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Transwomen in the Feminist Community

MrVan
Posts: 82
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2/3/2014 7:31:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
A few weeks ago, I got caught up in a discussion with a few ladies on Facebook who identified themselves as radical feminists. At first, the conversation was extremely civil, and actually pretty informative. We talked about discrimination in the workplace and gender stereotypes in popular-culture; over all, we agreed on a lot of stuff! ...Until the discussion turned to transsexualism, then things turned heated. In the end, the discussion left my feeling physically ill and depressed.

The confrontation got me thinking about the internal problems that the feminist community has had regarding race and class, and it motivated me to read up more about where transsexual women fit into feminism. "HOLY HELL!" was my first response. Seriously, after reading a few articles by Janice Raymond, you'd think Muhammad would have an easier time fitting in with the "Womyn-born-Womyn" crowd. It perplexes and infuriates me that such intolerant people can hide behind an ideology that's supposed to promote gender equality.

I understand that the women I spoke with obviously don't represent the whole of the feminism, and I'm in no way against the broader ideals of feminism. Nevertheless, I'd like to hear what other people have to say about trans-women in the feminist community.
PiedPiper
Posts: 14
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2/6/2014 10:58:59 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I think part of the problem is the state of flux surrounding this issue. I cannot pretend to know much about feminism, but I understand enough to know that, like many social movements, it is somewhat fragmented and contains moderates and polarized extremes.

Combined with this is the problem that transpeople are only recently gaining real constructive attention for their role in society, the stigma facing transpeople, and their role as a member of either (or in the case of gender queer trans people, neither) gender.

Personally I believe that there is ample opportunity among the moderate strains of feminism to include transwomen and their role in society. Any strain of feminism that rejects transwomen or does not adequately advocate for/defend them is counter intuitive with respect to their goals of gender equality, destructive towards issues of tolerance, and ultimately offensive to transwomen specifically and transpeople generally.
rockwater
Posts: 273
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2/7/2014 3:06:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I totally support inclusion of transwomen in the feminist community.

I think "traditional" radical feminists feel threatened (wrongly) when someone who has gone through life experiencing male privilege (for as long as she has presented herself to society as a male) and without experiencing what it is like to have a female body (at least before any hormone therapy or SRS) asks for a place in the feminist community.

I guess you could compare it to a hypothetical case where an African-American child is born who could pass as white based on her skin color and other features. Her parents, both African American, can also pass as white so they pretend to all the people in their community that they are white. The girl grows up knowing, though, that they are black. In college she decides to be publicly black but some of the African-American children on campus feel that she does not belong with them because she has experienced hardly any racism at all in her life and knows nothing, in their opinion, about "what it means to be black." It's a bad analogy but it helps show why the feminists discussed above are being unfair.

Another imperfect analogy is how some gay people don't feel comfortable including bisexuals in the LG(B)T rights movement. They feel that bi people can "choose" to only date the opposite sex and hence escape discrimination. This is also unfair, not only because bi people don't have any more control over whom they fall in love with than gay or straight people.
Noumena
Posts: 6,047
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2/7/2014 3:51:22 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/3/2014 7:31:12 PM, MrVan wrote:
A few weeks ago, I got caught up in a discussion with a few ladies on Facebook who identified themselves as radical feminists. At first, the conversation was extremely civil, and actually pretty informative. We talked about discrimination in the workplace and gender stereotypes in popular-culture; over all, we agreed on a lot of stuff! ...Until the discussion turned to transsexualism, then things turned heated. In the end, the discussion left my feeling physically ill and depressed.

The confrontation got me thinking about the internal problems that the feminist community has had regarding race and class, and it motivated me to read up more about where transsexual women fit into feminism. "HOLY HELL!" was my first response. Seriously, after reading a few articles by Janice Raymond, you'd think Muhammad would have an easier time fitting in with the "Womyn-born-Womyn" crowd. It perplexes and infuriates me that such intolerant people can hide behind an ideology that's supposed to promote gender equality.

