I’m Not A Gender Zombie and Neither Are You: Rejecting Anti-Trans Bigotry From Rachel Ivey and Deep Green Resistance

Word has quickly spread on the web in the last week or so that Rachel Ivey, a member of the Deep Green Resistance environmentalist movement that holds openly transphobic views as “core” principles, is putting together a speaking tour consisting of a few relatively high profile events in June and July. This speaking tour supposedly includes events at City College of NYC as well as the University of Toronto.

Of course, in their own words, Deep Green Resistance (DGR) is not transphobic, they are merely “Critic[al] of the politics raised by the transgender movement.” They like to couch this ‘criticism,’ for example, in terms of simple-minded race-gender analogies that are not only non-sensical but probably a bit racist.

You can see the webpage for Rachel Ivey’s online fundraiser for her speaking tour here. Up until recently, several planned dates and speaking venues appeared on the page, including two events scheduled for NYC and a July 4 engagement at the University of Toronto. However, the list of dates and venues were recently removed from the page, apparently because some of those venues have been persuaded to cancel Ms. Ivey’s appearance (such as NYC’s Bluestockings Bookstore).

As a trans woman with strong ties to Toronto, it disturbs me to consider who or what organization might be so misguided as to invite this woman to speak at the University of Toronto. I’m also guessing that it’s no coincidence that the July 4 event occurs right before the radical feminist RadFem Rise Up conference, which is scheduled for Toronto on July 5-7. My guess is that Ms. Ivey will be be speaking at the conference as well (and indeed, her fundraiser page had until recently stated that further events would be announced in Ontario).

It’s worth pointing out that while ‘trans politics’ (i.e. the existence of trans people) will almost certainly be questioned at RadFem Rise Up, all trans people are banned from attendance. Indeed, Ms. Ivey has stated herself that she’s “…not presenting this topic for debate. Not in the slightest.”

From my own perspective as a trans woman, however, I will say that I don’t necessarily think that calling for these events to be canceled is the best course of action. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not calling for meaningless ‘dialogue’ with someone who quite openly (and proudly) expresses transphobia as some ‘radical’ principle, but what I am talking about is what is the most effective response. And I tend to consider that question not only from a trans perspective but also as a feminist. It could be that attending the event (for those allowed to attend, of course) and challenging the speaker’s views in front of an audience would be a better way to go.

In that scenario, it’s not about changing the speaker’s mind, but about providing a counterpoint for those that might be undecided in the audience.

If anyone has the time or patience to listen, there is a video that DGR produced in which Rachel Ivey details her sentiments that she rejects trans people’s identities, that she rejects trans people’s struggles against coercive gender norms, and that she refuses to acknowledge that cis privilege exists. She states that she is unwilling to listen to contrary views on these issues (that much of what she says is believable). The arguments that she makes in the video are based on standard anti-trans strains of radical feminist ideology. The statements she makes are not that sophisticated, and while all of these issues around gender contain subtleties, I think someone who is reasonably educated on trans issues could hear her out and easily challenge her during a Q&A session.

For example, she claims that cis privilege does not exist on the basis that, as she was assigned female at birth, she has faced gendered oppression as a woman her entire life. Of course, that’s true that she has faced gendered oppression her entire life living as a woman in a patriarchal society, it’s just that acknowledging cis privilege is largely a separate issue from the start.

Obviously, for me as a white trans woman to acknowledge that I have white privilege does nothing to obscure the oppression that I have faced as a woman, such as street harassment, or the oppressions that I have faced specifically as a trans woman (e.g. street harassment taking the form of an outright death threat). And, after all, trans women are a tiny fraction of the overall population who are extremely vulnerable to gendered and sexual violence.

Further, acknowledging that gendered oppression takes on specific dynamics for trans women does not erase the gendered oppression that cis women face. More generally, acknowledging that patriarchy’s assigned binary gender roles are coercive and damaging to many trans people does nothing to erase the fact that one of those gender roles is widely privileged over the other.

As mentioned previously, Ms. Ivey also makes a lot of bizarre-sounding analogies between race and gender, and she also quotes her DGR colleague Lierre Keith making similar statements. Of course such analogies are useful in certain circumstances, but when taken too far they tend to quickly get stuck in problematic terrain.

Around the 13:35 min mark in her video, Ms. Ivey claims “I do want to be really clear here that I don’t really care how somebody dresses. I don’t really care how they cut their hair or whether they wear make-up. Personally, I don’t really… it doesn’t really affect me, I don’t really think it’s political.” (She goes on to say she has a problem when such is postulated as an act of political resistance, which in all fairness is a bit over-done sometimes).

However, she later reads a quote from Lierre Keith as follows:

“…how about this. I am really Native American. How do I know? I’ve always felt a special connection to animals, and started building tee pees in the backyard as soon as I was old enough. I insisted on wearing moccasins to school even though the other kids made fun of me and my parents punished me for it. I read everything I could on native people, started going to pow wows and sweat lodges as soon as I was old enough, and I knew that was the real me. And if you bio-Indians don’t accept us trans-Indians, then you are just as genocidal and oppressive as the Europeans.”

Ms. Ivey proceeds to supplement this with similar analogies, claiming that being a trans woman has equal validity as being “trans black,” stating that one would then supposedly wear clothing associated with African American cultures.

Okay, first of all it must be acknowledged that the sentiment expressed in these comments clearly contradicts the previous statement that Ms. Ivey doesn’t care what somebody wears. If a white person with no meaningful connection to Native American culture wearing moccasins (clearly inappropriate) is analogous to someone born with a penis wearing woman-typical clothing, then that clearly insinuates that that behavior should be considered inappropriate. So I think Ms. Ivey is being at best a bit disingenuous here.

Of course the reality is that these things are not analogous because cultural specificities have to do with a group of people forming, over time, a local context and traditions. There is innumerable evidence that undermining such cultural specificities (through colonization, globalization, etc.) leads to mass-scale human suffering, and is in fact virtually always a component of genocide.

Neither woman-typical nor man-typical clothing resides in the same realm as such local cultural specificities. A person with a penis wearing woman-typical clothing does nothing to undermine “woman culture” nor vice-versa. For example, when women began wearing trousers more commonly in the latter half of the 20th century, they did not do so as a result of male cultural coercion or colonization. Instead they did it out of a component of liberation: it’s called, given your local context, wear whatever the hell you want. Likewise, if men in North America began wearing skirts en masse in the near future, this would not represent a colonization of “woman culture.” In fact, it’s difficult to believe that such a shift would even be all that important.

In fact, if we carry it to completion, we find that the analogy is actually not even consistent with the internal logic of the anti-trans elements of radfem ideology. Because the argument that is virtually always given is that for someone born with a penis to wear a skirt is problematic because it supposedly reifies patriarchal gender norms. (This claim is not true, but we’ll get back to that point in just a moment.)

However, if some ignorant white person were to go around wearing a traditional Native headdress, no one (not even transphobic radfems… at least, one hopes…) would condemn their actions on the basis that by dressing in such a manner they were supposedly “reifying problematic cultural norms.” Such a claim would probably be just as offensive and degrading as the original cultural appropriation itself.

Regarding the claim itself (that trans people wearing clothes they feel most comfortable with supposedly reifies patriarchal gender norms), I would simply ask that the people who profess this idea please offer some concrete, non-ideological verification of this claim. Seriously, what does this even mean? Do these particular radical feminists believe, for example, that when an ordinance is passed providing people with social and legal protections based on gender identity and gender expression, that young girls in the affected area are more likely to be coerced into traditional female social roles as a result of this? When trans people are accepted in society, does it become suddenly more difficult to step outside the boundaries of the traditional gender binary roles?

I’ve heard this claim about reifying patriarchy over and over ad nauseum in various articles from a radical feminist perspective, but I’ve never once heard even a single example of how accepting trans people’s identities supposedly resulted in narrower gender roles for others.

It’s when I hear these claims repeated over and over without any evidence that I suspect that many of these arguments, when it comes down to it, have less to do with the professed ideology, and more to do with the fact that trans lives and trans identities simply offend that individual’s sensibilities.

Moving on, around the 29:13 mark, Ms. Ivey states her belief that trans women who might have some form of male privilege earlier in life, carry that privilege with them no matter what for the rest of their lives. This is a point where Ms. Ivey’s statements cross from ideological nonsense into deeply offensive and damaging. Now I do not deny for a moment that I myself did in many ways have access to male privilege growing up; I was encouraged in school particularly and that probably played a role in my endeavors in science.

However, these days when I’m walking home at night and I get abuse and sexual innuendo hurled at me by strange men, having it ring in my ears that I supposedly have access to male privilege to just snap my fingers and escape that moment is cruelly ironic. I don’t have access to male privilege on the streets. I don’t have access to male privilege in the workplace, where I have previously faced harassment. I do have a history of male privilege and I would never deny that, but attempting to erase my very real present from that picture does nothing to benefit any of us involved in this conversation.

I think this gets at one of the main problems that this type of ideology feeds: somehow anti-trans radical feminists seem to be incapable of acknowledging the violence and discrimination that trans people, and particularly trans women of color, face on a constant basis. I think it’s very difficult to have a productive discussion on those terms, because honestly it feels like my humanity is being questioned when simply acknowledging my very real history of oppression is somehow equated with solidifying patriarchy’s grasp. (At one particularly disconcerting moment in Ms. Ivey’s comments on this issue, she implies that trans women are lucky because the court system supposedly considers us fully human; for some examples of how ‘human’ the court system views trans women, consider the systematic victim-blaming that occurred in the aftermath of the brutal murder of Gwen Araujo or the prosecution of CeCe McDonald for fighting back against the white supremacist trans-misogynists who attacked her.)

And you know, in a patriarchal world, the fact that it is most certainly trans women who face much of the blunt oppression in the trans community is not exactly a random coincidence. Rather than denying trans women’s struggles, one would think the fact that cis and trans woman are both victimized most heavily by gendered oppression would be a point for us to come together and push back against the oppression facing all women.

However, transphobic strains of radical feminism provide a counterpoint to solidarity by instead insisting that patriarchal socialization (for everyone, no matter birth genitalia) is like having a permanent magnet in someone’s brain that can never be undone— short, perhaps, of unquestionably adopting those tenants of radical feminism. Ms. Ivey herself encapsulates this idea when she states regarding trans women that “I’m not afraid of your penis, but I’m terrified of your socialization.”

Although Ms. Ivey doesn’t say much about this directly, this comment speaks to the wider narrative commonly pushed in these types of ideologies: that trans women are actually just men who have been programmed by patriarchy to invade women’s spaces; that deep down the true goal of a trans woman who may likely experience social isolation, discrimination, loss of employment, rejection by family members when they come out, and many of whom will experience permanent body changes and possibly painful, irreversible surgery, is really just to gain access to the women’s washroom or locker room and try to sneak a peek of a cis woman while she’s changing clothes.

At a certain a point, its almost like transphobic radical feminists view trans women as little more than walking gender zombies; those of us who are attracted to men transitioned to escape being seen as gay males, those of us who are attracted to women did it to enter the women’s bathroom, more generally, trans women supposedly transitioned because male socialization prevented us from expressing our emotions when we were viewed as boys, and the only way to escape being seen as a ‘weak, emotional man was’ of course to become a woman. None of us could have possibly transitioned out of a genuine sense of our own personhood.

And I can’t help but notice these tired narratives resonate with the endless radical feminist obsessions against sex-positivity and sex work, in which they have gone so far in speaking over the voices of actual sex workers as to propose dehumanizing ideas such as ‘false consciousness,’ which basically states that if a sex working woman says that she enjoys her work then she doesn’t actually mean what she’s saying; deep down she’s actually miserable and she’s only expressing a contrary view because she’s been brainwashed by the patriarchy into believing she could be happy in her occupation.

So here’s the reality: attempting to create a world in which every single gendered behavior someone might exhibit is interpreted as a reflection of an irreversible pathological socialization does nothing to reduce patriarchy’s influence on society; on the contrary, viewing human beings as fundamentally incapable of making decisions about their own bodies and their own lives would only and could only act as an affirmation of patriarchy.

However, to make a blunt statement, at a certain point I have to think that Ivey’s claim that she and her colleagues are working to eliminate gender from society entirely is not all that serious in the first place. After all, despite the fact that she repeatedly dismisses Judith Butler’s gender theories as “liberal feminism,” I can’t help but notice that she herself perfectly well fits within Butler’s concept of gender performativity: Rachel Ivey is immediately recognizable as a woman according to her gender presentation and mannerisms. She wears a skirt, she refers to herself using a woman-typical gendered name, and her colleagues consistently refer to her with female gender pronouns.

And what exactly are Ivey and the rest of DGR doing to supposedly eliminate gender from society? As I mentioned, these individuals use gendered pronouns pretty much in the manner that the rest of society does. The use of gendered pronouns of course plays a role in socialization from the earliest stages of human development. If Ms. Ivey and the rest of DGR really seek to dismantle the concept of gender entirely (or at least lessen its imprint on society), why don’t they at least take the simplest imaginable step by eliminating gender pronouns in their own language?

Of course, I doubt DGR would ever take such a simple step, because it’s always much easier selectively criticizing the gender expressions of a tiny portion of the population, just as much of patriarchal society already does.

One is almost tempted to question if they even authentically believe their own ideology.

Savannah is a queer trans woman and physicist originally from the great state of Carolina (that alone should tell you which one).  She also writes on trans feminism and other social justice issues on her blog leftytgirl, preferably while listening to metal.  Savannah presently lives in Tokyo where her principle hobbies include singing at karaoke clubs and getting lost on the subway.

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Savannah is a queer trans woman and physicist who was unleashed into the cosmos from the great state of North Carolina. She has been active on LGBT diversity issues in physics and also writes on trans feminism and other social justice issues on her blog leftytgirl, preferably while listening to metal. Savannah presently works at a university in Osaka from where she misses her amazing cat Zinfandel back in North Carolina very much. Follow her on Twitter.

Savannah has written 12 articles for us.


  1. Weird racist bullshit is weird and racist (and obviously transphobic but wow, the weird racism). This is blowing my mind and I didn’t even watch the video.

