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 always thought WBW was a badly mistaken attempt to define womyn's inclusion for womyn's spaces. Because trans womyn are womyn, so exclusion from womyn's spaces is misguided, and trans womyn are born so, so it's not like trans womyn aren't also born womyn anyway.

I seem to have been mistaken. No, you see, WBW is, and has retroactively always been, about the shared experiences of cis WBW, not trans WBW. Um, right... So you focus so much time and effort to events which focus on the shared experiences of cis womyn, and so little time or effort to events which involve the shared experiences of all womyn, cis or trans.

The childhoods of cis tomboys tend to be much like the childhoods of trans tomboys. The childhoods of trans femmes, if their parents are supportive, tend to be much like the childhoods of cis femmes. Alas, a lot of womyn, both cis and trans, have suffered from gender policing. And in different directions. But that's not universal. That's not some "shared [cis] WBW experience."

The teens of cis womyn tend to differ from the teens of cis womyn, but there are no universals. There aren't even biological universals. Maybe 1 or 2 percent of cis womyn never menstruate. Maybe 1 or 2 percent of cis womyn and 5 or 10 percent of trans womyn have to see a doctor about something unusual during first puberty, such as unexplained bleeding. There aren't that many social universals. The teens of a dyke with heterosexist parents in a heterosexist community aren't going to look like the teens of a dyke with supportive parents in a welcoming community. That's not to mention wealth and poverty, disabilities, or other orientations.

The only consistent patterns are that 1. cis womyn are assigned female, grow up in a misogynistic society, and need to struggle to reclaim their original womonhood, while 2. trans womyn are assigned male, grow up in a misogynistic society, and need to struggle to reclaim their original womonhood.
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)

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