Transgender Ideology Does Not Support Women

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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).

46 Replies to “Transgender Ideology Does Not Support Women”

  1. Hi Miranda,
    I discovered you from a feminist podcast and googled you. It is indeed a pleasure to hear your brutally honest but necessary perspective. I am a supporter of all gender orientations I am aware of, and do my best to not discriminate. However I have had questions about neurosexism (especially in the wake of Caitlyn) but of course, such inquiries are not welcome on social media as everyone is ready to haul stones at you. But here, you have articulated your responses, even to future questions, so well.
    Your perspective that trans people have their lane (which is not a bad thing) is quite brilliant, actually. I’ve felt like feminists like myself love to propagate this notion that the feminist space is every minority gender’s space. While it is well-meaning, you have reinforced with your arguments that it is not sustainable. I can agree with that.
    If there’s anything I have learned from black activism, it is that all can share their safe space but it is important to make a clear demarcation to protect specific interest sometimes.

    I have to share this article! Thanks!

  2. Excellent post & thank you for it! It is incredibly frustrating that lately, one can’t even attempt civil & compassionate conversation about anything that remotely involves trans without being shouted down & denounced as a “transphobic bigot”.

  3. I read this wonderful post saying “Yes. Yes. YES!”

    I’m a feminist and I’ve been grappling with so much of this for years. The no-platforming of Germaine Greer appalled me and the increasingly bitter fight between feminists and some transactivists has disturbed me. I’ve understood the notion of ‘brain sex’ was a disaster for women since I was about 12 and I have no intention of accepting it now.

    Thank you for writing which is lucid, intelligent and cogent. And for being bloody funny on Twitter.

  4. Miranda, was directed here from a feminist thread discussing these issues on Mumsnet. Thank you for being a voice of reason in this murky debate. Please shout louder.

  5. Thankyou for your reasoned arguments. I have been trying to grapple of this of late but am too afraid to say what I think to anyone I know for fear of being labelled transphobic. I am not anti-trans people in anyway but I do think the problems you have raised are legitimate – particularly the thing about women’s experiences being erased. Thanks again.

  6. Found your blog via the Green Party Women’s group kerfuffle about ‘non-men’. As a life-long feminist (60+), it pains me to see young women who should be fighting the good feminist fight get so bogged down in other people’s stances. The world is going to hell in a handbasket environmentally, politically, and socially. There are wars and people are dying. If some people want a safe space to gender-identify with Pokemon characters (I can reference this, if anyone asks), they are free to do it. But let’s save the planet first…

  7. Great article -thanks! I think many of us have been struggling with this. I know that I and many other women I know supported trans rights and then over time realised that the people we had spoken up for had become the oppressors. I lost the plot when ‘Caitlyn’ won Woman of the Year – just so totally insulting to have such a reductionist view of womanhood. The world feels crazy right now and you are a voice of reason.

  8. Miranda, thanks for this thoughtful list. I’m part of a facebook group trying to figure out how to generate a Truce in the Turf War between trans activists and radical feminists. I’m posting a link to this page for consideration in the group. And of course you’re more than welcome there! (Community for Turf War Reconciliation.) Among other things, we’re also challenging the white-centeredness and racism of dominant trans activism and theory. Along those lines, I’m wondering why a class privileged, uber-blond white woman is presented as the graphic representative for “Women” under the title of the piece? I ask because the vast majority of women aren’t white or class privileged. Thoughts on that?

  9. Excellent piece. I have transgendered friends whom I respect. Yet when the conversation veers over to “transgendered are women” too I am uncomfortable. They are two totally different species that intersect in the way that they are socialized. To say that that the transgendered are women is to deny what it is to be a woman. Monopolizing this narrative is counterproductive and harmful to women in a global way. Women should always have their own safe spaces to express themselves just as much as anyone else regardless of your identity.

  10. Thank you for this. I am part of the online social justice community, but have made a fake Facebook profile and email in order to be able to express any sort of “gender critical” opinions without being shunned. I support all trans people and will fight for their right to live their lives safely and with the dignity due all human beings. But I will not do the mental gymnastics required to insist that trans “women” are women. Adult female humans are women. And we need to be allowed female only spaces. We need to be allowed to speak about reality. Gender stereotypes do not make someone a woman.

  11. Thank you. As a woman I find the conversation about transgender so difficult to navigate. It is so infuriating when someone who has benefited from male privilege can claim they should be considered women because they say so. Of course they believe they should be considered women as soon as they say so, they were socialized as men and there is nothing in the world that is off limits to men, especially women. Women cannot escape oppression by men. We are expected to accept everything men tell us we deserve and that includes saying that they are less privileged than women because the say so. How can I be considered trans phobic, and in essence the oppressor, when a biological man is telling me that they “feel like a woman”. If someone could explain that without using sexist stereotypes perhaps I could understand. In the mean time I quietly feel further oppressed and kicked out of my own group. We need more allies like you who can speak on the subject. As a woman I feel as if the moment I try to have an intelligent conversation about the POSSIBLE negative effect this may have on women I am immediately shut down as a hateful terf who too stupid to understand gender.

  12. I have just discovered your blog, and you are a wonderful woman, Miranda! What you are saying about how feminism and trans-women can co exist is exactly what so many cis-women have been wanting.
    While I accept that trans women are women, in the sense that trans people are ‘born in the wrong body’ and am very sympathetic to the pain they all feel. Many trans women fail to realise they were socialised as male, and have a lot of entitlement issues because of this. That is the only problem I have with it all. But you have articulated everything perfectly here. Thank you!

