Glad you enjoyed the article, Sandra.
A couple points of clarification:
- I would not call gender abolitionists the forefront of the trans rights movement. They certainly exist in the movement — which I why I called them out — but I do not believe them to be the forefront. Too many people in the community disagree with them for them to be the “forefront.” In fact, trans women who “pass” or are read as cisgender are the real forefront of the movement — this, in itself is a problem on multiple levels. It reinforces the idea that appearing cisgender makes you more valid, erases trans men and nonbinary folks etc. I say this as a trans woman who “passes” or is read as cisgender at almost all times — we need more trans men, nonbinary, genderqueer and “visibly trans” folks on the forefront of our movement. They have a huge amount to offer our community and society at large.
- I would agree that people do not have the ability to demand that others see them as their identified gender, true. However, people do have a legal right to use a public restroom and which restroom they use ought to be up to the individual and not mandated on the basis of sex. I believe all sex-based discrimination is wrong. The “we must protect women” argument that is often used against trans women in bathroom debates relies on the idea that trans women are actually men, and that men are inherently predatory — neither of which is true. Besides, gender-segregated bathrooms are themselves an outgrowth of turn of the century misogynistic/sexist beliefs. So, forcing trans folks — regardless of their identity — to use a specific bathroom, hews too closely to the racist “separate but equal” arguments of the past for my comfort. I understand this is a controversial statement, but I myself would much prefer all bathrooms be gender neutral. I give zero shits whether the person next to me identifies as a “man” or a “woman” or what kind of genitalia they have. However, if I am forced to pick between the “men’s” and “women’s” restrooms, I’m going to choose the women’s restroom because in today’s society it is where I feel most at home and safest. Everyone should be afforded that same ability to choose to use the restroom in which they feel most comfortable. We already have laws to target those who would use that right to choose in order to assault or invade the privacy of others. So, trans folks should be allowed to use whatever restroom the “prefer” as you say. Same with cis folks. If a cis guy wants to follow me into the restroom, and pee in a stall next to me, that’s cool. Anyone engaging in illegal activities in bathrooms should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law — not because of their gender or sex, but because they assaulted or violated the privacy of someone else.
- I agree that there is nature, nurture, and individual agency at play in someone identifying in a particular way. However, I also believe that it is dangerous to start invalidating certain sorts of identities based on the idea that they might not be “innate” or “deeply held” for x, y, z reasons. I am not myself nonbinary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, or any other thing that exists outside of or “across” the “gender binary.” However, I do believe that the vast majority of folks who hold these identities hold them earnestly and authentically. They are not manufactured whole-cloth as a response to stereotypical gender roles. Are there times when someone might identify as one of these things temporarily, or on the basis of a stereotype? Sure. But that should not invalidate their identity — either in the moment or in the long term. I am not going to get into the game of telling others how to identify and what ways of identifying are more “authentic” than others. Besides, I know multiple folks who have identified on the non-binary and genderqueer side of things for many years and who have been very stable in their identification. The vast majority of these folks do not engage in gender stereotyping and tend to be quite understanding and accepting of the gender identities of others. A very small handful of this group can tend to generalize their experience to others and in doing so invalidate others, but I make no claim that their identity is invalid. As I said above, I believe the view of binary genders as stereotypes can be an outgrowth of a very naive nonbinary/genderqueer position — because it’s easy to hold stereotypical views of “men” and “women” if you already don’t identify with the categories of “man” or “woman.” But this has more to do with naivety and less to do with the identity of the individuals in question.
I would also add, as an addendum, that while the above article attacks nonbinary and genderqueer gender-abolitionists for stereotyping binary identities, in the real world I have encountered far more binary trans folks who hold stereotypical ideas regarding binary identities. I know trans women who have stopped drinking beer — not because they lost the taste for it, but because they don’t want to be perceived as “masculine.” I have met trans men who have given up hobbies they loved because those hobbies are read as “feminine.” All gender stereotyping and policing of this sort is toxic — no matter who is pushing it.