  2. I like how she states, “I hate to say this, but it’s porn culture that really created the whole concept of trans. I watched it happen…” because apparently the fact that there’s a huge number of corollaries to various cultures throughout the world and history _before she was even born_ doesn’t make her illogical rant completely inaccurate.

    • Hell, I medically transitioned several years before she was even born. She’s watched jack squat happen.

    • Is all about her and her opinions about trans reality that she is willfully ignorant of. I’m surprised that her and her ego can both fit into the same venue.

  3. “reifying problematic cultural norms” does get used as an excuse – I’ve seen it used against Muslim women wearing hijab, where people (particularly some feminist groups) claim that no matter the beliefs or politics of these women, just wearing the hijab is glorifying Islamic Patriarchy.

    I’m not sure what difference it makes in terms of cultural appropriation if a White woman wears hijab, considering that Islam is not as race-specific as people assume it is and there are plenty of White Muslims. I suppose if it’s a non-Muslim wearing a hijab to try and make some sort of point then your paragraph follows, but I’ve seen it more often going towards Muslims.

    • I think there’s a BIG difference between your analogy and the First Nation one.
      A hijab is a much more commonly found on Muslim women than headdresses are found on First Nation people. We see them in museums and the like, we see them at ceremonies and celebrations (and only among certain tribes), and that’s it. If someone who is not First Nation (you’d be surprised—I see just as many black Americans appropriating FN culture as white people, so I tend not to just use the “white person doing something” thing) wears a headdress, they ARE reifying problematic cultural norms: when someone who is not FN thinks FN, their mind usually goes to headdresses, and more specifically, prairie tribe war bonnets. I am Cherokee, and we don’t wear headdresses.
      So yeah, people do use that argument, *I* use that argument.
      As for moccasins, most FN people do not care if you wear them. We consider it appreciation, not appropriation. Just don’t claim they give you special powers or make you closer to nature or you’re wearing them because your great-great grandmother was a Cherokee Indian Princess so you just feel naturally more comfortable in them than average shoes or something and we’ll be good.

      • Thanks for the distinction between misappropriating and appreciating aspects of FN culture – as a (more) racially sensitive Canadian, I’ve often wondered what’s excusable to ‘borrow’ without going into the whole “Well, it’s mass-marketed so that means it has to be okay, right?” argument.

        • my rule: if this object is sacred, meant to be acquired through rites or ritual, meant to only be worn by a specific group of people, or has a complex meaning that a person will never understand as a result of not being a member of that group, DON’T wear it or appropriate it. same goes for something that creates discrimination if worn by the member of the group that originated it but seen as fasionable by someone from outside the group.

  4. “One is almost tempted to question if they even authentically believe their own ideology.”

    My feelings exactly. Their ideology is ridiculously inconsistent/illogical even by its own internal logic.

    Reading Ms. Ivey’s comments, I just keep thinking, “what the hell are you talking about?” Aside from being gross and horrible, it just makes no damn sense.

  5. As the wife of someone who after twenty years has recently started expressing confusion about hir gender, I wanted to comment on this:
    >> Regarding the claim itself (that trans people wearing clothes they feel most comfortable with supposedly reifies patriarchal gender norms), I would simply ask that the people who profess this idea please offer some concrete, non-ideological verification of this claim. Seriously, what does this even mean? >>

    Wearing the clothes by itself doesn’t reify patriarchal gender norms. But in the past year I’ve had my husband and quite a few trans women we’ve met tell me that I “should” dress more girly. They mock my personal choices not to have long nails, high heels, hoop earrings, tight clothes, and a certain style of makeup…much as the mean girls in my junior high did. Now, I’m sympathetic to these trans women’s transition issues, but that doesn’t mean I’m sympathetic to them policing my appearance.

    I should clarify: of course not all trans women police gender. But some do, and there exists a culture of (some) trans women supporting enforcement of gender norms, and telling people who call themselves women to dress “appropriately.”

    • But is that something inherent to being trans*, or is it just them being assholes in general regardless of gender?

    • I’m sorry you had to experience that. But I think the anti-trans stance doesn’t so much state that specific trans women reinforce patriarchal gender norms, but that transgender itself, as a concept, reinforces patriarchal gender norms all on its own, irrespective of the individuals who inhabit the category.

      When I was in high school, I was inexplicably part of the popular girl clique. And since my style, then and now, could most accurately be described as “Valerie Frizzle”, I was subjected to constant, persistent gender policing. Now, since all of my friends were cis women, I could generalize and say that cis women are inherently gender policing. I could even try to derive a political theory from this generalization. But, instead, I simply recognize that my friends at the time were assholes.

      As for this specific set of transphobes (DGR), well. It’s always the same, isn’t it? I suppose it would be a moot point to wish that they’d read more Butler and Foucault. But they should read more Butler and Foucault! Also, the comments on that Bluestockings post: :(

    • This also exists among cis women. Would you like to meet my mother, who said I couldn’t REALLY be a woman because I had no fashion sense and I don’t shave my armpits?

      I acknowledge the existence of the trans women you’re talking about, and yes: it’s fucked up. I think it might be defensiveness or learning boundaries at it’s core, but it’s expression is inappropriate. But still, this “culture” you’re talking about that enforces gender norms is by no means limited to trans women.

      • Wow, used the wrong “its” twice. Bad day. Gonna call it quits for awhile and come back later.

    • I detest earings. And heeled shoes. And makeup. I rarely if ever shave my legs. I sometimes wear long floral skirts and camouflage at the same time. And I don’t nit-pick fashion, because I DON’T CARE one fig about it. Even if I did, I wouldn’t critique others on that score because doing so would be ridiculously asinine.

      And I’m a transsexual woman. Amazing, right?

      Wait, it gets better! I know other tg/ts women, none of whom display the “culture” of gender policing behaviours you outlined. In fact, they’re shockingly complex, interesting, unique people. Mind blown yet?

      (And somewhere, in the beyond of the internet, a cisgender person is saying to themselves, “Huh! So all TG women like to wear camouflage!”) :eyeroll:

      • Thanks, Brighid. I agreed already with the commenters who noted that the people I am dealing with are just assholes, and don’t represent all trans people everywhere. (Though I screwed up and put my reply lower down in the thread, not in the right place.)

        • Bless you. Take care and all the best to you as you navigate your personal situation on this front.

          It does get a bit rocky for many of us, who have to hear hair-splitting analysis of trans behaviour and norms all the time. Thanks for reappraising your generalization.

      • The problem is gender policing of any kind. Period. Putting down femme expression or making it “less than” is also a form of gender policing, especially when it occurs in trans and queer circles. Just to clarify, a trans woman who is policing another trans woman’s gender expression is just wrong. But any suggestion that a trans woman’s femme gender expression is somehow more artificial, less real, a function of oppression or less true to themselves is also wrong.

  6. “those of us who are attracted to women did it to enter the women’s bathroom”

    Yeah, unfortunately the fact that a bunch of pre-op transwomen ON THIS WEBSITE have stated that they aren’t attracted to other transwomen doesn’t refute that any, bb.

    • Uh… I’m attracted to other transwomen. What’s your point?

      I know some cis women who are racists. Cis women are racists, you guys!

    • I’m extremely confused by this statement. How would some trans women being attracted only to cis women relate to peeping? Like, it gives them an easier in? I imagine any lesbian, cis or trans, trying to sneak a peek at someone in the washroom would still have a very difficult time. They’d probably need to be hidden and then why bother presenting female?

      I suppose you’re right in that your observation doesn’t refute it… any more than there being an abundance of nitrogen in the atmosphere doesn’t refute it…

      • If you exchange “women’s bathroom” with “lesbians’ pants” the intended meaning becomes more clear.

        • Well, that does make more sense of bertha’s statement. However, even if some trans women are attracted to cis women, how many of those could possibly be attracted only to lesbians? I mean, what could even define an attraction to only lesbians? Like, only to butches? Cause there are totally butch women who are straight/bi/pan.

          • Don’t even bother trying to make sense of the logic here. It was a snarky statement of condemnation on the basis of attraction. It’s basically the transphobic version of the “lesbians in the locker room are molesting me with their eyes” bit of self-flattering tripe some straight women utter.

            There are simply plenty of cisgender people who will never get it. They don’t want to get it. They will shade everything trans people do with the darkest brush possible because they see us as non-persons. Empathy is impossible in such a mindset.

        • Doesn’t the same statement apply to cis lesbians, though? I mean, don’t they want to get in lesbians’ pants, too?

    • Some trans women at this site have stated that they aren’t attracted to PRE-OP trans women. Just as several cis women have stated the same thing. So if we judge all women by the same markers that would lead us to….. not care?

        • It surprises me. But as I’ve stated repeatedly on another article on this site, people (meaning everyone) do have a valid right to discriminate in choosing a partner based on sex characteristics (secondary or primary).

          However, I’ve never met a single lesbian trans woman IRL who stated that (and I’ve known plenty, obviously). In fact, I’ve known a couple who said the opposite: they only date other trans women cause that’s the only relationship in which they feel safe.

        • I’m one of those trans women. It is problematic. I feel like a total hypocrite because while I still have mine, I’m not aroused by penises. It’s something I wish I could change about myself, but I have no idea how. It’s not that I find them gross or repulsive, I’m just not turned on by them like I am by vulvas.

          • Yeah, I was probably going out of my way to be polite in the earlier comment. The truth is, I have trouble relating to the idea of being willing to have sex with women who have vaginas but not with women who have penises. It bothers me that a trans woman would make that statement.

          • It bothers me too. And it’s not that I would rule it out completely and maybe I’d feel differently if I met the right woman, but so far my sexual experiences with other pre- or non-op trans women haven’t been great. That could change in the future, but for now, I know that I prefer women who have vulvas. I’m sorry that bothers you, but I really don’t see how it’s any different than a cis lesbian saying she doesn’t want a sexual partner with a penis. And I’m not saying that I don’t find other trans women attractive. Of course I do. I just have no clue what to do with a penis other than my own. It’s purely a sexual compatibility thing for me.

        • I think people just fancy who they fancy, and we can’t (and shouldn’t) legislate on that. Of course, it depends how it’s expressed. There’s a difference between just tending not to fancy people with penises in general on the one hand, and having some kind of “principled repugnance” toward a certain group of people (pre-/non-op trans women in this case) and broadcasting that as some kind of statement.
          Personally, I call myself polysensual these days because I’ve realised that I’m attracted to people before I know what their gender identity (or anatomy) is. Even though I’m basically asexual, I still have attractions, and they tend to lean in certain directions. I’d be very suspicious of anyone telling me I “should” find certain people attractive.

  7. Y’all are right. Assholes are assholes, and this is just as much a part of the larger culture as part of trans culture.

    I think it’s just that I’ve been able to stay away from assholes pretty well in the last twenty years, and now I’m socializing with them again because of my husband’s situation. So it’s easy to blame trans people, because that’s where I’m encountering it again.


    • This is why I love the phrase “Assholes born Assholes” that I saw recently for speaking about TERfs. (Small f because no, they are not feminists to me)

    • Jessica, I just hope you’re telling the A-B-A’s in person the same as what you’ve written here (and made it clear to your husband that you find them toxic and, with their current behavior, hanging with them isn’t really acceptable). Absolutely no partner of a trans person should have to put up with that bs just because their spouse is transitioning and you’re attempting to be supportive.

      • This thread has helped me figure that out. I had a good conversation with my husband last night and explained my thoughts.

    • ha! right. Her “now that I’m older I know better” attitude was pretty rich. At the wise old age of 23 she can shake her head and sigh of the follies of her younger self, back in the day, you know, when she was 22.

  8. I alternate, through the years, between doing my best to ignore transphobia and scraping up the gumption to fight it. But it gets so tiresome. It seems like we are being attacked from every side. And we can’t even hang together in order to weather the storm. If lefty Green types even hate us… Who doesn’t?

    I seriously worry that there are not enough transgender and transsexual women out there, let alone “out”, to effect the kind of critical mass to change any of this for the better.

    But hope springs eternal. Thanks for this wonderful piece. Perhaps some DGR people will see it and think twice…

    • “Perhaps some DGR people will see it and think twice…” Hell, I’d settle for them thinking once.

      • I’m a member of DGR and have seen the video and thought it through… it just isn’t the core of the work that we hope to do within DGR. If you consider it in the context of a group that wants an end to all societal structures (not just gender), it might help you to understand why we are comfortable supporting Rachel and Lierre.

        • Rachel states that her gender analysis is a “core” principle of DGR. This sentiment is expressed throughout the video, which is applauded by DGR membership (including leadership, presumably) in the audience. Anyways, if it wasn’t at the cord of DGR’s work, then why would they make the video in the first place? Obviously they invested a good deal of time and effort into it, and they must have realized that taking this stance would result in a shift in the narrative that would now focus on this issue. Why bother making a public stance anyways if you aren’t willing to hear what the people who are most affected by the issue have to say in response?

          About DGR’s wider political goals, a deeper comment on the anti-civilization project itself would almost certainly require a full-length essay, but I will say that it seems that the DGR narrative endorses the use of some form of force to create a post-civilization in which a non-violent society somehow takes a root. I will say that that seems utopian to me, and I very seriously doubt that your organization can use force to create a society where violence does not exist.

          And apparently Derrick Jensen and the other DGR leaders profess a belief in “non-hierarchal” organizing, yet they in the central leadership act to over-rule decisions made by branches at the local level and such. Former members of the organization have described this and similar actions as representing a “cult-like” mentality and similar descriptions.

          All this leads me to seriously question DGR, it’s goals and it’s methods for achieving those goals. I get the argument that the planet is in serious trouble. No doubt we are approaching or have already exceeded redlines with regards to CO2 emissions. I’m just not convinced DGR’s anti-civ goals is a reasonable or workable approach to the issue, for a variety of reasons. Above all, unrestrained capitalism is the problem, not civilization itself.

          But beyond that, the idea that the problems that our society faces (racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, structural violence, etc… whether you acknowledge the fourth example exists or not) would vanish on the other side of that assuredly, incredibly violent transition back to a pre-civilization state is just a ridiculous claim.

