“Radical feminist” transphobia: a patriarchal ideology

Certain self-proclaimed “radical feminists” are intensely transphobic. A classic example would be Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire, perhaps the bible of “radical feminist” transphobia. A more recent example would be the blog femonade, and its many essays on the exploitative and sexist “ideology” of “transgenderism”:

http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/sorry-sex-pos-transwomen/

http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/the-neo-vagina-monologues/

http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/vagina-as-fuckhole-hurts-men-too/

Here’s the dirty little secret of this ideology: anti-transgender “radical feminists” come from the exact same place as patriarchal misogynists. I have five reasons why:

1. Anti-trans “radical feminists” blame the victim. Just like women in general are blamed for being raped by misogynist scumbags everywhere, transwomen are blamed for being oppressed by a society with essentialist binary notions of gender identity.
2. Anti-trans “radical feminists” see some identities as superior to others. Just like how patriarchy is based around  the idea of men as superior to women, transwoman-bashing is based around the idea of the born woman identity as superior to the transwoman identity.
3. Anti-trans “radical feminists” see gender as based on biological sex. Just as patriarchs proscribe gender roles based on one’s genitalia, “radical feminists” who hate transwoman proscribe gender identities based on one’s genitalia.
4.Anti-trans “radical feminists” fear the other. Just as privileged males fear women as alien and fickle, “radical feminist” transphobes fear that transwomen are male predators.
5. Anti-trans “radical feminists” deny privilege. Not even in the way most people under patriarchy deny privilege, but rather in the way that anti-feminist masculists deny privilege. “Radical feminists” who hate transwomen and see them as privileged exploiters are like masculists who claim we live in some kind of PC feminist dystopia where men are oppressed by women. In a world were transwomen are beaten, raped and killed for their gender identity, claims of trans privilege and exploitation of cis women by transwomen are a sick, sick joke.

“Radical feminist” transbashing even involves double standards, just like patriarchy:

http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2010/08/29/is-eminem-a-transwoman/

If there’s one thing that should leap out at you, besides the disgusting hatred towards transwomen, it’s that the quote she’s attacking as glorifying misogynist abuse is actually a statement protesting patriarchy. How much you wanna bet she’d applaud the very same quote coming from a ciswomen?

Between this and the support amongst some “radical” feminists for using the violence of the state to ban pornography and prostitution, some “radical feminists” end up a lot closer to fundies then they’d think:

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About vaguelyhumanoid

Here you can see the assorted musings of a philosophically-inclined, theoretically eclectic anarchist. My blog: a grab bag of hopefully interesting rants, raves, and various other things.
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19 Responses to “Radical feminist” transphobia: a patriarchal ideology

  1. Asher says:

    Haha, you like Ampersand too, huh?
    Nice blog, dude.

  2. ValerieKeefe says:

    Yep. Actually the parallels keep getting better. When the Reagan administration needed someone to legitimize de-funding all trans health, they turned to Janice Raymond.

    From anti-porn and sex worker pogroms to their continual hate-on on trans people, TERFs are the useful idiots of the christianist right.

  3. kaiosyne says:

    this. well said. i went to the blog you listed and read that article on eminem being trans. i read on, into the comments as i tried to keep a leash on my rage, knowing that leaving a comment challenging this bigoted fool would never see the light of day on her site… these people… what the hell… the thing that irritates me most about these fundie feminists is their utter refusal to admit that peer-reviewed science completely invalidates everything they say about us. i could post links to study after study and still they would call it pseudo-science. another thing they have in common with fundies, i guess. its just like the evidence for climate change and evolution, all ignored.

  4. Lia says:

    Why is it that both transwomen and womyn-born-womyn accuse the other side of being “patriarchal” ? Can we really be serious about dealing with patriarchy when it’s become a tool to show we are better than other people ?

    • It’s not some baseless insult, I gave actual arguments. I’m not doing this to show my superiority to anyone, but rather to point out that transphobia is oppressive and reactionary.

      BTW, I’m not a transwoman, just an ally.

      • Lia says:

        I know your arguments are not baseless – and I don’t disagree with them. I am questioning the way you rely on ‘patriarchy’ the give weight to your argument.

        You are drawing a parallel between the way sexist/mysoginist people treat women, and the way WBW treat trans women. You call these sexists/mysoginist attitudes ‘patriarchal’ and conclude that WBW are therefore supporting patriarchal ideologies.

        WBW do the same thing, and say trans women support patriarchy.

        Meanwhile the men who rule the world are laughing. Patriarchy is so accepted we use it as a reference framework for our in-fighting. We’ve given up on challenging it, accepted it is there to stay – and formulate our own thinking and ideas based on it. And if our own thinking is based on it – can we ever challenge it ?

    • First, it’d be nice if cissexists who identify as wbw, (I won’t even start with how I was born with my BSTc, and my brain and my body inherently belong to a womon, me) would EVER type trans womyn as TWO words, or for that matter with anything but what is often considered the male-spelling instead of mashing it together as though we are a pseudo portmaneau parody of womonhood.

