Tonight I want to talk you about the “cistem”, about the role of some “feminists” in the cistem. And for that I need to explain a lot of other things first. Like who is trans*? And who counts as trans*?
I will give you a bit of basics on trans* and trans* people, because usually not even most trans* people directly know everything. Maybe a bit of a comedown, but we are not all experts. Some people just want to live their life.
Trans people are those who change their legal gender because that other option fits better.
Trans people dress up, cross dress. Sometimes seriously, sometimes less seriously. Some identify as cross dressers, some don’t. And some don’t dress up at all.
Trans people are those who choose medical assistance to get their body (better) aligned with their identity. But many don’t do that, for various reasons, including lack of access to (affordable and good quality) trans health care.
Gender identity is the deeply felt personal conviction of being of some gender, and that is not by definition male or female.
Gender theory is evil, gender studies less so.
Gender diversity is global and of probably all times.
Some trans people are bitchy and others are stupid or dumb.
Just like with cis people. But definitely more beautiful
More than 40% of trans* people have pondered suicide.
Since 2009 more than 1,700 trans* people have been murdered. In Europe Turkey and Italy are the worst. The Netherlands had two killings last year.
Some of our worst enemies call themselves feminists
We write trans* with an * to include all diversity within trans*
We have to be careful with terminology. Careful with male and female, because these are not neutral terms. They contain many assumptions. And when you are not aware of that, you easily end up with the wrong feminists.
It seems we are all born with gender identity, probably in a rudimentary form. Actually I don’t think that is so important. We are human beings and thus endowed with rights. Also if we would not have any gender identity. Probably I am only preaching to the choir when I say that gender or gender identity is a social construction. The debates around this just change on how that works, hardly on the fact. Except that Judith Butler made clear how much sex and gender are a Siamese twin. There is no gender without sex, and sex without gender is incomprehensible.
Already in the 1970s feminism started to dismantle the patriarchal idea of a direct coupling of body and role. The famous statement that biology is not destiny. In the 1990s this was taken radically further and now again. The important contribution, that trans* has for feminism is showing ever more clearly that having a certain body is not a prerequisite for certain identities and expressions. I think that trans* nowadays makes very clear, how much patriarchy and moral conservatism hate autonomous people self determining the identity that lives in their body.
What cis and trans* feminists of any gender have in common is an elevated interest in dismantling patriarchy, or kyriarchy if you want. Only some – mostly white middle class cis women – forgot to read on since the 1970s. They still stick with the idea sex is immutable and gender is only roles.
And actually you may not be free from that either. Hopefully just because you don’t know better for never having messed with it. Maybe the easiest way is to just say what I and many other trans people expect, above all in feminist circles.
- An easy one: we have pronouns, like you. If you don’t know for sure, ask us how we want to referred to as. Don’t assume either he/she not ze/they/xie. Better ask, than fuck up. Because of endless misgendering we are a bit sensitive about it.
- We take the bathroom we want to take. Because it is the one indicating where people of our gender should go. Or just because it is the first toilet door on the left. Who cares.
- Just like everyone we have a right not to be harassed wherever we go, including the right or wrong bathroom. What’s a wrong bathroom anyway. Maybe one that is defunct.
- If I identify as a woman – however my body and especially my genitals may look – I have the right to shower with the other women. Naked. Also if I still have my native “male” genitals.
- Nobody has the right to harass someone. For whatever reason. So support your trans sisters if they would have trouble because they don’t look not cis enough. Not being used to things, is not a reason to protest or to question someone’s identity.
- Same applies in reverse: trans men are men and actually everyone is the gender they say they are. Same with me, whatever body parts you see or I have, they don’t define me.
- Just that you have a womb (if you have one) doesn’t make you more a woman than someone who does not.
The biggest and I think simplest link between trans* and feminism is that trans* people are being confronted time and time again with social sexism and ingrained misunderstandings about bodies and roles and identities. Where even science starts to agree with us, not only the social sciences. There are more than two sexes, some five or nine. And there are a zillion of gender identities and expressions. Feminism states already from the beginning that biology is not destiny. Except for some people of course when you were born with a penis. Then biology is destiny. All of a sudden. And then the genitals and the gonads and chromosomes suddenly make the woman, doing away with all complexity of bodies and genders. In that sense I consider them quite silly.
