marjaerwin: (Default)
So first off, there seems to be some controversy over western binary gender models and various other societies’ multiple gender models.

Are societies which accept three or more genders more trans-inclusive than societies which only accept two genders? Since people have more than two genders, society needs to have more than two genders, but at the same time, I think society needs to acknowledge that being trans, or being lesbian, or both, doesn’t necessarily make someone less female. A system which third-genders all trans people and all non-cishet people isn’t exactly inclusive, is it?

Cultural relativism comes out of the realities of nineteenth and twentieth century anthropology, it’s a western cultural construct, but at the same time it’s a bulwark against western cultural imperialism. One can’t ought not just condemn kinship systems, or gender systems, or property systems because they differ from western kinship systems, and western gender systems, and western property systems. (One can if one is the British Empire, of course, and wishes to create western property systems by dispossessing the peasants and granting the land to the aristocracy, or course, and wishes to impose western gender systems by criminalizing the hijras and seizing their temples.) One ought to understand these in their social context. One ought to listen to criticisms from within each culture.

So while being third-gendered doesn’t suit me, and suggestions of being both female and male or mixed female and male feel wrong for me, I can’t speak for everyone else. It’s up to trans people from each culture to say whether they find their gender systems empowering or disempowering, and at the same time what’s empowering for one may be disempowering for another.

In western society, if we can’t pass for binary and cis, we face violence. It’s complicated. It’s not something that privileges every binary person over every non-binary person, is it?

Is it appropriate to say someone is cis when they don’t identify as cis? for example, tepfs who think cis sounds too much like cyst? at what point does it become inappropriate?

Is it appropriate to say someone benefits from cis privilege when they are trans? for example ‘passing privilege’ usually centers around passing for cis, but some people can’t do that before transition, just as some people can’t do that after.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Bess Hungerford has recently published an essay arguing the brain sex does not exist, citing Anne Lawrence, Cordelia Fine, and Rebecca Jordan-Young:

http://sexnotgender.com/what-is-sex/brain-sex-does-not-exist/

I am not a neuroscientist, but I've tried to follow the research.

Anne Lawrence argues that the studies of sexual dimorphism in the brain and particularly of sexual dimorphism in transsexual people's brains, are flawed.

And they are flawed, and need follow-up; there tend to be small sample sizes, and there can be badly-chosen control groups, making it hard to separate sex identity from sexual orientation. It is clear that there are sexually-dimorphic areas of the limbic system, such as the BSTc in the hypothalamus. So far most studies have shown that trans people tend to have the same characteristics as our identified sex, rather than our assigned sex. A few data points from some studies indicate that trans people who have not had hormone replacement therapy already have the same characteristics as their identified sex, and cis people who had hormone problems, or prostate cancer treatment, also had the same characteristics as their identified-and-assigned sex.

Anne Lawrence argues that, in the absence of stronger evidence for the neurological theories, we should favor the psychosexual theories Ray Blanchard et al have pushed.

Now from personal experience, I know that the Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence two-type theory is false, but I can't prove it. The Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence two-type theory fails to account for trans womyn, like me, who don't fit into either type. It fails to account for the seemingly high proportion of trans people who are intersex and of intersex people who are trans. It is also lesbophobic.

I haven't had the opportunity to read Fine's or Jourdan-Young's books yet, but both are on my to-read list.

As far as I know, Cordelia Fine and Rebecca Jourdan-Young are responding to the misuse of brain sex explanations to justify sexist attitudes, practices, and policies, and the misuse of brain sex differences to explain behavioral differences when sexist attitudes, practices, and policies can also create/enforce behavioral differences. For example, a womon is punished for being more masculine, and also punished for being more feminine, and a man is encouraged to be more masculine and mainly punished for being more feminine, and these enforcement patterns shape femininity and masculinity.

All three sources are negative sources. Lawrence is addressing brain sex and transsexualism, expressing doubt, and expressing her preference for the Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence theory. Fine and Jourdan-Young are addressing brain sex and neurosexism, and it's possible to prefer brain sex theories for transsexualism while opposing neurosexism and avoiding brain sex differences for anything else.

