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)
Some people have lately been arguing that trans womyn are feminine-gender and male-sex and trans men are masculine-gender and female-sex, with the explanation that gender is socially constructed and sex is biological. It's not so simple. Gender is complicated and the above explanation borders on erasing butch womyn and feminine men. Sex is biological and is also socially constructed.

I should explain. Sex is naturally bimodal, but not binary.

The ways in which people are assigned, and sometimes cut up at birth, are socially constructed. The prioritization of genital arrangements over the reproductive system or the brain is socially constructed.

The ways that treatments which relate to our identified sex require all sorts of gatekeeping, while treatments which relate to our assigned sex can be forced on us, is socially constructed. If I remember correctly, Natalie Reed describes being forced into an unwanted mastectomy, and Zoe Brain somewhere describes being forced into an unwanted hysterectomy.

Yes, there are issues with brain sex theories, and especially with the misuse of brain sex theories to push rigid gender roles, but they fit the facts better than the other theories and the other theories don’t.
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:

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:
marjaerwin: (Default)
The Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence theory is nonsense, and they crafted their definition of autogynephilia to fit the nonsense and to be untestable.

So you can't compare autogynephilic traits among trans womyn, and among cis womyn, without redefining autogynephilia into something that makes sense. And Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence object to that. As it turns out, autogynephilic traits are fairly common among cis womyn, which invalidates all their special theories about trans womyn; there may be some cross-correlation between autogynephilic traits, sexual orientation, and age among trans womyn, but that can be an issue of barriers to transition, and it isn't a neat two-type division.

A recurring complaint in feminism is that we [womyn] have learned to look at ourselves through men's eyes instead of our own eyes, and to define relationships, sexuality, etc. through men's experiences instead of our own experiences. There's something twisted here. Being happy in our own bodies isn't problematic. Being happy only if we see our own bodies from another's point of view would be problematic. Autogynephilia is only problematic if it's the latter, but it's used to condemn people who assert the former and defy the latter.
marjaerwin: (Default)

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)
What would you do if someone you know came to you and asked you for help to prevent or to stop testosterone poisoning?
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)
Do you believe that the difference between post-op and non-op womyn who pursue medical transition such as hormone replacement therapy is greater than the difference between non-op womyn and, for example, crossdressing men?

Do you believe the decision to have reconstruction surgery surgery should reflect the patient's own needs, without social pressures or monetary barriers?

Do you consider laws which require surgery for sex recognition an unacceptable social pressure? Do you consider proposed policies which require surgery before attending womyn-only events a reasonable measure, an unacceptable pressure, or something which may be appropriate in some contexts but would not be desirable in all?

Do you consider access to hormone replacement therapy a more important goal, or a less important goal for transsexual activism, than access to genital reconstruction surgery?

Do you believe our culture can affect our perception of our bodies, and cause body-image problems? Do you believe surgery is an acceptable solution to body-image problems? Have you tried to apply the same techniques to accept your birth genitalia that many other feminists have tried to accept their weight, cancer scars, etc.? Would you encourage or discourage a trans sister who wished to use such techniques to try to accept her birth genitalia? Would you say she is transsexual if she does not succeed, and transgender if she does succeed?

Do you believe anyone is born a womon?

Would you say you were born a womon and/or born female in no sense, in certain senses, or absolutely? Would you say you became female without having already been female?


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