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one reason i don't really socialize any more
singapore sunset
So, yesterday there was another long wank on ONTD about transwomen just being straight men out to erase lesbian identity. I don't know why i keep reading these articles. Ostensibly it was an article about London Pride, but it also mentioned an "anti trans" protest that had been staged beforehand. It was a throwaway line in the Graun and other press sources, but on ONTD it became the main topic of discussion. That community is basically my only connection to the GLBTQ+ scene today, and the loudest voices over there applauded the protest as a brave pro-women action.

Having read a lot of comments and discussion about this stuff over the past couple years, i do get where they are coming from. I have even written about similar topics myself. The belief of these women is that womanhood is defined largely by possessing a female reproductive system. They feel that women's spaces should be exclusive to biological women based on their chromosomes and ovaries. Post-operative transwomen are not welcome, because the vagina is purely cosmetic. Pre-operative and non-operative transwomen are definitely not welcome, for obvious reasons. Their view is that no transwoman can ever be a lesbian, and any so-called "lesbian" who dates a transwoman is actually bi.

Nobody wants to give a straight answer about the womanhood of XX-chromosome women who are born with Müllerian agenesis or other conditions that cause them to have non-existent or never-functioning reproductive organs. I imagine this is the point where they may say that it's still different because women born as women are socialized and oppressed as girls through childhood whereas transwomen are socialized as boys through childhood and do not face the same oppression. But that is where it gets murky for me.

A point of certain branches of feminism is that gender is nothing more than performative masculinity or femininity. The belief is that gender non-conforming cispeople face just as much discrimination from gender reactionaries as transpeople do. In fact, there is a sense that transpeople are making things worse by reinforcing the gender binary. This is an unfair generalization, because plenty of transpeople end up gender non-conforming in their destination gender too. But whatever, let's run with it. My point is, if you accept that all women - regardless of the faculty of their reproductive system - share a unique experience of womanhood due to their socialization as girls, then you are accepting the fact that womanhood is something more than just biology. It might not be pink dresses and nail polish, but there's still an aspect of womanhood that is a social construct. And that aspect is exactly what transpeople aim to discover through their so-called transition. The transition is about learning what it means to be a man or a woman in society, and just as with childhood - it takes years! If someone goes through that process, why should their learned manhood or womanhood be any less valid than the one pushed onto kids?

I guess i feel like you can't have it both ways. If you believe that all gender is bullshit, but you also believe that what defines a man or a woman is a functioning reproductive system, then there is still a gap for children, the elderly, people with disabilities and so on where they cannot be classified cleanly one way or the other. It's in that gap where transpeople fall. However, although this is an internally-logical argument for excluding transpeople (along with other groups) from gendered spaces, in broader society nobody gets to be an "X". Your gender will be classified whether you want it or not - you will be considered a man or a woman based on your name, based on your pronouns, based on how you look, based on what's in your passport... and not based on your reproductive faculty. It might not be accurate, but that's the way it is.

So, in a society that treats us as either men or women, i think it's understandable that people may feel an entitlement to be a part of so-called men's or women's spaces. Not everyone in those spaces will be comfortable with it (God knows both men's and women's spaces make me very uncomfortable) but until gender is erased completely, or society embraces the idea of non-binary spaces, that's life. And i get it. That means the oppression of ciswomen continues. Well, fuck. Okay. In my opinion the bigger problem here is those who directly benefit from the patriarchy, not the tiny percentage of society that consists of transwomen who also identify as lesbian who also are disrespectful of ciswomen's requests to keep a few spaces trans-exclusionary... It just feels like such a pointless outrage - two minorities punching away at each other over table scraps. But, then, what would i know? Apparently i am not a woman anyway, so how could i ever understand the existential threat that transwomen pose to lesbians?

Sigh. Sunday morning fun fun fun. I am going to make coffee and play computer games all day. Sexuality and gender is exhausting. Every time i read about it i am more and more convinced that asexuality and being agender is my final destination. I'm too old to deal with all this nonsense.

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Last year I read an interesting Swedish book called The Transfeminist Manifest by Maria Ramnehill. I wish it was translated, because it was a good read. Her conclusion was that the term gender needs to be emptied of any meaning, because the meaning we put into it is oppressive. Your text reminded me of that.

I think it is a really good point that gender is inherently oppressive. It's interesting to imagine a post-gender world. I think some people who are trans today would not be trans. But other people - those who experience body dysphoria - may still seek genital surgery. Would homosexuality or heterosexuality end up just being a genital preference? Is that all it is right now? These are challenging questions to answer for a lot of people because it gets to the root of their identity.

I remember a sci-fi book I found quite influential as a teenager was John Varley's Steel Beach. I haven't re-read it as an adult because I fear it might have dated a bit, but it was set in a post-gender world where people changed their sex and other physical characteristics at will. That kind of society really appeals to me - treating the body as a medium of personal expression - fashion and nothing more.

Btw I appreciated your post the other day candidly discussing issues of being bi vs pan and being in a relationship with a non-binary partner. I just listened and didn't comment because I wasn't sure I had anything insightful to add.

What's the point of Feminism if it doesn't benefit ALL Women?

I agree!

I guess from the point of view of a certain type of feminist, transwomen aren't women, though. They see transpeople as little more than gender non-conforming members of their birth sex. I've also faced this view amongst gay men. I guess the existence of transpeople does challenge some of the basic ideas about rigid homosexuality and heterosexuality, which can make people uncomfortable.

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