Zoe Brain tends to keep up with the trans-related brain research on her blog:

http://aebrain.blogspot.com/search/label/Brains
marjaerwin: (Default)
http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2009/08/andrea-dworkin-on-transgender.html

Since comments aren't working there, I'll post here:

I agree that Andrea Dworkin seems to have been a supportive ally, at least at this stage, but she doesn't seem to have understood trans experience, and she doesn't seem to have realized she didn't understand. We don't often get to speak for ourselves, and we can have trouble when allies [and queer theorists] speak for us without understanding our experiences or our needs. I call it 'allyjacking.' [Edit: I don't want to suggest that Dworkin was allyjacking, but just that it is something to be careful about.]

I think there's also a deeper issue involving different people's different needs in terms of feminist theory. For Dworkin, the important thing is to show the artificiality of the social distinction between sexes and say sex shouldn't matter, as class shouldn't matter, and should be abolished. But for many other people it's just as important to reclaim the life-renewing potential of our lived sexed experiences/sex identities: to say "I am a womon, and this is also a womon's experiences," or "I am a man, and this is also a man's experiences," or "I am a unique sexqueer person, and this is my experience," and so on. A lot of people, and most trans people, reach a point where we have to say that; transition makes more sense in this context than in the narrowly androgynous context. Unfortunately some people choose to say "I am a womon, and you are not a womon," from Jan Raymond on, and we get infighting instead of a more inclusive feminist movement which, to begin with, finally squares the circle of androgyny and originality.
marjaerwin: (Default)
from here: http://peakradfem.tumblr.com/post/30394411709/questions-for-radical-feminists-on-radical-feminism

TRIGGER WARNING: topics include sexual assault and sexual coercion, as well as institutions which enable sexual assault and sexual coercion.

1 - Which of the following would you say is the root cause of women’s oppression (that is, the most powerful and overwhelming cause from which all others are derived):

a. Gender relations
b. Class conflict
c. Legal systems


d. Hierarchy.

Shulamith Firestone argues that reproductive-sexual oppression came first, and other sex and gender oppressions, economic oppressions, and racial oppressions are rooted in the reproductive-sexual oppressions. I'm not convinced. At present the various oppressions are mutually supporting and mutually vulnerable. Racism encourages hostility towards lesbians, either by demanding that lesbians breed or by demanding that we be culled. Capitalism encourages hostility towards people with disabilities. But resistance to racism has encouraged resistance to male supremacism, resistance to hetero and cissupremacism, etc.

2 - Is society a patriarchy in which men are the primary oppressors of women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


c. Sometimes.

3 - Are there simultaneous ways in which people are oppressed that are not linked to Patriarchy?

a. Yes
b. No


a. Yes.

3a — If yes, which of the following ways are used?

a. race
b. social class
c. perceived attractiveness
d. sexual orientation
e. gender identity


f. All of the above and others besides.

4 - Do all men benefit from the oppression of all women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


e. Never.

A system of oppression, a cage of multiple axes of oppression, only ever benefits a few at the expense of the rest. Patriarchal polygynous sects, for example, lead to the rape of daughters and the casting-out of extra sons.

5 - Does the middle class nuclear family oppress women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


c. Sometimes.

6 - Does Marxism oppress women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


c. Sometimes.

A bit awkward here. Marxism has a built-in tendency to put off struggles against sexual oppression, racial oppression, sexual-orientation oppression, etc. to focus on struggles against economic oppression. Purist forms of radical feminism have the same problem, just with different priorities. Marxism also has a woefully incomplete theory of the state. It's the sort of concentration of power that tends to reinforce class divisions, or recreate them, rather than abolish them. It needs to be at least restrained and divided, and I think abolished.

7 - Does Capitalism oppress women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


a. Always.

It clearly oppresses almost all womyn. And, I think, by preventing the development of better economic forms, and better social structures, and by oppressing almost everyone, I think it hurts those at the top of the hierarchy, just not as much as it hurts everyone else. In despotism, not even the despot is free.

8. - Was the sexual revolution a victory of Men over Women?

a. Yes
b. No


b. No.

I think the initial stages definitely favored men more than womyn, and arguably at the expense of womyn. But the emergence of radical feminism and especially lesbian feminism has changed that. And the reaction against the sexual revolution has hurt womyn.

