musings on the radical-feminist-fringe hatred of all things trans

And although I might think of myself as a woman, someone else might be further down the spectrum towards womanhood than I am, and thus ‘more of a woman’ than me. (Rebecca Reilly-Cooper)

Clare Flourish has an interesting post called Liberation from Gender that pointed me in the direction of the article quoted and linked to above.

For a few months now, I’ve been intrigued by the radical feminist fringe that rails against anyone identifying as trans. I follow several blogs that spit fury, heap mockery and pulsate with hate towards anyone who considers themselves to be trans. It’s not pleasant reading, but my curiosity about what drives such an attitude within feminism keeps me from deleting them from my Reader.

To date, I have a couple of potential theories about their attitude:

  1. They fear for people, particularly their own children in some cases, making irreversible and potentially devastating changes to their bodies on the crest of a trend that is viewed as glamorising being trans. I can understand this concern, but it doesn’t explain sense of rabid disgust and hate. And there is never the allowance that in some cases it’s the best or only thing that individuals can choose in their circumstances.
  2. They have had terrible experiences with men in their lives, which colours their outlook on anyone born biologically male. I’m certain this is a key influence in many cases. Suspicion and fear run rampant, and in spite of the fact these radical feminists claim they want a genderless society, they can’t view people as people. People born with penises are The Enemy. Regardless. And given that they can’t accept trans women are a reality, they have to extend this to trans men as well – in their eyes, these are people who have been taught by society that to be a woman is lesser and this is the reason they ‘choose’ to be male.

But Rebecca Reilly-Cooper, quoted above, just gave me another potential reason I hadn’t considered: misplaced jealous possessiveness. In the article linked to above, Rebecca misinterprets a gender spectrum as having only something of value in the two majority clusters (which she confusingly assumes would see distribution along the lines of a height spectrum – another illogical assumption, but that’s another story).

Suddenly, I envisage gender non-conforming biological females faced with trans gender women expressing more traditional feminine qualities than they do, and rather than being delighted by the refusal to stick to gender scripts, feeling threatened that ‘more typical feminine qualities’ is claiming to be ‘more woman’. And this is why we see rants about periods and childhood sexism and a starkly self-contradictory possessiveness of the words “woman” and “female” that can’t possibly sit with their proclaimed desire to erase gender identity.

Rebecca concludes with a couple of fanfare-worthy sentences I’m sure everyone agrees with:

The solution to an oppressive system that puts people into pink and blue boxes is not to create more and more boxes that are any colour but blue or pink. The solution is to tear down the boxes altogether.

The only problem is, her entire article pirouettes around her personal box of oppression and marginalisation: namely the box she gives trans people that reduces their collective identity and shared gender experiences to nothing. Let’s tear down boxes by not making assumptions about people based on their biological sex or their appearance. But, please, let’s not make the mistake of telling other people how to dress, behave and express themselves, all in the name of freedom.