For those of you who have read my first two blogs, you will know that I am very much against the infighting between the trans community and elements of the feminist community, of course, the categories of “trans” and “feminist” are not mutually exclusive. This, of course, does not stop transphobic extremists from trying to argue away our very existence in the name of feminism, the long term impact of these transphobic diatribes is not only the proliferation of transphobia, but continued harm to feminism itself. As I have often stated, we cannot have trans liberation without women’s liberation; for the marginalisation of both trans people and of women is a product of the patriarchy. Feminists who spread hate against trans people, rather than protecting the women’s movement, are doing the patriarchy’s work through denying the validity of trans identities. Through variously presenting trans people as “infiltrators in women’s spaces” (used to refer to trans women) or as “traitors selling out to the patriarchy” (used to refer to trans men); or through the less paranoid position of trans people simply being “deluded”; these people are, whilst simultaneously calling themselves “feminists” are churning out repetitions of patriarchal notions of trans identities.
Take for example the idea of trans women being “infiltrators” or “deceivers”: where have we seen this before? This is an idea frequently displayed in media representations of trans women whose appearance aligns with society’s standard of beauty. The plot frequently goes as follows: a straight, cis man meets a beautiful woman (usually tall with carefully arranged make-up) and finds himself attracted to her, only to later find out that she is “really a man” before going through a perceived crisis in sexuality. How then, is it feminist to uncritically regurgitate misogynist views on trans women?
The idea that trans men are somehow turn-coats who sell out to the patriarchy in order to obtain male power is another way in which trans people are depicted as having ulterior (and sinister) motives behind transitioning, and another means by which to deny that a trans person’s gender identity holds no validity. Added into this is the assumption that trans men do not care about sexism, and will happily comply with it whenever they are read as male simply for the purpose of obtaining privileges, finally, it is a denial of cis privilege through proposing that it is somehow the “easy way out”. Not withstanding of course, the inherent contradiction between this, and arguing that trans women retain male privilege post transition.
So let’s be clear here: trans people aren’t gender ninjas trying to infiltrate feminism and assassinate it, nor are we cowards hiding from sexism behind a beard.
< Essential misogyny deflecting eye wear.
The last misconception I want to touch on is the notion of “delusion”. For those who still insist on being transphobic, but don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theories, this is used as a get-out clause; “trans people aren’t evil, they’re just deluded!” At this point it turns into a game of “good cop, bad cop” or, “nice transphobe, nasty transphobe” (there’s no such thing as a nice transphobe), coupled with this stance comes the acknowledgement that, yes, trans people discriminated against in society, and yes, that isn’t good. Well, I guess that’s some progress, but all that is taken back with the word “but”, wherein we are told that we’re not “really” trans, we just have false consciousness, or we’re “deluded”. Trans people are therefore given a paternalistic pat on the head and are told, “its ok dear, you’re not really a man/woman/genderqueer etc. you’re just a victim of the patriarchy”. To my mind this isn’t much different from telling an L/G/B person that they’re not really a lesbian, gay, or bi, they’re just allowing themselves to be tempted by society. The result of this stance is for people calling themselves radical feminists to converge with conservative psychiatrists who advocate “curing” trans people using talking therapies. People who advocate “curing” homosexuality are rightly condemned by feminists, so why not those who want to cure people of being trans?