Foreword: So, I’ve been reading the back-and-forth debates between some radfems and some trans women. It’s gotten pretty nasty at times. (The rape threat(s) directed at AROOO comes to mind.) I’m afraid to weigh in on this, partially because of my personal experience with a trans man, but I’m going to try and get out some of the thoughts I’ve had anyway. Much of this is really just restates what FCM and Miska have said, far earlier, more often and clearly than I. All credit should go to them. But I feel like I should still say something, because its not like this viewpoint is common, so it needs to be restated. Several times. From several different people in several different ways. Because there are so, so many holes in the arguments I’ve heard from trans activists. Maybe if they were just wrong or stupid I wouldn’t take as much issue with them, I would probably just lol, but they also erase the very foundations of feminism, women’s studies, and even sociology.
Men have been raised to hate women. To punish us, to batter us, to rape us, to objectify us, to give us their so-called “love” for our bodies. Undoubtedly, this has an effect on every. single. man. There is no exception. If you were bullied as a man-for being nerdy, gay, smart, ugly, fat, “effeminate”–that does not stop people from treating you as a man. None of these things stop you from receiving male privilege. This is feminism and sociology 101 here.
When a biological male transitions to a woman (MTF), their pay will drop. This is a known fact for feminists and trans* alike. Yet, some people still deny they had male privilege all along? When up until they begin transition, they still receive the benefit of higher pay? Why would this not apply to every other privilege men receive? Simple: It does, and gender is indoctrinated from birth, so no matter what you identify as, there will still be bits of that indoctrination left.
It starts young. *Useful anecdote time* My lover was playing a video game that had a fat female character on screen, and his little brother came into the room to bug him. (That’s what he does. I feel bad sayin’ this about the kid, but he’s an asshole.)
Brother: “That’s a guy, right?”
Lover: “A girl.”
Brother: “But girls are supposed to be pretty, she’s FAT.”
His brother is only 8-years-old. Yet, already he hates women. Male privilege has already influenced him and made him feel like GIRLS should be pretty-even though he’s fat himself, even though he got beat up by a girl. (Haha!) He insists on his male “rights” because of how he has been socialized into his gender, which is assigned based on his genitals at birth.
Yet, we’re supposed to believe that a lifetime-probably at least 20 years-of male conditioning had no effect on trans women? That’s fucking crazy. Being afraid of people, who have been trained and conditioned for any portion of their lives to hate and hurt us is more than just sane, it’s completely reasonable. Not wanting to sleep with someone who is a former member of the class raised and cultivated to hate you is not crazy either. These reactions to trans women are far from hysterical, as they are treated by most.
Refusing to acknowledge your FORMER privilege is just as bigoted as not acknowledging that which you have. I acknowledge that your male privilege is lost after transition and passing, but that doesn’t mean all traits and remnants a male personality will be erased. It also does not mean that you didn’t benefit from being born male. In fact, there are several things that trans women will not experience that significantly burden women (such as pregnancy, having to risk stroke to avoid pregnancy because nigel is too fucking stupid to wear a condom, obstetric fistula, etc). But it does mean that while people saw you as a man, you earned more money for the same work, got more prestige, and had a much smaller risk of being raped than a woman would have at that age.
I think that trans women should be a little more understanding of women’s fear of people who were raised to be members of the gender class that has been raping and killing us for thousands of years. If someone was raised as a man but was biologically intersex or female, I would take the same stance that I do with trans women.
This is not essentialist. Saying it is means you don’t understand the argument at all. The fact is that your born sex determines what gender you’re assigned. I don’t believe in binary sexes, and I don’t believe in gender, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore that being born female means you’re raised as a woman. That’s how the system works. I will always act, think, and talk in womanly ways due to conditioning, no matter how much I try to overcome it. It’s not radical feminist’s fault that biological males are raised and treated as men, no matter how much they feel like they’re in the wrong body. But that’s what happens. And that, personally, is why I do not equate trans women with nontrans* women, especially when it comes to separatist spaces. Maybe it’s not fair, but that’s how the social constructions that fuck up our lives are assigned. It’s all about socialization.
*I’m not using “cis” because from what I’ve read, the term comes from “cisgender,” and I think gender is a social construction; so, since trans seems mostly about discomfort with the body, I use the term “transsexual,” since sex it specifically refers to the body. Not to mention the people I’ve seen who say cis women are privileged say we aren’t raped for being biologically female.