It’s So Basic

11 Apr

Trans/Queer activists want radical feminists to know that sex and gender do not always match up (as if we have no knowledge of the topic). They assume that, because many of us are against transition (medical, surgical, etc), we are ‘essentialists’ which are reinforcing sex-gender roles. We are not the ones promoting matching one’s gendered presentation with their chromosomes and genitals. They are.

They pose ‘cis’ (as in cis-gendered, cis-sexual) as the opposite of trans (awesome! more binaries!). As they define it, cis means having one’s sex ‘match’ with their individualized sense of gender, i.e. ‘gender identity’. In order for trans folks to deal with their ‘mixed’ sense of sex-gender, trans activists largely advocate for the means to transition into ‘the other’ sex/gender. While the act of transition is portrayed as a revolutionary thing to do, it is actually inherently conservative and assimilationist in its results.

By transitioning, most trans individuals are attempting to come as close as possible to resembling what the ‘cis’ person of their transitioning-into sex/gender looks like (in genital appearance and secondary sex characteristics, and – on the socially-constructed gender side – comportment, mannerisms, clothes, etc). What they are trying to do is – to the best of their ability – become a facsimile of a cis person.

So who’s more essentialist? Who are the ones saying that the expression of stereotypical, Western “feminine” traits by someone who is male-bodied means that they are actually a woman and that a female-bodied person who wants to wear non-femmey clothing is actually a man? It’s not the radical feminists.

7 Responses to “It’s So Basic”

  1. GallusMag April 11, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    One can only laugh at the trans trope of using “biology is not destiny” (there are no human social characteristics innately caused by one’s physical sex) by a group of people whose practices are based on EXACTLY that philosophy. What they seem to mean is that biology is not destiny if one is a transsexual. Otherwise, it is. They should just say “Biology is cissexual”.

  2. FAB Libber April 12, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    When transjactivists trotted out the ‘cis’ concept, I think that was when a large number of radfem fencesitters could see it for what it was (a bunch of made up bullshit). Although I was already delightfully twanzphobic by that point. 😛

    Radfems have been fighting for years against artificial femininity like heels and make-up. Along come twanz, claiming to be all twanzgressive and stuff, dressed to the nines (because “they have to” blah blah), nicely reinforcing all the femininity crap we have been fighting against.

    Call me ‘cis’, and I will demonstrate just how unlaydeelike I really am.

  3. Noanodyne April 12, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Thanks for this concise explanation of these concepts. This is the area where tranz political arguments split into incoherent fragments and it’s important that everyone in the sphere of feminism get this.

    Because of this argument, we’re beating them on the gender essentialism front. Some of them have started to realize that this dis-integration of their positions makes them look like idiots and drives a wedge between various camps, so now they’re trying to regroup at the sex essentialism front (using the same tactics they’ve always used — like making shit up and co-opting and twisting our ideas, but now they’re co-opting and twisting bio/medical research, Reimer’s story, etc.) to further their cause. That’s the place where they think they have us beat, partly because the allies they have there (sex researchers, brain researchers, medicos and big pharma, evo-psychos, “skeptics,” etc.) are a tad more legitimate and numerous than a handful of punk SF gender benders, Thai surgeon-butchers, Iranian gender fundamentalists, and pedophilic and pervy queer studies profs.

    This new (old) party line says you have to have SRS to be the real thing and people must be started on that path at puberty (and it’s just right now that that’s what they’re arguing, but just wait, they’ll get it down to infancy by conflating this with intersex – Alan’s got a head start on it). “Passing” is old-school, having a lady brain is where it’s at, daddy-o.

  4. fabflowers September 1, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    hi all, awakening here with my new handle, not blogging yet but doing my homework in the meantime.

    i’m catching up on all the reading i’ve missed while being inundated with the twanz dogma (read bullshit). thanks so much for the refreshing and unrelenting truth.

    i just wanted to say after the light switched on how truly EASY it was for me to see through this crap.

    everything you are all saying in your radfem blogs are making perfect sense. thank you all.

    • lishra September 2, 2011 at 1:03 am #

      Hey, fabflowers! Thanks so much for commenting and “coming out”, as it were. Last year, I read a ton of trans critical radfem blog posts and went from “hey, that’s transphobic!” to “OMG, of course, that makes total sense” in just a couple weeks. It was a trip, to be sure… but so necessary and worth it!

      I hope to see you around more soon!

    • Rainbow Riot September 3, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

      Welcome to the radfem blog-o-sphere, fabflowers! Glad to see (read?) a new face.

  5. fabflowers September 27, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    thanks for the welcomes… i may be quiet at times but i’m always lurking and reading… so grateful to have found some sane folks online. keep writing please!


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