Hey Miranda, thank you for your very interesting and insightful writing here and on twitter. I started wondering about something: we see very much of vocal groups of trans women demanding access to womens bodies and spaces, yet we hardly ever see this from trans men. We don’t really see them demanding access to men’s bodies or spaces, and there is no threats of violence if their demands are not met (that I have seen at least). Do you perhaps have any insight into why that might be?

I think it’s a good idea to first get a grip on the ratio of transmen to transwomen, as these statistics show by birth sex there appear to be one Gender Recognition Certificate issued to a transman for every 7 transwoman, so it may not be unreasonable to conclude this ratio is echoed across the wider population of transsexuals. Could it be we hear more from transwomen because there are more of them?

Probably not, and here is the reason why.

Every transwoman has a male socialisation, which occurs because of, guess what, our old friend ‘gender’. The ‘gender role’ is a “set of behaviours, attitudes, and personality characteristics expected and encouraged of a person based on his or her sex” (see eg here) and this socialsation conditions children (ibid):

“The toys and games parents select for children are often unconsciously intended to socialize them into the appropriate gender roles. Girls receive dolls in an attempt to socialize them into future roles as mothers. Since women are expected to be more nurturing than men, giving a girl a doll teaches her to care for it and fosters the value of caring for others. When boys receive dolls, they are likely to be action figures designed to bring out the alleged aggressive tendencies in boys.”

Girls are socialised to be carers (for their family), to be submissive (to their husbands), to do what they are told (usually by men). And men are socialised to be in control, to ‘take a wife’ who will ‘have their children’. Adolescent girls are steered towards becoming a housewife or to a job in a caring profession, e.g. nursing, men are steered to being scientists, breadwinners, leaders.

Men are socialised to tell people (especially women) what to do, and to fight for (or even take) what they want, women are socialised to do what they are told and to serve. And this, I believe, is significantly why we hear more from transwomen wanting access to female bodies and spaces: because transwomen are male, they have been conditioned to get what they ask for, and when this doesn’t happen their immediate response is to fight it.

It is because of this we get the cotton ceiling, campaigns to close down facilities for women and other destructive behaviour that continues to position transwomen as being unwelcome violators of women’s space instead of positioning transwomen where they should, in reality be, allied with women. And, as usual, women are supposed to do what they are told.

As a coda, and I think this is a very important point, I would make the observation that as male-bodied individuals, transwomen are stronger and more powerful than women, the threat to a transwoman by females in a female facility is much less than the threat to transmen in a male facility.

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