9. - Is men’s oppression of women ongoing and deliberate, with both individuals and systems responsible?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


b. Often.

10. - Is submissiveness on the part of women collaboration with their own oppression?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


d. Rarely.

11 - Is it possible to unite all women as a class to confront the oppression of the Patriarchy by confronting men as individuals?

a. Yes
b. No


b. No.

I'm not sure how this would work. It's not always obvious who is a man, who is a womon, who is being hurt by the system in what ways, and they are resisting it and could resist it, without actually knowing them as individuals.

12 - Is it individuals or systems which bear primary responsibility for oppression?

a. Systems
b. Individuals
c. Both - more system than individual
d. Both - more individual that system
e. Both - equally system and individual


c. Both - more system than individual.

13 - Should individuals be held accountable for the actions of systems?

a. Yes
b. No


c. It depends on the kind of accountability.

14 - Does marriage contribute to the oppression of women?

a. Yes
b. No


c. Not necessarily, but some forms of it do.

15 - Does family contribute to the oppression of women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


f. Not necessarily, but the classical familia does.

16 - Does prostitution contribute to the oppression of women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


c. Sometimes.

As long as the whole social structure is based on hierarchy and exploitation, that will include sexual exploitation.

17 - Does heterosexuality contribute to the oppression of women?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


b. Often.

[Not inherently, but because of heteronormativity and the division of the world into fuckers and fuckees.]

18 - Is separatism a valid strategy to free women from oppression?

a. Always
b. Often
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never


b. Often.

19 - Does oppression affect women primarily through material benefits or through ego satisfaction?

a. Material Benefits
b. Ego Satisfaction


a, Material Benefits.

20 - Why do women submit to the oppression they face?

a. Out of necessity
b. Out of fear/cowardice
c. Social conditioning
d. None of the above


a. Out of necessity.

The more we are oppressed, along one axis, the harder it is to resist that oppression. "For what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?" The more we work together, the more we can do to help others. And sometimes we can do more about the kinds of oppression that don't directly affect us, as long as we listen to those they do affect. "When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall flow, there can be no power greater anyway beneath the sun."

21 - Is radical feminism “pro-sex”, “sex-negative”, both, or neither?

a. Pro-sex
b. Sex-negative
c. Both
d. Neither


c. Both.

I think there's a need to be sex positive and sex critical, to oppose both the involuntary sexualization and desexualization of our bodies, and to try to find better models for romance and relationships.

Some observations:

On Question one, the answers divide persons into Radical, Marxist, and Liberal realms depending on their answer. This is the key difference between the various versions that arose in the 1960’s an led to the current division between Radical (a), Marxist (b) and Liberal (c) feminism.

Question three is a clarifying question much like question one. Either answer is found within the divisions in radical feminism, and any or all of the various options in question 3a are found within radical feminism.

Question 8 is another clarifying question, as a core prinicple of radical feminism is that the sexual revolution was not a victory for women, but instead a fruther entrenching of the forces of patriarchy via the relations between the genders.

Question 21 is another clarifying question. Both the sex positive and sex negative modes of current feminism are derived from radical feminist ideas and theories, and both are at their core radical concepts with a difference of strategy being used.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I'm thinking of writing a quick guide to trans feminism. I haven't finished yet, but here is my working draft of the Basic Principles section. Some of the language may be an issue for people not familiar with feminist theory, and I'm not really sure what to do about that. I hate glossaries. I really hate starting with glossaries.

Basic Principles

Feminism is a movement against sex-based and gender-based oppression. In practice these are often inseperable from economic, racial, and other types of oppression. Intersectionality is one way of understanding how different types of oppression reinforce one another, and different movements against oppression can aid one another, changing society to empower people.

Trans feminism is part of feminism. Trans feminism applies feminist theory to trans experiences, and expands feminist theory in light of trans experiences.

Feminism often tries to give voice to womyn's experiences. In a culture which most values rich white cisgender heterosexual cissexual men, it's important to give voice to everyone else's experiences. It is important to note that, although there are many experiences which most womyn share, there are no experiences which every single womon shares. In other words, there are no universal female experiences. There are many experiences which both faab womyn and maab womyn share, and there are no experiences, beyond the initial birth assignment, which every single maab womon shares, or which every single faab womon shares.