          And given the obsessive focus on trans people’s lives and identities that is expressed by DGR leaders, I have no doubt that during a violent transition such as that proposed by your organization, trans people would be singled out and would face very real danger. I have no doubt of that.

          Further, when you and the rest of DGR claim that you wish to eliminate gender from society, I have no idea how that could possibly be implemented in a non-violent manner. Because short of violence you have no ability to control how people dress, how they identify, who they choose to fuck (or whether some of them do that for money, another group of people radfems tend to focus on obsessively and harmfully). And in fact, even if you used violence, I’m 100% certain that any attempt to eliminate gender from society would fail.

          I will also point out that third-gender identities and related concepts existed in a number of the First Nation’s cultures that DGR seems to fetishize, yet they fail to acknowledge this. If they could speak about this issue in a non-idelogical manner without trying to make it seem that trans people just suddenly sprung up out of the Western medical industrial complex, I might would be able to take them more at face value… but they don’t, and I doubt they will.

          So to compact it to a simpler statement: I don’t trust you. I don’t trust your organization, I don’t trust your ideology and I don’t believe that you could possibly implement your goals without creating great harm to a very large number of people on this planet.

          • Firstly, I want to make it clear that I in no way speak for DGR or any of its other members. I was just answering Leigh’s question with my personal experience of how myself and my immediate anti-civ family experienced that particular blow-up.
            Secondly, radical feminism is a core principle of DGR, not specifically Rachel’s analysis of gender (although it IS consistent with radical feminism). I for one am totally, entirely comfortable moving through the world as a radical feminist activist and bringing about the changes that I see as necessary for the planet’s survival… Just as you, Savannah, feel totally comfortable with your trans*activism and making the changes that you see as necessary for trans* peoples’ survival. I don’t see any shame in advancing the rights of large-zygote producing humans (just so we don’t get bogged down with the usual ‘who can claim the identity woman or female’).. none at all.. it’s awesome, I sleep really well at night.
            I want you to also know that my First Nations cousins want you to stop appropriating their third-gender and two-spirit identities and voices… like right now. They are not down with the trans lobby and hey, I don’t see any Idle No More support from you or any of yours so misappropriating injustice towards aboriginal peoples is pretty outrageous.
            Now let me address this “trans people would be singled out and would face very real danger. I have no doubt of that.”… really? fear-mongering? wow, usually you write like the second coming of Cicero but this is pretty weak. I, personally, totally support the right of any individual to indulge in any body mod, including the most extreme, on the basis of body autonomy. But I find it hard to believe that you don’t intellectually understand how far away from actual, real, post-civ survival that would be. Just maintaining the HRT would be a major issue. Performance of gender in any highly ritualized way would be pretty counter-productive… So, yeah, I get why you are not down with that.
            Finally, I don’t trust you either.. in fact we’re clearly not going to be allies in ANY category (except maybe the critique of unfettered capitalism).. and I am okay with that. So, have a good one.

          • Of course I support Idle No More. (Do you honestly doubt that??) And I will point out at least one trans woman blogger I know of who has written in support:


            I know others who support it whole-heartedly. I realize that I haven’t written on the campaign myself, but that’s largely because of the fact that I left Canada before INM started so I just feel it’s not so easy for me to be directly involved.

            You know I actually got my start in activism through the Palestine solidarity campaign many years ago; in fact I worked on that for years before I even the courage to come out as trans. And actually when I transitioned, it wasn’t necessarily my intention to get heavily involved with trans activism. But the violence, threats of violence and other factors I’ve experienced since I came out are a big part of what gradually pulled me into the trans feminism project.

            And I will say I did not claim to BE third gender in the sense of any First Nations culture. It is not appropriation on my part to simply acknowledge the existence of such social structures. And it is also true that similar concepts exist or have existed in many other cultures (e.g. Pacific Island cultures, such as mahu of Hawaii). I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

            (And would it be ‘appropriation’ if I acknowledged heterosexual marriage existed in both FNs and elsewhere, and asserted that also wasn’t a coincidence?)

            And of course I understand that HRT would be difficult or unlikely to continue in a hypothesized post civ world (but then again, similar issues would affect many among the disabled, as well I note that those born with a vagina could face much difficulty when it comes to abortion and related issues). But then again, why is this an important topic for DGR to focus on in the first place? Is it important enough to risk alienation from the wider movement? Especially when, apart from pushing trans people out of DGR, I don’t see any apparent reflection of this supposedly “genderless” society in the organization itself?

            And I think it’s unquestionable that viewing people with penises and people with vaginas as fundamentally different or separable on the basis of socialization absolutely acts to reinforce that socially-created dichotomy in the first place.

            And the fact is that in his emails, Jensen referred to trans people (trans women in particular) as “the enemy.” And yeah, I’m gonna take that to heart.

            That having been said, my tone in the previous comment was probably a bit too sharp, and I acknowledge that. I’m willing to continue this discussion if you are.

          • I would like to point out that there is not one all-emcompassing First Nation culture and while yes, I have seen A LOT of trans people appropriate two spirit and/or use what they believe to be First Nation ideology to defend their transness, not every tribe has a two spirit ideology. I’m Eastern Band Cherokee mostly, and from what I’ve seen, it’s a mostly western, Plains tribes’ thing.
            ALSO, and this is important:
            Don’t speak for us.

          • Where did I claim that there was a single all-encompassing First Nations culture?? I am fully aware that that is not the case and I never claimed otherwise. And I did not attempt to speak for you in any way.

            Yeah, I get some trans people have made off comments on this subject… but goddess almighty, if that woman has a right to go around the country, talking about MY LIFE and MY IDENTITY, apparently including spaces where I am not even allowed to so much as enter the fucking room, then what grounds do you have to stand on for complaint when I simply acknowledge the *existence* of third gender identities in SOME First Nations cultures?

          • To Sela;
            Who is this “us” that I’m supposedly speaking for? Weird, I specifically said “my First Nations cousins” by which I was referring to my actual, maternal family. I am Canadian and Manitoba Metis.. and it feels really weird to be forced to ‘identify’ – I am only doing that because you pulled out your treaty card (I have no such status with the feds).
            “there is not one all-emcompassing First Nation culture” – no kidding, that’s why one would usually write First Nation*S*

          • “But I find it hard to believe that you don’t intellectually understand how far away from actual, real, post-civ survival that would be. Just maintaining the HRT would be a major issue. Performance of gender in any highly ritualized way would be pretty counter-productive… So, yeah, I get why you are not down with that.”

            …as would the survival of those of us who live with disabilities, which DGR never seems to have an answer for. Hmm, white people talking about culling and stealing First Nations symbols without understanding their meaning, I think we’ve totally seen that before…but your defense is that you’re not actually *saying* culling, just talking about it in vague fashion.

            There’s also a bit of hypocrisy that the number one backer of Ms. Ivey’s fundraiser campaign at this point is probably going to raise questions about your org’s credentials in more ways than one. I don’t understand why an anti-capitalist organization would take money from someone who profits by ripping off people living in poverty in urban America. Is it enough that she supports transexterminationism, almost always directed at trans women, in the same manner that Ms. Ivey does? http://inchoaterica.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/doing-the-patriarchys-work-and-calling-it-feminism/

            And just in case you need some proof that top donor is indeed Ms. Brennan, go look at the donors at http://www.gofundme.com/resistancerewritten and there she is. So an anti-capitalist org is taking money from a lawyer who specializes in payday loan collections?

          • Here’s a last comment to this particular thread;
            To Savannah, the reason I’m not writing a response to your last (including the invitation to continue the discussion) is because I needed to do some reading on my end (you brought up something I did not know about). Also, that blog post you referred to is pretty kickass and a lot of what she wrote, I can identify with… so, thanks.
            The rest of this feels like a lot of hackle-raising without purpose. It seems we’re all claiming some identity or membership to strengthen our claim on legitimate descriptions of reality. Too much western-style ‘discourse’ for me.
            It’s like the five steps;
            One, It’s me and my nation against the world
            Two, Then me and my clan against the nation
            Three, Then me and my fam against the clan
            Four, Then me and my brother, with no hesitation, go against the fam till they cave in
            … who’s left in this deadly equation? That’s right, it’s me against my brother.
            So, peace to all of you.

          • Okay, but then why is it so important to make these radical feminist claims that cis women are supposedly oppressed “as a class” (whatever that means) while trans women (or trans people, or whatever variation of the argument) are NOT oppressed “as a class”? I mean, that’s the most extreme form of identity politics I can think of: “my oppression is greater than yours!”

            Ugh, radical feminists play identity politics all the time. They just don’t call it “identity politics.”

        • It saddens me that people who call themselves environmentalists could be blinded by ideology to target a oppressed group to pick on.

          As an environmentalist who has spent years working to protect endangered species and educate the public I often have to defend conservation work against the charge that it is a luxury, that protecting the environment is something only educated, economically privileged white people care about. (Outside the United States this concept might seem absurd, but within the U.S. corporate spin has been quite effective)

          To see a group that claims to be working to protect the earth hold their ideology as more important that how much suffering their hate causes…well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised…but it is still so sad.

          For me, studying the natural world has shown me how amazingly diverse all life is on earth and that it is that diversity that gives species the resilience and adaptability to survive. Diversity itself is a central quality of life…to espouse an ideology that declares that human life is simple and that only they know what is real and what is not doesn’t just seem ignorant to me, it seems itself to be an arrogant societal construct, the delusion that they and only they know the true nature of the world.

          Anyone who has spent years outdoors knows better than to think they understand even a small portion of what exists. I know it is a long shot, but SabinaCrna, next time you are out in the woods somewhere please think about my words. The arrogance to claim perfect knowledge of the world is a strange thing for any group that claims to be ecologically aware.

          • I find your comment really hilarious, in fact, I’m reading it out loud in a room full of women who.. like me.. have been raised on the land. Have truly lived the “stewardship” that Western Christians like to shout about in a way that only aboriginal people can.
            I don’t know if you know this, but the Canadian government put out booklets for us in the 80’s to ‘instruct’ us on hygiene and medicine and resource management that are hilarious to everyone now, just as they have always been to us. So thank you so much for the hearty laugh, dear “environmentalist who has spent years working to protect endangered species and educate the public”… I am soooooo grateful for your instruction… you are so wise and clearly, the land is your mother… she is obviously speaking through you (snicker). No, but really, next time I’m “out in the woods somewhere”…. like when I walk to my neighbours… or when I’m putting up another cord of firewood for next winter… or when I’m hunting or fishing… I will definitely contemplate your words oh wise, white educator. The lesson on arrogance was especially excellent fodder for giggles around here. Thank you for edifying me.

          • Well, you showed your true colors pretty quickly.

            I find it interesting that you skipped right over my discussion of natural diversity to instead attack me personally. You assume you know who I am and how I have lived my life and then based on that you make fun of me and laugh with your friends.

            Despite all the violent and hateful things I have experienced I still hope that if I speak calmly and honestly hateful people might take the time to consider that I might be a real, genuine person. It is a bit childish, but I hold onto that hope.

            I suspect you will laugh at me, but please think about my original question. Why do you and your friends get to say what is real? And more importantly, how can you know it with such certainty that you can deny the validity of my right to be treated as your equal?

    • I feel this way a lot. The noise of arch-conservative types doesn’y bother me so much, since I can fight their screwed up rhetoric without having to worry about what they think of me. They’re nice and cleanly separate from my world, so the very real damage they do feels sort of alien, instead of the sharper edge of trans-exclusionary feminism.

      I hate the feeling that the only way I can identify as a woman is by actively claiming womanhood over the noise of dissenting voices in the very community I wish to belong to. It’s hard to feel settled in my identity when voices I can’t ignore are the ones that hate me and work to exclude me the most.

  9. While this woman clearly has issues, I do hate privilege wars. I don’t think it’s constructive and pits minority groups against each others. I have zero desire to speak of my privilege or lack there of. I’m more about looking to the future and what I can do…not what I may or may not be held back from doing.

    I also hate the word cis. It’s unnecessary and feels slightly phobic. Just don’t use my gender at all if you feel so compelled to use that word.

    • While the accuracy of the term “cis” is not above questioning/critique, I would say that it’s important for us to have a culturally viable term for “non-transsexual/ transgender”. This allows trans people to theorize our own domination, and to conceptualize the systems of meaning that work to hold in place the structure of trans lives. Sort of like “patriarchy” for feminism, or “imperialism” for post/ anti- colonialism. It’s absolutely necessary for trans people to be able to name and identify the system that produces us as always already disqualified from the human.

      Also, how is “cis” phobic at all? Is it phobic in the same way that “heterosexual” is “heterophobic”? I mean, yes, I am generally afraid of cis people. But unlike cis people, I lack the resources to turn these fears into social realities to the detriment of those whom I fear.

    • I don’t like the word cis either. The notion that being born female is a privilege is absolutely ludicrous to me.

      • It’s not “being born female” that’s the privilege. It’s being born into a congruent mind/body, so that when other people say they feel they’re in the wrong type of body, you don’t even know what that means.

        If someone said: “hey, let’s change you to a male body,” would you think, “hey, great, I’ll get male privilege?” Or would you prefer to keep your body as-is, because basically it feels right to you?

        • Personally, if someone said “hey, let’s change you to a male body,” I would cry with happiness because my life would be 500+ times easier and better if I were a straight man. I already don’t ~feel right in my body~, and I don’t see how being put in a body that wouldn’t expose me to constant abuse would make that worse. A lot of Western discourse on gender privileges “personal feelings” about how your body looks / feels and assumes sexism (if it exists at all) is just some kind of mild annoyance that can’t cause pain and suffering real enough that you would prefer body dysphoria to it, but I feel like this is extremely unfair to non-western women. In itself, a way of thinking about gender which assumes people, especially AFAB ones, feel like they have agency over their genders and bodies – feel like they can decide what gender or what body “feels right” – when most AFAB people are deprived of any kind of agency over their bodies (see, FGM, child brides, rape, domestic violence etc) fails to account for what happens outside the West.

      • Given the accelerated rates of violence, discrimination, unemployment and homelessness that trans women face, being born male doesn’t exactly feel like much of a privilege to many trans women either.