And of course trans* feminism is multi-coloured and anti-racist – as all serious feminism should be. We don’t want to repeat the arrogance of 1980s mainstream white feminism that kept out women of colour and anarcha-feminists. Something improbable anyway these days: current feminism strikes me as becoming (finally) rather inclusive of colour. Still feminism still is a complicated question, also in the students’ movement. Issues as colour, ableism and class need to be addressed everywhere all the time (Vrankrijk being not accessible to dis_abled people and non-smokers is also a feminist issue).
Some history or herstory on TERFs, the Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. And some names. Actually the TERF story can be done away with by logic and opening up. Because it is logic fallacies and myths.
As so many things, it started more or less in the USA. In the 1970s. With a certain Janice Raymond. She wrote a book advocating for her vice, titled “The Transexual Empire : the making of the she-male”. Under the guise of scientific freedom and the freedom of press, the book itself is just semi-scientific rubbish as there has been before and has been afterwards, like Michael J. Bailey’s “The man who would be queen”. However, Raymond did not just write a book, she actively campaigned at then president Ronald Reagan for the closure of all gender clinics in academic hospitals and non-financing of trans friendly therapists, by which she actively and willingly endangered the lives of many trans people. Also her ideas directly or indirectly instigated a troupe of lesbian “avengers” on the trail of trans sound engineer Sandy Stone who worked at Olivia records, a radical lesbian record label. Stone was out and had the full support of the crew, but had to got into hiding because of the lesbian killers on her trail. If you don’t take my word for this, check the interview that Transadvocate had with Stone.
Fast forward to now: “theoretical” TERFness seems to be an Anglo-Saxon game. The biggest trans* haters live in the UK and in the US, and all are cis white middle-aged lesbians. Janice Raymond doesn’t do trans* anymore, she only does sex work-hate now. But the Big TERF is Cathy Bug Brennan, a lawyer at the Maryland bar. She is one of a bunch of active doxxers. “Doxxing” is revealing the name and whereabouts of trans women who often don’t use their daily names online. By doing this Brennan and friend Gallusmag endanger the lives of many trans women – and enjoy it. By the way, since October 28, 2014 we know who GallusMag or GenderTrender is, we have a picture of her. Her name is Linda V. Shanko.
In the UK we have Julie Bindel, Sheila Jeffreys and some others, also Germaine Greer who tried to get rid of a trans woman astronomer at Cambridge university. I know of no famous Dutch transhating feminists, but there certainly are a couple of them.
The nicest things they do or say about us is misgendering us, but they also engage in doxxing and talking us out of existence. Calling us male lesbians, men’s rights activists … they are in favour of so-called “bathroom bills” that exclude and forbid trans girls and trans women to use the women’s bathroom. Forbids them to pee actually, because you don’t go into the men’s room. They are a bunch of fanatic hating racist cis women (not all lesbians) that corner trans* women and endanger their existence because we need to stop living.
“Dutch trans negative feminism is mostly cis women who are scared for trans women flagging their penises in their face, when in the bathroom or in the shower. That is what we do, it is our greatest pastime: waving our mighty tranny dicks into a cis woman’s face. Right. Complete and utter bullshit.
An important misappropriated issue trans women are facing is the so-called “cotton ceiling”. So-called radical feminists blabber they are forced to have sex with trans women, because these are women and of course all women want to sleep with all other women. Analogous to the glass ceiling this describes the virtual isolation and lockout of trans* women where it concerns sexuality and relationships. It’s about the intersection of desirability and with transphobia and transmisogyny. The cis-academics among you all love us for research. But you never love us. Trans people are in almost all environments radically not loved.
And when, then it hardly goes beyond the underwear. Of course I must not bear the sins of a single researcher on all the others. #notallresearchers, #notallwomen, you know. And #yesalltrans people. My own experience appears to find collective recognition. So nowadays I only hang out with some of them, who happen to be my friends and quit trying to fuck my way into academia 😉
I would actually say: try us out. Not as in taking a trial subscription, but open up to us, explicitly. Be revolutionary and love a trans/inter person! Confront the unknown. We have to do it every time when we engage with a cis person. I do not want your acceptance, I want your transformation and don’t take “later” for an answer. You can help, you should help. The recruiting office is open after the discussion.
This is the text of a talk I gave on the occasion of March 8, 2015, International (Working) Women’s Day, in Casco, Utrecht.