I understand that the women I spoke with obviously don't represent the whole of the feminism, and I'm in no way against the broader ideals of feminism. Nevertheless, I'd like to hear what other people have to say about trans-women in the feminist community.

I'm happy to say yer interactions noted above aren't nearly indicative of the radical feminist movement at large. If the people you were talking to were third wave I'd actually find it extremely weird that they wouldn't be trans-inclusive.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
Noumena
Posts: 6,047
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2/7/2014 3:52:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/7/2014 3:06:36 PM, rockwater wrote:
I totally support inclusion of transwomen in the feminist community.

I think "traditional" radical feminists feel threatened (wrongly) when someone who has gone through life experiencing male privilege (for as long as she has presented herself to society as a male) and without experiencing what it is like to have a female body (at least before any hormone therapy or SRS) asks for a place in the feminist community.

I guess you could compare it to a hypothetical case where an African-American child is born who could pass as white based on her skin color and other features. Her parents, both African American, can also pass as white so they pretend to all the people in their community that they are white. The girl grows up knowing, though, that they are black. In college she decides to be publicly black but some of the African-American children on campus feel that she does not belong with them because she has experienced hardly any racism at all in her life and knows nothing, in their opinion, about "what it means to be black." It's a bad analogy but it helps show why the feminists discussed above are being unfair.

Another imperfect analogy is how some gay people don't feel comfortable including bisexuals in the LG(B)T rights movement. They feel that bi people can "choose" to only date the opposite sex and hence escape discrimination. This is also unfair, not only because bi people don't have any more control over whom they fall in love with than gay or straight people.

It's a problem of trying to homogenize what "privilege" or "oppression" mean. Bi and trans problems show that orthodox notions of privilege and the like can't be universalized.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
setabed
Posts: 28
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2/8/2014 3:10:58 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/3/2014 7:31:12 PM, MrVan wrote:
A few weeks ago, I got caught up in a discussion with a few ladies on Facebook who identified themselves as radical feminists. At first, the conversation was extremely civil, and actually pretty informative. We talked about discrimination in the workplace and gender stereotypes in popular-culture; over all, we agreed on a lot of stuff! ...Until the discussion turned to transsexualism, then things turned heated. In the end, the discussion left my feeling physically ill and depressed.

The confrontation got me thinking about the internal problems that the feminist community has had regarding race and class, and it motivated me to read up more about where transsexual women fit into feminism. "HOLY HELL!" was my first response. Seriously, after reading a few articles by Janice Raymond, you'd think Muhammad would have an easier time fitting in with the "Womyn-born-Womyn" crowd. It perplexes and infuriates me that such intolerant people can hide behind an ideology that's supposed to promote gender equality.

I understand that the women I spoke with obviously don't represent the whole of the feminism, and I'm in no way against the broader ideals of feminism. Nevertheless, I'd like to hear what other people have to say about trans-women in the feminist community.

Are feminists a community? Or are they just ordinary people in the general community? I don't feel part of a feminist community, but I'm a feminist, although people have different definitions for what it is.

What did those radical feminists say, exactly? What was their problem? Was it against transsexualism for itself, or was it against transsexuals calling themselves feminists?

Maybe their problem was about boundaries on gender. A feminist would say that a woman could be butch and fix cars and a man could wear pretty clothes and be a nurse - that our preferences and actions are not defined by our gender. Transsexualism implies the opposite - that there are certain behaviors and identities that cannot be contained within one gender and so they have to change. This undermines a basic principle of feminism.