        As I said in the article above, I had some access to male privilege growing up, but some trans women have virtually no access to it even from a very young age. I know trans women who faced sexual violence growing up that resulted directly from their gender expression because they just didn’t have any way to hide it.

        This isn’t an attempt to turn this conversation into some crude, “more oppressed than thou” crap (which I’m sick of on both sides of this debate), I’m just stating the facts.

        Cis women and trans women have a lot of commonalities in their experiences. But there are differences as well. The distinction cis/trans just acknowledges those differences. I think it’s also about good allies to one another.

        • If cis/trans were used as simply a descriptor of differences like you suggest, the trans community probably wouldn’t have pissed off so many radfems.

          • The thing is, almost all of the radfems who are pissed off with the trans community (and there are many radfems who are not pissed off with us at all) are pissed off simply that trans people exist – so it’s kind of like a high level of toxic background radiation is there just to begin with, before any of us say much beyond “we exist”.
            So I don’t think our different choices of use of the terms cis/trans makes more than an infinitesimal bit of difference to how much they’re already pissed off with us, when they are.
            I do acknowledge that some trans folk can use the term cis in insensitive ways (such as to make cis people feel like the out-group, by way of “revenge”), and that’s just unfortunate.

          • It is simply such a descriptor.

            The word is no more loaded than white, rich, or straight.

            Minorities saying a word that refers to the majority with bitterness in their voice does not a slur make.

          • I think it does though. Just because you’re a minority doesn’t give you the right to be prejudice or nasty to people who aren’t and it makes it sort of silly when that majority is only a majority in comparison…if that’s even the case all (I’m more referring to race here, gotta love interacialminiority families and all the casual hate that’s bred within).

            Every person is entitled to be identified as an individual. You may think you have no power, but we all the power to divide ourselves, therefore making us easier targets. You can say another group is worse, but this isn’t a case where fighting back similarly is effective. In the end it won’t matter, we’ll all be nowhere.

            How another group makes you feel is completely understandable and having a reaction to that group is human, but formalizing that reaction or trying to communicate with it is not.

          • Jessie, language is needed if we’re even going to discuss social context… otherwise it becomes “normal people majority vs. abnormal people minority.” Yes, we’re all individuals, but we also have certain aspects which profoundly impact our lives and we need to have words for those.

            I don’t think anyone has a right to use a term like cis to put you down or to make sweeping generalizations about you (eg. you cis people are all privileged) but I also think if you refuse to even believe or accept that you have some part of your life which makes you a majority (even if you’re discriminated against on other levels) how can we really have conversation?

            If I means anything, I’m old enough to remember the black power era of the 60s when a lot of white people (and I’m not just talking about southerners) really disliked being called “white” at all because they felt as if they were normal and honestly didn’t need to even think about having a label for what they were because they “weren’t the problem.” (btw, I’m talking labels here, NOT making an analogy between race and gender or being cis and racism).

          • But what exactly would that conversation be that would require me saying I have privileges you don’t and how do you quantify those privileges to come to the conclusion that I am in fact more privileged than you when you take into account the groups I fall into and my life as a whole?

            This is my problem with privilege and with labels that come from this idea. It’s starting us off on a divisive edge.

          • Jessie, I met another trans woman recently here in Japan who was from abroad. She’s here for a few months to work on something for her job (can’t go into details) and she was denied getting a cell phone at one of Tokyo’s largest cell phone companies. The reason is that they went through all of her documents with a fine tooth comb, and found some old document that referred to her with an “M,” and on that basis they turned her down for a phone. She was told there was some internal policy regarding taking customers based on gender requirements, but when she asked to see the policy, she was told that it was private.

            She was really devastated by this, to the point she didn’t feel secure investing time and energy into applying elsewhere. So now she doesn’t have a phone, which affects her job as well as her ability to have a social life while she’s in Japan.

            I remember the time and hassle that I had to deal with when I recently got the gender marker corrected on my passport. Basically, it cost me about two months that I was out of work. Maybe it sounds small, but those kind of things could potentially affect someone’s livelihood, ability to find employment, ability to stay out of poverty.

            The point regarding cis privilege is just to that as a cis person these (and other issues we discussed on this page) are things that you will almost certainly never have to deal with. Yes, these are things that make a real difference in somebody’s life.

            I get that there is this strain of “die cis scum” mentality in some sectors of the trans community that can be really off-putting (it’s off-putting to me as well). Honestly, I think some of those people just say that kind of thing cause they think they’re being cool or bad-ass or something. But that doesn’t change the real-world dynamics around the fact that cis people just don’t have to deal with a lot of shit that trans people do.

          • That I understand, but why does it need to be a competition of who has it worse in order for me to have compassion for your situation. I don’t think there needs to be a division or tier system where one is better or worse for that to happen. I’ve had a college recruiter dismiss me when I approached him for my scheduled interview because he assumed that someone like me wouldn’t be applying to such a prestigious school. I could go on and on about what I’ve experienced, but it’s not a competition. We can all have understanding without it.

          • I don’t view it as a competition and I don’t want us to frame the conversation with one another that way under any circumstances. That’s not my goal and that’s not my approach to social justice in general.

            The word ‘cis’ offers a way to normalize ‘trans’ in language. That’s basically what it’s about.

            It acknowledges, for example, that cis women and trans women have some common experiences on average, but some different experiences on average as well.

            It’s just a way to speak about those average experiences, and to put both identities on equal footing.

          • Ha! The very existence of trans women is what pisses off radfems. Didn’t you get the memo? And who cares about pissing off a bunch of assholes born assholes. :) love that.

          • The reason the word “cis” pisses off radfems so much is because once you’ve grasped the concept (that some people’s gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth, and some people’s doesn’t) it’s hard to avoid the subsequent realization that being cisgendered protects you from a world of hurt. They just don’t want to own their privilege.

          • RIght… even though radical feminists have a long history of hating on trans women which way, way predates the term “cisgender” even came into existence, the reason they supposedly hate us is because we’re unfairly applying a term of supposed “oppression” to describe them??!! No wonder you’re posting anonymously.

            It’s important people don’t throw words like “privilege” around in simplistic and accusatory ways, but to reject the concept of intersectionality of privilege and oppression completely means you’ve already set yourself up as some kind of super-martyr or the “owner” of who gets to define oppression and who doesn’t. Not to mention you’ve shut down the ability to listen.

          • Well I don’t know anything about these radical feminists. I don’t even identify as a feminist, not in the modern sense. I tend not to agree or feel welcome in those social groups and I tend to feel their goals are overreaching

            I’d prefer though that someone ask me why I don’t actively acknowledge words like privilege before they make assumptions. I grew a super poor black gay woman with a single mom and autistic sisters and I was often told how I should feel about myself and how I should think and process my world by other people, especially people reaching out to and “supporting” minority youth. These people often like me.

            It was possibly the most frustrating experience in my life. I was completely aware of my life and I felt I had been made stronger by it. I didn’t see myself as a victim. I had the maturity and the strength that most kids my age couldn’t touch. I was ready to go to the college of my dreams I worked so hard to get into and start my life. I actually distanced myself from all things political because I needed a moment to myself. I am not a political movement. There are racial, gender, sexual orientation, social-economic, violence, and mental health related issues out there and they all apply to me but they are not me. My best friend is straight white woman who is an only child from an upper middle class family and there is no one on this planet I love and respect more and have a stronger connection to.

            I do not reject the concept of privilege, but I accept it as life. I don’t walk around with privilege goggles on because if I did it would be depressing, but not in the way you think. How privileged are we all on this website to have access to the internet, clean water, safe homes, food (assuming you put all these necessities above internet access)? I don’t walk around thinking of how my life could have been so much worse if I was living in a country with child brides, female genital mutilation, and where 8 out of 10 men admit to sexually assaulting a woman or a child. Yeah, so I don’t think about how my life could have been better or how someone else was more privilege in their life. This is a perspective I reserve for when I am being active for political change. It might make me a douche to say this, but I think anything outside of that and therapy, is whiny and unproductive at best and mean and guilt bullying at worse.

          • I largely feel where you’re coming from here in the sense that I agree there are people on *both* sides of this conversation who make too big of a deal about this, in the sense that there are some cis people who insist on denying cis privilege exists no matter what, meanwhile there are also some trans activists who refuse to talk about much of anything else.

            I view it as a thing where it’s best to acknowledge it exists, that other forms of privilege exist, then move on to pushing society in a better direction.

    • I used to use cis purely for the novelty outside of trans-academic circles but I am beginning to agree. Cis semantics have the potential to get out of hand if the whole privilege discourse continues to grow at par (which it will if politix has anything to do with it).

    • Jessie, I understand that you are reluctant to allow a term you did not choose be assigned to you, especially since it implies privilege.

      However, being the blank slate (the status that is assumed unless otherwise explained) is a privileged position.

      For me, trans and disability are two very interlinked experiences. Partially this is because I acquired my disability due to violence against me for being trans…but also because my experience of being different because of my disability made me realize how privileged I had been before the injury.

      In junior high when I took adaptive PE I was relieved to not enter the boys locker room anymore, but what I did not expect was to gain a new identity and forever view the world differently. It was a small class, never more than five or six, and so we were close. My new friends had various disabilities and I quickly learned that for most of them the discrimination they faced was more difficult than any physical limitation they had. Also I saw how some of them hid their disability when not around others like us.

      After a couple years I made friends with a boy (okay I had a crush on him but anyways…) who tried to convince me that I should take regular gym. Skipping over the whole boys locker room thing, taking regular gym was exceedingly physically painful, but somehow I managed. After a few weeks I ran into an old friend from adaptive PE. She admitted that she wished she could hide her leg brace, that her parents wanted her in a different school but she refused (something she had never spoken of before) and then she said something that stayed with me forever, she knew my injuries weren’t visible to other people and she warned me, “don’t go pretending they aren’t there, okay?”

      I think that a lot of the emotional energy around the terms cis and trans comes from how those who are trans get some cis privileges if they pass and passing is a huge emotionally fraught topic. However, as I look at how kids like me are dealing with schools these days I can’t help but see a comparison to the mainstreaming movement that has for the most part ended the isolation of differently abled students.

      Perhaps my perception of the overlap between disability and gender issues is unique to my experience and not useful to others, but I personally can’t separate the topics. To me someone being able bodied or being cis are not things they get to chose. But this is not a bad thing…

  10. What about he recent assaults and threats that the Deep Green Resistance received from trans folks. We are fighting to be treated right, but aren’t treating them right.

  11. I find this really troubling. I don’t know much at all about DGR… I think I’ve heard of them before. I’m in an environmental justice collective that positions itself as radical. I’ve only been involved in this kind of organizing for less than a year, have been a few trainings and such, I’ve never run into sentiments like these. I have experienced thoughtful anti-oppression workshops, and crafting community agreements and checking in about gendered pronouns have been very much the norm in my experience.

    Is this transphobic radfem attitude intersecting with radical environmentalism a more widespread thing? I hope not.

    The whole thing (I watched the whole thing) was so illogical, disrespectful and experience-negating. >:(

  12. There’s something about the “it’s not transphobic, it’s a different opinion”* that reminds me a lot of the complaint of conservative Christians that their beliefs need to be respected and tolerated too…. that it’s not personal, that they have nothing against gay people, it’s just that they are going against God’s will. When your belief or opinion innately involves denying the humanity, worth, experience and very existence of others then it is incredibly damaging and hateful, not “just an opinion.”

    *that’s been popping up following the rabbit hole of links.

  13. *chuckles* of course i won’t read/listen to the rubbish – not even because assorted bigotry but because general concept. May i ask what you, fair ladies of technological origin, are doing on a luddite rally first place?

  14. BAM! You pretty much destroyed every argument there! noice! Radfem [ablesist, sexist language deleted – Sav.]

    • Ugh. I mean, can we please disagree without throwing around phrases like “radfem crazy bitches”? Mostly since radfems and feminist trans women would both like misogynists to stop treating us like “crazy bitches”.

    • Seriously. Also, how can anyone associate the terms radical and feminist with something negative? They are both kick ass words. Won’t ever compute to me, so might want to find another insult for women who paved the way for you myopic beings.

      • Janice Raymond, Germaine Greer and others from second wave feminism actively lobbied Congress to eliminate health care benefits for trans people. They also hounded trans women, outed them and made them lose their jobs in some cases.

        Paving over us doesn’t equal paving the way for us.

        Of course it takes a pretty myopic individual to actively oppose a group of people’s existence, then claim that you were doing them a benefit all along.

        “I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence” –Janice Raymond

        • Not buying this. Women’s lib had more positive effects than anything. Conflating two positive things won’t make a negative, no matter what you are trying to associate with it. If you need to find other words, be my guest, feminist gets enough dirt thrown on it as it is. It’s hard to entertain people’s positions when they use words like radfem and cis in a negative light and expect people to argue on those terms.

          • I don’t think that radical feminism is uinquely anti-trans, or even necessarily anti-trans. Some of my favorite feminist thinkers- Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Andrea Dworkin (with severe qualifying statements)- have described themselves, or have been described by others, as radical feminists. There are even pro-trans radical feminists and second-wave feminists! I can’t find my copy of Transgender History, but there is a section about trans-positive feminists from the second wave.

            I think the dispute is more that anti-trans arguments that have come out of radical feminism, both then and now, have been uniquely hurtful and harmful to trans women. Not that radical feminism itself is “a negative”– after all, without radical feminism, we’d never have had queer and trans theory. But that radical feminism has been and continues to be used in harmful ways against trans people. And honestly, what, should we just shut up about that and allow ourselves to be utilized in the theories of others? Is this the kind of behavior that Firestone, Millett, et al would encourage in women?

            To paraphrase my favorite radical feminist, Gayle Rubin, who was actually *in* Radicalesbians, and who ran aground of radfems in the 80s because she wasn’t an asshole to s/m practitioners, sex workers, and trans people: “I didn’t join the women’s movement so I could be told to be a good girl”.

            Trans women are telling you that we have been hurt by radical feminism. Please try listening to us.

          • Once upon a time I babysat for the children of a lot of lesbians and radical feminists (my own mother being a lesbian and a mildly radical feminist).