That said, the fact that I can't become pregnant, that many other womyn can't become pregnant, and that some men can become pregnant does not mean reproductive rights issues aren't feminist issues. They are feminist issues because the violations of reproductive rights are sex-based and gender-based oppression, and also because the violations are targeted at womyn.

Victim-blaming is wrong. Blaming people for what other people do to them is wrong. Blaming people for what they do to survive amid 'primary emergency' is wrong. Victim-blaming often silences people's experiences, and the more we speak of trauma, or victimization, or the more our experiences differ from rich white cisgender heterosexual cissexual men's experiences, the more victim-blaming silences our voices or victim-blamers encourage violence against us for raising our voices.

Harm reduction ought to be an important part of feminism. Harm reduction can help people while we continue intersectional struggles to try to change the cultural, economic, and other systems which harm people. Since many of us have survived physical and often sexual brutality, and almost all of us have suffered sexual assault, harassment, or other attacks, it is important to create healing resources so we can get back on our feet.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Yesterday, I read an article on violence against lesbian womyn. The violence is all too common. The threat of gender-based violence is everywhere in America. I suspect it is still worse against children.

In a post-hierarchical utopia, gender might be a nice thing to play with. But in the present day, gender is a threat to those who do not or cannot conform. It might be possible for some men to conform to all the gender rules. It is impossible for womyn because of all the double binds. But some can come closer to conformity, while others can't, and the less we conform, the more we risk violence over it. And if you're too butch for a womon, too femme for a man, or you don't have the money, or you don't have the approved body type, you can't conform and can't avoid the threat of violence.

Growing up, I had already survived a lot of gender-based physical violence in school, and gender-based harassment, and catcalls. I am lucky I did not face gender-based sexual violence at the time. I was afraid enough that I changed the way I walked in order to hide my hips to minimize the danger. In some ways I face less danger now, post-transition, than pre-transition, and much less than in childhood.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I have been trying to defend radical feminism, and its continuing relevance, especially to other trans womyn. I still consider myself a radical feminist. I can point to radical feminists who supported trans rights [early Andrea Dworkin], who support sex workers' rights [Avaren Ipsen], who don't adhere to a single-axis theory of men as the only oppressors and womyn as the only victims [Shulamith Firestone, although she identified as a socialist feminist, proposes what amounts to a one-and-a-half axis theory, where the other oppressions are secondary to sex-class oppression, but men are also victims; intersectionality theorists propose multiple-axis theories]. I can point out how many ideas within third-wave and fourth-wave feminism are either derived from second-wave radical feminism, or are reactions to second-wave radical feminism, or are reinventing the wheel from second-wave radical feminism.

One thing I like about the radical feminist milieu is that it tends to question so many things that other places take for granted. And in its way, trans feminists asking "why are you only attracted to [skinny] [white] non-trans womyn's bodies?" is in the same tradition as "why are you only attracted to dominant partners?" As long as it's raising the question that sort of thing is good, though when it gets to demanding conformity, it gets very bad.

But I feel increasingly alienated from other radical feminists, and not just from the anti-trans attitudes. I look at a lot of what they write, and sometimes I'm triggered, and sometimes I'm just thinking they're not being radical enough. I've found that my values, my goals, and my methods often put me at odds with other radical feminists, so it's important to say what my values are, what my goals are, and what my methods are. I am an anarchafeminist, and that says a lot about these things, while radical feminist says very little. [I hope to cover more of the specifics in upcoming posts.]

I should note that I do not believe that sex-and-gender based oppressions, such as hatred of Müllerian biology, hatred of femininity, hatred of androgyny, and hatred of atypical biology, are the only important oppressions. I believe that they are important, that they cannot be treated as the consequences of some other oppressions, and that they must not be allowed to persist until we have dealt with other 'more important' oppressions.

