Friday, October 12, 2018

Let's Stop Conflating Transgender and Toxic Masculinity

I ran across an essay that was trying to argue that somehow transgender activism was "peak male entitlement".

It's quite lengthy, but more or less it boils down to a rehash of a number of classic stereotypes that Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) have dreamed up to attack trans women in particular.  

Basically it boils down to the following combination: 

If you are trans, you're supposed to transition and then blend in with society perfectly afterwards. Nobody should ever know that you were ever trans.  

If you have transitioned, and are somehow recognizable as being trans, you're a failure and somehow reflective of "male privilege in women's spaces".  

Lastly, if a trans woman should ever lash out at a critic, well, that too is just male privilege.  After all women aren't supposed to get mad - like ever.  

If you note one thing about all this, you should notice that the entire structure is a double bind meant to silence trans women using many of the same tools and techniques that have historically been used to silence women.  I suppose it comes as little or no real surprise that TERFs would basically weaponize the same tools against trans women.  

Apparently, trans activists are now an objective threat to "real women"(tm), simply for existing.  Making crazy demands like wanting to use bathrooms and suchlike is apparently a danger to all women.  God forbid that any should have an opinion that implies that trans women aren't being treated equitably in our society.  

The author then, somehow, tries to twist this into being a form of violence against women.  As if a woman is metaphorically being assaulted simply by being in the same room as someone with a penis (and goodness knows, a trans woman who hasn't had surgery is just a sex crime looking for a place to happen, right?).  No - it doesn't really work that way.  

What the author of this piece is missing is this little fact:  the very existence of transsexuals - both MtF and FtM - calls into question the rigid delineation of "has penis = man, has vagina = woman".  The reality is that "man" and "woman" need to be understood primarily in the context of the social, not the biological.  The biological informs the social to a point, but there are always outliers and that is what trans people are - the outliers. It's only been relatively recently that there has been enough of a body of trans people that the logical problems with the old assumptions have become inescapable.  

There is a light being shone on one of our society's oldest assumptions right now, and it is the trans community that is pointing out the problems.  I get it - the idea of a girl with a penis is unsettling to some - especially in the lesbian community.  But guess what?  It isn't unsettling to all in that community either - there are some lesbians who are perfectly happy with a transgender partner.  

Having a penis doesn't make someone dangerous to women. We really need to drop this entire line of reasoning - it's stupid. So, instead of trying to characterize trans women as somehow "doing violence" to women, how about we recognize that violence against women (trans and not) happens, and as a society we need to do something about it?

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