            In that long ago time I read hate filled books by the women whose names and quotes were worn by my mother and her friends. I overheard terms and phrases like “womyn born womyn” only, and heard the women I respected so much talk about the freaks who cut things off to try and sneak into a womyn’s music festival.

            That last one I overheard while sitting by a fire holding two small children. I was shaking, it was hard to breathe, and I tried so hard not to wake up those two little kids. I don’t really remember if I was crying or just scared, but I remember trying not to tremble or shake.

            So, yes, radical feminists did some amazing things but unfortunately most movements turn on those weaker and less able to defend themselves.

  15. One of the things that intrigues (and disappoints) me is how often transphobic people tend to sexualise transness. My transition is nothing to do with sexuality, I’m essentially asexual. It’s entirely to do with congruence. But I keep meeting this response (either grossly or subtly) – I recently had a cis woman friend say “I bet you can’t wait to go out and enjoy your new equipment”, as though transitioning was the equivalent of buying a new sex toy. I do get that in her own terms, she was trying to be supportive/celebratory, but personally, I want the anatomy I want because it makes me look like who I am, not because of what most people by default associate it with in our thoroughly over-sexualised culture. Just to be clear, I’m very happy to celebrate others’ sexuality, if they’re as willing to celebrate my asexuality. I have a libido, it just expresses itself sensually instead.
    And I’ve also been on the receiving end of trivialising and marginalising at the hands of what I refer to as The Local Transmatriarchy, because I’m a gender-nonconforming woman who happens to be trans. There’s a strong element of group peer pressure in the local trans women’s support group that assumes heterofemme as the default presentation for women, and I’ve stopped going along because I got fed up with being treated as some kind of dilettante weekend-trans neutral person.
    It amazes me just how prescriptive/proscriptive people who label themselves as “radical” can be, sometimes. All of this anger and dismissal seems to have fear as its basis, whether from cis or trans folk.

    • Yeah, this part always intrigues me. Last I checked, being a trans woman and transitioning, if anything, makes it harder to have sexual relationships with people that aren’t dangerous for us and/or disrespectful to us. So yeah, sexualizing the motivations doesn’t make much sense.

  16. Heh, there’s nothing like someone using a PowerPoint presentation to discuss dismantling civilization. Microsoft… the radical’s’ friend?

  17. Great article, as always, but I’m highly concerned by the phrase “history of male privilege”. Trans women don’t generally have a history of male privilege, they have a history of being perceived as male despite not being so. This may grant them access to some of the trappings of male privilege, but that is not the same as the sense of ease and comfort and entitlement that are essential components of HAVING male privilege. It’s not just a matter of factual accuracy – uncomplicatedly saying trans women once had male privilege (rather than they had or have access to limited aspects of it) effectively implies that trans women were, at some point – or indeed still are – men.

    • This is so – I consider that I had the privilege of being bullied and abused and tormented for not fully “passing” as a man, throughout my childhood and earlier adult years, since I radiated some vibe of gender-ambiguity even while I was carefully concealing this even from myself.
      Male privilege is only relevant if you (a) identify as a man, and (b) are accepted as a man. If you don’t have both of these going for you, your penis does not offer privilege and protection from violence, dismissal, phobia, torment… because as many gay men could tell you, it’s not enough to appear to be a man, you have to appear to be the right kind of man, and be confident in that “normative” identity, to be treated with privilege.
      It’s complex.

      • Being gender-noncomforming or perceived as GNC is absolutely a disprivilege for boys/men and for people perceived as boys/men. But that is relative to people who do fit gender norms, not relative to people assigned female at birth.

        • I’m sorry, but this is so obviously a dodge. People who identify as women and are assigned female at birth experience privilege over people who identify as women and are assigned male at birth (who are definitionally gender-nonconforming). Are you seriously denying this?

          Case in point: As a white, upper-middle-class-born trans woman, I’m statistically more likely to experience physical and sexual violence, employment discrimination, denial of necessities, and poverty(and poverty is the only one of these things that I have personally not experienced) than both a white, upper-middle-class-born man who is assigned male at birth AND a white upper-middle-class-born woman who is assigned female at birth. Is this the proposition that you are arguing with? Because I’m utterly sick of people insisting that the only legitimate avenue of comparison I can have is based on the sex I was assigned at birth that I hate and have rejected.

          • I should clarify: before I came out at 21, I definitely experienced a degree of male privilege. I was able to hide being trans quite well, and since I started “passing” with a degree of consistency I’ve seen a significant difference in the way the world treats me. My ideas are less valuable, every action I take is either sexualized or de-sexualized regardless of my intent or even common sense, and my body has become semi-public property for men. This is an important thing to acknowledge and I think it’s worth engaging with, but it keeps getting brought up to invalidate trans women’s identities and silence us, instead. Forgive me for my defensiveness.

            But then I compare this to the moments I don’t “pass.” That’s when my body, and my very life, becomes 100% public property. The horrifying shit in the catcalls moves from dehumanizing me and denying my agency to straight-up “or I’ll kill you.” My ideas aren’t part of a “silly girl, let a man explain it to you” paradigm anymore, they become nonsense from the mouth of someone presumed to be severely and dangerously mentally ill (compounded by the ableist assumptions that mentally ill people cannot produce ideas of value). And then, when I need support, I have to wonder whether fellow women see me as one of them or if I’m truly alone.

          • A DEGREE of male privilege?
            If society views you as male, and you’re not really refuting it, feminine or not, you’ve got male privilege. I mean, that argument could be used for effeminate gay men, or Dennis Rodman.
            I don’t believe that trans women have male privilege, but if you transitioned after childhood, you HAD male privilege. To refute that is a bit ridiculous. I don’t care what you internalized. It’s sort of like, I’m multiracial, but I very, very easily pass as white. I may internalize a little bit what is said about Latinas and First Nation women, but none of it is being said AT me, TO me, and really, ABOUT me, and therefore I have privilege over those that DON’T pass.
            You got to pass as male. I didn’t. And I reaped the consequences, to my psyche and even so far as my education.

          • Fine. I had male privilege all through childhood. So I guess that makes up for being permanently disfigured from going through the wrong puberty and having to put up with conversations like these. Sorry about your psyche and education. Enjoy your congruent body and childhood that wasn’t a complete waste.

          • Oh, and in addition, while you were passing as male, I got to deal with a much, much, much higher rate of abuse, and as a result, some great diagnosed PTSD, to the point that I can NOT handle sexual situations involving penises, which often gets me called transmisogynistic.
            I just think we should all deal with admitting our various currently held or previously held privileges and how that’s impacted us. You had male privilege, I have cis privilege. This isn’t the oppression olympics (trust me, I could go there), so let’s just all admit we’ve been blessed in some ways and cursed in others.

          • I’m sorry about the difficulties you had and my weasel language about my privilege. But as someone with diagnosed PTSD myself (pulling broken glass soaked in my attacker’s urine out of my genitals after being put in men’s lockup following a false arrest for prostitution while I was dressed in girls’ clothes in public at 14 will do that), I don’t appreciate the assumption that my penis insulated me from such experiences. It feels like having had male privilege at a young age is supposed to be tattooed on my forehead or something.

          • For the record, I don’t think your trauma around penises in sexual situations makes you transmisogynistic. I don’t see why I had to be a punching bag for that.

          • Two things:
            1) See, it goes both ways. Statistics say you had a lesser chance of getting sexually abused as a kid, but you were. Statistics say that I have a lesser chance of getting sexually assaulted as an adult than a trans woman of color (the only stats I’ve seen), but I have been. My vagina hasn’t protected me from shit. That’s why oppression olympics does. not. work.
            2) “Sorry about your psyche and education. Enjoy your congruent body and childhood that wasn’t a complete waste.” Hey there, patronizing dismissal.

          • Point taken. I think I should take a break from commenting on AS and the rest of the feminist internet for a while. I seem to be getting into a lot of fights lately and saying a lot of problematic things. I think I’m making a reputation for myself as a bitter, late-transitioning trans woman who doesn’t know how to process the complexities of both the traumatic effects of her male childhood and the privileges she received as a result of it. That person’s no fun to be around, and that’s not who I want to become.

            Hopefully I’ll find some value in myself despite not being the cis woman or younger transitioner I wish I was in the meantime, and come back without so much anger.

          • Trans women should be honest about whatever male-related privileges they had. Period. Even if you didn’t feel empowered as an assumed male child, there were still many ways in which we benefited (or, at least, avoided unique oppression cis girls faced) and just because we deal with transphobia, misogyny and homophobia now doesn’t negate those earlier experiences.

            But, I also have a issues when people talk about male privilege as though it’s monolithic. The reality is that boys seen as gender variant and/or gay (and granted, not all trans women were seen that way as children but a substantial amount were) have very high rates of sexual molestation and assault… way higher than boys taken as a whole. Moreover, they also have very high rates of gender expression-based physical assault as kids (I didn’t experience the former for did go through the latter). So, yes, trans women who transitioned after puberty didn’t experience sexual assault as girls but to say, therefore, they fit into the typical male profile of those who were assaulted is reductionist binary thinking. Using ‘Oppression olympics’ as a way of making people feel guilty isn’t a useful way of talking about social change, but hauling out charges of ‘oppression olympics’ every time a group discusses experiences they face is just a way of shutting down discussion.

            Btw, I like this thoughtful essay about the subject which mirrors the experience of many femme MAAB people I’ve known: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/logan-lynn/gender-nonconforming-kids_b_1305716.html

          • This is directed at Gina:
            Male privilege isn’t monolithic, no. However, the way an effeminate boy is treated and the way a cis girl is treated is still nowhere near equal. Every single study out there backs that up. I get the desire to feel a solidarity in shared experiences with cis women, but it’s dismissive and at times sounds almost exactly like MRA arguments. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be a trans woman, and I expect that trans women (again, who transitioned post-childhood) shouldn’t pretend like they understand what it’s like to grow up female (I don’t know another way to put that)
            Also, I brought up oppression olympics because it sure sounded like Alexandra was going all kyriarchy on this shit. It doesn’t apply to the situation, and she was, in addition, being INCREDIBLY dismissive of my misogyny/sexism/patriarchy-filled childhood.

          • “However, the way an effeminate boy is treated and the way a cis girl is treated is still nowhere near equal. Every single study out there backs that up.”

            I’m genuinely interested in what studies you’re referring to and who it exactly is who’s being compared? This is not a challenge to what you’ve said but I would like to know what literature there is about it. Apart from being trans I also have a teenage daughter and am always concerned about issues adolescent girls encounter.

            I agree about the dismissiveness expressed but, in fairness, your Dennis Rodman statement was rather snarky/dismissive as well about the very real violence femme boys encounter.

          • Gina:
            I certainly didn’t mean to imply that I don’t find the violence against effeminate boys a real issue. I definitely do. If you remember, we once got into an argument about the f word and its use against trans women vs effeminate boys. My brother, who has three older sisters, has always been a little fluid in his gender presentation. As far as I know, he’s never been beaten for it, but it’s gotten pretty close. I mean, he lives in rural southeastern Tennessee, in a county that in 2003 unanimously passed a measure that made being gay a crime against nature. He gets called the f word on a fairly consistent basis and doesn’t have a lot of male friends. I’ve heard PARENTS make fun of him to their kids. It has caused him a great deal of pain. My brother is also multiracial, and darker than me.
            My issue lies in comparing experiences like his (and that of other boys or perceived boys) with the experiences of little girls. It’s just not the same. My brother would even tell you that it’s not the same. He was still told his voice mattered more, he could do more, he would always have more authority, etc etc. He wasn’t oversexualized starting at a ridiculously young age, etc. He lives in a patriarchal society which means he by birthright has more power than I do.
            All I’m saying is that the two shouldn’t be equated. It doesn’t sit well with me that someone like my brother would say something like “Well, I know what it’s like to grow up a girl because I’m effeminate!” It’s really not the same at all. There’s a very effeminate gay man on the board of the feminist union at the local university, and he talks ALL. THE. TIME. about how he experiences misogyny just like women do because he’s effeminate and to be honest it pisses me off like nothing else. He’s been pretty vocal lately so maybe I’m a little overly sensitive about it.

          • As for the studies, I’ll email my women and gender studies prof for them…I think there were also some studies in my social psych class so I’ll email that prof, too.

          • Privilege is a useful concept, but the oppression Olympics is not. How much you have suffered has nothing to do with the validity of your identity. I was raised in a liberal, feminist household, and attended an ultra-liberal alternative school for most of my childhood. I have gone back carefully over my experiences, and I feel that I had all the advantages of the average male with my racial and socioeconomic status. As a teen I began to experience minor harassment based on my gender (cat-calls and the like), but I was fully aware that my body was more than an object for male desires, so this didn’t bother me much. Should I turn in my woman card? Discrimination didn’t make me woman. Nor do I wish to be defined by my vagina, my breasts, or my reproductive organs. I am cis, but I see myself as a woman for the same reasons a trans* woman does. That is the way I feel inside. I don’t have to explain it, and I don’t expect anyone else to.

            I’m happy to recognize the feminist privilege I had growing up (which I feel equals, and maybe surpasses male privilege – after all, I was told I could be whatever I wanted to be, and I could wear what I wanted and freely express my feelings – most boys are not so lucky). Thing is, I’m never asked to. And yet even when a trans* women acknowledges her childhood male privilege, its like its never enough. She’s not even allowed to qualify it based on her experiences being harassed or attacks for her feminine presentation. This double standard has got to stop.

          • Sela: That is a serious generalization. I’m a law student, about half my school is female, and I’ve never felt like my gender gave me less of a voice or limited my options. But even if it had, is having “less authority” automatically better than getting beat up or called a the f word? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, depending on the particulars of the situation – but who has it worse is by no means obvious.

            Being born male gives you certain educational advanteges on average (more encouragment in math and science, more likely to get an advaned degree in those fields, etc.). Being born female gives you certain educational advantages on average (better grades in elementrary and secondary school, more likely to go to/graduate from college, etc.). Similarly, being female makes you more likely to be sexually assualted, but being male makes you more likely to be a victim of violent crime. None of that says anything about what any particular individual has experianced. You say you want to avoid the “opression olympics”, yet you seem eager to engage in it. Both those born physically female and physically male (especially if they are gender non-conforming) face obstacles, much of it a result of the patriarchy. Why is it so important that cis women have it worse? Anyone interested in fighting oppression has a common objective – that is far more important than our differences.