For myself, if the impossible happened and I had to be a man - well, I could just endure it. I would be a man who hates football, likes fashion and is gay, but that's okay. I've never understood why people feel they have to change genders.
MrVan
Posts: 82
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2/8/2014 5:38:41 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/7/2014 3:51:22 PM, Noumena wrote:
At 2/3/2014 7:31:12 PM, MrVan wrote:
A few weeks ago, I got caught up in a discussion with a few ladies on Facebook who identified themselves as radical feminists. At first, the conversation was extremely civil, and actually pretty informative. We talked about discrimination in the workplace and gender stereotypes in popular-culture; over all, we agreed on a lot of stuff! ...Until the discussion turned to transsexualism, then things turned heated. In the end, the discussion left my feeling physically ill and depressed.

The confrontation got me thinking about the internal problems that the feminist community has had regarding race and class, and it motivated me to read up more about where transsexual women fit into feminism. "HOLY HELL!" was my first response. Seriously, after reading a few articles by Janice Raymond, you'd think Muhammad would have an easier time fitting in with the "Womyn-born-Womyn" crowd. It perplexes and infuriates me that such intolerant people can hide behind an ideology that's supposed to promote gender equality.

I understand that the women I spoke with obviously don't represent the whole of the feminism, and I'm in no way against the broader ideals of feminism. Nevertheless, I'd like to hear what other people have to say about trans-women in the feminist community.

I'm happy to say yer interactions noted above aren't nearly indicative of the radical feminist movement at large. If the people you were talking to were third wave I'd actually find it extremely weird that they wouldn't be trans-inclusive.

That's a relief. I knew they didn't represent all feminists, but the fact that they used feminism to justify their opinion just irked me.
MrVan
Posts: 82
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2/8/2014 6:19:26 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Are feminists a community? Or are they just ordinary people in the general community? I don't feel part of a feminist community, but I'm a feminist, although people have different definitions for what it is.


Most ideologies and causes have communities which form around them, there's a certain feeling of fellowship that comes with advocating a cause your passionate about alongside other who share the same views as you. That said, you're right and I agree with you fully, you don't need to be a part of a 'community' in order to advocate something.

What did those radical feminists say, exactly? What was their problem? Was it against transsexualism for itself, or was it against transsexuals calling themselves feminists?


I can't remember everything word-for-word. I remember it started with male privilege, and then the idiotic idea that they (transsexuals) were not capable of having a woman's perspective. They simply would not except the male-to-female transsexuals as female, they simply couldn't. To them, transwomen just can't suffer the same kind of social injustices that 'real' women do. Like I said, it was really frustrating.

Maybe their problem was about boundaries on gender. A feminist would say that a woman could be butch and fix cars and a man could wear pretty clothes and be a nurse - that our preferences and actions are not defined by our gender. Transsexualism implies the opposite - that there are certain behaviors and identities that cannot be contained within one gender and so they have to change. This undermines a basic principle of feminism.


I disagree, the idea that being able to be who you are on the inside and be able to express and show it on the outside doesn't conflict with feminism at all. I'd further argue that transsexuals themselves are not confined to gender binarism; you can have a female become a gay feminine male, a gay masculine male, a straight feminine male, etc., same applies to women trapped in male bodies.

For myself, if the impossible happened and I had to be a man - well, I could just endure it. I would be a man who hates football, likes fashion and is gay, but that's okay. I've never understood why people feel they have to change genders.

In the tenth grade I had a friend sit down with me and explain what's it was like to be a boy trapped in a girl's body. Mentally, he wasn't different than any other of my 'guy friends', but being trapped in a girl's body brings with it a lot of inner-termoil and confusion. I still don't understand it all fully either, and I can't put it into words the way he did. I know one thing though; nobody, and I mean NOBODY, goes through the same kind of discrimination that he did over something trivial.
rockwater
Posts: 273
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2/8/2014 10:03:48 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Most people who call themselves or are called "radical feminists" aren't using the technical use of the term that I will use here, but here goes.

