Transgender ideology is in a state. Its central ideas are inconsistent with each other, have little support in science or the ethics of power analysis and are so divorced from reality they require a complete suspension of disbelief in order to sit in one’s head without suffering cognitive dissonance.
Although I am drawing a distinction between those of us who are transsexual and those who identify as transgender, all these points apply to both groups.
Here are some of the things the things that transgender ideology needs to do so that it may support the lives of women:
- Accept that feminism and other women’s movements do not and should not centre transgender people. At the moment, trans is dominating the discussions, even causing huge ideological rifts, within feminism, yet here in the UK today’s news (22 June) reports hospital statistics showing 632 new cases of Female Genital Mutilation in the West Midlands (apparently girls “are brought to Birmingham to be cut”) from September 2014 to March 2015.
- Accept that innate gender identity is based on ideas with such a tenuous link to observed science it is barely a conjecture. The transgender claim to womanhood (or manhood) is completely dependent on this concept of an innate gender identity, and taking this away strips the movement of its cloak of being a civil rights movement, championing the fight of an oppressed minority, and instead reveals this to be the cross-dressing wolf of men’s rights activism, huffing and puffing at feminism and women.
- To accept that sex and gender are not the same thing. Sex is a biological reality based on reproductive potential, and gender is a social system that harms women through stereotyping behaviour, by giving women the negative stereotypes and men those that are positive; gender itself is oppression, not a civil liberty. All transwomen by definition are biologically male, socialised as boys then usually ‘transition’ as adults, although in the present climate it appears to be coming acceptable for children to ‘transition’, which should be examined critically rather than accepted unconditionally. That our underlying biological reality remains fundamentally unchanged is not a value judgement, it is a morally neutral statement of fact, neither good nor bad, it just is and being a woman is not a feeling or an opt-in.
- To respect feminism, and this includes the ‘second wave’ without which today’s women’s rights, support structures and organisations would not exist. To accept that feminism is for and about women and girls, not transwomen. It is wrong to insist feminism centre transwomen, this forces the oppressed majority to centre the interests of part of the male oppressor class; women neither oppress nor have privilege by way of gender over trans people.
- To drop claims to womanhood based on the discredited and scientifically unsupported idea of ‘brain sex’. This is called ‘neurosexism’ and it is this sexist idea that has been used to stereotype and oppress women for millennia. It is our bodies that make human beings sexually dimorphic and ‘brain sex’ has no place in any modern civil rights movement.
- To cease insisting that language specific to describing over 50% of the population be erased to indulge the fragile egos of the 0.3% of the population that is trans. This means respecting women’s right to be able to describe their own bodies and experiences and also getting rid of the inherently redundant and coercively imposed ‘cis’; we already have a word for ‘women’ and that is ‘women’. Penises are the male sex organ, vaginas are female; this is how human reproduction works.
- To recognise that trans lives are different to the lives of women and that women are entitled to their own spaces, which should always be respected; it is not acceptable to attack women’s institutions that exist to support vulnerable women in the name of transactivism.
- To have honest discussions about autogynephilia. This is a real thing. Presently the existence of it is denied even though many trans people admit this is a motivation for their transition and pornography forms a central part of transgender culture. You cannot fight honestly for transgender rights while denying that autogynephilia exists.
- To accept and explicitly recognise that lesbians are women who are attracted to women, not transwomen, and that the ‘cotton ceiling’ is sexual coercion through shaming lesbians. No lesbian is bigoted, transphobic or hateful for having boundaries that exclude transwoman. This should be respected and those who do not respect this boundary should be admonished by their peers, especially those who make their living from exploitative activities like pornography. They should also accept that the word ‘lesbian’ belongs to women.
- Accept that men and women are socialised in fundamentally different ways, and that there is such a thing as ‘male socialisation’ and ‘female socialisation.’ Accept that it is unacceptable to abuse or make death threats to women or other transwomen on the internet. Single out the problem of male violence and stop blaming women for your difficulties, and this extends to using the acronym ‘TERF’ which is used so much and so indiscriminately its essence and meaning is a term of hate.
- It is fine to have disagreements with others, this is what discourse and debate are all about and we can do this without it becoming a matter of life or death. It is not acceptable to shut down any debate that you cannot control.
- Accept that ‘trans women’ fails in making ‘trans women’ a subset of women because reality gets in the way. Saying ‘transwomen are women’ is an erasure of the actual lived lives of both women and transwomen and at best makes transwomen appear broken. Do transwomen really feel like that? What anyway is the ‘trans’ for if that statement is true? Similarly ideas of being ‘coercively assigned male/female at birth’ immediately makes us start from a point of inferiority or defectiveness. This is not self acceptance, this is a crass denial of reality.
Most importantly, those who are transgender should learn to accept themselves how and as they are without shame and understand that the people they owe the most to, and can learn the most from, are women.
(This post appeared originally as part of the Gender Apostates coalition project).