I keep looking at the same data with the same concerns [I've been sexually assaulted, too many of my friends have been sexually assaulted, and I'm not going to go into everything here] and mostly agree on the problems but still mostly disagree on the solutions. Structural/institutional analysis is supposed to be pretty important to any kind of radical feminism. It may be my anarchist background but I tend to approach this by asking who we are trying to empower, and who or what [usually institutions] we need to disarm [or keep from disempowering the group in question]. When it comes to gatekeepers' abuse of transitioners, to me, the obvious answer is to empower transitioners, and people considering transition, and detransitioners, and disempower gatekeepers. But the ortho-Radfem answer is to require "tighter screening" and "restricting the number of hospitals and centers where transsexual surgery could be performed," which would seem to empower gatekeepers.
marjaerwin: (Default)
One thing about surviving trauma is that you can get a little wiser about the world. Another thing about surviving trauma is that you can get broken.

That feeling of constant vulnerability? That sense that you need to get away from the danger and find safety, and that knowledge that you can't get away from the danger and there is no safety and there is no truly safe space? It's true. It's true and most people flinch away because they know they can't function if they know this truth. But some of us don't get to flinch away. And we can't function any more. Not unless we change the world and change its truths. Not unless we change the world so there is safe space.
marjaerwin: (Default)
http://radicalhub.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/re-membering/

The essay is fascinating in its own right, but it also explains why transphobia and/or femmephobia might tempt cultural feminists. To Mary Daly, the central patriarchal myth had the male hero defeat the primal female goddess, dis-membering the female and replacing it with the sterile submissive feminine. In effect, you could say the patriarchy unsexes and ef-feminates the primal female. And in so doing makes her feminine.

I haven't examined this from every angle, but it seems as though they suppose that femininity, birth control, and all forms of transsexualism turn people into the castrated dis-membered female. I think it makes more sense to regard transsexualism as an attempt to embody the discovered self - creating one's own originality - whether re-membering or re-inventing. And some cultural feminists called out the attack on femininity for reinforcing androgyny.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I don't know what happened here. I don't know how the individual involved identifies, but I do know that the media mis-identifies many trans womyn as cross-dressing men. And there is a serious frakking power imbalance here:

http://weirdnews.aol.com/2011/05/13/detroit-cop-cross-dressing-prostitute_n_861644.html

Most of the comments, of course, make fun of the situation, and ignore the fact that (1) this society gives police officers a great deal of power over civilians (2) it gives cis people power over trans people and (3) it gives certain people a great deal of power over sex workers. For all I know, the officer involved may have *perceived* the relationship as consensual, and the sex worker involved may have *feared* extortion at the same time; it is easier to see power from below than from above.

On the same topic, I'm going to link to one of Darian Worden's essays:

http://c4ss.org/content/6816

*I am using cis in the narrower sense, to refer to people who agree with their assigned sex-identity and conform to its assigned sex-roles.

**I can't really say how much horizontal oppression is involved in the oppression of sex workers; in this case, horizontal oppression doesn't appear to be involved.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Sex stereotyping?

Sex-role stereotyping?

An institution of oppression which can affect every aspect of one's life?

***

It frustrates me that so many trans feminists build trans theory on top of "gender," gender identity, transgender, gender transition, etc. without adequately defining gender, and without addressing how other radical feminists have defined gender.

Of course, trans-ness is complicated; it is socially defined by the kinds of prejudice we face. The various forms of transsexualism, including non-binary transsexualism, are probably biological; it would make sense to refer to sex identity, etc. instead of "gender identity." The rest are probably more complicated. I think it makes sense to refer to gender when referring to the prejudices, and some social aspects, but not to reduce everything to "gender."
marjaerwin: (Default)
Conventional femininity injures, mutilates, and sometimes kills.

Jill, at I Blame the Patriarchy ( http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2011/01/26/death-by-femininity-again/ ) considers who is to blame for the death of Carolin Berger, a German porn actress.

It is only too easy for defenders of the status quo to blame those who die of plastic surgery. All too many people believe the world is just. Devout believers in the American Dream believe that work will make them rich and free; that the rich have earned their wealth and the poor have squandered their opportunities. Drawing from the same world-view, they tend to believe whoever has been tortured must be guilty, whoever has been raped must have led their attackers on, and whoever has fallen ill must have neglected their health. Of course they will also believe that whoever has been injured or killed in surgery must have neglected the risks.