Radical feminism originally meant feminism that said that in order to overthrow patriarchy you have to overthrow the whole economic system. Patriarchy and captialism/imperialism go hand in hand, radical feminists felt. There was a good deal of Marxian thought incorporated into radical feminism, but there was also a critique of traditional leftist politics because of the patriarchy that was preserved in socialist states. Basically radical feminism was a response against mainstream second-wave feminism that tried to make women equal to men in the roles, opportunities, wages, etc., that they could have in a market economy. Radical feminism said that you had to change the whole system in order to achieve true female (and human) liberation.

So a male-to-female transsexual, in traditional radical feminism, is kind of like a bourgeois college student pretending to be a member of the proletariat: a member of the oppressor class trying to march with the ranks of the oppressed class. That way of looking at MTF transsexuals is nonsense, but I was just trying to give it some context. It is possible that the "radical feminists" that you were speaking with did not have the theories I mentioned, but I was just offering another explanation based on historical use of the term.
setabed
Posts: 28
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2/9/2014 5:03:07 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/8/2014 10:03:48 PM, rockwater wrote:
Most people who call themselves or are called "radical feminists" aren't using the technical use of the term that I will use here, but here goes.

Radical feminism originally meant feminism that said that in order to overthrow patriarchy you have to overthrow the whole economic system. Patriarchy and captialism/imperialism go hand in hand, radical feminists felt. There was a good deal of Marxian thought incorporated into radical feminism, but there was also a critique of traditional leftist politics because of the patriarchy that was preserved in socialist states. Basically radical feminism was a response against mainstream second-wave feminism that tried to make women equal to men in the roles, opportunities, wages, etc., that they could have in a market economy. Radical feminism said that you had to change the whole system in order to achieve true female (and human) liberation.

So a male-to-female transsexual, in traditional radical feminism, is kind of like a bourgeois college student pretending to be a member of the proletariat: a member of the oppressor class trying to march with the ranks of the oppressed class. That way of looking at MTF transsexuals is nonsense, but I was just trying to give it some context. It is possible that the "radical feminists" that you were speaking with did not have the theories I mentioned, but I was just offering another explanation based on historical use of the term.

Yes, that seems right. It's as if a blonde Frenchwoman dyed her hair black and tried to claim solidarity with Algerians, or like those Germans with no Jewish ancestry who convert to Judaism because they feel such kinship with Israelis.

^Why is it nonsense to look at it that way? Do you mean it's nonsense to think that transsexuals are part of a patriarchy? Or do you mean that it's nonsense to see a difference between women who are born into it and women who are transsexuals?
setabed
Posts: 28
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2/9/2014 5:38:43 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/8/2014 6:19:26 AM, MrVan wrote:

I can't remember everything word-for-word. I remember it started with male privilege, and then the idiotic idea that they (transsexuals) were not capable of having a woman's perspective.

Well...but wouldn't you think that transsexuals would have a different perspective to women who have been raised as female from birth? To me it seems obvious that they would have. At the very least, gender is a big deal to them, they must have thought it through deliberately and carefully, whereas most women, would just take it for granted, or maybe you could say that we've internalized it.

They simply would not except the male-to-female transsexuals as female, they simply couldn't. To them, transwomen just can't suffer the same kind of social injustices that 'real' women do. Like I said, it was really frustrating.

In the opening post you said that the conversation left you feeling physically ill and depressed. I've come across this idea that feminism is supposed to promote equality before. Actually, that's not my idea of feminism. I think the idea of equality isn't right because of the obvious differences between men and women (women give birth), and that feminism should only be about rights and power for women, although sometimes we may use comparison with men as a useful benchmark. Your post has got me thinking, though:

So who gets to be a woman and who gets to be a man? I've always assumed that it was a nice clean division into two types, but now thinking it over, trying to be totally honest, I think it's more a case of prototypes. Which means that some woman are closer to the woman prototype than others, and some women represent womanhood more closely than others. In my own mind anyway, but I think it's a typical thinking because the evidence from cognitive psychology is that people tend to categorize in relation to prototypes more than they define boundaries.

