Can’t We All Just Get Along? Not Really.

11 Apr

Here’s a partial list of some reasons why radical feminist activism/theory and trans activism/theory frequently do not go well together. Radical feminists don’t hate trans women, we just have very different goals.

Trans activism fights for trans women’s “right” to access feminine accouterments. Radical feminist activism fights for females’ right to not have femininity forced upon us from birth.

— Trans activism supports use of plastic surgery and medical industries as a means for accomplishing a highly gendered physical appearance. Radical feminist activism is against the use of such measures as they reinforce the idea that women “should” look certain ways or have certain body parts; radical feminism critiques reliance on patriarchal medical establishments. (Also, trans politics is at odds with the fat acceptance movement for similar reasons.)

— Trans activism supports male people having surgery to construct genitals resembling a vagina and vulva. Radical feminists point out how surgically creating a cavity in a male and calling it a vagina is insulting for the following reasons: it poses vaginas solely as penetration objects (neovaginas don’t give a person the risk of pregnancy, cervical cancer, etc… neovaginas must be penetrated in order to sustain them); vaginas cannot be constructed (they are an organ of their own, not an inversion of a penis).

— Trans politics treats gender as an essential characteristic which every human has; gender is an “identity”. Radical feminism wants to abolish gender; gender is a role (not an identity), constructed through notions of ‘feminine’ characteristics and ‘masculine’ characteristics; gender is a system of violence, not ‘expression’. [Bonus de-colonial feminist framework!: gender is a violent, colonial concept thoroughly involved in the racial dehumanization of non-white peoples.]

At it’s most basic:

Trans woman Jos Truitt: “I fucking love gender.”

Radical feminists: Gender is killing us.

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12 Responses to “Can’t We All Just Get Along? Not Really.”

  1. radfemcrafts April 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    I clicked the “I fucking love gender” link and it references this dude who’s also in the video: Toni Olin-Mignosa. A beautician and winner of a beauty pageant. What. The. Fuck. A beauty pageant! It’s like the New York Radical Women and the 1968 Miss America protest and Carol Hanisch and The Personal is Political never even happened! We’re back at square one; protesting beauty pageantry. This is the single most purposefully retrograde movement I’m aware of outside of, say, the BNP.

  2. GallusMag April 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    “gender is a system of violence”. Word. A system of violence based on biological sex. Based on the impregnability of females by those unable to reproduce. A system so pervasive and ubiquitous that to some it is rendered invisible, like air. It’s helpful to draw analogies to systems of violence that injure males in order to raise consciousness. Because injury to males is regarded as a serious matter. Transablism, where the trans person desires a disabled body and refers to naturally disabled people as “cis-disabled” for example. Tranracialism, whereby white people assert they are born in the wrong raced body, and demand entry to the Native American community. They “feel” trans-racial “inside” from an early age because of (insert racist character stereotype here).
    Transgenderism is pure sexist women-hatred and minstrelism, backed with full force of psychiatric, medical, and government collusion. The fact that it is embraced by the male power structures is proof enough.

  3. FAB Libber April 12, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    Yes, all the stuff modern feminists have been fighting against for the last 40 years, is all the stuff M2Ts are fighting FOR.

    There is about nothing on the tranz agenda that is compatible with radical feminism.

    It is the anti-radfeminism.

    Oh, and the “why can’t we all get along?” schtick is one of those bullshit laydeelike conventions we are supposed to adhere to. I do NOT have to get along with anyone who undermines my core political beliefs. Tranz and the BNP can get a room.

    • m Andrea April 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

      ha, transgenderism isn’t even compatible with basic feminism. It’s only the funfems (god does THAT word need a do-over) who support internalized male supremacy.

  4. sherry lee short April 12, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Looking for recommendations for readings on the rad feminist critique of trans theory/activism. What would you recommend? Either a book(s) or a set of readings. Best blog?

    • lishra April 12, 2011 at 9:55 am #

      Hey, sherry. Here’s a couple of articles I came across recently that are very good. If you don’t have access to some kind of academic institution’s subscriptions, I can email them to you if you’d like. The same goes for other folks – just drop me a comment saying so and I’ll send the article(s) to the email address you provided to post the comment.

      Jeffreys, Sheila (1997) ‘Transgender Activism’, Journal of Lesbian Studies, 1: 3, 55 — 74

      Sweeney, Belinda. “Trans-ending women’s rights: The politics of trans-inclusion in the age of gender”. Women’s Studies International Forum 27 (2004). 75-88.

    • Noanodyne April 12, 2011 at 10:08 am #

      This is a list of blog posts by radfems that critique trans theory/activism very, very well.

  5. Noanodyne April 12, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    There’s no coherence in the trans political argument, that’s the biggest difference between them and us and you’ve outlined that perfectly.

    Their mess of disjointed positions is just exactly like the lack of coherence in sex pozzie arguments for empowerfulment. It is only the support of people who are too dense to understand this lack of coherence and what that means that they’ve gotten this far with their arguments (in both cases). That, and the patriarchy gleefully supporting both sex poz and tranz bullshit because they both do terrible damage to the liberation of real, live women.

    • FAB Libber April 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

      You said it Noan.

  6. kurukurushoujo April 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Thank you for this, those are the differences we can’t and also should not overcome.

    I tink that Pomo trans don’t want to/can’t fathom that gender is a form of structural oppression because individual agency is held in such high regards that navigating around the gender system but still in reference of it is seen as overcoming socialization. I’m pretty sure you’re accustomed with it: power is always negotiated in discourses, structural influences become meaningless in social interaction blablabala. So when you conform it’s not conformism it’s using your agency to choose that which is the norm. (Oh, wait, they don’t choose, they are essentially feminine, so how come… Ah, forget it…) This way suffering can be swept under the rug and disguised as individual tragedies not connected to a system of oppression.
    I hate that it becomes impossible to say that men are privileged as a class (although it is the truth) without being labelled man-hating. Oh noes, I’m disregarding their individuality.

  7. fabflowers September 1, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    “I hate that it becomes impossible to say that men are privileged as a class (although it is the truth) without being labelled man-hating. Oh noes, I’m disregarding their individuality.”

    word. i get annoyed with being labelled a man-hater for recognizing the obvious as well.

  8. UK Feminist June 11, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    Reblogged this on UK Feminist.

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