It is only too easy for cultural critics to blame the plastic surgery and porn industries. There is plenty of guilt among them. Surgery has its dangers. When some surgeons push extra procedures, or dismiss the risks, they betray their patients. When some practitioners use silicone injections, they mutilate, and often murder their patients. Rape culture depends on certain myths. When some porn producers imply that love doesn't matter, when they imply that consent doesn't matter, they encourage rape. When they normativize one body type and exoticize another, they encourage body-image problems, and racist and transphobic stereotypes. And the critics can do as much harm as good. When cultural critics turn aside, to mock trans people as Germaine Greer or Suzanne Moore have done, they create scapegoats while invisibilizing deeper problems.

I blame the plutocracy.

The ruling class has taken more and more wealth for itself. The other classes are faced with increasing precarity, the destruction of unions and communities, the growth of the prison-industrial complex, and the criminalization of poverty. The ruling class has taken more and more spending-power for itself, while destroying more and more of the bargaining power of the other classes. The ruling class is creating a harem economy. It is creating an economy where the best option for many lower-class individuals is to become concubines for higher-class ones. It is one of the few forms of class mobility left.

Individual tastes will vary, but the institution reinforces certain styles: ones which imply that the concubine is high-status, and still lower-status than their partner. Conspicuous consumption, expensive, and time-consuming styles can express high status; the combination of submissive-signifiers and dominant-signifiers can express unequal status between the concubine and their partner.

Foot-binding was an extreme example of both tendencies. It crippled its victims. It made it far harder for Chinese womyn to work, and the lost labor-power was conspicuously consumed. It made it far harder for Chinese womyn to assert independence, and enforced submission. Expensive surgeries, crippling footwear, fragile clothing and time-consuming cosmetics are not as extreme as foot binding, but they are status-signifiers and often submission-signifiers.

Under these circumstances, the status-signifiers, if not the submission-signifiers, of concubinage set beauty standards in other aspects of society. The plastic surgery industry cannot introduce new beauty standards. The porn industry can introduce its own beauty standards, but it will most often adopt the wider culture's beauty standards, and enforce them on its actresses and actors.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Some of these ideas are controversial, but they should be food for thought:

1. Consent is a relationship between equals.

2. Consent cannot exist between ruler and ruled; the people cannot consent to the state or be bound by any obligation to it, and there are similar limits for more limited subordination.

3. Consent requires more than mere legal equality.

4. Consent in matters of the self is distinct from consent in matters of one's possessions.

5. One can never consent to what one cannot perform. One cannot consent to withdraw the right to withdraw consent. One cannot consent to give up one's conscience. One cannot consent to harm another.

6. One can consent in advance; one can withdraw consent at any time; in the most personal matters, one can withdraw consent at any time, and no one can demand any penalty; in non-personal matters, one can withdraw consent after reaching an agreement, but the other parties may be able to ask for compensation. In no case can they demand specific performance.

7. If one withdraws consent, others must immediately stop any act which would require one's consent.

The biggest question, in my opinion, is how equal must relationships be to be equal enough for consent. All I can say at this point is that as relationships are less equal, the obligations of the more powerful people should be tightened, and those of the less powerful should be loosened or voided altogether.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Since the 1970s, the term "born womyn" has been used to exclude trans womyn, or to include other womyn and sometimes certain men, on the grounds of biology, socialization and originality. However, if we consider this more closely, I think it is clear that the term should include trans womyn on all three grounds.

1. Biology. There are biological differences between most trans womyn and most cis or otherwise non-trans womyn. However, they are not universal differences.

Some have described menstruation and fertility as important differences between cis and trans womyn. However, many cis womyn have never menstruated, and some trans womyn have had müllerian tissue and/or unexplained bleeding.

Others have noted certain differences in the limbic system of womyn and men. Trans womyn seem to have structures similar to cis womyn, such as the size of the BSTc, and different from cis men.