So a transsexual - once you know they are - wouldn't be close to the male or female prototypes (although, now I'm thinking there are more than one prototype per sex, or a rather broad prototype). In my own mind, therefore, I would think that their perspectives and identity are less central to the feminist purpose than a more prototypical woman, such as a mother of three who works part time as a supermarket cashier.


I disagree, the idea that being able to be who you are on the inside and be able to express and show it on the outside doesn't conflict with feminism at all. I'd further argue that transsexuals themselves are not confined to gender binarism; you can have a female become a gay feminine male, a gay masculine male, a straight feminine male, etc., same applies to women trapped in male bodies.

Okay, I'll accept this because I don't know anything about it. I don't want to make you feel ill and depressed by being insensitive, but I really am ignorant about it and baffled.

For example, normal-looking women get plastic surgery or breast enhancements, and they say that they feel happier and more comfortable with their new bodies. I acknowledge that people have the right to do whatever they want to themselves and express themselves in any way they like, but I don't have much respect for this. Everyone has dissatisfaction with their bodies in some way, I think that's normal. Part of being an adult is coming to terms with your own self and your own limitations.

At the same time, why shouldn't people identify with whatever social groups they like?

In the tenth grade I had a friend sit down with me and explain what's it was like to be a boy trapped in a girl's body. Mentally, he wasn't different than any other of my 'guy friends', but being trapped in a girl's body brings with it a lot of inner-termoil and confusion. I still don't understand it all fully either, and I can't put it into words the way he did. I know one thing though; nobody, and I mean NOBODY, goes through the same kind of discrimination that he did over something trivial.

It does seem trivial. After reading this post, I asked a few people in real life what they think about transsexuals, and it surprised me. They started off innocuously, saying that they don't understand it but that people are entitled to their choices, but then they got a bit indignant, and then angry. Without really being able to articulate what they were angry about (these were men) - just that it's weird and that people should put up with how they're born.

So I think just the idea of transsexualism threatens people, but I'm not sure why exactly.
rockwater
Posts: 273
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2/10/2014 10:20:24 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/9/2014 5:38:43 AM, setabed wrote:
At 2/8/2014 6:19:26 AM, MrVan wrote:

I can't remember everything word-for-word. I remember it started with male privilege, and then the idiotic idea that they (transsexuals) were not capable of having a woman's perspective.

Well...but wouldn't you think that transsexuals would have a different perspective to women who have been raised as female from birth? To me it seems obvious that they would have. At the very least, gender is a big deal to them, they must have thought it through deliberately and carefully, whereas most women, would just take it for granted, or maybe you could say that we've internalized it.

They simply would not except the male-to-female transsexuals as female, they simply couldn't. To them, transwomen just can't suffer the same kind of social injustices that 'real' women do. Like I said, it was really frustrating.

In the opening post you said that the conversation left you feeling physically ill and depressed. I've come across this idea that feminism is supposed to promote equality before. Actually, that's not my idea of feminism. I think the idea of equality isn't right because of the obvious differences between men and women (women give birth), and that feminism should only be about rights and power for women, although sometimes we may use comparison with men as a useful benchmark. Your post has got me thinking, though:

So who gets to be a woman and who gets to be a man? I've always assumed that it was a nice clean division into two types, but now thinking it over, trying to be totally honest, I think it's more a case of prototypes. Which means that some woman are closer to the woman prototype than others, and some women represent womanhood more closely than others. In my own mind anyway, but I think it's a typical thinking because the evidence from cognitive psychology is that people tend to categorize in relation to prototypes more than they define boundaries.

So a transsexual - once you know they are - wouldn't be close to the male or female prototypes (although, now I'm thinking there are more than one prototype per sex, or a rather broad prototype). In my own mind, therefore, I would think that their perspectives and identity are less central to the feminist purpose than a more prototypical woman, such as a mother of three who works part time as a supermarket cashier.