            Also – no one should ever be dismissive of the trauma or oppression another person has suffered. But you called out Alexandra for being dismissive (as you should), and yet are simultaniously dismissive of her own trauma. People absolutly need to be respectful of what you’ve been through, but it goes both ways.

          • Well. This conversation is going exactly as I thought it might. Speaking in circles, getting nowhere.
            No, what I said is NOT a serious generalization. Definitely, definitely not.
            I’m not dismissing Alexandra’s childhood. I’m saying, it doesn’t mean she didn’t have male privilege, and it doesn’t mean male privilege didn’t positively affect her. That’s a huge difference.
            Alternately, I have cis privilege, and it’s positively affected me. I don’t know what it’s like to be trans, and I don’t pretend to. I expect the same from trans women who transitioned post-early childhood, in regards to growing up female (again, don’t know how to say that another way) in a patriarchal, sexist, misogynistic society.
            I’m not even going to touch your comments about boys vs. girls, because I don’t think I can say it nicely.

          • Is there any way I could request that we go ahead and take a break from this convo? It just feels like everyone is sniping at each other… maybe we can think these things over a little bit and try to approach the convo in a different moment, hopefully all of us without being quite *so* determined to have a point to prove.

            There have been some petty comments made on both sides of the debate, and I think that all of the women on this thread are ultimately better than that.

          • Dialethia said,
            “Also – no one should ever be dismissive of the trauma or oppression another person has suffered.”

            Thank you so much for saying this. Reading Sela’s hateful comments made me want to cry…which is immature I know, but I really could not believe she was comparing young trans girls to “effeminate boys” and dismissing all their experiences as being male if they didn’t transition at some arbitrary age she deems early enough.

            Too many girls have killed themselves because they feared they weren’t “real enough”. I hope Sela someday realizes how hurtful her dismissive attitude is…and I hope no one vulnerable reads her words.

          • I’m sorry if I overreated. The full disclosure is that Alexandra is a good friend off the internet, and I react strongly to seeing a frind hurt.

            The point I was trying to make was that privlege is complicated: everyone experiances it differently. Being born male is not always an unqualified advantage. The intersection of other facets of identity complicates the picture (e.g. Black and Latino men are targeted by law enforcment and have a large gap in educational acheivment v. women; gay/effeminate men are targets for violence, etc.).

            Being trans* adds still more complications. Not only are some trans* kids attacked for their gender presentation, but many suffer from acute dysphoria – often leading to depression, even suicide. Telling someone to see something that painful as an unqualified privlege is dismissive. Most trans* women here acknowledged a degree of male privliege, and that should be enough.

            p.s. – This is an aside, but I love being a woman. I have identified as a femininst since I learned what the word meant, yet I often get the feeling that my feminist credentials are being questioned because I don’t see my womanhood as a curse. Why is that?

          • Dialethia, I just want to say how very much I appreciate what you write on AS, especially what you write about trans issues. I don’t know of any other non-trans woman on AS who understands and communicates our issues as well and it means a lot to me that we’re going to have a future with truly knowledgable allies such as yourself (who are actually able to listen as opposed to those who really give a damn with what we have to say!). Yes, the tone of the thread was devolving into nastiness but it wasn’t you who started nor perpetuated it by a long shot.

          • Thank you Gina, that means a lot to me – I appreciate your writing as well. I worry about commenting on this subject sometimes – I don’t want to be seen as speaking for trans* women, but I do want to be supportive. I’m very glad to hear that I’ve been able to able to do that. My best friend has shared with me her experiences as a trans* woman, and much of my knowledge about trans* issues I ultimately owe to her.

            I think that the discrimination and other challenges trans* people face just aren’t that obvious unless you have experienced them, or at least seen someone you care about experience them. So I understand people’s ignorance – I knew little about these issues until a couple of years ago, and I’m learning new things everyday. But I don’t really understand the hostility trans* women often face in feminist circles. Hopefully it is just a result of unfamiliarity, and will fade with time.

        • I’ll buy that – but then there’s an assumption that I experienced gender privilege because of being MAAB, whereas my memories of my experiences as a child and young adult all revolve around receiving the same crap treatment many FAAB people do, and hardly any of the privileges accorded to people who pass as “standard male”. Abuse, sexual harrassment, passed over for employment/promotion, not safe on the street, etc.
          Naturally it’s impossible to see one’s privilege from within it, so I have no idea what privilege I might have been receiving by being perceived as male – but mostly I’m aware of *not* being treated as male, but as something other/lesser. I’m willing to concede I may have had a little male privilege, but it’s hard to spot among the chaos.

        • I wish people would stop talking about privilege like some kind of abosolute ranking system where someone with a certain type of privilege instantly receives more privilege in all circumstances and all contexts than someone without that one specific privilege. Taken to its absurd extreme this kind of reasoning would imply that if one could prove that there is some context somewhere where a woman has received preferential treatment over a man on the basis of her gender (child custody disputes in jurisdictions where patriarchal assumptions about parenting abilities favour women come to mind) one would be able to argue that male privilege doesn’t exist because it isn’t an absolute overriding consideration that favours men in every situation. But that’s ridiculous, because it’s clearly not true. That’s bizarro MRA town thinking, and we shouldn’t feed it because it helps us win pointless arguments about which oppressed group inherently experiences more oppression.

          Cis women experience oppression for being women and being treated as women in a sexist, misogynistic society, but also receive some privilege for usually (though sometimes there’s some racist white beauty culture shit that goes on here) being perceived as being assigned to the sex that corresponds to their gender and therefore seen as “legitimate” women. Trans women experience oppression for being women and for often being perceived as not conforming to their assigned sex, both of which play out in different ways before and after transition, but also receive some privilege for usually (though it depends a lot on the individual) being perceived as a man for some variable period of time pre-transition. Neither experience invalidates the other, nor unquestionably places all members of one group in a position of having absolute privilege over the other. As a trans woman I have absolutely no desire to erase the experiences of oppression that cis women experience; as a feminist I want to eliminate all misogyny and bring an end to patriarchy, not sweep.some women’s experiences with it under the rug. However, to tell me as a trans woman that because I had privilege for being perceived as male that I had privilege comparable with my cis male peers, or to tell me that post-transition that I have more or even a similar level of privilege than cis women with a comparable education and background is to erase MY experience with misogyny and cissexism. Frankly, I would be more than happy to discuss my experiences with perceived-as-male privilege, as many trans women would be, if I could feel like I could talk about it openly without it being weaponized into an argument for why I shouldn’t be treated with dignity and respect. Because honestly, the differences between how people perceived as male and people perceived as female are treated are fucked up, and I like to let people know what they are when I feel like I can do so safely.

          • This is a fantastic and well-considered comment. I actually think you’ve well articulated what other people have been trying to say about privilege not being prescription of benefit to the individual in all situations. Excellent breakdown, thanks for this!

    • I had all sorts of privilege growing up: I had the privilege of being one of only two kids on my block or in my daycare that weren’t African-American when I was four years old. You can imagine how I ruled the roost with my mighty privs there. I’m not one to brag, but I distinctly heard the term “sky god” whispered at least once!

      Then, when I was five and my gender differences started becoming more and more apparent to those around me, I had the privilege of becoming a magnet for every pederastic piece of sh** child rapist within miles. It was like they could smell it on me before I could even tell that I was different myself.

      Yes, there is nothing like growing up as a visibly queer kid in a poor neighborhood, it’s as if I was some kind of sheltered royalty. I was sheltered from basic safety, sheltered from basic nutrition, and especially sheltered from sexual predators. And now I feel all uppity and stuff and I actually dare to want to own my own identity.

  18. sorry if i commented too much, but after watching the video, i have to say that i find it more abhorrent than the westboro folks who could be dismissed for their blatant naivety.

    she has the chutzpah to embrace trans people as heroes working ‘outside the culture’ (to a chorus of claps) while making it her primary goal to make it as hard for trans people to interact ‘within the culture’, and then thusly concluding that all trans people hold revolutionary ‘individualist’ views, and that the issue is no longer up for debate.

    it makes me ashamed that i used to read deep green eco and radfem. this kind of sycophantic nonsense is heading straight for fox news fame.

  19. This gets at a lot of my discomfort with the way that not just radfems, but a lot of feminists in general, talk about male vs. female socialization: they’re about general patterns, but not every single person in a particular society experiences them the same way or to the same extent. Even cis people. When you take into account every factor that contributes to gendered socialization – family, friends, individual community, larger society, etc. – that’s a lot of factors, and all but the last are going to be different for every person within a particular society. Like, if you’re raised by parents who make it a point to raise you with feminist messages and to demonstrate how gender roles are BS, you might not get that “socialization” as badly as others. If you live in a household where you don’t have as much access to the outside media as other people, that could change how you’re brought up as well. As you said, cis or trans, we’re not “gender zombies.” Everyone’s socialization is different – and a lot of people have the power to move beyond that socialization as well.

    • Thanks for this- I think it’s an important point that doesn’t get heard as often as it should.

    • THANK YOU YES. As a migrant child of migrants, having been raised in multiple cultures, what counts as “socialization” varies so much that trying to find some sort of universal essential quality of gender experience is difficult if not impossible.

  20. I just wanted to add at this point that although I’ve had rough treatment from the local Transmatriarchy for being a non-feminine woman, I’ve had pretty much nothing but easy acceptance from cis women wherever I go. And I’ve been straightforwardly welcomed into gay/bi women’s spaces where I was expecting trouble, since one of the Transgirl Myths™ is “Lesbians will hate you.” But my tribe recognises me.

    • Womanandrogyne-

      I don’t want to take anything away from your experience in wherever it is you live because you’ve lived it and it’s yours. Sure, there are judgmental trans women (and there are also judgmental cis women and genderqueers too). For example, before I had SRS and told several FAAB genderqueer/queer women (friends, not lovers) about my intention, a number of them were *extremely* uncomfortable with the idea I would feel the need to get surgery. What were previously friends pretty much clammed up, were unsupportive and had kind of a dog-sniffing-their-butt expression on their face.

      I have a hard time hearing either “trans women are so supportive, understanding and safe while cis women will hate you” or “cis women love me it’s just trans women are so awful” stories. I think they say more about the persons making those generalizations than the communities they’re discussing. Lesbians will hate you is not a myth (just a vast and hugely unfair generalization) because I’ve had situations where it happened big time. I used to go to an LGBT family arts camp (95% lesbians and their kids) every summer with my daughter and used to get acceptance and friendship from some women while others gave me endless stink eye and rude brusqueness. After 4 summers I told the organization who ran the camp why I wasn’t coming back and they totally understood. That’s not a myth so please don’t label it as such (even if meant ironically). Communities are complex and there are great trans women and great cis women and A.B.A and no one deserves being erased to make brownie points.

      I suppose my other issue (which I admit is from my perspective as an older hetero trans woman) is I feel as if I hear some queer trans women who make a big show of putting down other trans women to make queer brownie points with the cis women or queer communities (usually FAAB) they want to hang with. As if that will sometimes proves “I’m really more of a lesbian or queer woman than a trans woman” and to me, that’s on about the same level as hearing “post-transsexual” women who make a big stank about no longer being trans. Whatever, people can ID how they want, but I don’t have to respect it either. There are ways to communicate what works for each of us without putting down or dismissing other people.

      • For sure, the “myth” I was referring to is that “*all* lesbians will hate you” – which is what I’d been sold when I started to transition, and which I’ve proved untrue (I should have made this point less ambiguously).
        And I feel you’re jumped to conclusions about my example of the local very-binary trans women giving me a hard time, and extrapolating from that the idea that I lack respect for others and their presentation or identity. I do not – I only lack respect for people who lack respect for mine for specious reasons based on their own narrow perspective of what makes a “real woman”. I certainly want no brownie points from anyone, and I make a point of challenging people wen they try to get me to collude with them over dissing more feminine trans women. I don’t think anyone should be policing anyone’s presentation or identity, cis or trans.
        I was trying to make the same point you are trying to make – which is to counter the idea that any group of people is *always* anything. This topic has been about transphobia from avowed feminists, and I was trying to make the point that it’s possible to have the opposite experience – support from lesbian feminists, transphobia from other trans people.
        I’m sorry if I didn’t express myself clearly enough – I’ve been participating in several online discussions about this stuff at the same time tonight, and I think I assumed I’d already said stuff here that would have made my position clearer. So the conclusions you jumped to were my own fault for leaving too much out because i thought I’d already said it. Does this make more sense now?

        • It does make it clearer, thank you. I suppose my point wasn’t only about you though… I feel as if lately there have been quite a number of posts (made by trans women… I’m not talking about cis trolls) on different threads on AS which are kind of bashing other trans women and making it sound as if those who present as femme control the community (which, in my experience, is absurd) and that if you go to a trans support group you’re bound to get emotionally assaulted by them. There are boundary-disrespecting people in many kinds of support groups and, yes, one needs to speak up to make boundaries clear and that, barring a designated facilitator, no one owns the group or has a right to tell someone else what to do. Anyway, I’m glad you’ve finally found your peeps.

          • Thanks, yes, and I have more than one set of peeps. I recently made contact with several other more non-binary trans folk who’d had similar experiences in support groups of being marginalised, and I decided instead of pissing and moaning I’d just start us up our own support group, so I’ve now launched Non-Binary South West, a support group for non-binary folk in the SW of England – we are having regular meetings and have an online forum. If anyone’s interested, we’re at http://www.nbsw.org.uk and meet in Exeter.
            I think I went into transitioning with the naive expectation that all trans folk would necessarily be very open-minded, and I’ve since accepted that we’re just people, and to expect the usual mix of open and closed minds. I’ve just been unlucky with my local trans women, and I do notice an interesting demographic in that the younger trans folk seem to be more open to diversity. I’m still on friendly terms with the trans women’s support group online, and I do my bit to gently educate them about the broad spectrum of gender identities out there. I think that besides just wanting to present the way they do, they’re also scared and are forming their wagons into a circle, so they apply a lot of peer pressure to each other (and to anyone like me who happens along). I’m way less reactive to them now that it more sure who I am than I was back then, too. I don’t know what other groups are like, just this one and the one we’ve started instead.