In my opinion, brain differences seem more important than reproductive differences. There are some problems with the brain-structure studies. The sample sizes are small, and its unclear how the few known differences may relate to gender identity/subconscious sex. There is some controversy about whether these studies have adequately ruled out any effects due to hormone replacement therapy. There is also evidence from the David Reimer case as well as the accounts of many trans womyn that subconscious sex can emerge extremely early and can resist socialization. I am skeptical of the alternative hypothesis that gender socialization shapes subconscious sex in the first months of life, and that subconscious sex is locked in after that.

2. Socialization. Both groups receive most of the same messages from our society, and both groups generally interpret these as messages about themselves. Of course, most cis or otherwise non-trans womyn are raised as girls, and most trans womyn are raised as boys.

There are certain obvious exceptions. The distinction between cis and trans socialization collapses for those who transitioned in childhood. It weakens for people whose parents and friends respected gender-atypical interests. Although most tomboys grew up with parents who pressured them to act in more conventionally feminine ways, a few grew up with parents who respected them and treated their daughter the same as they would have treated their son. One can reasonably say that those womyn had boyhoods. The distinction widens during puberty, as people's bodies differentiate. The vast majority of trans womyn who cannot transition before/during puberty go into severe depression during puberty. If you end up excluding someone because they survived hell, you should rethink your standards for inclusion.

The next issue is more subtle. This whole society treats being a girl/womon as a shameful condition and wanting to be a girl/womon as a shameful desire. I think that these are parallel but not identical. I think that these messages converge if and when someone learns to take pride in herself as a womon and/or chooses to transition, because these experiences unite the desire with the condition. If anything, it means overcoming an additional layer of misogyny to get from being a womon to proudly being one.

3. Originality. This is probably the hardest to define. I would say it is a matter of self-determination and the assertion of a womonhood in relation to womyn, and not in relation to men, which is an ongoing expression of one womon's authenticity and the whole community's integrity, and which does not depend on men, does not depend on the medical establishment, and does not rely on anyone but womyn to define who is a womon and what it is to be a womon.

And we can't have originality as communities unless we have it as individuals too. Self-discovery and re-discovery are part of originality. Many smaller transitions are part of originality: girl to womon, nonsexual to lesbian, and so on. As communities, I don't think we can define people out [of their gender] and still respect originality; I do think we can try to discern who is genuinely discovering themselves, who is trying to and can use some advice, and who is not.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I have mixed feelings about this work.

The first half, Chapters 1-5 and probably 6 are very insightful critiques of misogyny and its pervasiveness. Chapter 7 has been criticized for overestimating the extent and duration of the witch-craze.

The last section, Chapters 8-9, however propose androgyny and pansexualism as antidotes to misogyny. But heterosexism and complementary sexism are the most widespread expressions of the myth of androgyny. By embracing pansexualism, Dworkin allows heterosexism in through the back door, devaluing the identities and experiences of womon-loving womon-identified-womyn.


P.S. Too many of us have had to deal with the idea that gender doesn't exist and gender shouldn't affect our choice of partners. We were told either that we should love the person and get past his/her body, or that we would eventually encounter "the right man." I'm not into men. I'm not into ideologies, like heterosexism and normative pansexualism, which guilt-trip me for being lesbian.
marjaerwin: (Default)
A few sketchy thoughts; I still embrace anarchafeminism and a version of radical feminism, and would like to know your best ideas.

I think radical feminism has a lot of good ideas, better than liberal feminism, but it could do with a lot of rethinking.

Does patriarchy even exist any more? Men die sooner. Men get imprisoned more often. What does it say that misogyny and gender oppression are as strong as they are, if patriarchy is so much weaker?

Is privilege the best way of thinking about it? A rigid two-caste system could oppress everyone without privileging anyone.

Is everyone either cis or trans? Definitions of cis which slip between meaning anyone who is not trans and meaning someone who feels gender congruence are alienating to many non-trans feminists.

And we need to find ways of thinking and acting which respect individual choice, enable collective action, and add to both. I hate the way liberal feminists have hijacked the rhetoric of choice. There is a difference between choice and scabbing. If we don't have bargaining-power, then we don't own our own choices. I hate the way illiberal feminists have hijacked the rhetoric of cooperation. There is a difference between solidarity and whore-bashing. Count me with the whores.

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marjaerwin

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