I disagree, the idea that being able to be who you are on the inside and be able to express and show it on the outside doesn't conflict with feminism at all. I'd further argue that transsexuals themselves are not confined to gender binarism; you can have a female become a gay feminine male, a gay masculine male, a straight feminine male, etc., same applies to women trapped in male bodies.

Okay, I'll accept this because I don't know anything about it. I don't want to make you feel ill and depressed by being insensitive, but I really am ignorant about it and baffled.

For example, normal-looking women get plastic surgery or breast enhancements, and they say that they feel happier and more comfortable with their new bodies. I acknowledge that people have the right to do whatever they want to themselves and express themselves in any way they like, but I don't have much respect for this. Everyone has dissatisfaction with their bodies in some way, I think that's normal. Part of being an adult is coming to terms with your own self and your own limitations.

At the same time, why shouldn't people identify with whatever social groups they like?

In the tenth grade I had a friend sit down with me and explain what's it was like to be a boy trapped in a girl's body. Mentally, he wasn't different than any other of my 'guy friends', but being trapped in a girl's body brings with it a lot of inner-termoil and confusion. I still don't understand it all fully either, and I can't put it into words the way he did. I know one thing though; nobody, and I mean NOBODY, goes through the same kind of discrimination that he did over something trivial.

It does seem trivial. After reading this post, I asked a few people in real life what they think about transsexuals, and it surprised me. They started off innocuously, saying that they don't understand it but that people are entitled to their choices, but then they got a bit indignant, and then angry. Without really being able to articulate what they were angry about (these were men) - just that it's weird and that people should put up with how they're born.

So I think just the idea of transsexualism threatens people, but I'm not sure why exactly.

Do female to make transsexuals have a place in the feminist community since many people think they are still women?

Women are a pretty diverse group. Can't the feminists opposed to trans inclusion admit that FTM trans women are women, just with different experiences that might sometimes make them less personal knowledge about sexism?

Also, once an FTM trans woman starts presenting herself to society as female, don't you think that any of the discrimination she faces has anything to do with sexism and not just transphobia?
setabed
Posts: 28
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2/10/2014 5:42:32 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/10/2014 10:20:24 AM, rockwater wrote:
At 2/9/2014 5:38:43 AM, setabed wrote:
At 2/8/2014 6:19:26 AM, MrVan wrote:

I can't remember everything word-for-word. I remember it started with male privilege, and then the idiotic idea that they (transsexuals) were not capable of having a woman's perspective.

Well...but wouldn't you think that transsexuals would have a different perspective to women who have been raised as female from birth? To me it seems obvious that they would have. At the very least, gender is a big deal to them, they must have thought it through deliberately and carefully, whereas most women, would just take it for granted, or maybe you could say that we've internalized it.

They simply would not except the male-to-female transsexuals as female, they simply couldn't. To them, transwomen just can't suffer the same kind of social injustices that 'real' women do. Like I said, it was really frustrating.

In the opening post you said that the conversation left you feeling physically ill and depressed. I've come across this idea that feminism is supposed to promote equality before. Actually, that's not my idea of feminism. I think the idea of equality isn't right because of the obvious differences between men and women (women give birth), and that feminism should only be about rights and power for women, although sometimes we may use comparison with men as a useful benchmark. Your post has got me thinking, though:

So who gets to be a woman and who gets to be a man? I've always assumed that it was a nice clean division into two types, but now thinking it over, trying to be totally honest, I think it's more a case of prototypes. Which means that some woman are closer to the woman prototype than others, and some women represent womanhood more closely than others. In my own mind anyway, but I think it's a typical thinking because the evidence from cognitive psychology is that people tend to categorize in relation to prototypes more than they define boundaries.

So a transsexual - once you know they are - wouldn't be close to the male or female prototypes (although, now I'm thinking there are more than one prototype per sex, or a rather broad prototype). In my own mind, therefore, I would think that their perspectives and identity are less central to the feminist purpose than a more prototypical woman, such as a mother of three who works part time as a supermarket cashier.