      Beyond that, I’d love if we could come together as women. I want that more than anything. I continue to plead with my sisters for that day, but it should be noted that for every cis narrative of womonhood being rhetorically under attack there are trans womyn who have their womonhood ACTUALLY UNDER ATTACK. Given those circumstances I would wonder what you would trans womyn do. Shall we stop saying that Janice Raymond’s papers written for the Reagan administration on transition medicine so that they could deny womyn agency over their own bodies were collaboration? Would you have us deny our very womonhood, claim that the bullying we received, and the coping mechanisms many of us developed, from being thrown to the men as young womyn marks us as something to be irredeemably quarantined?

      What exactly do you propose other than us sitting down and shutting up like we’ve been told time and time again, even when we were little girls forced to masquerade as little boys and punished when we didn’t fit cissexual constructions of gender? I’d love to hear what you have in mind.

      PS: Forgive me for using caps where I’d prefer Italics, but such are the limitations of comment boards.

      • Lia says:

        “Shall we stop saying that Janice Raymond’s papers written for the Reagan administration on transition medicine so that they could deny womyn agency over their own bodies were collaboration”

        Hear, hear ! No, this needs to be said ! This needs to be said because it’s making it clear who the enemy is : patriarchal institutions such as the US government. Unfortunately, most of the attacks on WBW have made WBW themselves the enemy – rendering the actual patriarchal institutions invisible.

        ps. Sorry for writing trans woman in one word.

      • @Lia, as vaguelyhumanoid has pointed out, trans womyn are just as willing to work within lesbian collectives as cis womyn. Sandy Stone was a sound engineer. That’s all, she worked with other womyn teaching them what she knew. She wasn’t running the show at Olivia, just working with other womyn… Certain cis womyn can’t handle that, and when they attack her they use patriarchal language designed to shame her womonhood as unnatural. They turn to that male power to keep the movement pure. I don’t think anyone in this movement can have room for useful idiots.

        From the HBSers who somehow think that by pretending to be cis hard enough they can make trans women some other non-female thing, to cis womyn engaging in a culture of shame against other womyn for daring to have bodily agency, we need to call them all out, explain to them that they are hurting other womyn, and then, and here is the hard thing for a great many cis womyn and some trans womyn: We have to stop enabling this kind of hatred and privileging. That means Lisa Vogel can’t be in a panfeminist movement and run her festival in a way that encourages trans men to pretend they are womyn one week a year so that they can infiltrate lesbian space. That means Gloria Steinem becomes problematic, and Germaine Greer a dead-ender. It means Susan Cooke of WBT is anti-feminist for telling womyn that surgery is an essential imperative of womonhood.

        I like to think that all the bread crumbs I leave on the internet will show this sort of intellectual trail and that womyn like me are certainly not alone, opposing those who would restrict a womon’s right to choose, those who would argue that trans womyn are not womyn, those who would argue that sexism doesn’t exist, and those who would argue that sexism doesn’t hurt the vast majority of men. Most of them are bullied into trying to be alpha-males, reproducing the old structures more out of fear than any desire to live that sort of life… but then on that last point maybe my views are coloured, being a girl who was thrown to the boys, her innate differences siezed upon and suffering through years of hell that I won’t ever forget.

        Anyway, we’re here and we’re willing and we will confront the people who aren’t. We don’t coddle them. Can cis womyn who identify as womon-born say the same thing? Would every festie who loves a lesbian festival but hates the misogyny of fest be willing to, find another festival, and make it their summer retreat? Would homeless and battery and rape shelters refuse to support those womyn who would throw their sisters onto the street? I hope so. I hope misogyny towards the Female-Asserting-Brazenly, the cissexually-constructed-males to authentic females, is as much a thing of the past as the inherent classism and shaming involved in the first-wave’s association with the temperance movement.

  5. The Masked Lily says:

    transism is the patriarchal ideology, not radical feminism.

    • A few quick points:

      1. I never said radical feminism is patriarchal.
      2. Being transgendered is not an ideology.
      3. You’re ignoring my points. You aren’t even trying to respond.
      4. You gave no logical justification for your comment.

      • Alexandra says:

        I guess it’s the essential danger of drawing a rhetorical comparison. Someone is inevitably going to draw it more simplistically than you did and ascribe the absurd result to you (e.g. A statement like “I think several values taken for granted in American society are unjustified and ought to be re-examined and challenged” almost invariably elicits “You hate America!” or “Love it or leave it!”).

        I like the points you made here though. It’s funny how someone can reject essentialism and yet call upon it to justify exclusion. Like having defeated it means you own it now.

    • I forget… what part of loudly asserting that I am not defined by how others view my biology and asserting that, like every other person, I have an inherent right to bodily autonomy and self-determination is patriarchal?

      What part of 23% of transitioned (since those are the only good numbers we have) trans womyn refusing to in any way construct themselves as heterosexual lust objects for men as opposed to 1-2% of cis womyn is patriarchal?

      I’m somewhat confused.

  6. Tobi-Dawne says:

    Nice to see another blogger supporting the idea that women are women are women. My Trans-sisters are my sisters, just like any other. Kudos!

  7. its funny how we can draw distinctions between radfems and HBS extremists. Cut from the same block if u ask me.

  8. I’m sorry you’re so stupid that you can’t differentiate between people who hate women and people who want women to be free from the patriarchy. It must be hard to live at such a low level of intelligence.

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