          • “they’re also scared and are forming their wagons into a circle”

            That’s exactly what I’ve seen. Doesn’t mean how they’re acting out is okay, but it’s usually more out of fear/insecurity than privilege.

  21. I am by no means saying I agree, but I think their logic behind how trans women support the patriarchy have to do with not being able to grasp the idea of being uncomfortable in your own body. They probably then assume that the only other reason for transitioning would be that you feel you fit stereotypes commonly associated with whatever gender you’re transitioning to, which would support the idea that those stereotypes are true?

    Again, I don’t agree with that. That’s just my take on their thinking (though I haven’t yet watched the video). Personally, I agree with what was said here, in that yes many trans women experienced some male privilege at a young age, but that it doesn’t continue after transition. Similarly, cis men and women have privilege in, well, being cis gender.

    I mean, I’d say that I had a childhood with a bit of male privilege even though I have never been physically male. I was always encouraged in science and math, and my parents let me join whatever sports I wanted. Would they say that because I had nearly the equivalent of male privilege until I started school, that I would therefore not really be female? Or maybe it’s the fact that I have more recently been mistaken for a man? Would that one moment erase all of the rest of my life? That’s what they seem to be implying.

    • Yea this is what I was thinking. Like, maybe some transwomen have benefited from male privilege in the past. Big f’ing deal. How is that relevant? I mean, before I came out, I had serious relationships with men. Does the fact that I’ve experienced straight privilege in the past mean I’m not gay enough to participate in gay community activism/ I support the anti-gay movement? This just smells like bigots making excuses for themselves, a la “gay people can’t make babies so they shouldn’t be allowed to get married” even though lots of straight couples can’t/don’t want to make babies.

      • Pretty much. I mean, they could support the idea of people not being labeled by gender without saying that being transgender is offensive. If you’re going down that route, then you’d also have to say that people acting like any gender, even their own gender, would go against the cause. And really, if gender is not real, like what they’re saying, then people could act like however they want and dress however they want, claim to be whatever they want, and that shouldn’t really make a difference to them.

        I have no idea if that made sense, but I’m tired and sick so that’s as close as I’m going to get, probably.

  22. This deconstruction — and especially the conclusion — made me think of Westboro Baptist Church. Extremists preying on vulnerable folks but with the kind of justifications that make you think it must ultimately be some kind of scam.

    At the end of the day, I just cannot fathom how on earth these people think coming out as trans and then transitioning supports some sort of nefarious sexual and/or anti-woman agenda… unless they’ve confused the ACTUAL community with, like, (the 80s Tom Hanks sitcom) Bosom Buddies and don’t realize that trans people aren’t just casually hanging out part-time as a different gender.

  23. What I don’t understand (Okay, I don’t understand a lot about this woman and her fucked up ideology, but I’m not about to try to decode bigotry) is what the fuck any of this has to do with an organization that is purporting itself to be concerned about ecological justice? Like, the fuck does gender theory have to do with that shit?

    • Oh — I can help you with that, though the story has a few twists and turns.

      Short version
      DGR began as an “anti-civ” eco group founded in part by Lierre Keith. Lierre Keith, a radical feminist, brought her quiet transphobia to the party. Events and other radfem support, like that of Cat Brennan, seeped in and made exclusion and bashing of trans women a top priority.

      Long version
      Deep Green Resistance (DGR) is the collaborative cult formed by Derrick Jensen (author of the apocalypse masturbation fantasy series _Endgame_), Lierre Keith (radical feminist and author of _The Vegetarian Myth_), and Aric McBay (eco-warrior who eventually left the group due to its transphobia).

      DGR originally was a relatively simple “end-civ” organization with beliefs that ecological justice can only be achieved by destroying industrial civilization and returning to the lifestyles held and maintained by indigenous peoples and communities, with a little of Jensen’s crazy spice thrown in (ex: the probable need to annihilate the majority of humanity).

      Being a radical feminist prior to DGR’s forming, Lierre Keith was a well documented transphobe who equated being a trans woman to being white and pretending to be black. When a trans woman and standing DGR member wanted to join DGR’s women’s caucus, her admission was denied in a VERY unpleasant manner at Lierre Keith’s behest. The ensuing row led to the departure of McBay and most reasonable people within the organization, along with complete revocation of the organization’s trans-inclusion policy.

      Later on, DGR acquired the support of Cathy Brennan (the wonderful person who penned a letter to the UN asking for trans people to be denied international rights to public facility accommodation) and her flock, which brought the group into the realm of full and complete trans-bashing.

      • So the organization actually had a pre-existing trans inclusion policy that was actually rescinded? That’s interesting.

        One thing I definitely still don’t get: of course we all know CB (let’s try to just initials, not that name) is obsessed with trans women and would like to marginalize them whenever she can. But apart from that, what is her interest in this ‘EndCiv’ organization anyways? Does she actually adopt their politics of destroying modern civilization? Or does she just ignore all that and support them as far as the trans stuff goes?

        More generally, does CB have any genuine interest in eco-politics at all? I’ve never heard her talk about it (though, okay, I generally try to ignore her).

        • The question about Cat Brennan is a very good one. Unfortunately, I don’t have a decisive answer — the wealthy among us move in mysterious ways. I can say that there is virtually no evidence of her taking an interest in eco-oriented groups until this recent brouhaha. Cat recently stabbed RadFemHub and its followers in the back, leaving the website quite dead. Perhaps she is looking for a new pet project to take up. I admit to having at least some curiosity as to how Brennan and cult-leader Derrick Jensen would interact.

  24. Eco-radical doctrine, aka ludditism and rejection of technology, is a silent requirement of modern feminism as such.

    There is only one case where a woman (accidentally, cissexual) came up with a theory that did not embrace it and did not toe the line. She was forced into a Galileo style recantation, being threatened with losing her job as an uni professor and was thereafter sidelined for all purposes. I am talking about Donna Haraway – who is not irrelevant as some of us transhumanists still care about her work. And her most beloved disciple from those days is part of us now. This is why i don’t identify as feminist, even if few things i care as much as about women’s equality.

    I have no idea about that CB as that is outside my level of direct competence.

      • People in favour of transcending and leaving behind our animal condition. Pretty much diametrical opposite of eco-radical doctrine. A renaissance humanism offshot with divinity through realising ones biological drives and natural potential replaced by divinity through technological enhancements.

        • Side-eyeing all this talk about divinity and disciples in reference to an anti-essentialist philosopher.

  25. Great article. I can’t *even* about these horrible “radfem” transmisogynist bigots. let me also add that as someone who is a trans queer boy who is ALWAYS read as female, I still deal with misogyny as well as transphobia (recent comments: “you’re not a dude, you’re a stupid crazy bitch”, “you have a nasty cunt under there, not a dick, so you’re a girl.”). Both cis and trans women AND myself and my fellow trans men who don’t “pass” regularly have to deal with misogyny of some sort…from street harassment to condescension to threat of rape.

    to me the ultimate in transmisogyny is the Michigan Women’s Festival. They’d let my trans boy ass in but not a trans woman who is out about her trans identity? (not that i’d EVER go, even if they dropped their transmisogynist ‘womyn born womyn’ crap, because I identify as a boy, not a woman). Their logic is backwards and enraging, and completely delegitimizes our identities, whether we are trans women or trans men or nonbinary people.

  26. I had a look at the DGR FAQ. It seems that their entire raison d’etre is transphobia, which has to be a fairly limited political programme. It’s a bit like looking at a Klan website and wondering whether they do anything else but hate people with non- white skin.
    They aren’t worth engaging with.

  27. “I do have a history of male privilege and I would never deny that, but attempting to erase my very real present from that picture does nothing to benefit any of us involved in this conversation.”

    No one wants to erase the “very real present” of transwomen, but erasing the past is no better! Further, erasing the physical realities of living in a female body is similarly unhelpful to feminist political discourse.

    Fully understanding–in attempt to eradicate–women’s oppression requires us to acknowledge the creation of the class “woman” itself. The class “woman” is not created by infants (all female) actively “identifying” with femininity or by expressing some kind of essential “girl-ness.”

    “Women” as a class of persons is created by the assignment of the social role “girl/woman” to infants with insufficiently sized phallus at birth (insufficient to be assigned “boy/man,” that is). BINARY sex-based social role assignment at birth is the most objectively provable and mechanically predictable form of social-class determinism that humans have ever known. !! The resulting hierarchy that develops between boys/men and girls/women is *oppressive* to girls/women.

    What is the problem with acknowledging the effects of sex-based social role assignment at birth *in addition to* whatever social treatment all “women” endure in the present moment?

    What is “bigoted” about discussing the significance of sex-based social role determinism on both individual female people (lived experience!!) and on society as a whole?

    This entire conversation is backwards. Let’s look at the WHOLE picture of “woman” and stop with false equivalencies. Acknowledging difference between transwomen and females does not make someone a Bad Person TM who is filled with hatred. It makes them intellectually honest. Please stop characterizing DGR’s position on gender as “anti-trans bigotry.”

    • On the practical side, Elizabeth, you should certainly know (assuming you were acquainted with Deep Green Resistance before jumping into their camp) that DGR nixed a more trans-inclusive policy in early 2012, which caused a number of members, including founding member Aric McBay, to depart. Now, you CAN choose to buy megalomaniac Derrick Jensen’s kool-aid explanation that Aric McBay tried to openly wrest control of the organization out of his and Lierre Keith’s hands. Beyond the complete lack of evidence and clarification by Jensen for this explanation, it just doesn’t wash — a person with a passive personality isn’t going to mount a coup against two dominant personalities.

      As for the actual content of DGR’s philosophy on gender — it is hypocritical to say the to say the least. Performing social gender in the form of appearance or etiquette are perfectly acceptable within the organization for so-called WBW. Perhaps DGR’s more critical hypocrisy, however is this:


      This becomes more than a little problematic when you are trying to erase gender or frame it as an inherently social evil, and even more problematic when several of the indigenous peoples you claim to be “helping” observe and respect “Two-spirit” gender identity as something inherent to humanity, rather than a social construct. One or the other explanation for gender (social or inherent) has to give.

    • “Acknowledging difference between transwomen and females does not make someone a Bad Person TM who is filled with hatred.”

      Acknowledging differences between people is not bigoted, fixating on differences and deciding that you get to determine what those differences mean…that is bigoted.

      You gave two categories, “females and transwomen”, which means that you categorically refuse to consider me female.

      Almost every time in my life I was treated as not being female resulted in harassment, violence, denial of educational opportunity, loss of housing or at the very least isolation from my peers and distancing from my mentors.

      If you refuse to consider me female then you are just as bigoted as every other hateful person out there. Just because you don’t feel hatred, doesn’t mean your words, actions or belief system is not harmful to others.

      • No, Emma, I would not consider a male bodied mammal “female.” Why would I do that?

        Lying-about-biology (transsexualism) as a solution to gendered oppression is scientifically inaccurate as well as politically ineffective and unnecessary. It further produces bizarre results. That doesn’t mean I hate you. Please stop projecting those feelings onto my words.

        “Gender non-conformity is not a character flaw or a moral failing that needs to be “treated” or corrected. In fact, just as believing that there is something wrong with a homosexual person is the very definition of homophobia; believing that there is something wrong with a gender non-conforming person’s mind, body, or behavior is the most accurate definition of “transphobia.” Framing the individual as aberrant legitimizes conformity to sex roles as the correct way of being; it normalizes oppressive social conditions that are intolerant of any diversion from heteronormativity.”

        • I am a biologist. I encounter a lot of exceptions to the simple dualistic categories our society holds so dear.

          There are so many different ways humans can turn out: there is no way to pretend that all humans fit neatly into the simplistic categories of male and female. Intersex individuals are the most obvious example. There are so many different genotype and phenotype related causes for being intersex that I won’t even and discuss it here.

          (This is not unique to humans, spend any time trying to “sex” a sample of animals and you will run into this.)

          Now I am not claiming that transsexual individuals are intersex as it is traditionally defined (though many intersex people find themselves within the category of transsexual), but simply destroying the illusion that male and female is a simple distinction.

          Many people who would label themselves transsexual (or be labeled as such) feel that their mind and their personality does not match the way their body is perceived or categorized. When such individuals undergo puberty without medical help it can be a very traumatic experience. Puberty effects the mind and the body: many young people facing a puberty that they don’t want report feeling not just distanced from their body, but feeling estranged from their own emotions.

          The human mind is a recent development. It is exceeding complex and the differences between male and female brain development does not appear to be coded solely on the X or Y chromosome. Triggers lay there, triggers that start cascades of developmental events, but the directions for how to make a brain male or female lie elsewhere.

          XY does not mean male, it simply means the directions were present that most often lead to a person we categorize as male. The same is true the other way.

          Try to make a list of traits that defines all female humans. Make a separate list that all male humans. Without categorizing a whole lot of people as “it” or “other” this is impossible.

          All categories are inherently arbitrary. Yes, all categories. Want a great example? Species. Despite what they may have taught you in school it is a vague and blurry distinction at the best of times. (Look up the overlap between dogs, coyotes and wolves if you want a great read. )

          You prefer to think of me as an “it” or as “male bodied”. You claim this is not based on hate. Those who know me, feel I am female. These are friends, lovers, family, mentors, coworkers. Your world view holds that I am deceiving them or at the very least I am delusional. When I have mentioned this idea to my friends, lovers, family, mentors and coworkers…they are shocked. They know me and tell me I am “their Emma”, someone who was once a girl and now is a woman, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister-in-law, a daughter-in-law, an aunt, a wife and someday soon a mother. They tell me that anyone who says different is being hurtful.

          And not just hurtful towards me, but hurting them. Deliberately hurting people, whether in anger or cold calm calculation is hateful. I am sorry if this saddens you, but even more sorry if you cannot see the cruelty in claiming I am male.

