Final words on anti-trans rhetoric by so-called feminists
In the late 1990s, I was studying sociology in college and there were only a few books on the subject of transgenderism or transsexuality. Fortunately, I happened to be living within a few blocks of the second largest public library (by circulation) in the U.S. and the largest bookstore in the world.
The first book I’ve found on this subject at the library was Janice Raymond’s Transexual Empire. That book deeply influenced my thinking for the next two decades to come. For the most part, I became a hardcore cultural feminist.
I have always had an uneasy relationship with the trans community. In 1999, I caused a ruckus by publicly calling out the sexism and homophobia of the local transgender organization (which, at the time, was mostly a club for middle-aged white men who enjoyed crossdressing as a hobby). In 2012, I quit a radical queer activist group because of my annoyance over “preferred gender pronouns” and disgust over the group’s defense of violent behaviors exhibited by a certain individual.
For years, I had nothing to do with the local LGBTQ+ scene because I was thoroughly indoctrinated by a strain of feminism that routinely demonized transgender and non-binary people. And this had a very harmful psychological effect on me, from which I am still recovering.
My views have shifted over the past 18 months. I think I underwent a personal evolution as it relates to my own gendered experience, as well. As someone who occupies a non-heteronormative space in society and on the autistic spectrum, my experience as a queer femme person differs significantly from the construct of “womanhood” and “womanliness” defined by the patriarchal and cisheterosexist worldview. My life does not depend on the schematic of gender binary as a frame of reference; I exist entirely outside of it — the conventional cultural ideas of what is “masculine” or “feminine” (or, a notion that there is a linear “spectrum” between these two poles) had become mostly irrelevant, as they are rooted in sexist and essentialist stereotypes. Twenty years after my exposure to Janice Raymond, now Rhea Ashley Hoskin is my intellectual inspiration.
Since the 2016 presidential elections campaign, it seems like the anti-trans movement has grown exponentially. The conservatives, who have lost their war on the marriage front, are eager to exploit trans issues as a new source of fundraising efforts and fodder for regaining their lost ground. They have found unusual allies: self-styled “feminists” who purport to be “leftists,” some of them even lesbians, and they are literally eating up every word these liberal feminists say about transgender and non-binary folks — because these far-right extremists can now project an illusion that their extremist ideology is moderate, bipartisan, and is widely supported by those outside their fundamentalist Christian-Dominionist circle.
My wake-up moment was when I found out that these “radical feminists” are working closely with the extremist right, such as Alliance Defending Freedom, Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family. The irony is not lost on me. These are well-funded ultraconservative organizations whose agenda are to undermine the decades of women’s progress and a half-century of gay liberation. They want to criminalize abortion and reinstitute sodomy laws. They want to reestablish the “traditional marriage” in which a husband wields absolute power over his wife and children. They are the archenemies of every feminist, yet these so-called feminists are in this bizarre united front with the far-right in their misguided struggle against trans human rights.
History tells us that united fronts are gimmicks. The Maoists and the Leninists used a united front to spread revolution and consolidate power. They claimed that they wanted to establish a democratic coalition united for a common cause; once the revolution was complete, however, the inferior members of the united front were summarily purged and sent off to concentration camps or to firing squads. Once these far-right elements, with willing help from the useful idiots, accomplish the goal of driving all trans and non-binary people out of society, the lesbians and feminists will be their next targets. They will not show mercy to these women (or, wombyn?) when they turn America into the Republic of Gilead, their dream Kingdom-of-God-on-Earth. Yet, these so-called feminists are falling for the right-wing trap because of their hatred and fear of trans people. Their fear is literally paralyzing their capacity for reason.
They are foaming at the mouth as they scream “erasure of women” ostensibly by femme-of-center trans people. They claim that “men” will steal the scholarships and public benefits intended for women, that women’s colleges, schools, and athletic teams will be “replaced” by “men who identify as women.” Compare this with white nationalists who think immigrants are “stealing American jobs and welfare” and the Tiki torch marchers shouting, “Jews will not replace us!”