I disagree, the idea that being able to be who you are on the inside and be able to express and show it on the outside doesn't conflict with feminism at all. I'd further argue that transsexuals themselves are not confined to gender binarism; you can have a female become a gay feminine male, a gay masculine male, a straight feminine male, etc., same applies to women trapped in male bodies.

Okay, I'll accept this because I don't know anything about it. I don't want to make you feel ill and depressed by being insensitive, but I really am ignorant about it and baffled.

For example, normal-looking women get plastic surgery or breast enhancements, and they say that they feel happier and more comfortable with their new bodies. I acknowledge that people have the right to do whatever they want to themselves and express themselves in any way they like, but I don't have much respect for this. Everyone has dissatisfaction with their bodies in some way, I think that's normal. Part of being an adult is coming to terms with your own self and your own limitations.

At the same time, why shouldn't people identify with whatever social groups they like?

In the tenth grade I had a friend sit down with me and explain what's it was like to be a boy trapped in a girl's body. Mentally, he wasn't different than any other of my 'guy friends', but being trapped in a girl's body brings with it a lot of inner-termoil and confusion. I still don't understand it all fully either, and I can't put it into words the way he did. I know one thing though; nobody, and I mean NOBODY, goes through the same kind of discrimination that he did over something trivial.

It does seem trivial. After reading this post, I asked a few people in real life what they think about transsexuals, and it surprised me. They started off innocuously, saying that they don't understand it but that people are entitled to their choices, but then they got a bit indignant, and then angry. Without really being able to articulate what they were angry about (these were men) - just that it's weird and that people should put up with how they're born.

So I think just the idea of transsexualism threatens people, but I'm not sure why exactly.

Do female to make transsexuals have a place in the feminist community since many people think they are still women?

Women are a pretty diverse group. Can't the feminists opposed to trans inclusion admit that FTM trans women are women, just with different experiences that might sometimes make them less personal knowledge about sexism?

Also, once an FTM trans woman starts presenting herself to society as female, don't you think that any of the discrimination she faces has anything to do with sexism and not just transphobia?

Yes, actually, everything you say makes a lot of sense to me (apart from the typos :P). Especially the idea that a transwoman will experience discrimination because of being female, at work for example.

There are a lot of disagreements within feminism about what it is and who it represents, even who's entitled to call themselves feminist etc. There are different, clashing perspectives and ideas about transwomen will vary with the different theories. I thought your summary of radical feminism was pretty accurate.

About the idea of women being diverse and transwomen included, it makes me come up against the question: what makes me a woman? I like being a woman, but I don't see it as a choice or to do with the way I present myself. I understand that society has certain expectations of women, and this shapes my self image. On the other hand, I also see it as biological: menstruating, having children and breastfeeding. I see it as fate, and part of feminism for me is to engage with the biological fate of being human and female.

To accept transwomen as women entirely means to take a more superficial view of what being a woman is. That it's entirely based on my choice of presentation and how society views me. I don't like this because I think being a woman is more than that. But I can see that in certain types of discussion, such as those about how society creates gender norms, there is no difference between transwomen and other types of women.
rockwater
Posts: 273
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2/11/2014 4:22:09 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/10/2014 5:42:32 PM, setabed wrote:

Yes, actually, everything you say makes a lot of sense to me (apart from the typos :P). Especially the idea that a transwoman will experience discrimination because of being female, at work for example.

There are a lot of disagreements within feminism about what it is and who it represents, even who's entitled to call themselves feminist etc. There are different, clashing perspectives and ideas about transwomen will vary with the different theories. I thought your summary of radical feminism was pretty accurate.

About the idea of women being diverse and transwomen included, it makes me come up against the question: what makes me a woman? I like being a woman, but I don't see it as a choice or to do with the way I present myself. I understand that society has certain expectations of women, and this shapes my self image. On the other hand, I also see it as biological: menstruating, having children and breastfeeding. I see it as fate, and part of feminism for me is to engage with the biological fate of being human and female.