  13. Bravo Miranda!

    Every word you have written should be applauded Miranda. Your clear mindedness is astonishingly refreshing.

    No doubt my former husband, once an intelligent and blokey bloke who loved four wheel driving and camping in the middle of nowhere (who wouldn’t do that now in case she “HE” broke one of his long red finger nails) will be infuriated I have even read your article let alone responded favourably to it.

    My ex who likes to think he is a trans activist has blamed me for the fact he is transitioning to become a woman. Well l suppose it has to be someone’s fault and why not blame a woman. After all, that is what men do.

    I can attest that autogynephilia does exist as it was me who lived the nightmare of watching and listening to him pretend to be a female when he was a “part timer”, as he prefers to call cross dressers. The immense love he had for himself when dressed as a female was sickening and also the reason I left our marriage with our two dogs, as I didn’t need a medical degree to know how delusional and aggressive he would become.

    I dread to think how much hate mail you will receive from the less than 0.3% of the trans population, but thank you for speaking the truth.

    1. I, as a straight woman, don’t try to call myself lesbian, but all lesbians are women and feminism is about women, that is a fact. If I say “lesbian”, i’m pointing out women who love other women, it’s not appropriation in any kind, this should be clear.

      1. I’m glad that you’re respectful, Karen, but some women claim to be lesbians and fool around with with other women solely for the purpose of arousing men. These women aren’t actually lesbians. Many of them aren’t even bisexual. This behavior is not only in mainstream society, but it’s deeply embedded in pornography to the point where it’s often expected that lesbians are “just waiting for the right man to come along.” At the very least, it can result in men disrespecting lesbians by flirting with them even when well aware of their sexuality, at the most, it can involve the expectation that lesbians will reciprocate their advances and harassment when they don’t. I’ve known of lesbians who were sexually harassed continuously by men and it seemed to be largely centered on this mistaken presumption that their sexuality was for the benefit of men, rather than being something separate from them. Someone I know lived in NYC and couldn’t walk down the street with her girlfriend without repeatedly being told by men (of all ages and sometimes in several different languages) that the couple should make out in front of them, for their benefit. A man her father’s age even stopped her and her partner on the street to make a creepy, voyeuristic comment about how wonderful it was for him to see them together. So, this this problem is far-reaching. It starts with women pretending for the benefit of their boyfriends and ends up with these men not taking lesbians seriously, bothering them, or hurting them as a result. Of course, each person is responsible for their own actions, but from the stories I’ve heard, it would be better if this practice just stopped — from every angle and for every reason.

  14. Just wanted to say thank you for articulating my feelings around trans issues. It is a very complicated subject to deal with and you explain it succinctly; it is good to read this article at a time when you will be immediately shouted down for trans-phobia for any perceived transgression.

  15. Thank you for a good, clear article. You explain these issues very well, from an insider perspective backed up by evidence.

  16. Miranda, Great piece of course, you are a leader on this. If and when all the nonsense is behind us, we need to really think how we can help ppl with dysphoria, ppl who don’t conform to gender stereotypes and how we can make new, progressive laws in which interests are not conflicting. We have a future to build.

  17. Dear Miranda,

    Thank you for writing and publishing such an excellent essay. I have printed this as a .pdf and wish to ask the students in my Intro to Women and Gender Studies class to read it this week as part of our examination of “transgender.” You grapple with issues most avoid and do so eloquently and in a scholarly manner, and I am sure many call you a transphobe for your arguments. As a transwoman holding a doctorate who teaches women, gender and sexuality studies, an ardent feminist, the spouse of a feminist female attorney and a past advocate and activist for trans rights I have become quite disillusioned with the transgender trend/phenomenon over the past many years for all the reasons you identify. Please continue your much needed work!
    Best, Jeanine

  18. Thank you so much for this article, Miranda. As a straight woman who has always called myself a feminist, and has been an ally to the LGBT community (without really knowing much about the ‘T’ part) but has only just become aware of this schism in the feminist world, I’ve been struggling a little with this issue – am I actually now a bad person because I don’t 100% agree with what queer theory says about gender? Am I being an oppressor?

    No, I’m actually a woman who aligns with the theories of 2nd wave feminism – that gender is external, and oppressive – i.e. patriarchy – and that women and men both suffer because of this.

    I support the right of anyone to present however they want, and be free from discrimination based on gender expression… but that doesn’t change the fact that all over the world, and throughout history, women have been oppressed because we are, biologically, women. And that women can’t identify our way out of that oppression. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could?

    Thank you for outlining the whole issue so clearly, I will be keeping this to refer to in future, and share with anyone who asks me questions about this (well, the ones who won’t just immediately label me a terf, anyways).

  19. Hi Miranda see you have been barred frim Twitter – I missed whatever it was that happened as I got so sick of the aggro & bile I deleted my account. Of course after a couple of months , I got fed up missing knowing who was arguing with who & Twitter gossip that I started again. I was trying to find all the okd tweeters I followed & you weee gone! Anyway just wanted to say hi & hooe all is good with you & that you haven’t been getting too much hassle from the loonies. Fondest regards x
    Ps excuse typos- can’t see keyboard on phone properly

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