Monday, July 21, 2008

"Deconstructing Transgenderism" psssst your cis-privilege is showing

So I linked y'all earlier this week to the latest edition of the Radical Feminist Carnival. And it was a really good haul. For the most part. The exception was that mAndrea managed to get another of her transphobic posts in a feminist carnival. Even more distressing to me was that she did so unacknowledged in this case. When her first post came out in the Carnival of Feminists, there was a significant response and uproar. Resulting in a long discussion and many people letting Natalie know that transphobia is not an acceptable part of their feminism or any equality rights movement. Yet in this new Radical Feminist edition, not a peep. And I don't know if that is because it went unnoticed, or because any commenters pointing it out did not have their comments approved. I do know that I left a comment, complimenting allecto on the impressive amount of work she had done, but voicing my disappointment at the inclusion of mAndrea's work. My comment was not approved.

So here is my voice. There were many great posts in that Carnival, but mAndrea's was not one of them and I want to be perfectly clear that I in no way support her views. And I'm appalled that the host allecto would call it "a fun...topic". It's also interesting to note, that basically her entire premise (quoted for the Carnival post) is based on a faulty understanding of feminist gender theory, and was just today debunked by Feminism 101.

This individual claims to be a different gender then hiz birth body indicates. Well we have a problem with that word gender. Because feminists keep saying that there is no gender. So if transgenderism is a valid medical condition, and transfolk really do need to change body parts, then the reason they need to change those body parts is because gender is real. Which automatically makes the favorite feminist theory invalid — yanno, the one where they screech that gender is a social construct. Yanno, the one theory which has formed the foundation for all other subsequent feminist theory for the last three centuries. Yanno, the one theory which if rendered invalid automatically reboots every other feminist theory in existence.

Feminism 101:
FAQ: if “gender is a social construct”, aren’t feminists saying that gender doesn’t really exist at all?
Posted on July 21, 2008 by tigtog

A: NO. Social constructs are human conceptions, invented but not therefore imaginary (unless one thinks that social consequences are imaginary).
Social constructs exist because people are acculturated to a shared tradition/belief/convention that such constructs are meaningful systems. It is the multiple intersections of social constructs that institutionalise people’s perceived social roles. The nature of social constructs that is most important for feminism (and other progressive ‘isms) is that social constructs are malleable rather than inherently fixed, and by deconstruction and persuasion these constructs can be modified (although there may be a great deal of social inertia to overcome along the way).

Transpeople do not throw all of feminism's theories out the window. Transpeople do force cispeople to do something they may not have ever done before, which is question their own gender identity and what it means to them to be the gender/sex that they are. But I have found that train of thought, while challenging, to be incredibly rewarding to explore. We cannot simply stick our heads in the sand and pretend that a topic such as gender is not going to be as complex as people are. Finding our own boxes for people whilst simultaneously decrying the boxes put on us by kyriarchy is hypocritical, to say the least.


  1. *shrug*

    I have a problem with radical feminists.

  2. I am a radical feminist... and I have a problem with transphobic posts like m Andrea's.

    Got any suggestions about what we can do (beyond blog about it)?

  3. gender is partially biological and partially psychological in my opinion

  4. "We cannot simply stick our heads in the sand and pretend that a topic such as gender is not going to be as complex as people are."

    Absolutely! That is so very true. Gender isn't a binary, just like sex isn't. It's insane to think of it as easily explainable, and esp as something to just ignore. It liberates all of us, trans and cis folks, to explore all the possibilities and celebrate diversity, not pretend it doesn't exist because of some faulty theoretical framework we operate within...

  5. Jane, I certainly think a start is to point out when someone is being transphobic, and obviously in situations like this one, both she and the carnival host need that pointed out to them. I suppose the next step would be going to the carnival creator and pointing it out to them, since the host didn't approve my comment pointing it out.

    But if you mean what we can do about transphobia outside of the internet? The same as we do inside the internet, interact with transpeople. Educate ourselves in the personal needs of the community, and act as an ally accordingly.

  6. We cannot simply stick our heads in the sand and pretend that a topic such as gender is not going to be as complex as people are

    I don't have any answers. I believe the only thing that we can do is continue to call people out on their transphobic language and behaviour. Daily we need to let them know that it is not acceptable. There was a time when it was acceptable for white to call blacks nigger and through repeated efforts on the part of the black community that word is no longer acceptable. We may never change their attitude but maybe we can at least socially discipline them into muting their ignorant voices.

  7. Thank you for calling this to our attention... Please keep spreading the word.

  8. "Finding our own boxes for people whilst simultaneously decrying the boxes put on us by kyriarchy is hypocritical, to say the least."

    Thanks for stating that. It's unfortunate, but it happens everywhere. The trans world is no better than the rest (just have a look at the trans hierarchies which seem to pop up all around the community), but it's communities such as these that should try a little harder than the rest of the world to not pigeon hole others. It's good to see it said here. Thanks.


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