marjaerwin: (Default)
I am not conventionally butch, but I just want to take up the label again and defy the pressure to feminize. Sometimes I can deal with it. Sometimes I can't. Sometimes I feel torn apart as if the only way to embrace one part of who I am is to tear off the rest of who I am.
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)
But radical queer politics is getting increasing misogynistic. I would point to Bash Back!, Pink & Black Attack, etc.

I managed to avoid the fiasco at Camp Trans, but those events, and the subsequent debates, seem to bring the crisis into stark relief. Ultimately it is about womyn's independence and womyn's spaces. Ultimately it is about whether we are to exist as ourselves, or to be morally mandated into androgyny by our supposed allies.

We are not less-than because we are womyn. We do not need men to be whole. We are womyn and we are whole as womyn. We do not need to integrate "masculine" and "feminine" aspects into ourselves or our relationships. Subversivism runs on the same premises as heterosexism when it pushes the idea that womonhood is incomplete. We are not assimilationists because we live our lives instead of playing the androgynous-chauvinist roles you assign to us. We do not want to destroy Fest. We would rather see it thrive and embrace the sisters it has excluded so long.
marjaerwin: (Default)
It's interesting to contrast the politics of hormones and surgery, for trans womyn.

Hormones are relatively cheap. Surgery is far more expensive. A few hundred dollars a year isn't cheap, but the main limits on access to hormones are medical-institutional. Surgery is far more expensive. In America, the main limits on access to surgery are class-based; it may be more complicated elsewhere. Surgery is risky. Any surgery has its risks and genital reconstruction surgery is no exception. Hormones are safe. Assuming an individual is in good health, and her hormone schedules reflect her medical needs, having hormones is safer than not having hormones.

Hormones are effective, too. Most womyn, cis or trans, are happier with typical female hormone levels.

Yet there's this emphasis on surgery in the medical literature, pro-trans lit, anti-trans lit, and the popular media. The medical systems holds up transition for people who are undecided about surgery or are deciding against it. The legal system often denies rights to people who have not had surgery or cannot afford surgery.

Many trans advocates and pro-trans advocates run from people who haven't had surgery or don't want surgery. There are "women-born-trans" who declare they were not "women" until they had surgery. But there are many trans womyn who were womyn from birth who are transitioning to become themselves, with or without surgery.

Many trans advocates and pro-trans advocates build surgery into this critical moment when someone suddenly becomes "reel." This can make it harder for trans people to recognize already being *real.* This portrays having the right hormones, the right body-feelings, etc. as the prologue of something greater.

Maybe for some it is something greater.

Maybe for others it is a let-down.

I remember my parents teaching me that the only important difference between girls and boys is that girls have an innie and boys have an outie. Throw in the culture-wide emphasis on heterosexual intercourse, and it can be hard for people to quite learn that some womyn have tab a, and it doesn't necessarily go into slot b.

This gets me angry. Not at my parents. I love my parents and thank them.

But at the trans advocates who turn their backs on non-op and can't-op sisters. At the medical and legal empires which pressure people into surgery instead of letting people decide what's right for themselves as individuals. The range of cultural, medical, and legal pressures seem almost custom-built to focus the desire for completion, including gender congruence, on the idea of the "right" parts, and into a desire for surgery.

At the same time, the emphasis in surgery diverts people's attention from the effects of hormones. It scares some people. It makes the hurdles to transition seem infinitely higher than they are. It convinces other people that transition is purely or primarily cosmetic. If these people are trying to be good male allies, they may try to avoid entangling themselves in cosmetics and beauty standards, and they may not admit their own feelings and needs.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Every womon is born a womon. And every womon must transition to become that womon. Whether trans or cis, we all face a misogynistic society, and we all need to struggle to rediscover our original womonhood.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I've taken a lot of criticism over spelling.

"Woman" and "women" describe womonkind by reference to men.

"Womon" and "womyn" describe womonkind by reference to our own original selves.

I'm particularly offended by the suggestion that "womyn" should exclude trans womyn. I think the experiences of trans womyn show that womonhood is not simply the product of gender socialization.
marjaerwin: (Default)
For two dykes to discover integrity as ourselves, and seek equality with ourselves. So why are so many self-described radical feminists so hostile to us?

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