort, too?

I’m thinking of that

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On the Rescinding of Obama’s Title IX Gender Identity Guidance

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.

Lezbehonest about Queer Politics Erasing Lesbian Women

Lezbehonest about Queer Politics Erasing Lesbian Women

An excellent piece which highlights the scale of the lesbophobia found within LGBT circles. The role of patriarchy is crucial: in theory the reasons for “deconstructing lesbian sexuality” should apply equally to male homosexuality as well as heterosexuality, yet these groups are spared.

Great work by Claire.

Sister Outrider

This post is the second in a series of essays on sex, gender, and sexuality. The first is available here. I have written about lesbian erasure because I refuse to be rendered invisible. By raising my voice in dissent, I seek to offer both a degree of recognition to other lesbian women and active resistance to any political framework – het or queer – that insists lesbians are a dying breed. If women loving and prioritising other women is a threat to your politics, I can guarantee you are a part of the problem and not the solution.

Dedicated to SJ, who makes me proud to be a lesbian. Your kindness brightens my world.

lesbian_feminist_liberation Lesbian is once more a contested category.  The most literal definition of lesbian – a homosexual woman – is subject to fresh controversy. This lesbophobia does not stem from social conservatism, but manifests within the…

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Socialist Review on transgender and access to women’s spaces

A great read on the failure to acknowledge the role of neoliberalism in supporting trans ideology and the sexism behind it all.

freer lives

An article in the Socialist Review magazine (January 2017), put out by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), discusses the debate between trans-critical feminists and supporters of transgender people, and the issue of access to women-only areas. It also describes the author’s workplace experiences as a lecturer, dealing with discrimination and fighting for safe spaces for transgender people.

The piece acknowledges a “massive difference” between right wing bigots, who treat traditional gender roles as god-given, and Germaine Greer (used in the article to represent all trans-critical feminists) who challenges gender roles. The piece is less helpful in its explanation as to why feminists might criticise the trans trend.

Some comments could be read as a dogwhistle hint that trans-critical feminists are now just old and past it, whatever their previous achievements. On one hand we have the “veteran” Greer, on the other “a new generation” that “is growing up with more open attitudes to…

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Yet another ‘New Left’, just as neoliberal as the last one

Fantastic post. If you haven’t read it already, do.

Purple Sage

Today I read yet another article by a faux-leftist neoliberal waxing poetic about how a “New Left” is being born because of the Trump presidency and the Women’s March and it will be a bigger, better Left that actually does something and there will be movement! and resistance! and unity! and blah, blah, blah. I’m not going to link to it because you don’t even need to read it. You’ve read it plenty of times already. Every time the Left loses there is another article like this that says we are going to learn from our past mistakes and we are going to do better and next time we will win. And it includes all the liberal/leftist buzzwords du jour. This one was no different.

The Left doesn’t actually get “reborn” every time a right-wing politician wins or every time someone creates a hashtag or writes a thinkpiece. The people…

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The Women’s March and the Erasure of Women

Great post that reminds us how important it is to carry on fighting for our rights following the predictable response by trans activists. These women’s marches were powerful, even for those of us who couldn’t attend, because they sent such a strong message. It is the reason they are being attacked so relentlessly. It gives me some hope.

Not The News in Briefs

On Saturday January 21st the Women’s March on Washington took place in order to protest the potential effects the election of president Donald Trump would have on women’s rights in the USA. Conceived of by women, organised by women, networked and shared by women and overwhelmingly attended by women, the Women’s March became a chance for women worldwide to join in solidarity with their American sisters, and march for women’s rights in towns and cities all over the world. And this is what women did, in large numbers and in many places.

It is quite clear from the pictures that this was a women’s event, though it was by no means exclusionary – anyone could attend, but the focus was on women. In the UK for example there were many feminist and women’s groups represented:

It was a powerful opportunity to get across whichever feminist message meant the most to…

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Something that cheered me up

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.