          Variety is what gives all species resilience when faced with changes to their environment. Other forms of gender variance are not excluded or made less legitimate by the existence of people like me. If anything it just confirms what anyone who is paying attention already knows: humans are amazingly diverse and beautiful.

        • Emma,

          Of course there are many more sexes than two, I don’t think Elizabeth is negating that or debating this. I think she is referring to the kind of reductive biologisms you resort to. For instance you go out of your way to say that sex is much more complex than two sexes (you mention your being a biologist as proof of your knowledge). Great. Then you step back into the nonsense that Elizabeth is underscoring when you state: “Those who know me, feel I am female. ” What on earth does that mean? Being female is not a ‘feeling’ and I think this is what many object to here. So that there are more than two sexes is not the problem here. That people say that ‘feel’ a sex is. One cannot feel a sex–these are just biological distinctions. While I agree that there are various sexes out there, to feel a sex is patently offensive to people who are of the sex others claim they ‘feel’. If I ran around saying I ‘feel’ native American and take to dawning some of the more abhorrent cliches of Hollywood in order to ‘prove’ this ‘fact’, I am still undertaking a racist projection (and claim).

          It is problematic if not entirely sexist to lay claim to feeling woman. This is hurtful language that obscured many women’s equality of my grandmothers’ generation. While you might say that your friends (and yourself0 would be offended by Elizabeth’s or my thoughts on this matter as ‘hateful’ only underscores the problem in discussing an issue in which all of us have a stake. Variety is what Elizabeth is talking about–the ability for all of us to live with our bodies and behave any way we feel. While humans are amazingly diverse and beautiful it seems you are unable to accept that what some of us is saying embraces just this very sentiment.

  28. Hi there colleagues, how is all, and what you want to say about this post, in my view its in fact remarkable designed for

    • You may think your words are profound…but it is the same hateful ideology I encountered when I was twelve years old. At that age I babysat for dozens of lesbian parents…and so many of them bought into the same cruel bigotry that you are pretending is totally new.

      I saw the slogans on posters, heard it in the casual comments of women I respected and found the words in the autographed books on my mother’s bookshelf. I was a child and so I accepted the lie. I did not exist: all my dreams, all my friendships, all my feelings were not real.

      I accepted that violence against me was my fault. When I was crippled, it was my fault. I accepted that the panic attacks I had every time I had to deny my feelings were my fault.

      I tried to live for helping others. I volunteered endlessly, protested against war, the destruction of the environment and violence against women.

      At fourteen I spent hours telling my friends that they could dress however they wanted, could kiss whoever they wanted, that all the rules were societies inventions…but I considered myself to be beyond any redemption because I still could not let go of my feelings or my memories. When I read Janice Raymond’s book I agreed with her that “the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.” My plan was to do as much good as I could and then die quietly. I was already crippled from the violence against me and I figured it was no great loss.

      This self hate didn’t just hurt me, it hurt my friends, my family and everyone else who cared for me.

      As a child I believed the lie and so I stayed silent. As an adult I refuse to tolerate the snide confidence that anyone gets to define me and children like me out of existence. You believe you have the noble goal of eliminating the idea of gender…yet your main activity towards this goal seems to be denying the existence of those who are vulnerable and in need of protection.

      You are a hate group. A noble seeming goal does not excuse heartless bigotry.

      • Emma, your story actually made me cry – and it once again confirms everything i have been wondering about how it is to grow up a transsexual woman in feminist environment. i ran into this hategroup when my friend (with benefits, heh :) ) was kicked out of her housing. Know that there are decent people and not all lesbians are members of that cult.

        Even corporations and establishment (mind you i’m thinking manufacturing rather than media which is predatory mentality taken to eleven) tbh are far more advanced in this and i hate to say other issues – and this comes from a woman with anarchist sentiments defining her youth. It’s really ironic that now i stand defending technology and written law – because the inverse is even less optimal in big picture. Sic transit…

    • About the incident in Portland: my understanding is that someone threw a piece of trash (a piece of tin foil, maybe with food in it?) at Derrick Jensen. I agree that is inappropriate and should not have happened. But construing it as something it was apparently not (an attack on a woman) is not helpful.

      The other incident apparently involved someone defacing some of DGR’s books by scribbling on them with a marker, and accidentally marked on a young woman’s arm. Construing that as an attack is ridiculous. Regarding the property damage itself, it is also ridiculous for DGR to whine on and on about this as the organization endorses use of force in its goal to create a ‘pre-civilization’ state for humankind (against the wishes of most humans, one might add). Why property damage is acceptable for one political purpose but not another seems entirely arbitrary.

      Regarding the content of your essay:

      There does not exist any uniform political class of “women.” There is no universal experience of what it means to be a woman. This entire idea of a universal concept of womanhood was dreamt up by patriarchy in the first place, and later incorporated into the ideology of reactionary feminists such as yourself.

      “You say radical feminists don’t want you, as someone who identifies as transgender, to exist. This is a non-truth and a non-argument. Radical feminists don’t want gender to exist. Gender is not equivalent to human life. Gender is what immiserates human life; specifically, the lives of women.”

      You have no right to tell women what it is that “immiserates” them. You have no right to dictate ‘acceptable limits’ of my bodily autonomy or my gender expression. The fact that DGR extensively cites Sheila Jeffreys in their statements on these issues makes clear that neither my life nor my livelihood would be viable in a world controlled by people such as yourself. She states that trans people’s bodily autonomy should be viewed as a “human rights violation.” That is not ambiguous.

      “I strive to never downplay or deny the cruelty faced by any human being. The cruelty you endure and the cruelty that any transgender-identifying person endures is wrong and should be fought tooth and nail. That you experience cruelty, however, does not make you a woman.”

      Actually, you yourself defined “womanhood” as one who experiences gendered cruelty in the first place, as I have experienced.

      To be clear, however, I do not accept your definition of womanhood in the first place. It is patriarchy that views womanhood only through the lens of subservience and victimhood, and I do not accept that perspective.

      “Radical feminists are on the front-lines of the fight for human rights and against injustice. They are striving to abolish one of the world’s most powerful institutions.”

      You focus on the gender identity and gender expression of a tiny subset of the population (trans people) because we disrupt your simplistic, reactionary political analysis. You do nothing to abolish gender, and almost certainly never will.

      BTW- I believe that your comment here was deleted because you falsely referred to me as a “man.” Since I did edit another comment on this article at an earlier point, I just wanted to point out that it was not me who deleted your comment.

      This is a website for queer women. If you, a man, are going to post your hypocritical, self-contradicting views or essays on this site, I suggest that at the very least you learn to respect the rules to which us women have agreed.

      Or feel free to just get the fuck off our site, d00d.

    • Oh, and I think I forgot to mention: believe it or not, I don’t need your arrogance to explain to me how my oppression works. You have no idea what you are talking about.

  29. Thanks for this, this is a good critique of the problematic aspects of DGR’s anti-trans views. I’ll definitely be passing it on to others.

  30. The misguided theory, crazy demands, bad behavior, violence and bullying by many in the transcommunity toward ciswomen begs the question ~ that a marginalized group can actually create their own oppression! Attacking those who could have been your allies is not really a good idea. Trans idiocy will not go unchallenged, and I am sure that the ciswomen and radical feminist backlash will continue. It is an unfortunate state of affairs, but if some of the responses coming from the natural woman community appear to be bigotry, look at what they are having to deal with! People can only take so much when you push them to the wall.

    What ever happened to being humble and having a bit of humility? If one changes nationality, ie. moves to a new country where one is in the ethnic or tribal or cultural minority, an attitude of willingness to learn and self-abrogation always works best. Why should a sex change be any different? Learning to be a woman (if such a thing is possible, which I am not discounting) could perhaps be approached in a spirit of humility instead of domination and aggression.

    • You’re kidding, right? DGR has absolutely tanked since their leadership’s transphobic rants and videos have (more) public. They’ve been dis-invited from an event by the UNITARIAN church for crying out loud, and even some of the indigenous organizations they purported to help have come out in support of the transgender community.

  31. I find this article and many of the comments terribly problematic. I know of DGR and it is really unfair to call them ‘transphobic.’ They have, as do many feminists, an issue with current discourses of gender as somehow ‘selective’ and not as socially imposed. I have to agree with them. There is really nothing transphobic about what they are saying, unless you want to invent new meanings to transphobia. A person above writes: “Why should a sex change be any different? Learning to be a woman (if such a thing is possible, which I am not discounting) could perhaps be approached in a spirit of humility instead of domination and aggression.” I have to agree with some of what she writes. I find there is a lot of name calling by those who disagree with feminists to include posts such as this. It is not fine by me as a queer woman that such tactics are used. It is not a matter of transphobia to react to people who say ‘I feel like a woman’ with suspicion, it is a reaction made from shock of being able to know what feeling like a woman IS. I am a woman and cannot say I feel like a woman. So when I hear such statements I cringe as I would to any guy on a motorcycle who says ‘c’mon over and I’ll make you feel like a woman.’ Sorry but this narrative is problematic at best. That I find the coopting of women’s (or men’s) bodies within transgender discourses is not transphobic in the least. There is a direct theoretical discord between feminist and transgender discourses and that cannot be overstated. That there seems to be a bullying of women on here and their posts removed is also of grave concern to me. It would seem that disagreement is not allowed without this silly namecalling and bullying. I do not support that whatsoever. I view gender as harmful and I do question if one can just simply ‘change’ sex or gender at all. I suspect not. I think what we need to do as part of our collective societies and as part of our project for a collective humanity is to enable our structures to accommodate far more for men and women who wish to live freely, to rid the world of this notion of ‘non-gender conforming’ (what a rubbish term!), and to work more fervently on rights for women and especially men to cross these unfortunate gender boundaries which would have them question the beauty of their bodies rather than the ugliness of our societies.

    • Joanna, since I can’t comment directly to your attack on me (it is too far down the comment chain) I am responding to this comment you made on the same day.

      You claim that I am not a woman and go further to suggest that I harm women by simply living my life. My response to your hateful line of reasoning is to suggest you read my comment on May 31st.

      I understand you do not see yourself as being hurtful, but if you can read about my childhood and still view me as a man who harms women by mocking them and invading their space…well I am sad that you think that, but I will not let your bigotry hurt me.

      You are offended that my friends and family feel I am a woman, well then, let me correct that…they know I am a woman.

    • “That there seems to be a bullying of [cis] women on here and their posts removed is also of grave concern to me.”

      You’re implying that several posts from cis women have been deleted on this article, and you are lying.

      There was a link to a blog post by a cis MAN that was deleted. I myself deleted part of a comment from a trans woman because it used sexist language. I think maybe there was ONE comment from a cis woman deleted somewhere on this thread, but that’s it. There are quite a number of critical comments of my article appearing on this thread. For you to imply they are being deleted left and right is just dishonest.

      And I agree there are some idiots on twitter who think of themselves as trans activists that use abusive language and such. I call it out when I see it and I totally condemn it. But there is a lot of bullying and harassment from radical feminists that you are completely ignoring when you make that statement. Call out that stuff too if you want me to take you seriously.

  32. Creepo racism and transphobia can’t even hold a candle to anti-civ, anti-tech, ludditism and self-imposed austerity all the eco craze stands for. It’s the new Calvinism. Guilt, self-flagellation, hate for everything different…it’s all there. I think it only befits them to hate physically divergent minorities because y’see they are not Chosen and Saved by their precious Nature.

    On the opposite side there is Gnosis of neurodigital interfacing, the coming of Singularity, space colonisation, hedonistic joy in senses both known and yet unknown – and abandonment of biological evolution as the vector for progress in favour of something that works billion times faster.

    choose wisely. which do you want? with the right choice the questions of transphobia and racism would be moot too ;)

  33. I really like this article.
    I use the argument that some people are born between races, just like some people are born between genders. Which… sounds bad, since trans* folk aren’t between genders… but I guess the point is that race is a murky line too.

    • You can be SOCIALIZED between genders, but it’s not like being born between races. The melanin and genetic phenotype of race comes from specific ancestry, while sex is a coin toss in your mother’s womb. Plus, most female-assigned people can and do bear children during their lives, which is the crux of their OPPRESSION by male-assigned people. Racial oppression is simply unfair because “race” does not divide people biologically. Only sex (and ability) can do that.

  34. A male-assigned person self-identifying as a female-assigned person to express themselves is co-opting oppressed-sex-class-people’s reality as an assigned member of the oppressor sex-class. Clearly most transwomen don’t MEAN to de-legitimize female-assigned experience by trying to share womanhood, but that is what they are doing. As a male-assigned/socialized person, I’m not uneasy or prejudiced towards transwomen, but the transactivists AND most “feminists” these days could really use some radial perspective… Unfortunately, it is so easy to react to truth-seekers with affront, absorbing only the most jarring or challenging claim from a critique and isolating that claim from its intelligible context in a storm of offended sensibilities and truisms of equality politics. For those of us who “didn’t even watch the video” … try it! Maybe you will realize that Ivey’s presentation is far more dimensional and far less hateful than just “anti-trans bigotry.”

  35. I have lived the majority of my life in Sn Francisco, ground zero of the GBLT movement. Meeting a large number of transe folk has enabled me to get over my youthful transphobia. I now gully apreciate the work they are doing to break down the binary which opressed me, a cis male who was never into sports, cars. or fighting, as well as cis women and transfolk. I expecialy apreciate the efforts of gender queers who are trying to break down the binary completly. I was also observing the sex wars of the eighties, in which inclusive. sex positive lesbians and feminists struck back at the Dworkanite types. Clearly DGR has yet to catch up with these developments and theire position is deeply reactionary. It is clear to me that transe woman, far from enjoying male privilage, are harrased, beaten, raped and killed at an evan greater rate than cis women. Racael says that “Nobody would choose to be part of an opresed class.” Yet this is not true. All over the worl d and through history, transe women have existed and have come out as much as it was/is safe for them to do so. The only explanation is that they have an inate drive so strong that they ARE willing to give up privilage and endure massive amounts of extra oppresion just so that they can express it.
    By the way, wasn’t DGR created as an environmental organization? What are they doing to save the environment, then? It seems to me that the “Liberal” who picks up a can and throws it in the recycling bin is doing more to protect the earth than all this idiocy ever will.

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