Some women are irate because some trans women commit crimes, and therefore, “skew the crime statistics” because the criminals are legally categorized as females under the law. To translate, these women are angry that some “men in dresses and wigs” are destroying a sexist myth that women are safe and harmless people (not really). Once these criminals are caught, the “feminists” are once again angry that the criminals might end up in women’s prison (in the U.S., this rarely happens anyway). In Great Britain, they are campaigning hard to keep trans prisoners out of women’s prisons — instead of campaigning against overcriminalization of survival crimes and largely victimless crimes (such as drug use), or for prison abolition. They do not critique the practice of allowing male prison guards to work in women’s prisons and interact with female inmates (in the U.S., most sexual assaults against female inmates are by the guards and other correctional employees). Neither do they critique the fact that security classifications in women’s prisons are not as extensive as in the male counterparts (due to the fact that there are far fewer correctional facilities for females and they are often near or over capacity), thus violent offenders are placed in general population.
Historically, the ultimate endgame of radical feminism is the abolition of gender and society in which every person is androgynous (that is, “fully human”). True radical feminism, therefore, ought to be celebrating the non-binary persons who are literally embodying and manifesting the radical feminist ideal of humanity. But no, they decry the blurring of the male-female distinctions (something that is more in common with fundamentalist Christian or Islamic preachers than with feminists). They mock young non-binary individuals for being “transtrenders,” as if it’s some kind of fashion fad. They attack non-binary AFAB people for “women erasure” and demonize FTM trans men for being “traitors to the sisterhood.”
The absurdity and hypocrisy know no ends.
On various online forums for “gender critical” feminists, the degree of hatred toward trans people, especially toward AMAB ones, is remarkably reminiscent of the racist and Islamophobic tirades found on 4chan and 8chan (the kind of digital garbage that feeds the mind of white supremacist terrorists, like the ones in Christchurch). If a trans woman looks impeccably “passable,” she is mocked for being “ladyface,” “deceptive,” and “mockery of womanhood,” and somebody would say something like “sure, men should be able to wear anything they want but they shouldn’t deceive women by looking like a woman”; but if a trans woman is “unpassable,” she is mocked for being “an ugly transvestic fetishist,” “a creepy man who doesn’t even try to pass,” and so on. In short, it is set up so that nothing trans and non-binary people do will satisfy the demands of these so-called feminists. This leads me to conclude that they will be only satisfied when trans people all cease to exist. Now, this is the kind of rhetoric that is closely connected to genocide.
Hate speech that is sugar-coated in scientific, academic, or religious language is still hate speech. It was only a century ago that racists used eugenicists and anthropologists to back up their hate with scientific publications and researches.
Hate speech that is disguised as sincere-sounding concern trolling is still hate speech.
I am not going to encourage them by engaging in “debates.” In fact, nobody should be “debating” the legitimacy of any marginalized population. We don’t let Neo-Nazis and Klansmen hold a “public debate” on whether African-American people should have equal rights. No feminists would believe that an all-male panel should be deciding on laws and issues that affect women (in fact, they are outraged that Saudi Arabia is doing exactly that).
I am not going to waste my time in writing rebuttals to every single talking point, but remember this:
Each and every time you see an argument against trans people — like how they are dangerous to children, they should not be allowed in certain places, and so on — replace the word “trans” with the word “gays.” Now you know that all these arguments are recycled word-by-word from the anti-gay talking points circa 1970s-early 2000s. They didn’t want gays teaching children, they didn’t want gays in restrooms and locker rooms. Back then, it was that scary “homosexual agenda” — now it’s that scary “transgender agenda”…and they are recruiting our children!!!
Funny how history repeats itself and very little actually changes under the sun.
The ultraconservatives, however, see “trans agenda” as only but a part of what they call the “unholy trinity” against “traditional Judeo-Christian values”: the other two being “feminist agenda” and “homosexual agenda.”
Therefore, lesbian feminists who sell their souls to the likes of Heritage and ADF are ultimately hurting their own interests. The right-wing extremists aren’t giving these women forum and publicity for free; they are only exploiting these women (along with a few detransitioned former trans people) because it serves the political and financial interests of these organizations. Once the ultraconservatives are done with the so-called feminists, their hate will be once again redirected toward lesbians and feminists. To not foresee this is sheer stupidity.
I will no longer be complicit in this charade.