To accept transwomen as women entirely means to take a more superficial view of what being a woman is. That it's entirely based on my choice of presentation and how society views me. I don't like this because I think being a woman is more than that. But I can see that in certain types of discussion, such as those about how society creates gender norms, there is no difference between transwomen and other types of women.

A transwoman cannot choose to stop believing that she is female. For most trans people, gender identity is something innate and not socially conditioned. Most trans people identify as the opposite sex despite all the upbringing they had from their parents and culture that told them otherwise. Most knew they were the opposite sex of their bodies from a very young age but were either too ashamed to tell anyone or, if they told people as a child that they weren't a boy but a girl or vice versa, the listener did not take it seriously.

I do not know to what degree transwomen's brains are female. There were scientific theories at one time about transpeople having brains that developed differently to their bodies because of maternal hormones in the womb that do not work the way they normally do - but that was when I was reading about it over 10 years ago and I do not know what scientists believe today.

What matters is that a transwoman knows she is a woman and nothing can change that. It is very painful for her to live life as a man so "choosing" to start presenting herself to society as a woman is often a matter of necessity only prevented by fear of not being accepted as a woman.

I understand your idea that menstruation, having ovaries and a womb, etc., are parts of being female and that femaleness is therefore something that people can be in degrees. But that does not mean that transwomen are illegitimately calling themselves women.
kbub
Posts: 1,377
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2/19/2014 2:12:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Yeah, their justifications are really ironic, too. They are basically suggesting that there should be warfare against the "enemy." They seem to be looking for one gender/sex (they don't differentiate) to reign supreme. Transgender females are traitors to them, and transgender males are spies. It's really messed up.

I am a strong feminist, of course. For me, the requirements for feminism are simple: You must be in favor of ending inequality associated with gender/sex. I'm not sure if I even accept that they are feminists, really. But that of course is not for me to decide.
bluesteel
Posts: 12,301
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2/19/2014 8:54:23 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/3/2014 7:31:12 PM, MrVan wrote:
A few weeks ago, I got caught up in a discussion with a few ladies on Facebook who identified themselves as radical feminists. At first, the conversation was extremely civil, and actually pretty informative. We talked about discrimination in the workplace and gender stereotypes in popular-culture; over all, we agreed on a lot of stuff! ...Until the discussion turned to transsexualism, then things turned heated. In the end, the discussion left my feeling physically ill and depressed.

The confrontation got me thinking about the internal problems that the feminist community has had regarding race and class, and it motivated me to read up more about where transsexual women fit into feminism. "HOLY HELL!" was my first response. Seriously, after reading a few articles by Janice Raymond, you'd think Muhammad would have an easier time fitting in with the "Womyn-born-Womyn" crowd. It perplexes and infuriates me that such intolerant people can hide behind an ideology that's supposed to promote gender equality.

I understand that the women I spoke with obviously don't represent the whole of the feminism, and I'm in no way against the broader ideals of feminism. Nevertheless, I'd like to hear what other people have to say about trans-women in the feminist community.

The critique I have heard about trans-women claiming to speak about all women is that it would be similar to a white person - who grew up white and had surgery to become black - claiming to speak for the black community. It's hard to speak truth to power when you didn't experience the discrimination first hand.

The response is usually that trans women never really grew up as "men" because they have been derided their whole lives for being effeminate and may have even openly identified as trans from a young age. But women who have experienced sexism would say it's not the same thing, which is why feminists don't inherently identify with the gay community either, even though the discrimination they face in society is similar.

Personally, I think this mentality is stupid. On the sh&t-train of discrimination, women are riding in the luxury car, gay people get the middle, and trans people are forced to ride in the back. They probably have it much worse since their positions are the hardest to understand.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)